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Wingspan creator’s next board game stars SPACE BEES

Apiary is a worker (bee) placement board game for one to five players, each controlling a faction of sentient bees flying a hive through space.

Wingspan board game publisher's next game, apiary, features Worker-bee placement mechanics and a flying Space Bee queen ship

Wingspan creator Stonemaier Games has announced Apiary, a worker-placement board game for one to five players that pits factions of sentient honey-bees against one another in a game of space exploration, resource gathering, and cute little bee dances.

Apiary will be available from the Stonemaier Games’ webstore from October 4, and at the Essen Spiel boardgame convention from October 5-8. Worldwide retail release is scheduled for “late November”. Stonemaier is best known for publishing Wingspan, which has a firm spot on our list of the best board games, so Apiary will have to do a lot to impress.

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Apiary is a worker-placement and engine-building strategy board game – in fact, a worker-bee placement and hive-building strategy board game. As in all worker-placement games, players take it in turns putting one of their worker-bees onto an action space to get some benefit.

You’re free to “bump” another worker out of a space, giving it back to your opponent, and you can forego any actions to recall all your bees.

Wingspan creator's next board game Apiary - exploring space as a fleet of bees

All the classic choices you’d expect in a worker-placement board game are present: gathering resources, converting them, getting more worker-bees, expanding your hive, research, and so on. There’s also a bee-shaped mother ship that you will move around the galaxy, revealing new planets and new opportunities.

When workers return to your supply, they level up. More powerful bees achieve more with their actions, with super special abilities for level four workers: for example, taking the “convert” action with a level four bee lets them do a little bee dance. This opens up a new way to convert resources that all players can use, as the bee-dance communicates this information to the rest of the hive.

Wingspan creator's next board game Apiary - stacks of hexagon tiles, ready to be added to a space beehive

When you recall a level four bee, it goes into hibernation, removing it from your workforce. The game is a scrabble for victory points from sundry sources, particularly by “carving” icons and hibernating bees, but it seems that the unique theme is incorporated into the mechanics. Of course old worker-bees hibernate when they’re tired – that’s the kind of cute thing space-bees would do.

Being published by Stonemaier means Apiary enjoys similar production values and visual design to Wingspan, though the design is by Connie Vogelmann, not Wingspan designer Elizabeth Hargrave. Check out our Wingspan review to see why that game is held in such high regard – or if you already own it, our Wingspan expansion guide to see if there are any add-ons your game is missing.