December 15, 2023

Turns out, fears of the bees dying out were overblown.  The bees were in no trouble at all.  But humans?  Humans were, or rather are, doomed.


Fast forward to a distant future where humanity is gone and the bees have created a space-faring society.  They spread through the galaxy, turning worlds into gardens which produce resources that the bees back on Earth use to improve their hives, improve themselves, and curry favor with the Queen.  You are the leader of one of these hives, and it’s up to you to take your hive to new heights before the time of hibernation returns.


In Apiary, you’ll assign your worker bees to various tasks, gather resources, and convert those resources into point-scoring, game-winning improvements to your hive and greater bee-dom.  At the start of your turn, you can do one of two things: place a single worker where they can complete one of six actions; or collect all your worker bees back to your hive.


When your worker bees return to your hive, they “level up.”  Bees are leveled from 1 to 4, and the stronger your bees, the more they can do.  Returning bees also gather resources from your hive’s fields.  They’ll collect Pollen, Water, and Fiber, the pillars of bee society.


Your farms not only produce these resources, but also store them.  If you don’t have room for all of the resources you’ve gathered, the excess goes to the Queen, earning you points of her favor.


If you didn’t gather your bees back home, but assigned them to tasks, you can perform the actions where those workers are.  These are things like fly the Queen’s Spaceship to new or explored planets to harvest their resources, build new farms for your hive or recruit new bees (who have ongoing effects for your hive) or build new developments (which have a powerful one-time effect), research new plants, convert the resources you have into the resources you need (opening the way to gather Wax and Honey), or glorify your achievements by carving the history of your bee-ple into the walls of your hive.


In most of these areas, the more bees there, and the higher there combined levels, the more that can be achieved at these tasks.  But there’s also limited space for workers at any of these work stations.  Every time a new worker shows up, any workers currently there move down to make room for them, potentially bumping the worker who’s been there the longest out of the work station.  If that happens, you can level up your bee and put them back into your pool of workers in need of a task, or you can set them in your Landing Area, allowing you to use them when you reclaim all your bees home in collecting resources from your fields.


Any time a Level 4 worker would level up, you send them to the Hibernation Comb.  When the Comb is full, everyone gets a final turn before the game is over.  You’ll score points based on having the most bees in the Hibernation Comb, the amount of favor you have with the Queen, and many of the improvements you’ve made to your hive and its culture.  Most factions (and there are 20 to choose from) have additional ways to score points.  The hive with the most points wins.


Apiary is what’s called a worker-placement game; you have a limited number of workers, and where you place them on the board dictates what you can do on your turn.  In this game, placing a worker is also likely to bump other workers, either yours or those placed by the other players, into new positions or return them to their hive where they can be sent to perform new tasks.  So you need to worry about the knock-on effects of your actions as much the opportunities created by placing a worker.


Up to five can play (and the number of players adjusts things like how big the Hibernation Comb is), and a full game usually runs between an hour and an hour-and-a-half.  If you love other worker-placement games like Flamecraft, if you enjoy intricately designed games where every move you make has noteworthy effect, or you just think the idea of a bees in space is cool, buzz on over to your local Dragon’s Lair Comics & Fantasy® to claim your copy of Apiary today.


All Dragon’s Lair Comics & Fantasy® locations are independently owned and operated by local folks. Not all stores will carry all games but will be willing to attempt to special order any that they do not carry. (And they’ll carry most.)