Saturday, November 25, 2023

Digging up beetles for fun and points

Beetle Get! is a Flip-and-Write solitaire by Alexander Shen, a hidden gem of a PnP designer. You try and score points with a shifting tableau of beetle cards.

Shen describes Beetle Get! as a Flip-and-Score game, as opposed to a Flip-and-Write game. Which isn’t an unfair description but no one calls Yahtzee or Qwixx as Roll-and-Score games so I’m still holding to Flip-and-Write.

BG (because typing an exclamation mark every time annoys me) consists of a tiny deck of beetle cards, a tiny deck of shovel cards and a player sheet. 

Here’s the basic idea. You deal out the beetle cards face down in a three-by-three grid and then flip over any four of them. The shovel deck consists of card patterns (horizontal, diagonal and vertical lines) Each turn, you draw two. Pick one to score and put the other one on the bottom of the deck. The beetle cards are numbered one to five and you score the sum of the line you chose.

And here’s where the clever bit comes in. You flip over all the cards in the shape you scored. You then pick a column or row and shift in over one space. The card that gets pushed out of the grid goes back on the other side. If you’ve ever played Labyrinth, you get the idea.

Time for another round.

A couple of other tidbits. You also check off sets of beetle cards for bonus points and there’s a beetle juice card in the shovel deck that let you flip over a card.

When you’re through the shovel deck, that’s game and you count up your points.

One touch I want to note is that there’s only one five card. Finding it and scoring it is essential to a higher score. Not only does it add five points to a line, you need to check it off to complete sets for bonus points.

I haven’t played a lot of Flip-and-Writes. I think the idea ia brilliant and has a lot of potential but it’s also a lot easier and less time consuming to make Roll-and-Writes from a PnP standpoint. That said, playing with a sliding puzzle of cards does feel unusual. (Shifting Stones from Gamewright does have a similar idea)

On the downside, BG has a fairly obvious core strategy. Find the five card and maximize it as much as possible.

On the upside, BG offers a lot of control and decisions, with room for planning ahead. Which might lead to games being too easy but that isn’t the worst flaw in a game that takes five or so minutes.

Alexander Shen has a knack for really nailing coffee break games and Beetle Get! is one of the better ones.

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