Game Review: Hibernation
Have you ever wanted to be a bear? Have you ever wondered what a bear has to go through in order to prepare for hibernation? Or how bears compete with each other in order to survive? Well, this game scientifically won’t tell you about any of that, but it is a fun and goofy concept for a game! A few of us here at The Goblin Gazette got together and played Hibernation: A Deck Building Card Game- Want to be a Bear?
At first I was a little skeptical, but after sitting down and going over the directions, we played a few hands and everyone seemed pretty hooked on the game. It turned out to be a lot of fun, with a lot more strategy to the game then expected. So with all that being said, let’s get into specifics: here is my review of Hibernation!
The idea of the game is pretty straight forward. You are a bear that just woke up from hibernation. It is your objective to prepare for next year’s hibernation by foraging and hunting for food and storing up energy and fat. However, other players (who are also bears) are competing for the same resources, and they are not messing around. Your must gather up enough resources by any means necessary (forage, frenzy, and steal) and be the first bear to have enough points to go into hibernation.
This game is for players age 10 and up, 2-5 players can play, and lasts about 20-60 minutes, depending on how many play the game. Each player should have a sheet of paper and a pencil/pen for keeping track of their energy and hibernation points. This is a deck building game, where you will acquire cards and put them into your deck, but you won’t actually start off with any cards. However, you will want enough space in front of you for a deck, discard pile, and your hoard pile (where you will store your food).
Laid out on the table will be the cards that you will draw, if you choose to do so. In the first row, you will have your four food piles (honey, berry, insect, salmon). The second row will be your forage card piles that strictly deal with drawing food (campsite, berry bite, bug juice, and gone fishing). Then the third row are the rest of the forage card piles that deal with strictly your actions (power nap, thief, frenzy, and multitasking).
Playing The Game
Once all the cards are laid out in front of everyone, the player who most recently ate goes first. Each player starts off with 10 energy, and they have one of four actions that they can do on their turn. These actions are as follows:
- Rest: As a bear, you can chose to rest and gain 5 energy, or you can do a short rest and take 3 energy and have everyone shuffle their discard pile back into their decks. You max out on energy at 20.
- Purchase a card: You can use some of your energy and buy a forage card that you can add to your deck. Your deck is then shuffled. If you don’t have any energy or not enough, you can’t purchase a card.
- Draw a card: You can draw a card from the top of your deck. These cards might be some special ability that you can do during your turn, or that might allow you to add food to your hoard. If you do not have any cards in your deck, you can not draw a card.
- Eat: You can consume the food that you have in your hoard to gain a hibernation point. The food is returned to the bottom of the respected food deck. You must consume a combination of food that equals a total of 10.
Here are all the different forage and action cards that you have to chose from:
- Campsite: worth 10 energy. +1 food of your choice.
- Berry Bite: worth 4 energy. +1 berry.
- Bug Juice: worth 6 energy. +1 insect.
- Gone Fishing: worth 8 energy. +1 salmon.
- Power Nap: worth 6 energy. Add 10 to your energy OR Add 6 to your energy and everyone shuffles their discard pile into their deck.
- Thief: worth 7 energy. Take the food card of the highest value from the opponent of your choice.
- Frenzy: worth 9 energy. You may choose 2 additional options this turn but they cannot be the same (after drawing this card you can chose 2 out of the 4 actions you can do every turn. But once you pick an action, you can’t do it again that turn. So for example, you could draw a card and eat your hoard all in one turn).
- Multitasking: worth 12 energy. Draw 2 additional cards.
There are also a few additional rules that add to the strategy and fun of the game! One such example of this is Lucky Honey, which allows for you to collect an additional honey card, at a cost of seven energy, whenever you collect food from the food bank or steal food from someone else.
Winning The Game
In order to win the game, you must consume the food that you forage. You must consume food that adds up to 10 points. So this could be two salmon (4 each) and a berry (2), adding up to 10 points. Once you eat your food, you gain a hibernation point. Think of your bear eating food to the point where they gain fat that will be used for hibernation. If you are the first to gain 5 hibernation points, you win the game!
For one of the additional rules, you also have the option to eat all four foods (one of each food) for a well-balanced diet! This will not only give you a hibernation point, but you will also gain 10 energy!
What I liked
The game itself is very well planned out and put together. With this being a deck building game, you need to have some flexibility in how you want to make your deck but also not have it be overwhelming. This game does a very good job of that. There are definitely a few ways that you can create your deck (i.e. you can focus on strictly foraging food, or drawing lots of cards, or stealing and messing with your opponent bears, etc) but it isn’t overwhelming. And it would seem that there isn’t a clearly dominate way to play the game or create your deck. So there is a lot of flexibility.
The game is also pretty easy to learn. At first we were a bit overwhelmed with the instructions, and there is a lot of parts to this game. But once you play a few rounds, you quickly get the hang of it. All of us that played were pretty familiar with, not only card games, but deck building games. So we were able to pick up on it pretty fast.
The combinations that you can put together with some of your action cards can also be a lot of fun! The frenzy, multitasking, and campsite cards, along with some of the additional rules could be very powerful and were very much a favorite for everyone.
What Can Be Improved
The only thing I would say needs to be improved about the game is the instruction manual. I personally had a difficult time understanding the instructions, but most importantly, the layout of the instructions and rules were a bit confusing. It took a team effort of all four players to sit down and read the instructions and try to piece together the correct steps and understand when each rule applies. The instruction manual provides a lot of information, and it can feel overwhelming at first glance. We had trouble finding a clearly defined step 1, step 2, step 3, etc.
The instructions themselves were clear, with each individual section explained well. It was the way it was laid out that was confusing. If there was clearer flow on what to do and when to do it, that would make it much easier to understand. There are a lot of moving parts to this game, so
having a nice flow to the instructions would ensure players grasp each phase.
Overall, I really loved this game, and it kind of surprised me how intense and complicated it was. There is a lot of strategy that goes into this game. I expected this game to be pretty laid back and chill, because I thought a game that was all about hibernating bears was going to be pretty goofy. And it is. And you can totally take it in that direction if you wanted too. I mean we were joking and having a good time the whole night telling bear jokes and puns. But we also took the game seriously and tried to strategize and create our decks the way we wanted too. We really enjoyed this game and had a great time playing it!
Peace and love,