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March 1, 2016 / Jett

Bad Beets Review

Dinner is served! Hope you like beets! No? Well too bad, you’re not leaving the table until you finish them all.

This is the start of Bad Beets, a card game in which players must get rid of all the beets from their plate before they can leave the dinner table. While you can just sit there and eat them, you can also get rid of your beets in faster, less honourable ways. Will you be the first to clear off your plate?

Bad Beets is played with a set of beet tokens and a small deck of cards. Each player will start with 8 beet tokens, though you’ll need to get rid of all of them in order to win. Players will also start with one action card, which allows that player to legally perform the action listed on the card.

Bad BeetsPlay begins with the first player drawing an additional card from the draw pile. Choosing one and passing the extra card to the person set to go next, the player can perform one of four actions. They can simply eat a beet by removing one token from their collection. They can share two beets with another player. They can feed the dog three beets. Or, if have an idea of what card someone is holding, they can publicly call them out by playing tattletale.

While having one of the action cards will give you legal access to it, you don’t have the corresponding card to do it. For example, you could be holding a tattletale card and lie to your opponents by feeding the dog. If you get away with it, great. However, if someone thinks you’re lying, you’ll be forced to show your hand and draw a new card. If you were telling the truth, the person that called you out has to take an extra beat. But if you were lying, it’s you that has to collect another one.

There are a few other actions that can occur in the middle of someone’s turn. If someone feeds the dog and you have a copycat card, you can reveal it to automatically get rid of two beets. The most dramatic reversal in the game is the nuh-uh card, which can force someone that is snitching on you to take four of your beets off of your plate.

Bad BeetsIf you don’t feel comfortable bluffing, it is possible to play it straight and still win. However, it really is in your best interest to fib at times to gain an advantage. My favourite tactic is to keep the nuh-uh card and say I’m feeding the dog. When someone then tries to tattletale on me, I show the nuh-uh card and give away four more.

Avid board gamers may look at this and think that it’s very reminiscent of another game called Coup. Well, they’re absolutely right. Mechanically, there are a lot of similarities with how the games work. That said, Bad Beets makes a number of changes to justify its existence. For one, the games are completely differently thematically, as one is about jostling for political power, while the other is about clearing beets from your plate. If having a game that is family friendly is a priority, then go with Bad Beets, as it doesn’t involve killing people.

Personally, I give the thematic edge to Bad Beets, as it makes more sense relative to the actions performed in the game. Events like feeding the dog, tattling on someone or sharing your beets makes perfect sense with what the game has you doing, while you have to jump through some mental hoops to justify how a contessa blocks an assassination.

In terms of gameplay, Bad Beets is a simpler game, but one that also has its benefits. For example, there is no player elimination, allowing for everyone to be engaged the whole time. Instead, you can find yourself with a glut of beets that can be really hard to overcome, though it can be possible to make a huge run. Coup is not necessarily a difficult game to learn, but this one is even easier, thanks to simplified mechanics and a stronger grasp on its theme.

Is one better than the other? Depends on what you’re looking for, though I personally prefer Bad Beets. This gives you the same taste of bluffing in a game that is suitable for the whole family while being more tightly integrated with its theme. Beets may not be everyone’s cup of tea, though I think a lot of people will enjoy Bad Beets.

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