Bears vs. Babies Review:
From the same people who brought to us the glory of Exploding Kittens, comes a new installment that pushes the boundaries of family appropriate filler games…Bears vs. Babies! For those of you not familiar with Exploding Kitten’s rapid rise to stardom, this game should be the poster child of what Kickstarter has done for the tabletop gaming community. Their newest game to come out is called Bears vs. Babies, and it is every bit as ridiculous as the Exploding Kittens. The game plays anywhere from 2-5 players ages 10+ (though a NSFW expansion for adults only is available). The core deck is equipped with over 100 cards (107 to be exact) and gameplay varies depending on how many players there are (it’s a quick game though).
The premise of Bears vs. Babies is a bit bizarre. Essentially, you are competing with each other to build armies of monsters (and bears) in order to defeat a common enemy – babies. While the theme is suspect, it is certainly on par with the thought of exploding kittens. I honestly was not the least bit surprised when I saw the new game theme. I think the polarizing theme does a great job of attracting new players. Can you imagine inviting someone to play this game for the first time? Their reaction? Thankfully, the mechanics of the game are solid and replay-ability is through the roof.
Bears vs. Babies has definitely come into the modern era better than most regarding game rules. While there are physical instructions included in the game, the actual rules can be found in this video here. Everyone hates having to read the rules in order to play a new game, and Bears vs. Babies answers all of your game questions regarding play in just over 7 minutes.
Your turn consists of drawing and playing cards in order to build your three armies (land, sky, sea). The amount of turns you take depends on how many players there are, so the game scales well when played within the correct range (2-5). The game also comes with a material mat to play your babies (when drawn), discarded cards, and discard piles. They even account for bad shuffling by diving the discard pile into three decks to choose from on your turn. Once a baby army is “provoked” (either during a turn or by drawing the card) each player tallies their monster army points and compares their army with the associated baby army that was provoked. Whoever has the highest score gets to keep the babies!
The game also has other special cards that can be used to either bolster your standing or hinder other players. This does a nice job of creating tension among the players.
Bears vs. Babies capitalizes on the success of Exploding Kittens in order to expand what a filler game can do. The game is truly unique. Game mat included? Check. Ridiculous theme? Check. Box made out of fur? Che-wait what? Yes, the box is made out of fur. While the theme jumps out at you, they decided to make the physical aesthetics jump too. It works. Put all your game boxes out the next time a friend comes over and see which one they naturally gravitate toward first. I guarantee you it will be this one.
From a mechanic perspective, the game is very simple. The age range is 10+ I feel like because of the theme, but the gameplay is solid for a filler. Adding moves to your turn when there are fewer people playing is a great rule that I haven’t seen in a game in some time. It really adds to the game when there is only two people playing. When you have the full five players, each move is more important than the last since so much can happen between turns.
The aesthetics go a long way in this game as well. Monsters can have heads that don’t match their body, while the legs and arms are also represented by different cards. This leads to a great deal of monster variability. It doesn’t add to the mechanics of the game that much, but it definitely adds to the experience. For this game, it is all about being polarizing as possible to get the players to loosen up. We’re not vying for world domination or trying to cure the planet of sickly diseases. We’re playing a game and it should feel that way. I really think this adds to the replay ability of the game too. You’re in it to demolish the other players (and the babies), but it always feel generally light-hearted.
Bears vs. Babies consolidates what made Exploding Kittens successful and adds in some more mechanics and aesthetics to bring about another fantastic filler game. I’d say the correlation between the two games is positive. If you loved Exploding Kittens, then you’ll also greatly enjoy this game too. The games are only really similar in their polarizing theme. Other than that, the overall experience is different enough to warrant the ownership of both games. If the theme of the first was a little too extreme for you, then you probably haven’t read this far down on the post and have already passed on this game. The game won’t take very long to play (5 – 20 minutes depending on who is playing), and play time can be manipulated depending on how many rounds deep you go. All in all, this is a solid game with extensive appeal.