I have an extremely low tolerance when it comes to bullying, mainly because I was often a victim myself (I was short and hella-smart). I simply can’t stand people who are jealous or miserable enough to go about making someone else’s life harder than it needs to be. As an adult you learn that bullying is mostly misguided and misdirected anger, but somehow that doesn’t give you comfort when you’re just an eight year old kid who doesn’t know any better. “Bad Bully!” takes me back to those days, though this time I can actually DO something about it. Here, players will be targeted by the game (a bully) and be tasked with being either the last one standing or the one with the highest point total at the end of the game. Before we get started, I’d like to quickly thank Game Designer Anton Spalding for reaching out and providing me with a press copy for review purposes.
108 Cards (5 Kid Cards, 62 Stuff Cards, 10 Situation Cards, 19 Bully Cards, and 12 Save Cards), 3 Dice, and 70 tokens (35 Willpower Tokens, 25 Value Tokens, and 10 Appeal Tokens).
Setup & Gameplay
To quickly summarize game setup, each player will start by choosing a kid card to call their own. After that, they’ll collectively choose ONE bully to play against. Each player then takes willpower tokens equal the starting willpower value as listed on their kid card (the bully gets some starting willpower too). The decks are sorted by type and shuffled separately, with each player drawing five cards from the draw deck (comprised of stuff and save cards) to form their starting hand. The tokens are placed nearby within easy reach of all players.
The game is played over five rounds, depicting five days of the school week (Monday thru Friday). Each round has three phases, which are played out as follows:
1. Situation Phase: At the beginning of this phase, a situation card is drawn face-up and its effects applied this round. Each player then calculates their appeal (starting appeal + stuff cards) to see who goes first (highest appeal). Dice are rolled in the event of ties. If a player loses appeal during the game, appeal tokens are placed on their kid card as a reminder.
2. Player Turn Phase: Beginning with the starting player and going clockwise, players will complete player turns. To summarize this part, the active player will:
A. Prep – Draw the top card of the draw deck AND if they want to, activate their kid ability. If they opt to use their ability, the kid card is turned horizontally (tapped) to be refreshed at the beginning of the next day.
B. Pick – Take up to two actions, which involve playing a stuff card, trashing a stuff card, retrieving a face up stuff card from the discard pile, or drawing a card from the draw deck.
C. Purge – Discard (from their hand) down to three cards or less.
3. Bully Phase: Firstly, players can play certain save cards from their hand if they have them. Then, a bully card is drawn face up and is resolved. The bully will target certain players and use certain abilities as determined by the card and the encounter die. If a target player has less willpower than the bully, then they’ll suffer the effects of the bully’s ability. A bully has a few, so a number die is rolled to determine which one is activated. A player who loses all of their willpower is eliminated from the game.
Once five rounds have passed, players add up the values on their active stuff cards…whoever has the most, wins the game! Being the last one standing at any point during the game results in an automatic victory. The bully CAN be defeated by getting its willpower to zero…in that case, players simply ignore the bully phase and play out the rest of the game.
Editor’s Note: The above doesn’t cover all of the rules found in the manual, but should give you an idea as to how the game is played. For more information, you can check out the rulebook here:
Firstly, I need to address something from the viewpoint of a parent with three kids. “Bad Bully!”, to me, is more than a game. It’s an opportunity…an opportunity to talk to my youngest (Anthony graduated high school and Carolyn has a year before graduating) about bullying and the effects thereof. I see somewhat of a kindred spirit with Vinnie, as he’s short, smart, and struggles with being social. He also has ADHD, which makes his challenges even more difficult. “Bad Bully!” opens the door to conversations that I normally would have had to tactfully find the key to, so to speak. Those without kids may not understand what I’m trying to say, though I suspect you parents out there do.
The game itself is fairly straight-forward, though it forces each player to observe a bit of risk-taking. You see, playing active stuff cards will grant you more points, but can make you a target during the bully phase (highest point total is one of the target rolls). This paves the way for a bit of strategy in that you can let someone else maintain the lead early on and then (hopefully) play cards toward the end of the week to push ahead. Then again, most cards have a willpower requirement…wait too long, and you may not be able to play the cards you’ve been holding due to diminished willpower. I like the fact that players are encouraged to play low valued stuff cards, as those are the cards the bully will steal/target first.
The manual was a fairly easy read, though it is lengthy enough to where you might miss something if you skim through it. Luckily, there’s an example round towards the back that shows you how a typical round might play out. The rest of the components were simply “fine”, though the card art stood out the most. While cartoony, the objects featured on the cards were eye-catching and the text well-illustrated. There is a good bit of text to read on these cards however, so be sure to reserve some extra play time for your first few games…just until you get a handle on what all the cards do and how they tie together.
As you regular readers know by now, I factor the game’s retail cost into my review score heavily. In this case, the “Bad Bully!” is priced at $39.99 (as of 4/28/15). As fun and as great as the game is, there’s NO way I could recommend it to the general public…not at that price. Unless you’re rolling in the dough and don’t care about money, there are other games out there that give you more bang for your buck. In this case, you’re paying forty bucks for 108 Cards, 3 Dice, and 70 tokens. “Sequence” (while having a different rule set) features cards, chips, AND a board for only about $15. $15-20 would have been more realistic and on par with other games on the market, I feel. Maybe even $25, though that would be pushing it.
If you can stomach the cost, you’ll find “Bad Bully!” to be an interesting concept with some great ideas that won’t overload the casual player.
Final Verdict: 5/10
Editor’s Note – 4/28/15: It’s worth noting that had the price been more reasonable, I probably would have given this game a 7/10…something to consider. The game itself is fine, it’s just way too overpriced.
Editor’s Note – 5/1/15: I was informed by the developer that the price has been reduced to $29.99 as of today, 5/1/15.
You can learn more about and purchase “Bad Bully!” by visiting the following websites: