When I was growing up, every year we’d plant a vegetable garden back behind the garage. There would be some herbs, tomatoes, carrots, and several other items. One of those other items was beets. So when they were ready, we would always have fresh beets as a side dish for dinner. I grew up loving beets. However, having since had canned beets, I can see how others might not have such a fond memory of this clothes-staining root. Let’s face it, a lot of people don’t like eating their vegetables, and so I can see why a game could end up with a premise such as Bad Beets has.
Well, the fellows over at Stone Blade Entertainment gave us a copy and so it’s time to dig into another TGN Review. This time it’s Bad Beets by Stone Blade Entertainment.
Last month at Gen Con, I had a chance to sit down with Mr. Gary and talk about everything that Stone Blade was working on. After the interview we went over and played a quick demo game of Bad Beets. I must say, I was a bit wary before getting started. Sure, I loved Ascension, also by SBE, but Bad Beets was quite a departure from the hero-buying and monster-slashing I was used to. However, after the quick game, I was swayed. But that could very easily have just been that day and the excitement of playing a demo of a game right there with the creator. With a longer chance to study the game, would I still enjoy it? Let's find out, but first, a recap of how the game works.
The game comes in a single, small box. Everything fits in very easily (with room for expansions, if SBE ever goes that route). The game comes with 50 Beet Tokens and 15 Ice Cream Tokens. I was surprised to see that the cardboard tokens were already punched out and were in a little bag. Usually “Step 1” for playing a game is “punch out all the tokens.” Obviously, that wasn’t necessary here. The tokens were also very nicely punched out. I couldn’t find any tearing or peeling. Also, something I noticed that I’d not seen during the demo is that there are several different faces on the Beets. It’s a very small touch, but I love it. It makes the game more flavorful (… … … pun intended). The box also contains 5 Action Reminder cards, 15 Action Cards (3 each of 5 different cards), and the Rules Sheet.
The game starts by giving each player an Action Reminder Card and 8 Beet Tokens. Then, shuffle the 15 Action Cards and deal 1 to each player. Players can look at their card. Then randomly determine the first player. That player draws a card, then picks one of their cards to give to the next player (though that second player doesn’t look at the card yet). The first player puts the card they’re keeping face-down in front of them and declares that they’re performing one of the three different actions available. The other players have the option to either allow them to perform that action or they can call the player’s bluff. If the bluff is called, the player reveals the card that they had played. If it was the action they stated, they get to do that action and the player that called them out gains an extra Beet Token. If the player was bluffing, then the action doesn’t happen and the player who tried to play it gains a Beet Token. There is another option during your turn, and that’s to simply eat a beet, which lets you remove one of your Beet Tokens. Obviously, nobody can call your bluff if you just sit there and quietly eat your beets. After you resolve your card or the bluff, the second player picks up the card you drafted to them and their turn starts. They don’t draw a card, since they’ve already got two cards in their hand. They simply draft to the next player and then declare what action they are doing.
But what about those cards and actions? I mentioned five cards, but I said there were only three types of action you can claim you’re doing. So what’s up with that? Let’s take a closer look at the cards, themselves.
The three action cards are:
Share – Give two Beet Tokens to another player.
Feed the Dog – Discard three Beet Tokens.
Tattletale – Guess a player’s card. They must reveal it. If you guessed right, give them four of your Beet Tokens.
Then there’s two “reaction” cards. They have a gold background, as opposed to a blue background of the standard actions. You can reveal these from your hand during another player’s turn in order to gain their bonus. They are:
Copycat – If someone says they’re Feeding the Dog, you can reveal this to discard two of your Beet Tokens.
Nuh-uh! – If someone tries to Tattletale on you, you can reveal this and give that player four of your Beet Tokens.
Any time a player must reveal their card (either by someone calling their bluff or by the reveal of a reaction card), that card is discarded, face-up, into the discard pile and that player redraws. So nobody, except you, ever really knows what is in your hand (obviously a crucial thing for a bluffing game). The discard pile is reshuffled any time that two of the same card are in it. That way, there’s always a chance for one version of the card to either be in someone’s hand or left in the draw deck.
Players are trying to get rid of all their Beet Tokens. The first player to do so is the winner. The reason the game comes with so any Ice Cream tokens is that, since games are pretty fast (most hands taking about 15min or so to play), you can turn a one-off game into a “first to three” situation.
I really enjoy playing Bad Beets. After subsequent plays, that is one thing that hasn’t changed since the demo at Gen Con. I do feel that the game plays best with more than two players, though. Jared and I played a couple 2-player games and they weren’t as good. I think 3-4 is the real “sweet spot” (… … … again, pun intended) for the game. Since the game’s theme is so family-friendly, anyone can join in. So this is great not just for game night at the LGS, but also game night with the family. I recommend you give Bad Beets a try for yourself.
You can go pick up your own copy of Bad Beets over in their webshop. You can't have mine. These Bad Beets I'm keeping.