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Store:  Family Games
Edition:  Honeybears
Genre:  Racing
Format:  Board Games


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Ages Play Time Players
8+ 25 minutes 2-4

Designer(s): Reiner Knizia

Manufacturer(s): Piatnik

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Product Information

  • Designer(s): Reiner Knizia

  • Manufacturer(s): Piatnik

  • Year: 1998

  • Players: 2 - 4

  • Time: 25 minutes

  • Ages: 8 and up

  • Weight: 355 grams

  • Language Requirements: Game components are language-independent. An English translation of the rules is provided.

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 3.8 in 5 reviews

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Cute and surprisingly strategic
April 27, 2001

'Honeybears' is one of the lesser-known games in the Knizia canon. Aimed squarely at the children's game market, it still has plenty of depth for adult gamers as well. Other reviewers once again have beaten me to the punch in describing the mechanics, so I will get on to my impressions.

What makes Honeybears so good is the agonizing decisions of which cards to play. Each time you advance a bear, you are reducing your holdings for that bear, and therefore lowering your chance for a good score. Advance a bear too slowly and the players risk having a negative score for that bear. The choices are few but the ramifications of those choices are difficult and tantalizing in equal degrees.

While a hand composed mostly of wild cards will allow a player to dominate a round of play, it is recommended that one round be played per player to even out the luck factor. Each round is refreshingly short, so this suggestion is more of a blessing than a curse.

Highly recommended for children and adults alike. Locate a copy if you can.

November 14, 1999

HoneyBears is really sort of a silly little game.

I really should play for strategy... but Red Bear MUST WIN! And so, sadly, I lose every time.

A Children's theme with Adult excitement!
November 07, 1999

Beautiful game components, fast play and high excitement make Honeybears a fun-filled game each time you play! In true Knizia fashion the choice of which card to play is never easy. You never have enough Joker cards and hoarding your potential high scoring pair of '1' cards could leave your favorite bear in negative scoring territory! You need your opponents' help in advancing bears into positive scoring positions before each round ends. This game is agonizing fun as you wait and watch each turn to see which bears your opponents will advance.

Honeybears is recommended for play with 3-5 people, but I've found it just as enjoyable with two players. You simply deal 13 cards to yourself and your opponent (the equivalent deal of a four player game) then alternate drawing cards from the unused deck for two dummy players (you move, draw for a dummy, your opponent moves, draw for a dummy etc.). If a dummy player draws a Joker card, always advance the slowest bear. This allows for a very competitive game for two players.

Honeybears is a gem and the price couldn't be more reasonable. I highly recommend this game for anyone's collection! (By the way, my copy of the game came with beautiful wooden bear figures; not pawns as shown in the graphic.)

a great race game for kids and adults
May 19, 1999

The theme seems goofy, but there's a good game hidden under it. This Reiner Knizia race game is somewhat akin to Titan: The Arena. Each player gets a hand full of cards which help move one color of bear down the track to the cave (the end of the race). Some cards are wild and can affect any bear. The trick is that points at the end are scored based on the cards you have left in your hand. So moving a bear forward towards the end removes points from your hand, but points are also determined by how far a bear gets in the race. Very clever.

Sweet but not fattening
August 28, 1999

Hiding in this apparent children's game is a quick little filler that will appeal to adults and serious gamers alike. In Honeybears, four bears are trying to make it from one end of the small board to the other - the premise being that they have just stolen some honey and want to get away from the irate bees as quickly as possible.

In this game no one bear is controlled by a single player, but each player can move any bear along the track by playing a card of the matching colour from their hand, dealt out at the start of each round. Cards will move one bear either one or two steps, as specified on the cards. There are also wild cards that allow the player to elect which bear to move. As soon as one bear reaches the finish line the round is over, and the player who moved the bear over the line scores a bonus.

It is the scoring that makes Honeybears such a fascinating game. For each bear, you score the product of how far the bear is along the track (there are regions from -2 to +3) and the sum of your unplayed cards in that bear's colour. This produces a dilemma - do you play a card for a bear, moving it into a higher-scoring region, but lowering your stake in the score for its final position, or do you wait and let someone else do it for you? On top of this, having two '1' cards for the same colour bear counts as a multiplier of five, not two. This makes it rarely beneficial to split pairs and stops the game from becoming a free-for-all.

Usually several rounds of Honeybears should be played to even out the somewhat large luck element. This luck element may put serious gamers off, but the game is so short - usually it is over in a couple of minutes - that it doesn't really matter. The cards and bear-shaped wooden tokens are altogether too cute for words. Lots of fun.

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