X-Bugs: Set 4: Chitinians vs. Sovietoptera (black / light green)
English language edition
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X-Bugs is a fast-moving combination of luck, skill, and strategy. You control an army of microscopic mutated monsters. Each bug is a plastic chip. Flip the chips to attack--grab resources, eat the enemy bugs, and capture your foe's bases to win! Each bug has a special power to attack or defend. Outmaneuver and devour your foe, and lead your swarm to victory!
The Chitinians Once the slaves of the mechanized Flyborgs, the Chitinians are now free to conquer with their own fangs, claws, and biological weapons. Six types of microscopic menace include the deadly Exterminator, the Larva, that can hatch into replacement warriors, the Acid Spitter, and the web-shooting Spider!
The Sovietoptera Fearless and stalwart, the "Red Ants" were the last secret project of the USSR, created to save Mother Russian from the alien bugs. Now they're everywhere... Six types of crawlie Commies, from the humble but persistent Worker to the nearly unkillable, flame-throwing Tank and the sneaky Saboteur!
These armies come in two versions. X-Bugs Set 3 has red Chitinians and green Sovietoptera chips. Set 4 has black Chitinians and light green Sovietoptera. With both sets, 3 or 4 can play. Or stage a showdown between two armies of the same type!
As a child, Tiddly-Winks fascinated me. I was always horrible at them, but it was such fun to snap the little plastic discs all over the room, into buckets and over chairs, etc. When I saw that X-Bugs (Steve Jackson, 2001 Marco Maggi and Francesco Nepitello) was basically Tiddly-Winks with special powers, I was immediately interested.
And how has the game turned out? There is one flaw with the game, in my opinion, but overall, its a very fun game, and I am starting to think that Italian designers are amongst the worlds best. X-bugs currently is sold in four boxes, each box containing two armies. There are only four armies (USartropods, Flyborgs, Sovietopters, and Chitinians), so two of the boxes are identical, with the only difference being the colors. (So if you were dying to play a Flyborgs vs. Flyborgs game, you would be able to.) Ill tell you a little more about the game mechanics.
Each player chooses an army and takes all the pieces related to that army. The amount of pieces for each army varies, but every army has the following:
- Three dice, with different units on each side of the die.
- One rectangle plastic piece, to be used as a shooter.
- Three large circle plastic pieces, with different pictures on each side: one representing the large base, and the other the small base.
- Five very small plastic pieces, with no stickers, representing resources.
A variety of solider pieces, made up of rectangle plastic pieces, and small and large circles, conclude the composition of each army. (Some armies have special tokens like rockets or webs, that arent soldiers, but used when ranged weapons are used.) Many of the soldiers have two sides, with one side having a special ability.
A playing area is picked (usually a tables surface with a thin tablecloth) and split into two halves. Each player places their bases (small versions) anywhere in their areas, as long as they are 4 from the table edge and 6 from the center of the table. Soldiers are then placed (on their normal side) anywhere on the board with the same restrictions. Each player takes their resource ships and drops them on the board, letting them scatter around. The special tokens are set aside and only used when needed. One player goes first, and then each player takes a turn.
On a turn, the player rolls their dice, one for each base they currently have. The bugs that show on the dice rolled are the bugs that can be moved this turn. The player may shoot these bugs towards the enemy. If a bug goes off the table, the player loses their move with that bug. If the solider lands on enemy soldiers, however, it eliminates the soldier(s). If the bug lands under an enemy piece (it happens rarely), the attacking bug is lost. There is no penalty for landing on top of friendly pieces. Since bugs have special abilities (especially when on their special side). The only way to get a bug onto its special side is to flip it thus. Many special abilities may be used instead of moving the bug. Examples of special abilities from all four armies include:
- the Tank bug can shoot a Flame, which eliminates bugs it lands on, and stays in play
- the Centurion bug can raise a shield, in which it takes two hits to kill it
- the Spider can shoot a web, which can immobilize enemy bugs.
- the Carrier can bring reinforcements to the board from where it is located
- the Saboteur cannot be captured when on its special side
- if the Zealot is captured when on its special side, the attacking bug is also eliminated
- the Exterminator can move again if it captures a bug, but cannot attack bases
- the Intruder can move twice if on its special side.
- and many, many more!
Bugs can also capture resources. If a team captures two resources, they can upgrade their bases to a large base, which also provides a special ability to that team. When a base is hit by a bug, the base is downgraded from a large base to a small base. If the base was already small, the base is eliminated from the game, and the owner loses one of his dice.
Any player that kills one or more bugs on their turn may move one more pieces of their choice. Also, if a player rolls the dice, and the bug showing has been totally eliminated from their team, they may bring in a reinforcement, next to one of their bases. (This may only be done if the team still has at least two bases). Whichever team captures all three of the enemies bases is the winner!
Some comments on the game:
1). Components: I have yet to see a Steve Jackson game that gave me my moneys worth, component wise, but this game comes awfully close. The plastic pieces are of utmost quality, and look very sharp and impressive when laid out on the table. Stickers are provided, which must be put on all the pieces and dice, but they have stayed on well, and look pretty good. The box is the same size as most of Steve Jackson small games, and holds the pieces well, but youll certainly want bags to hold each army. I bought two boxes, to get one of each army, and found that all four armies fit easily in only one box. The box and bugs have some very nice artwork, which provides a humorous but very thematic look to the game.
2). Rules: The rules are printed on four pages of rules in full color and are written with extreme simplicity and clarity. I found that the game is rather simple to teach, with the only holdup being the special abilities of bases and soldiers. However, the rules come with little perforated charts for each army, which can be torn out. This allows each player to look over the rules for their army, and helps speed play up quite a bit. After a bit of playing, players should easily remember the special rules of their pieces. The rules also include some variants for multiplayer games, which include free-for-alls and team play.
3). Flaw: One thing I do not like about the game, and consider a flaw, is that when a players base is eliminated, they lose one of their dice, with no chance of ever getting it back. Im sure people will disagree with me on this, but I have seen many games where someone gets a lucky shot on the first or second turn, and eliminates an opponents base. The opponent then has a HUGE disadvantage, being able to move only two bugs to his opponents three. My fix is to only take away a die when youve lost two bases. It seemed to make the game better for us.
4). Not a flaw: I do not complain, however, about the lucky shots. There is a good deal of skill in shooting the bugs. It is one that I certainly do not have, for I have never done well at this game, or Tiddly Winks for that matter. But special abilities of the bugs aside, and strategic layout of your army, the person who shoots the best will probably win. And this is not a bad thing.
5). Army balance: Each of the armies is very different. Yet I have not found that one of the armies is better than the rest. Rather, they seem to remarkably well balanced (although the army that I play seems to lose more often than not). Each army has a unique style of play, and a player should read over their special abilities so that they may utilize their army to maximum effectiveness. I suppose it would be interesting to play the same army against itself, but Im not currently willing to spend the extra money to do so.
6). New armies: The designer of the game has told me that they are currently making new armies of X-bugs, although he wasnt clear as to whether they would be in the Steve Jackson version or not. But this brings new life to the game, and if new armies appear over the years, it will keep the game fresh and new to many players, while providing quite a few options when choosing an army.
7). Fun Factor: The fun in this game is HUGE. I am awful, terrible, and pretty much rot at playing X-bugs. Yet I still have a lot of fun. Everybody oohs and ahs at the good shots, and laughs hysterically at the amazingly bad shots. This is one game that is enjoyed by both children and adults alike, and where the skill level is basically the same.
So I will recommend X-bugs highly. If you are looking for a dexterity game that combines the special abilities often found in CCGs, then this game is perfect for you. If you dont care about the special abilities, however, Im still convinced that you would enjoy the game. The smartest or most tactical player will often lose to the better shot, which in gaming groups is often a good thing, and helps balance out the win ratio in the group. And, its a game you can play with your kids where you try your hardest to win, and still will often lose. Its a little steep for what you get, but I think the fun inside the boxes, along with very good components, justifies the price. Try this game, and have a blast killing off your opponents bugs!
This is a pretty great game. It's like a mean spirited version of the old tiddley-winks game, where you're attacking your opponent by sending plastic chips flying at them. It takes a bit of getting used to, but it's fun because there's both a strategy game and there's physical coordination required. I recommend it. The other sets also have some interesting special characteristics, I just hope they keep expanding the game.
In this game the object is to shoot your bugs (little plastic disks) like tidily winks and land on top of you opponents bugs or bases. The first person to destroy all three of their opponents bases wins. The different bug armies are evenly matched. There a minimal amount of strategy involved, instead this game comes down to your skill at shooting.
This is a very fun game with a lot of close calls and wild blunders. The rules are very straight forward and easy to learn. Getting consistent with your shot can be difficult. Every surface plays differently, greatly changing the way the bugs launch.
Though the armies are evenly matched this game is not quite fair. The number of bases determines the number of moves you can make per turn. If you fall behind in terms of your bases for more then about 3 rounds it can be very difficult to catch up. A one to three disadvantage of bases is nearly an insurmountable obstacle. Needless to say come backs are not common in this game. For that reason it can give this game only 3 stars even though it is very enjoyable.
The future of tiddlywinks has arrived! Each set consists of two armies of colored insects. Each color has plastic counters showing bases and different insects, three dice showing the insects, and a "snapper." Neutral currency counters are scattered in the center of the table.
Arrange your insects (with their basic powers shown faceup) individually around your bases, at your edge of the table. Each turn, snap the insects rolled on your dice like tiddly-winks. Remove from play any enemy insects or bases you reach and overlap. Players who lose a base discard one die. Acquire any currency counters you land on. Spend currency to upgrade your counters (turn them to the other side), giving them extra moves or defensive strength. Players who lose all bases or who are reduced to two insects crawl away in defeat. Last survivor wins. You'll be bitten by the bug!