Bug Out

So, it’s like this: there are two decks of cards, almost identical, except that one deck is square, the other round. And on each card, in each deck, there are John Kovalic’s gently humorous, cartoon-like drawings of bugs, each card a different bug, each bug in one deck having a corresponding bug in the other. Now, you’d think that matching a square card to an identical round card – one with exactly the same cartoon-like bug on precisely the same color background – would be mere child’s play. You’d, of course, be right. All except for the “mere” and the “child’s” parts.

Yes, yes, the game could easily be played by five-year-olds. The cards are just the right size for little hands. And, with a little patience, even littler hands. And, with a little more patience, big, clumsy-handed people as old as I am. Sure, there are only 36 different bugs to deal with, but as soon as the bug cards are all out on the table, and you find yourself frantically shuffling through your hand of square cards (the “leaf cards”) while everyone else is shuffling and scanning, covering the round cards (the “bug cards”) with the corresponding leaf cards, racing to be the first to get rid of all their cards – the challenge becomes vividly evident.

Bug Out is easy to learn (maybe 5 minutes) and very fast (easily less than 5 minutes). But you’re going to want to play it again and again. You can even keep score, if you’re that kind of player. Speaking of kinds of players, it’s true that Bug Out is as fun for little kids as it is for grown kids (sometimes known as “adults”), but when playing together, as a family, discrepancies in recognition and reaction time might prove to be a bit too unavoidable to keep everyone in play. However, as Gamestaster Erin was quick to point out, that can be easily ameliorated by adding a handicapping rule, like: the winning player gets extra cards the next round. Whether or not you decide to invent some kind of rule to keep everyone equally in play, it’s a good idea, as the designers are quick to note, to let the game continue until everyone has finished, just so all the players can experience something akin to satisfaction.

The designers and refiners (Brad Ross and the many wonderful folk at Out of the Box Games) also make a distinction between Bug Out and Big Bug Out. In the latter, the bug cards are placed on the floor. How widely the cards are spread out on said floor determines the amount of frenzied physicality you wish to engender. Needless to say, physical limitations and proclivities need to be taken into account. But the fun, o, the sheer, manic, major fun!


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