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Bugs on Rugs

Updated: Oct 24, 2020

With great art by Josh Cappel and Shawna J C Tenney, the excellent presentation of this family-friendly set collection game should engage the younger eye and the short and simple play-time keep their attention, although the different scoring of the bugs could take a little getting used to. Indeed, the core gameplay of Peter C Hayward's Bugs on Rugs is summed up swiftly: each round a 'bounce'-draft (me-him-her-her-him-me) is followed by the one remaining bug on the 'floor' climbing to the 'wall' and its 'wall power' triggering. That's it. The iconography of the wall powers will probably cause some initial confusion but we found the rulebook cleared this up nicely.

So, where is the 'game'? It's in the scoring. Like the different dishes in Phil Walker-Harding's Sushi Go!, each of the bug species in Bugs on Rugs has a different scoring method; some intertwine, others can be messed with by the occasional 'pass a card to the next player' event; all are fairly clearly understood after one play. While Labybugs (ladybirds, if you're from the UK) at 25 for exactly 4 initially seem overpowered, they are subject to denial by the other players and, on points, they are soon matched by Beetles and Ants; while a Firefly will most likely score as much as a Spider/Fly combo for a single card. Here, the game drops a mark, the 'Rugs' of the title (the backgrounds for each bug) look more like wallpaper, plus it's too easy to end up with all the different rugs and make Fireflies worth their maximum. The only other misstep, perhaps, is that Mosquitos appear last in the scoring rules, whereas their mutable power needs to be decided on early.

There is enough here to make the decisions meaningful: an experienced gamer might be able to play on auto-pilot but kids and casual gamers will certainly have fun; and even a group of four grizzled board gaming veterans were found to be discussing their late-game tactics after playing it as a filler!

(Review by David Fox)

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