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There’s an App for That

You won't have much of a chance to steady your aim before firing in Bullet⭐. Andrew stares down the barrel in this Meeple Mountain review.

Disclosure: Meeple Mountain received a free copy of this product in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. This review is not intended to be an endorsement.

When a friend expressed interest in playing Bullet⭐, the fully-compatible sequel to Bullet♥︎, I was in the unusual position of having to tell him to read the manual. This almost never happens, but the circumstances were exceptional.

When I came back fifteen minutes later, I asked him if he knew how to play.

“Yes. It’s basically a mobile app that steals your data.”

Starlight Express

Bullet⭐ is, indeed, basically a mobile app. 1-4 players rush—this is a real-time game—to use cards and abilities to remove colored Bullets from their boards. These Bullets are drawn at random from each player’s personal bag, and added to their personal board. Bullets have numbers on them, indicating the number of empty spaces they cross before stopping. If a Bullet should happen to make it all the way to the bottom of your board, it takes away some of your health.

A board mid-game, with only three slots left in the blue column. I'm holding a bullet with a 4 on it.

Bullets are removed by playing cards from your hand that depict something akin to a tetromino. Certain spaces have to contain a bullet, certain spaces have to be empty. Once Bullet tokens have been lined up appropriately, which almost never happens without you using a special power or two to shift them around, they can be magicked away.

Picture a three-by-three grid. The first two rows each have a bullet in the middle, while the outer slots are empty. The third row has bullets in the first and second slot. This formation mirrors the layout shown on the player card that is sitting to the left of the player board in this picture.

The impetus to move quickly in Bullet⭐ is two-fold. For one, any Bullets left in your bag when time runs out have to be added to your board, in full, without any mitigation. The more Bullets on your board, the more likely it is that the next one will hit the bottom. This penalty period deluge can be devastating.

For another, whatever bullets you manage to remove will be passed on to the player to your left for next round. The more bullets your opponents have, the harder their jobs are going to be, and so much the better for you. Bullet Star is a game of elimination. There isn’t a winner, there’s someone who manages to last long enough to see the bodies of their enemies float by.

Bang for Your Buck

I think of mobile apps as providing a certain mindless brand of dopamine rush. The closest I’ve come in my tabletop experience is probably the frantic pinball mania of Ganz Schon Clever!. Bullet⭐ and its older sister are a little too cognitively intense to engender the bliss of the mobile app gaming experience, but they feel nonetheless like puzzle battler video games come to life.

You get good value for money, certainly. The box includes eight characters, each with a unique deck of cards and asymmetric powers. Bullet Star also includes rules for a variety of modes, including Boss Mode, Co-Op Mode, Team Mode, and Solo Mode.

Character cards fanned out on the table.

The play experience is frantic. There’s sweat. There’s the unshakeable feeling that you could figure this out if only you could see the one thing you’re missing. My one criticism: You might as well play it solo, since you won’t notice the other players at the table much. The only time you remember there are other people is when one of them drops off a fresh batch of removed bullets for you to add to your bag for the next round. The concentration required is so intense that you don’t even get much in the way of frantic swearing. Where’s the fun in that?

About the author

Andrew Lynch

Andrew Lynch was a very poor loser as a child. He’s working on it.

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