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Last Bug Standing in the Circle of Doom

Behrooz Shahriari ('Bez') has become well known as a prolific designer of whacky low-budget card games, often with long titles that spell out most of the rules; for example, A Game About Wee Whimsical Creatures and Trying to Identify Them After Someone Makes Noises (Stuff by Bez). With its long title and quirky theme, Last Bug Standing in the Circle of Doom is recognisably a Bez design but it's a small-box board game published by Surprised Stare, and with art by Akha Hulzebos rather than Bez.



Tho' on this occasion the game's title doesn't set out all the rules, it does very clearly state the win condition: in this two-player game, you'll each secretly select one of two species of Bug-Eyed Monster (BEM) to befriend. Twelve BEM tiles are set out in a Circle of Doom and you win if the BEM you've befriended is left standing when your opponent's choice has been eliminated.


Players take turns to move a Navigator standee 1, 2 or 3 squares clockwise around a compass board. The square on which the Navigator lands determines the direction in which a Vehicle standee moves around the 4 x 4 tile. These tiles all show 1, 2 or 3 BEMs, and you in turn move the Gunner standee that number of places around the Circle of Doom. If the Gunner ends their movement on a BEM that matches a BEM depicted on the Vehicle tile, the BEM tile is removed from the Circle of Doom. If there was no match, the tile the Vehicle was on is flipped to its reverse side which depicts all four different BEM species, so there'll be a guaranteed match next time the Vehicle hits that same location... However, there's a slight complication in that you don't flip a location tile if any of the tiles to which it is orthogonally adjacent have already been flipped.



There's a bit more... There is a micro deck of cards; you draw a card for the first BEM tile of each colour you remove from the Circle of Doom; so you'll each draw a maximum of two cards in a game. Playing cards substitutes for your ordinary Navigator/Vehicle/Gunner movement. You'll ordinarily be trying to plan your Navigator move so it triggers the elimination of a BEM tile that you suspect is your opponent's friend but you'll only want to play a single-use card when you are certain it will help you towards victory. In our plays at Board's Eye View, we've found we've mostly only been using the cards to eliminate what we think is our opponent's final BEM friend so that we have the Last Bug Standing, but of course there's a deduction element in deciding which BEM your opponent has befriended and scope too for bluff and misdirection...


The rulebook offers a couple of variants for you to try, including alternative rules for wraparound Vehicle movement that we preferred to the more restrictive movement rules in the basic rules. However you play, Last Bug Standing in the Circle of Doom is a light, fun filler-length game that you can play in around 15 minutes. So much so that you'll almost certainly find yourselves going for an immediate re-match.


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