- For ages 10 and up
- For 4 to 6 players
- Approximately 45 minutes to complete
- Active Listening & Communication
- Counting & Math
- Logical & Critical Decision Making
- Strategy & Tactics
- Risk vs. Reward
- Hand/Resource Management
- Bluffing and Misdirection
- Child – Easy
- Adult – Easy
Theme & Narrative:
- Find those beets; avoid those bombs!
- Gamer Geek mixed!
- Parent Geek approved!
- Child Geek approved!
American novelist Tom Robbins, reportedly said “The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent, not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious.” In this game, Tom is absolutely correct. Plant your beets and hope you get them before your neighbors. But be careful! In the fields are also bombs intended to make quick work of would-be beet thieves! Pick your plants wisely.
Beets Bombs and the Blüffs, designed by Michael Gragg and published by Oh Brother Games, is comprised of 76 cards and 36 tokens. The cards are as thick and as durable as your standard playing card, and the tokens are made of thick and sturdy cardboard. Illustrations by Michael Gragg are bright and colorful, depicting the odd world of the beet-loving Blüffs, further reinforcing the game’s theme and narrative’s quirkiness.
Getting Ready to Plant
To set up the game, first give each player their starting hand of three Beet cards and one Bomb card. At this time, also give each player two Heart tokens, which are placed in front of the player. Any remaining cards with the “Basic” icon on them are removed for the game’s duration. Keep the Heart tokens and the Beat Belly tokens nearby.
Second, shuffle the Supper Plant cards and Action cards together to create a single deck. Place this deck face-down in the middle of the playing area. This is the draw deck for the duration of the game.
That’s it for the game set up. Determine who will go first and begin.
The Amazing World of the Blüffs
The game has three different types of cards. These are as follows:
The Basic Cards
These are the cards the players receive during game set up and comprise their starting hand. Basic “Beet” cards are planted in front of the player during the round and return to their hand when the round is over. The Basic “Bomb” cards explode and damage a Blüff by removing one of their Heart tokens. These cards also return to the player’s hand, regardless if they explode or not. Long story short, Basic “Beets” are good, and Basic “Bombs” are bad.
The Super Cards
These are the “super” and much more interesting versions of the basic beets and bombs. They provide additional bonuses and impact the game in interesting ways. Unlike your basic beet and bomb, Super cards do not return to the player’s hand once revealed, meaning Blüffs should plant them wisely.
The Action Cards
These cards provide the player a one-time action immediately resolved once the card is played and discarded. And by “resolved,” I mean the card is read, and the player does what it says. Most of the time, this means the card is resolved and immediately put in the discard pile, but there are some Action cards with the keyword “Equip.” These are placed in front of the player and are later “triggered” when certain game conditions are met or are removed via another Action card’s resolution.
The Heart tokens are removed during the game. If a player ever runs out of Heart tokens, they are out of the game and have lost. The Beet Belly tokens (that look like miniature Blüffs) keep track of successful raiding of the fields for beets.
Beet and Bomb Harvesting
Beets Bombs and the Blüffs is played in turns and rounds with no set number of rounds per game. Each round begins with the players placing a beet card, bomb card, or any “Plant” card from their hand face-down in front of them. This is the start of the player’s “field.” After all the players have placed their initial card, the first player takes their turn. A round of gameplay is summarized here.
Step One: Brag, Plant, or Pass
The first thing a player does is to decide how they will play the turn. This is done by either bragging to opponents, planting to the field, or passing.
Bragging gives the player the right to raid the field and all the face-down cards remaining in it. To brag, a player announces at the table in a loud and overly confident voice how many cards they can flip over that will result in a “beet.” The catch is that the number must be higher than the previous opponent’s bragging number. For example, if the player’s opponent bragged they could find two beets, the player must brag they will find three or more.
Planting allows the player to place one Basic Plant or one Super Plant card face-down to their field. This will create a row of cards, starting from the center of the draw deck towards the player’s sitting position, with each planted card getting closer to the player. A player’s field can never have any more than three cards each round. Once it’s placed face-down, it must remain flipped down until it’s flipped over. No peeking!
Passing allows the player to avoid bragging or planting for their turn.
Step Two: Around and Around and Around You Go Until You Raid
Step one continues for each player, either bragging, planting, or passing. If the turn comes back to the player and they still have the highest brag, the turn ends. Alternatively, a player can avoid all logic and reason and announce at the table on their turn with a brag number value equal to the number of cards in the field. If this is done, the turn automatically ends, and the player gets to raid.
Step Three: Raiding the Field
If the player won the brag, they must now flip over the face-down cards in the field to find the number of beets they stated as part of the brag. Keep in mind that the number noted as part of the brag does not signify the number of cards to be flipped but rather the number of beets that must be found before the player can stop flipping cards. Again, as an example, if the player stated six for their brag, they will need to flip over cards in the field until they find six beets. This could be done with only flipping over six cards or more.
The first card the player must flip over is any card of their choice in their own field. After that, the player may flip over any face-down card in any field of their choosing. Based on the cards flipped over and revealed, the following will occur:
- If the player flips over and reveals a bomb, the raid immediately ends, and the player loses one Heart token. The opponent who planted the Bomb card draws one card now and adds it to their hand. However, if the player flips over their own Bomb card (revealing it in their own field), then all of the player’s opponent’s draw one card.
- If the player flips over all the cards and does not find the required number of beets, the raid ends with no penalty.
- If the player flips over enough cards to find the required number of beets they bragged about, the player earns one Beet Belly token and draws one card. The raid then ends.
Step Four: Draw
All players return their Basic Plant cards (these are their starting beets and bomb) to their hand, along with any other cards they planted, and still remain face-down. All Super Plant cards that were flipped over and revealed during the round are discarded. Finally, all players draw one card from the draw deck, adding it to their hand.
This completes the round. A new round now begins.
Wait! What About Those Action Cards?
Good question! The Action cards are not beets or bombs. As such, they cannot be placed in the field. Instead, they stay in the player’s hand. The Action cards describe how they should be used and what events would allow the player to use them during the game. Keep close attention to your Action cards because the window of opportunity to use them is small at best. If used correctly, they could turn the game in the player’s favor!
“Beeting” the Game
The game ends when a player has successfully collected two Beet Belly tokens. They are declared the winner and get all the beets.
The game can also end with only two players remaining, with the player with the most Beet Belly tokens winning the game. However, the game goes into “Final Countdown” mode (cue Europe’s greatest song ever) if there is a Beet Belly token tie.
The two players in the Final Count down exchange their Beet Belly tokens for a Heart token (1:1 exchange) and discard all of their Super cards. The two players then select three of their Basic cards (beet or bomb) to plant in their field. Once all the cards are placed face-down in the fields, players take turns flipping over one of their opponent’s cards. If the player flips over a beet, the player’s turn is over, and now the opponent must do the same. If the player reveals a bomb, they lose a heart, and the players reset their fields. If only two cards remain face-down, the round resets without any player losing a Heart token. This is repeated until only one player is left standing and is declared the winner.
The game comes with three different variants that allow the player to adjust the gameplay. Each is summarized here.
- Baby Blüff: Remove all Super cards from the game. This simplifies the game to a point where it isn’t much fun to play, but it works really well when teaching the game or playing with exceedingly young Child Geeks. Only the most basic game mechanics are present, making it easy to grasp the game’s fundamentals.
- Braggier Blüffs: This hastens the game by starting the round with all players planting their three cards to their field. Since planting is no longer an option during the round, all players can do is brag or pass.
- Action Blüffs: During game set up, give each player two random Super cards as part of their starting hand. This adds more options to the game but does not make it any easier, longer, or shorter. However, it makes it more interesting as the player has unique options right at the start. Pair with Action Blüffs for a quick game of chaos.
To learn more about Beets Bombs and the Blüffs, visit the publisher’s website.
The Child Geeks had a lot of fun with the game, planting to their field with a lot of bluffing. Saying things like, “I hope you enjoy this tasty beet!” with a look in their eye that clearly had all at the table questioning the truthfulness of that statement. In fact, the Child Geeks immediately grasped the game’s intent of subterfuge and bluffing. I mean, come on, it’s right there in the title. According to one Child Geek, “I liked the game. You have no idea where the cards are, but that’s part of the fun. You have to take risks, and that feels exciting.” This Child Geek’s parents might want to watch this particularly Child Geek closely when they become a teenager. Another Child Geek said, “Fun and funny. I don’t like beets, so it makes total sense to me that they explode.” When all the beets were found, the Child Geeks gave Beets Bombs and the Blüffs their full endorsement.
The Parent Geeks also found the game to be a lot of fun. According to one Parent Geek, “A very entertaining and humous game. I have had to struggle to get my kids to eat vegetables, and I am sure this game will not make that any easier, but it was a real joy playing it with the family. Lots of laughs and groans, but always smiles.” Another Parent Geek said, “A clever approach to memory, bluffing, and taking risks. The rewards are not huge, but I must say I felt like a million bucks when I got the beets I wanted! Huge payoff and lots of fun.” When all the fields were planted, the Parent Geeks looked over the landscape and unanimously agreed that Beets Bombs and the Blüffs was a great view and worth their time.
The Gamer Geeks were about as mixed as you can get, with some really liking the game and others really disliking it. None of the gaming elitists fell in the middle. Apparently, beets can polarize a group. According to one Gamer Geek who enjoyed the game, “I liked it. A straightforward approach that still keeps you engaged right from the start. You have to bluff, and you have to watch your opponent’s carefully. The whole game felt like a gamble, and the competition can be fierce, with victory only being two successful attempts at the field. Good stuff.” Another Gamer Geeks, who did not care for the game, said, “It’s like a flawed version of Memory meets Stratego, but with beets. I felt like I was playing in traffic the whole time, and it was just a matter of time before I was either knocked out or someone told me to get out of the street because the game was over. I’ve played better bluffing games and did not care for this one.” When all the votes were in, the Gamer Geeks gave Beets Bombs and the Blüffs a mixed endorsement.
Beets Bombs and the Blüffs is not a game for the faint of heart or has a low tolerance for shenanigans. You play blind most of the time, which is part of the game’s challenge and charm. Everyone is playing blind, and victory goes to the individual who can play the odds. But with the fields being randomly created each round, it’s difficult for any player to feel comfortable with what they are guessing on. Which, again, is what I would consider part of the game’s charm. Let’s be clear, Beets Bombs and the Blüffs is a game that wants to be played and enjoyed but not taken seriously. Sit at the table with this attitude, and you are going to have a blast.
This is why roughly half of the Gamer Geeks rejected the game. If you are looking for a card game where a cool head, a calculating mind, and a sharp wit will win the day, you are only two-thirds of the way there. You do need your wits about you and having a cool head is always good as you’ll find plenty of opportunities to flip over bombs when all you want are the beets. Beets Bombs and the Blüffs is a game that will punish you but in a good way. One of the Parent Geeks likened it to playing Bloody Knuckles, wherein players purposely take the risk of being hit because they want a chance to hit their opponent. Yep, you’re going to feel the pain in this game, but if you manage to guess correctly, you feel absolutely awesome.
Do try Beets Bombs and the Blüffs with your family and friends when the opportunity presents itself. It’s a silly little game that is guaranteed to engage all at the table, with only a few of them feeling a little “beet up.”
Oh, my goodness. That was a horrible pun. My apologies.
This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.