Waggle Dance is a worker placement game that has players act as Queen Bees, using their bees to grow their hive, collect pollen and of course, produce honey. Waggle Dance is an interesting development of a worker placement game, with an interesting resource development engine in place that has to be carefully balanced. Overall, with nice artwork and cute dice, it’s a decent addition to the worker placement genre.
In Waggle Dance, each bee is represented as a die. At the start of each turn, players roll their dice and take turns placing them on the available cards, taking up spots in the cards (which at times can be limited) which represent actions that the bees are taking. Actions for the bees during that turn include increasing the size of the hive, plantin an egg, hatching an egg (for more workers/dice), collecting pollen of a colour type, changing eggs or pollen to pollen of another type, collecting special cards, moving collected pollen around the hive and turning pollen into honey.
4 pollen of the same kind must be collected and stored on a cell to make honey, and during a turn a player can only collect at most 2 pieces of a single colour of pollen. As such, making honey is a multi-turn process. As the winner of the game is the player who first reaches 5 pollen, this makes the collection of pollen a race.
Waggle Dance is a well designed and developed game. The dice are small and custom made, but perfect for their use and not hard to read. The colours are all bright and easy to pick out and the game uses a lot of symbols to indicate actions, but for the most part the symbols are quite easy to discern. Overall, I have to give Waggle Dance great marks for the overall design.
Gameplay for Waggle Dance would probably place it in the medium-light ‘weight’ as a strategy game. The ruleset like most Euros is pretty easy to learn and if you’ve played a game like Castles of Burgundy or Kingsburg before, you’ll understand the entire worker placement as dice aspect really quickly. That leaves the game balance, which is achieved by pitting competing needs against one another.
Specifically, players have to have sufficient space in their hive to collect and store pollen (and honey eventually) while providing space to plant eggs to hatch for new workers. Spend too much time growing your hive and collecting pollen and you won’t have enough workers to compete against other players, however, because of the limit of the number of pollen available in a round; you can’t neglect pollen collection to just grow your workers.
This makes Waggle Dance ‘feel’ more like a traditional euro with a full resource engine behind it, but one that is extremely tightly developed as it is a race to 5 honey instead of victory points. As such, you’ll always be watching what other players are doing while potentially attempting to block their actions. I definitely like that competitive aspect of the gameplay, especially the competition around pollen collection.
I would definitely put Waggle Dance as an extremely solid addition to the worker placement genre. It should definitely be part of the consideration for a collection if you don’t have a solid worker placement game as yet. Or you know, you like bees.