Roll the dice and be the first to build a complete beetle!
Age group: 3-6
Number of players: 2-4
Playing time: 20-30 minutes
Level of complexity: 2/5 dice
- 4 plastic beetle bodies in different colours (in our set: blue, green, red and purple)
- 4 beetle heads in matching colours
- 4 noses
- 8 eyes
- 8 antennae
- 24 legs
- 1 dice
- Plastic tray to hold beetle parts
Build a Beetle is basically a “racing game” where players roll a dice to see who finishes first. In this way it’s actually a lot like Snakes and Ladders, except instead of moving pieces around a flat board, in this game you’re collecting pieces of beetle until you have a complete bug. It’s been sold under many different names since at least 1927, including Cooties, Creepy Critters, and just Beetle.
The rules are very simple to learn, and are easy to explain to children. Each player chooses a different coloured beetle. Starting with the youngest person, players take turn rolling the dice. Depending on the number rolled, players add different beetle parts to their beetle body. For example, roll a 2 and you add a head, roll 3 and add a feeler, roll 6 and add a leg, and so on. The winner is the first player to build a complete beetle in the correct order.
What I Like
This is a fun and easy game, best suited for pre-school children. I would recommend Beetle as a good “first game” for introducing children to family boardgames (it was in fact the first game we played with our older son when he was four years old). The straightforward gameplay keeps direct competition between the players to a minimum, which means games of Beetle are unlikely to end in tears, while the element of luck in rolling the dice adds a bit of suspense to each turn.
The design of the set we used is nice and tactile – the beetle pieces are big enough for young children to use, and are made in bright and cheery primary colours. As you can see, once you’ve put together your beetle the finished bug is actually quite cute. I swear this blue one is smiling at us:
What I’m Not Sure About
As this game relies completely on lucky throws of the dice, the random way players have to put together their beetles may frustrate some parents and possibly some children too. Our son worked out pretty quickly that he had no control over the game apart from rolling the dice, which bugged him a bit (pun intended). Beetle can also drag on a bit towards the end, especially after players have collected most parts of their beetle and are rolling the dice just to get that one final piece. There can be a lot of “missed throws” during this final part of the game, leading to boredom or frustration for players of all ages. Tired of this drawn-out endgame, our son finally announced that he was “starting his own game” and began dismantling his beetle, only to rebuild it a la Frankenstein-style with legs where the antennas should go, noses for eyes etc. I would post a photo of the end result but this is a family-friendly site, and I don’t want to cause irreparable psychological damage to unsuspecting visitors.