The throne of Moody Bear Kingdom has been empty for years. Only the one with the most power will be able to claim the kingdom’s throne. Will the player with the most gems rule or will the Dark Night Villain come to consume everything?
Moody Bear Kingdom is a quick Traitor card game for three to five players. Players work together to seek these elusive gems before the Villain’s henchman, the Dark Swallow, shows up.
The game features two types of item cards, Lava Gem cards and Snow Diamond cards. The object of the game is for teams to get all three of their Gem cards before the Dark Swallow makes its appearance.
Also in the deck are three character cards which work in combinations of two or three, to determine special actions. Certain double card combos allow players to exchange cards, spy at another player’s hand, rearrange the first three cards in the draw deck, or steal a card. And a three card combo allows players to demand any card from another opponent if the player has it.
There are also general action cards that can force players to reveal their identity, allow the active player to shuffle the draw deck or cancel another player’s action. Lastly, there is the end-game trigger, the Dark Swallow card and the Mace of Light cards which keep the end at bay by sending the Dark Swallow card back into the draw pile.
At the start, players determine which team they are on, the red team, Volcano, the blue team, Iceberg, or the Dark Night team. The Red and Blue teams’ objective is to collect all three of the gems of their color. The Dark Night player’s objective is to inhibit everyone’s progress till the Dark Swallow card is revealed.
The Dark Swallow card must be played immediately once drawn from the deck. Only the Mace of Light card can nullify it and send it back into the deck. If the Dark Swallow card cannot be stopped, then the Dark Night player wins.
There are three different types of actions a player may take on her turn. They may trade an item card with another player, but only once per turn. If the trade is accepted, play continues. If it is refused, the offered card is returned to her hand and the player draws one card from the draw pile.
Secondly, players may also play multiple actions cards such as Swap Hand, Reveal Identity or Shuffle. During this time they can also combine character cards for special actions. The last type of action is to end or pass their turn by drawing one card from the deck.
Whilst the Red and Blue team are collecting gems, the Dark Night player’s objective is to sabotage their efforts and keep the Mace of Light cards from the others by collecting them herself.
The game ends immediately when the Dark Swallow card is drawn and no one can play the Mace of Light to send it back into the draw pile.
Luck of the Draw
Moody Bear Kingdom is a quick game that plays under fifteen minutes in groups of 3 and 4. The game requires simple collaboration from all the players other than the Dark Night Solo team. That makes it quite an engaging session since players are working together to achieve a common goal.
The tension in the game is balanced between finding out who the troublemaker is and then as quickly as possible collaborating with everyone else to collect all the gems needed to win the game. Players may trade with other players to reveal which team they are on or trade with the other team to gain their own gems. Of course, if you play the Dark Night team, then you had best hoard all the gems before your cover is blown.
Although the box mentions 14 years and older, there are only a very small number of action choices which makes this a simple game to understand and play even with my eight year old. It is a fairly luck based game, since which card you get is literally the luck of the draw. No deep strategy is needed, players just need to be savvy to make the best of their hand.
If you’re looking at the chibi caricatures and expecting an overall feel good game, you might be surprised. The illustration of the cute bears is somewhat deceptive for the game’s sly nature. Perhaps fighting for their kingdoms makes these bears moody? But it is also indicative that it is ultimately a light hearted filler game with basic hand management mechanics.
If you like cute artwork, if you think you know your friends well and want to test the water to see if you can really read their mind and body language, or you want a short escape from reality into a fantastical world of bears, this is a fun filler to wind down the evening.