Bugs in The Kitchen: A game that’s light on the strategy but heavy on the fun


By: Jeff Bakalchuck

Games, like ice cream, come in lots of “flavors”. I’ve often remarked that there is a reason why Baskin-Robbins has 31 flavors and not two. We don’t all like the same flavors and sometimes we aren’t in the mood for a flavor we normally love. You’re probably wondering about all this ice cream analysis and thinking Boomer has finally cracked up. Maybe not. Ravensburger is a game company that publishes some of my favorite strategy games, such as Puerto Rico and Princes of Florence. Along comes Bugs in the Kitchen, which is about as opposite of those two games as you can get. It’s not a game with much strategy, but it’s a blast. It’s especially fun for the under eight crowd or adults that like to act like that crowd.

Game Concept:

It’s a simple idea. Take a game board and divide it into sections using plastic levers, shaped liked silverware, that allow you to create a maze of passageways. Place traps at each corner, one for each player. Add a special edition, black and orange colored, HexBug Nano. One that’s styled to look like that dreaded insect we don’t want in our kitchen. Then let the players move those levers in an attempt to trap that normally unwanted visitor and presto instant fun. Unless you are like my wife and terrified of those bugs. She’s so terrified of them, that I’m not allowed to name them. Here’s a hint, the Spanish edition of the game is titled “La Cucaracha”.

Game Play:

The game starts by setting the levers to one of three starting configuration and placing la cucaracha in the center. The youngest player goes first by rolling the die. The die has a spoon, a fork, a knife and three question marks. You then get to turn a lever that corresponds to the die roll. If you roll a question mark you can move any lever. The goal is to get the little bugger into your trap. Of course, all the while, the bug is dancing around, bouncing off walls and changing direction. Most player are tempted to try and wait for the bug to get into the right position before turning a lever. The rules even state: “If a player takes too long, the other players can tell them to hurry up”. There is something wonderful about any game that has a rule that allows you to say “Make a move already, I’m not getting any younger here”. When the bug lands in your trap, you get a chip. The first player to amass five chips wins. A typical game will last about 10 minutes.

What it isn’t:

This isn’t a game about strategy. The maze is small, so there isn’t time to an elaborate pattern. Usually after the second player has gone, the bug will have a path to one or more traps. It isn’t a game where you should be over-analyzing you moves. The bugs isn’t very predictable in its movement.

What it is:

Silly Fun. It reminds me of the silly and really fun games of the my childhood. Games like “Hang on Harvey” and “Time Bomb”. It’s a game that’s best played quickly. It’s a game that needs a shot clock. If you have an egg timer even better. Set the timer and start the game, if the timer goes off during your turn then you lose your turn. This forces players to move fast.

It’s a Target exclusive, so if you want a copy head to your local Target. Of course