Not long ago, a friend brought over Bullet to play. Going in, I knew nothing about the game. When I was young, I loved games like Tetris, Dr. Mario, Super Puzzle Fighter, Yoshi’s Cookie, but I’ve never played a board game that game me the feeling of a competitive puzzle fighter.
Sure, there have been Tetris style board games before Bullet. Competitive games where you try to make block shaped pieces fit on your board. But what about a competitive cardboard game where completing a row of blocks carries over to your opponent? Could it be done?
Spoiler alert: I was instantly hooked.
In Bullet you take on the role of one out of eight heroines. Each Heroine is unique and comes with their own abilities and deck. The deck of cards associated with each character gives you pattern requirements. Once requirements are met you are able to play a card and clear any bullets the card references.
Here’s how the turn structure works. For each player’s turn, they will be simultaneously pulling Bullets (discs) from their personal bag. Each bullet has a color and number, the color represents what column to place the bullet in and the number represents what row the bullet will go.
The catch is that when placing a Bullet in your site, you have to skip over any spots that have bullets in them. If, while placing a Bullet, you can’t add it to your board, you take a hit. Get hit a number of times depending on your character and you are out of the game.
Sounds simple enough, right? Ah, but the trick is what happens when you clear those bullets.
As you are clearing bullets, you stack them in a pile next to you. Finishing the round gives you the satisfaction of grabbing a special ability you can use on your turn.
All the abilities are really powerful and super helpful. Abilities range from clearing a bullet in your sight to drawing more cards out of your deck and the best part is it’s free to play. The number of abilities set out are equal to the number of players and it’s on a first come first serve basis so the quicker you are able to finish the more options you will have.
But there’s one more twist. After all players have finished their turn, you will take a number of bullets out of the main bag based on what round you’re on AND you will get all the bullets that the person to your right cleared.
That’s right. The better you are at clearing your board, the more you will hurt your opponent — and of course, the same thing happens to you based on your opponent’s skill.
The tension gets high on your turn as you see the bullets start to stack up that are heading your way. You know what’s coming at that point. Obviously, the more bullets that are placed in your bag increases the likelihood of you taking damage.
But there are ways to mitigate that damage. The way to avoid taking damage in this game is using your special abilities located on your characters sideboard. During your turn, before pulling bullets, you can spend AP (Action Points) to manipulate the bullets.
Each character has a certain amount of AP they can spend on their turn. For the majority of characters, you can spend 1 AP to move a bullet left, right or down in your sight to prevent a column from being full and/or setting up bullets to complete card requirements.
Some characters allow you to spend AP to draw cards from your deck expanding your options. Spending your AP the correct way is crucial since it doesn’t refill until the following rounds although there is one way you can regain AP. Some of the bullets have a star printed on them. If you clear a bullet with a star, you regain 1 AP.
Run out of AP? Then you’re relegated to the luck of the draw.
Speaking of luck…let’s talk about strategy.
There is a strong amount of luck in this game. Don’t get me wrong, there is some strategy in Bullet but you have to go into the game knowing that each bullet you pull could be your last. It’s happened to me on a couple of occasions that I have three empty spots in one column and I just so happen to pull a 4 bullet that hits me.
Another instance of luck is stars, sometimes they are hard to come by. If you’re not clearing any stars and other people are, you’ll fall behind and it’s a tough hole to climb out of. Your board will fill up rather quickly due to not having enough AP to assist.
I’m not bothered by the luck in this game. I rather enjoy the tension of being out of AP and sweating each pull. Just know going forward, that there’s a decent amount of luck in the game.
IS THE GAME ANY FUN?
If you enjoy competitive puzzle games or any games of the sort, you will have a blast playing this. The game is an easy teach with a couple characters that are beginner level and some that are more advanced when you feel comfortable.
I can pull people that are newer to the hobby into trying Bullet with one simple question; do you enjoy puzzle games like Tetris? If yes, then I will 100% recommend this game.
This is a game that’s ripe for expansions, too. As a matter of fact, there are two expansions that should be releasing soon: Bullet Orange and Bullet Star, both including new Heroines.
Since each character feels like you’re playing completely different than each other, the amount of replayability is deep. What I get the most enjoyment out of though is mastering one character and learning their deck, which of course, takes repeated plays to explore.
Let’s finish with a quick discussion of the production. There are two different versions of Bullet, a Standard and Deluxe. The standard version, while adequate and will get the job done, is no where near the deluxe version. The deluxe version includes big chunky discs that are easy to shuffle and draw from a bag while the standard has cardboard chits. If this game sounds like your type of game, then I’d strongly recommend searching for the deluxe version.
Thanks for reading!!
Note: a complimentary copy was provided to us by the publisher.