Bites (Game Review by Brandon Kempf)

  • Designers: Brigitte Ditt & Wolfgang Ditt
  • Artists: Filip Gavril & Anca Gavril
  • Publisher: BoardGameTables.com
  • Players: 2-5
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Times Played: 6 (1 Double Bites)

BoardGameTables.com has been attempting to establish themselves as a preeminent purveyor of board gaming tables, accessories & more recently as a board game publisher over the past couple of years. The most recent board game release from BoardGameTables.com is Bites, which was originally released as the game Big Points nearly twelve years ago. Big Points was more of an abstract, with colorful pawns moving from colorful disc to disc. It looked very much a product of its time and this new version, Bites, looks every bit a product of this Kickstarter era, but does it play like a game of the past? Or the future? 

A game of Bites consists of fifty food tokens of five different varieties, Grapes, Apples, Bread, Cheese & Pepper, plus five each of Chocolate and Wine. All the staples of a great picnic. To start the game you mix up fifty five of these tokens, leaving out one of each of the basic foods for later, and arrange them in a line weaving and meandering to fit it all in the space you have on your table. At one end of the line place the five ants which are in the five different colors matching the food tokens, Purple, Red, Brown, Yellow & Green. At the other end place the cardboard Anthill that you have put together which consists of five different levels. 

Ultimately what you are doing in Bites is collecting food tokens trying to score the most points. On a player’s turn they can choose one of the ants and move it to the next available food that matches it’s color food. Meaning the purple ant moves to grapes, the red ant moves to apples and so on. After moving the ant the player then chooses a food that is directly in front of or behind it. If those food tiles are occupied you simply look to the next available token. When an ant reaches the end of the food line, they are placed on the ant hill stand according to the Ant Hill card that was chosen at the beginning of the game. There are three Ant Hill cards in the box, one states that the ants are placed from top to bottom, one states they are placed from bottom to top and one mixes that up a bit. The level on the Ant Hill determines how many points the food tokens are worth. So if the red ant finishes and is placed on the top level, apple tokens are worth four points a piece. If the yellow ant is on the bottom level, cheese is worth zero points. When an ant finishes the line and goes to the ant hill, the player that moved that ant gets to choose one of the five food tokens that were set aside at the beginning of setup. That token is then added to their collection to be scored at the end of the game. 

There are three other card types in the game. The Chocolate Cards will give you the ability to use Chocolate tiles to bend the rules and give you extra actions, like the ability to move twice and collect food, or the ability to move ants backwards. The Wine Cards will decide how the collected Wine tokens will score. The third card is the Special Rule card and it will change things in how the game plays. For example, one card adds some logs to the game, and those logs sit at different spots in the food line. The first person to take an ant across that line takes the log and the log is worth negative points at the end of the game. 

Bites will end when the last ant has reached the ant hill and after the players score their points, the player with the most points wins the game. 

I first saw Bites at Geekway to the West last year, but in all honesty I mainly stopped by the booth to talk to Chad DeShon about QE, which he had a copy of for us to play. After talking to Chad about Bites, and seeing it on the table, I decided to take a flyer on it and give it a chance. Even going so far as to back the Kickstarter for the Double Bites set which simply doubles the tokens in the game and allows for a longer and more strategic feeling version of Bites

The game is super simple in premise, pick an ant, move it to the correct token, pick up a token and try your best to maneuver the ants at the pace that you want in order to get them to reach the ant hill at the time you want them to. Simple in premise doesn’t mean that it’s going to be simple for you to win though. Each player at the table being able to control the ant of their choice means that you have to be planning and aware of what others are looking for to collect. You can’t be collecting Grapes the entire game and not helping control the destiny of the purple ant. My oldest daughter will remember that her youngest daughter plays for keeps after that scenario played out and those grapes became worthless in the blink of an eye. So in a way, Bites is simply a market manipulation game now instead of an abstract. 

Bites is most certainly an eye catching game on the table. With the thick food tokens, the fun wooden ants and all the wonderful little cardboard craft stuff like the logs or the ant hill. It all feels overproduced, and it probably is, but you know what, that’s all part of the appeal of the game.  More importantly, that’s what is going to help sell it to a lot of gamers who usually dismiss games like this. I’d be remiss to not mention how delightful it was to punch out all of the tokens. The cardboard is double thick, two sheets glued together on the tokens so that they have the look like there are bites taken out of them, like there is depth to them. When you punch them you simply peel the two sheets apart and punch out the tokens after that. It was really oddly satisfying to do. 

Bites definitely is a game that will feel more strategic at two players, and as you increase the player count, you will find yourself having to be more and more tactical. The state of the game will change a lot in the time between your turns. Plus, at the higher player counts Bites may seem to play a bit too fast, but that’s what the Double Bites are for. Each of the rule cards come with rules for Double Bites if they need to be adjusted, such as more points lost or just various tweaks to the rules for the smaller game. It’s fantastic that it was an option, and what’s even more fantastic is that it was all included (at an extra cost), playtested and ready to go.

Bites isn’t going to change anything in the gaming sphere, it’s not a hobby changing game (although those cardboard tokens are super nice), it’s not a new genre or even all that innovative. What Bites is though is a wonderful way to spend twenty to thirty minutes. Sure, setup can be a bit wonky and you do need to have some space to display it all properly in a way that defines the path and doesn’t confuse anyone but the gaming that you get in those twenty to thirty minutes is well worth the effort. Variability in the box assures you that games can constantly change, both with the cards and with the way that the food line is prepared, no two games will ever be the same. I think that’s important in this day and age in the board gaming hobby, when everyone is vying for your attention. You need to be able to stand out from the rest, and I think that Bites manages to do that, both in display and play. Kudos to the designers, artists and the publisher for having the foresight to bring this one back. 

Thoughts from the Opinionated Gamers

Chris Wray (>7 Plays): Engaging gameplay.  Cool production value. Easy to teach.  This is a truly exceptional family game, and the new cards add a high degree of replayability.  This is one of my favorite games of recent months, and I look forward to many more plays.

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

I love it. Brandon Kempf, Chris Wray, Doug G (Big Points version)

I like it. Eric M.

Neutral. 

Not for me…

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5 Responses to Bites (Game Review by Brandon Kempf)

  1. Pingback: Bites (Game Review by Brandon Kempf) - Rollandtroll.com

  2. jeffinberlin says:

    I really liked Big Points (I bought it during the Nuremberg Toy Fair and had a blast playing it in a pub with Corné van Moorsel and his Dutch game designer friends. It has a similar feel as Knizia’s Tutankhamun. I know developer Thorsten Gimmler was going for the abstract look in Schmidt’s Easy Play line back then, but I always preferred cutely themed abstracts in the vein of Hey, That’s My Fish!, and the new ant theme in this game is marketing genius. I can’t wait to play this version!

  3. Pingback: Bites (Game Review by Brandon Kempf) – Herman Watts

  4. Pingback: An Interview with Chad DeShon of BoardGameTables.com | The Opinionated Gamers

  5. Pingback: An Interview with Chad DeShon of BoardGameTables.com - Enewsgate

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