Preview: Bugs on Rugs – Elementary Entomology
In Bugs on Rugs, you and your fellow collectors will take turns selecting bugs from the “floor” and adding them to your hand. Special powers means those bugs won’t always stay in your hand, however…
Deal each player one bug card to start their hand. Then place one bug face-up next to the deck to start the “wall”.
To begin each round, the start player deals out bugs into a central location, called the “floor”. There should be enough bugs for every player to take two, with one bug left over.
Each player takes a bug from the “floor” into their hand, going clockwise. Then each player takes another bug, going counterclockwise; this means the last player gets to take two bugs in a row, and the start player will only have two bugs available for their final choice.
After all players have drafted two cards, the bug left over moves to the “wall” and uses a special power. Wall powers include passing a bug to a neighbor, putting bugs back on the floor, or swapping out a bug from your hand with a bug from the wall. Some even allow you to activate a different bug’s wall power.
After the wall power has been resolved, the start player token moves to the next player, who lays out more bugs for a new round.
When “THE END” card shows up, players finish the current round (drawing more cards if necessary), then score.
Scoring must happen in a very specific order, since each bug scores differently.
First, butterflies score 1 point for each bug that is unique in your hand (ie. a single ladybug gets 1 point, but 2 ants get nothing). This includes mosquitos and flies that might get discarded later.
Each firefly scores 1 point for each rug color represented in your collection (up to 7 colors).
Larvae only score if they can be “hatched” by discarding a mosquito – and mosquitos themselves are worth nothing! A pair of mosquitos can count as a single bug of another type for scoring purposes, however.
The player with the most ants scores 5 for each ant they have, the player(s) with the next most scores 3 for each. All other players score 1 point per ant.
Spiders are worth a whopping 7 points, but only score if you “feed” them by discarding a fly.
Flies that survived the spider scoring are worth 2 points each.
Beetles are worth 5 points each – if you have an even number of beetles. But if your opponents stuck you with an extra beetle at the last moment and you have an odd number, they’re only worth 1 point.
Lastly, the ladybugs score a huge 25 points – if you have exactly 4 of them. Any other number of ladybugs score 1 point each.
Bugs on Rugs is a fast-playing game with surprising depth of strategy. The overall play is simple: draft a card from the table, draft another card, and apply the “wall power”. But the complex, interconnected scoring means that you need to keep an eye on your neighbors’ choices and shape your strategy accordingly.
Andrew grabbing ladybugs? Try to deny him his fourth ladybug or force him to take a fifth one. Abby took a spider? Deny her any flies; or if she’s been hoarding flies, make sure she doesn’t get any spiders!
We love the way Bugs on Rugs handles different player counts by placing the END card into the draw stack. Unlike other games that have us discard part of the stack, this keeps us guessing when the game will end. Most importantly, it doesn’t deny anyone the opportunity to take a final turn, since it’s impossible to run out of cards.
Our biggest problem was the “wall”. The idea is clever, but became cumbersome as we added more and more cards. Sometimes it was unclear what wall power was currently being used, since several powers involve shifting or exchanging the wall cards.
The iconography is not always helpful, especially when it comes to wall powers. Do I pass my entire hand, or only one card? There’s a lot of variety in the powers and only a few get used in an particular game. Because of this, we found ourselves re-checking the rulebook often. It would be nice to see a player aid to the powers. First-time players, especially, are at a disadvantage when they need to ask what each and every bug can do.
We did like the way the wall powers give agency to the players; allowing them to decide what card they discard or swap. And since Bugs on Rugs is both fast-moving and relatively short, it’s easy to play games back-to-back, trying different strategies each time.
We’d recommend Bugs on Rugs to the budding entomologists in your life, or anyone looking for a new twist on a card drafting game.
Kids Table Board Gaming has Bugs on Rugs available for pre-order now.
The Family Gamers were provided a prototype of Bugs on Rugs that was shipped to another reviewer.
Bugs on Rugs
Number of Players: 2-5
Age Range: 8+
Playtime: 20 minutes