They've a way to go before they rival vikings or zombies but bees have proved to be a perennial subject for board games. And the worker bee colony structure of the hive especially lends itself to games with a worker placement mechanic. Designed by Mike Nudd, Waggle Dance was first published by Grublin Games back in 2014. Shown here tho' is a new edition published by Bright Eye Games to coincide with Termite Towers, which is a sequel game by the same team.
Waggle Dance takes its title from the way in which bees communicate with each other but you won't be either dancing or telegraphing your actions in this game. In Waggle Dance, the 2-4 players are trying to convert their hexes into honeycombs. Players all start off with six six-sided dice, each of which represents a worker bee. You roll the dice and place them out either on the matching number flower cards or on one of the other action cards. The flower cards give two nectar tokens of a particular colour to the player with a largest number of dice at that flower; the player in second place gets one nectar. Nectar tokens get placed on your hexes. The various action cards allow you to add another hex, add an egg and hatch an egg to give you an additional worker bee die. To flip a hex to its honey side, you need two dice on the hex and four pollen cubes of the same colour, so this game is all about collecting and using actions to swap nectar tokens so you can reach the game-winning honey production target.
Tho' dice rolls inevitably inject an element of luck, Waggle Dance offers players a generous array of options. There are Queen Bee cards that give you a rule modifying ability - for example, allowing you to flip a hex with only three matching nectar tokens - and you can use action card locations to trade cubes (albeit at a disadvantageous exchange rate) to get the colour of cubes you need. The prospect of increasing the number of bees/dice is also very enticing. There's a trade off because you'll be using three dice to add a die on future turns, but focusing on this early in the game can prove a winning strategy. And the game comes with sufficient dice to offer players the prospect of taking the number of bees (dice) at their disposal from 6 to 15!
The Bright Eye edition of Waggle Dance introduces a number of changes from the original game. Sabrina Miramon's art gives the game a bright and breezy face lift, adding to its appeal. It also matches the art in the new sister game Termite Towers. David Digby has added a very welcome solitaire mode and Mike Nudd has revised the Queen Bee deck, tho' it's unfortunate that cube icons are used on these cards to represent nectar: the earlier Gublin edition just used cubes but this version substitutes six different shapes of wooden tokens (so colour-blind players can distinguish them by shape). This new edition also incorporates the components and rules for including 'threats' in the game, with players having to fend off predation from wasps, mice, mites and mould...
Waggle Dance was always a honey of a game but this new edition makes a good game even better!