What’s All the Buzz About Honey Buzz? Hive Management 101
Manage a small but bustling hive of hardworking bees intent on bringing honey to the forest market in Honey Buzz.
Call me silly, but I simply couldn’t resist the adorable premise and artwork of Honey Buzz. The forest creatures looked so pleasant! On top of that, the bees were so cheerful and busy. As I started to dig into the rules, it became apparent that this wasn’t a simple walk in the park. There was an economy to think of, and all sorts of honey to produce!
Producing honey to send to a market might sound like a simple premise, but the game involves the creation of an entire supply chain. The hive needs to take shape to house particular nectar. Workers must forage for the right nectar, and only then can honey be produced. What fun!
December 3, 2020
December 3, 2020
34" x 22"
Fun with Numbers
Having numbered board game copies has never been that important to me. It’s like a nice detail that I usually forget about. But this copy was very evenly numbered!
After taking off the deluxe sleeve, this made for a nice little surprise. But most importantly, I wanted to dive in!
Note to self… Must be careful with this box sleeve. It features an oddly shaped cutout, so it doesn’t necessarily slide on and off without any issues. Very pretty, though!
It took me a little time to organize the components and get them properly sorted in the insert. Then, onto the honey!
Planning to Forage
Within the hive, empty cells slowly form in order to add specific nectar tiles. Note the different border designs. Each type of nectar corresponds with a unique honey.
My single forager would be able to head into the meadow. However, moving about was a special action. So I had to plan my hive based on the location of this bee.
In a nutshell, I needed to have empty cells that could house these nectar tiles. Not an easy plan to think of!
There were a lot of subtleties to gameplay than I expected. The rules were intuitive, but I had to learn the strategies.
The Market Economy
Hurray for deluxe components! The honey looked lovely in the light, and the pollen was simply adorable.
Aside from the fanciness, though, this part of the board is one of the most important elements. It shows the price of each type of honey, along with the pollen.
As each type is sold, thereby increasing the available supply, the price drops. One of the excellent lessons of basic economics: Supply and demand! Interesting, indeed.
This is a main trigger for the end of the game when 4 of 5 resources reach the bottom. Supply management is key!
Custom Honey Orders
Another key part of the market involves special orders and customers. It’s not enough to simply sell honey… The forest residents have their favorite blends they want!
This artwork is absolutely adorable. Even better, only a portion of these cards come into play. Lots of variety!
Fulfilling an order also grants a special action, so it often pays to do more in terms of order fulfillment than just selling honey to the market in general. Maybe.
It really does feature a lot of moving parts! And with many ways to adjust the difficulty level, I was excited to begin.
Competing in Contests
As if this wasn’t enough, I wasn’t free to just do whatever made the most sense. This trio of solo contests, which might be better described as goals, provided direction.
Without them, it would mostly boil down to finding the same ways to generate coins and points each play. Fun at first, but probably not a sustainable way to play.
There are plenty of these cards to add a lot of variety! I also had to carefully think about what I had to do…
Selling pollen was going to be difficult, since that made me forgo the collection of nectar. Very tricky, indeed!
A Pair of Lazy Drones
The solo mode made me laugh! Part of it involves flipping cards to affect the market. This often means removing a nectar tile or reducing the price of a honey type.
A couple of lazy drones are also at work, though! These bees hang out around the hive and block certain spaces.
Most turns involve choosing a new tile with a unique ability, so the drones can be very annoying to deal with!
The cards keep the solo mode balanced, but predictable. In the expansion are a pair of dice that completely randomize this process. I’m looking forward to that in the future!
The Full Picture
Wait… This actually doesn’t show everything! I had some resource trays off to the right, and my important hive would take shape in an open area on the left.
This was a joy to look at, though! The play area isn’t exactly small, yet I didn’t feel like I had to reach too far.
Although the rulebook is rather thick, it provides plenty of examples and isn’t complicated. Or I might be biased since I like economics and enjoy these market mechanics!
The only element that was missing was a way to increase honey prices by buying it… But that wasn’t a big deal.
I failed to take any photos as I started, only because I was so focused on creating my honey supply. Again, it’s not a case of just making honey: There are several steps.
My hive’s first customer was a very happy squirrel! The honey added a sweet flavor to the supply of acorns. It was a nice accomplishment to see it all come together.
But that was only the beginning. The hive kept taking shape, nectar was collected, and the honey flowed.
Once production was pretty reliable, I switched over to gathering as much pollen as I could to sell it all off.
A Very Busy Hive
There it was! My hive at the very end was absolutely lovely and filled with all types of nectar. Note that the empty spaces had to be created to take all of the actions.
For instance, take the nectar tile in the middle with the honey. When I first closed in the empty cell, I took all of the 3 adjacent actions: Forage, new bee, and market.
It’s actually a very interesting sort of puzzle. Choosing which cell to close takes careful thought.
There were a couple of moves I reversed since I realized I couldn’t do what I needed to. But it all worked out!
It was difficult to gauge how well I did in the market, but there were a lot of satisfied customers! The values translated into plenty of victory points.
The orders were also grouped into small or large, depending on the amount of honey needed.
Perhaps my best achievement was getting the needed nectar tiles close together, thereby allowing quick honey production. Look at all that wildflower honey!
The final step was to tally up my victory points. I thought I did well, but I do believe I made it too easy…
On the Idea of Winning Too Easily
I ended up in the highest scoring tier by a decent margin. It was exciting, of course, yet I went back and looked at the rules to find out what I did wrong. This didn’t seem like a particularly easy game, so winning on my first attempt seemed incorrect. Only… I couldn’t find anything! I played by the rules, but didn’t need to use the easy settings.
That’s often a misleading metric. When there are various difficulty levels broken up into easy, standard, and hard categories, I typically start at the bottom and work my way up. It takes time, yet there are some cases where the easiest level feels more like a tutorial. There isn’t much of a challenge, yet I imagine that’s always different for everyone!
So although I wouldn’t call this win all that satisfying, it’s also far too soon to classify the game as too easy. There are various starting hive configurations to try out. The solo mode can be made trickier with a new card or turned into a random mode with dice that determine every decision. Lots of options to tailor the experience to what I want it to be!
Play Number: 1
Expansion: Honey Buzz: Honey Pot Mini Expansion
Solo Mode: Included in the Base Game
Play Details: Easy Difficulty Level
Outcome: 153 (Win)
It was a little tough to gather and sell all the pollen, but I managed to add 7 to the market for the maximum points! I had a thunderous victory, yet as I mentioned above, the difficulty level was probably way too low. The experience itself with all of the moving parts and strategies was certainly worth it, and I look forward to… Losing? Ha ha!
Price & Value
Challenges & Mechanics
Design & Theme
Components & Rules
Achievement & Enjoyment
Distinctness & Randomness
+ Pros (Positives)
- All of the artwork is adorable with a bright color scheme that offers a genuinely happy kind of tabletop presence.
- Only a small number of order cards are used each play, adding a lot of variety with the unique illustrations.
- The market economy works very well in a realistic way that simulates falling prices with a larger supply.
- Producing honey requires several earlier steps that promote thinking through the creation of supply chains.
- There are many ways to randomize the setup so that each play has different goals and nectar arrangements.
- Several ways exist to adjust the difficulty level, which is useful since the easiest setting may be too easy for some.
– Cons (Negatives)
- The insert is very nice but doesn’t have an obvious way to store the components, so it takes time to figure out.
- At times, it can be a little easy to lose track of which actions have already been activated during the round.
- It takes some referencing to understand the different empty cell patterns that correspond with each nectar tile.
- Without any defined edges, the hive can expand in any direction and can potentially take up a lot of space.
Score 140+ Points
- Overall Goal Progress 100% 100%
Goals and Milestones
End with all 10 bees in play.
Score at least 150 points.
Win at least 1 game at the easy difficulty level.
Continue the Conversation
Have you heard of or played Honey Buzz? The component quality and artwork immediately grabbed me, but the gameplay was thoroughly interesting. Who is your first forest customer? They’re all so cheery! I need to give the higher difficulty levels a whirl, and I’m hoping that will make it even more enjoyable. Bees are so awesome!