I’m not exactly what you would call, the “camping type”. My idea of camping out involves being in the living room with my laptop when my wi-fi temporarily slows down. Why? Because…bugs, snakes, forest fires, UFOs, Slenderman, Elmer Fudd, and more importantly, bears. Luckily, games like “Bears!” exist to help me safely face my fears, one die roll at a time. In this particular fast-paced dice rolling game, players will be trying to pair up dice in order to score the most points. This is assuming of course that they can avoid being Chewbacca’s dinner in the first place. Before we stock up on the bear repellent, I’d like to thank Justin and Anne-Marie De Witt, the co-owners of Fireside Games, for providing me with a free press copy.
Dice – The game comes with a total of forty dice, consisting of twenty player dice (black in color) and twenty camp dice (white in color). Player dice consist of guns, runners, and sleepers while the camp dice are made up of bears and tents.
Reference Cards – There are four reference cards, with one going to each player. They serve to remind them as to how many points are earned for certain dice combinations during scoring.
Setup & Gameplay
Each player receives a total of five player dice and a reference card. The center of the board is seeded with five camp dice per player…that is, ten camp dice are used in a two player game, fifteen camp dice are used in a three player game, and twenty camp dice are used in a four player game. It’s worth noting that you’ll also need a pencil and paper (not included) to keep track of everyone’s score.
The game is broken up into several rounds. At the start of a round, all of the camp dice are rolled. If all bears or all tents are rolled, then you’ll need to roll again. Every player, simultaneously, will then roll their player dice. After that, it’ll be a free-for-all as players attempt to grab white dice in order to pair them with the player dice they rolled. Players are also free to reroll their unpaired player dice during this feeding frenzy. The only restrictions are that players can only take one camp die at a time and that once dice are paired, they effectively become locked in. The person who took the last bear or tent die from the center of the table must announce “Bears!” and the round ends.
At this point, players tally up their scores. A gun and bear combination earns one point, a runner and tent combination earns two points, and a sleeper and tent combination can either earn players five points or negative two points. If no bears are left in the center of the table at the end of the round, then the combination earns players five points. If all of the tents are taken before the bears however, the combination earns players negative two points. Incorrect pairings or taking dice that can’t be matched are scored at negative one point for each die.
After scoring is completed, the players begin a new round and repeat the above process. The first player to one hundred points wins!
The above doesn’t cover everything found in the manual, but should give you a good idea as to how the game is played. For more information, please refer to the manual I linked below:
In terms of a learning curve, the game is incredibly simple to pick up and play. Since the only real components in the game involve dice, clean up after the fact is also quick and easy. I had no issues with the dice themselves, nor did I have any issues making out the images / symbols on them. Each of the symbols have their own color, making it easy to pick them out from a distance.
For those of you who own “Zombie Dice”, you’re probably wondering if this game is simply a clone. I’d have to answer that question with a resounding “no”. This game doesn’t play anything like “Zombie Dice”, for a number of reasons. “Zombie Dice” is a press your luck kind of game that allows players to think about their choices before rolling again. “Bears!” is the polar opposite (ba-bump chhh!!!) in that it requires players to be quick on their feet. “Zombie Dice” instructs players to take turns, while “Bears!” has players all going simultaneously.
There’s also the matter of how the dice work in both of the above mentioned games. “Bears!” forces players to remember (with the help of their reference card) which dice pairings score points. “Zombie Dice” requires a little less thinking in that regard in that what you roll is what you get, end of story. I like the fact that “Bears!” allows players to reroll their player dice, though doing so will possibly cost the player in question. After all, time spent rerolling is time lost in collecting camp dice. In essence, there’s a bit of the time management genre etched into “Bears!” as well.
While dice games and I don’t get along too well (mainly because Lady Luck hates my guts), I found that I didn’t mind this particular one. There’s a little luck in rolling the player dice you’re looking for, but there’s also some strategy that ties in with how the scoring works. When you first look at the scoring system, it may seem obvious to players to go for the tent / runner combination instead of the guns / bear combination, as the former scores two points instead of one. With that said, you can risk pairing your sleepers with tents in the hopes that all of the bears will be gone before the tents are. As a result, those who make use of sleepers will be trying to pair up bears and guns and will avoid the tents if at all possible to keep them in play.
All in all, “Bears!” is a fast-paced and intense game that will get your adrenaline pumping. The light learning curve, coupled with the fact that the art isn’t gory, makes the game extremely family friendly. It does require some fast reflexes, so the high-strung may get a little carried away. As such, the game rewards those who come at in with a casual attitude as opposed to a competitive one. Vinnie (12) seemed to enjoy himself and expressed an interest in playing the game again in the future. There isn’t a lot of depth to gameplay as a whole, but the game would make for an excellent filler in between longer play sessions. As such, “Bears!” is definitely not your average dice game and for that, I highly recommend it.
Final Verdict: 8/10
You can learn more about and purchase “Bears!” by visiting the following websites: