In Bugz, creator Robert Brouwer and illustrator Jules Debost would have us believe that we love bugs! So much so that we have gleefully travelled to the stinky rubbish bins down some disgusting city back alley in order to attract these ravaging pests to ourselves… And maybe they’re right, because what we find down by the dumpster is colourful filler-length fun for 2-5 players.
To win the game a player has to have collect the most bugs (represented by tokens) by the end of nine rounds, with each round following the same simple procedure: The first of nine ‘Bug’ cards are revealed from a facedown pile, depicting two of three kinds of bug and a number for each, indicating precisely how many of each bug has been uncovered. A second Bug card is also revealed at this point, but only to clue up players about what’s coming next round.
Players will then attempt to attract bugs into their own zones by secretly selecting one of three kinds of ‘Lure’ (bread for the cockroaches, meat for maggots or cats for the fleas). Lures are revealed for all to see, and then players additionally select one of their ten ‘Action’ cards which affect the state of play. Following the turmoil created by the Action cards, if conditions allow, the hungry bugs will jump evenly from their card to your lures (some lures depict double portions for double the bugs), with any remainders remaining on the Bug card. Played Lure and Action cards are then discarded, and the next rounds continue until the short Bug card deck is exhausted.
Bugz is fun and frustrating; each player has exactly the same cards with which to attract their chosen pest but, as is so often the case, each will play them differently thus undermining each other’s strategic plays. That said, no disaster is too bad, as the ability to look ahead at what is coming is an excellent mechanic which allows players to be flexible and patient (and maybe get some tasty revenge!)
The cards are good quality and the illustrations are bright and distinctive, with each bug's preferred lure shown on the card. The abilities granted by the Action cards are fairly standard (turn the card / add +3 / cancel another player etc.), but an additional layer of strategy is added by the numbered order in which they must take effect: a badly timed action can really warp the game, with hilarious head-in-your-hands moments. You will do best in Bugz if you can remember what cards have previously been played, as that will tell you what tricks and traps each player still has at their disposal.
I'd have liked to have seen stronger theming (eg: bug spray to reduce numbers or fly paper to freeze them) and the iconography on the Action cards is not as clear as it could be, but there's a key in the rules sheet and, after a couple of games, you'll know what all of the Action cards do.
Amuza's Bugz marries the grotesque and the entertaining into a quick, fun and even strategic family game which is easy to learn, but which could easily become a game-night filler favourite.
(Review by Michael Harrowing)