Game Review: Sink or Swim With 'Get Bit!'

In the world of board games, there are those which take themselves too seriously, and others which don't take themselves seriously enough. Get Bit! takes a simple strategy game and sets out to achieve one goal: score so far off the silly end of that scale that the game will become awesome (think slapstick comedies and campy horror flicks).

In Get Bit!, each player takes on the role of one (waterproof) robot as part of a group out for a peaceful swim. When a ravenous shark begins chomping down on the robots' arms and legs, Get Bit! begins, and the robots enter a struggle for survival of the fittest. As the game's rules say, "you don't have to swim faster than the shark, you just have to swim faster than your friends!"

Just the Facts:

Players: 2-6

Playing Time: 10-20 minutes

Age: 8+

Publisher: Mayday Games

Game Designer: Dave Chalker

MSRP: $25.00

Release: March 2012 (reprinting)

The Gameplay:

Get Bit! is a casual strategy game loosely themed around the events of shark-on-robot violence. You know, standard lighthearted fare. If you haven't figured it out already, the object of the game is to not get bitten, but you'll have to play your cards right in order to do so.

Players in Get Bit! all start the game with identical hands of five cards, numbered 1 through 5. They also get their own robot figures (with removable limbs) that will be arranged in a line, with the hungry shark waiting at the line's end.

Simultaneously, all players reveal one card from their hand. From there, turns will be taken based on the card numbers, from lowest to highest. There's only one action to take on your turn though: jump to the front of the line. It's also important to note that if any players choose the same numbered card, they'll lose their turn instead of moving up.

After all robots have moved up (or lost their turn), the rear-most robot will lose a limb and be flung to the front of the line. The only consolation here is that the newly de-limbed robot's player gets to add their discard pile back into their hand. The other way to pick up your discard pile is to survive four successive turns without a bite, leaving you with only one card left in your hand.

Once a robot loses all four limbs, they are removed from the game. However, once there are only two robots remaining, whichever one is in the rear at that instant is completely devoured by the shark. The final remaining robot is then declared the victor.

The Components:

  • 6 "Dismembermen" figures
  • 43 playing cards
  • 1 rules sheek
  • 1 shark figure w/ articulated jaw (for real chomping action)

I'm no Lemonjuice McGee, but let me state that from a toy perspective: these robots are awesome. In fact, looking at them as toys is not a wholly inaccurate judgement. According to designer Dave Chalker, the mold for these plastic figures, the dismembermen, was acquired from a defunct toy company. It's exactly this sort of savings that allows a small-press game such as this contain such a high-quality component.

Why hello, I see you still all have your limbs. I think I know someone who can fix that... (image used with permission of user Matthan Heiselt)

The "legally distinct from LEGO" shark figure is, let's be honest, heavily inspired by that classic piece, and wisely so. Get Bit! is definitely earning a few nostalgia points here for including such a cool and iconic plastic predator.

The cards use a glossy print on a super-thick cardstock that makes them feel more like premium trading cards than any sort of playing card, but that's actually not a knock here. It would be for most games, but since you're never going to shuffle the Get Bit! deck, there's no harm done.

As for the rules, they're very clear and fit on a single page. Get Bit! is one of those rare games that I was able to take out of the shrink wrap right as we were about to play, and learn the entire thing in about 60 seconds flat.

Final Thoughts:

This is another one of those game reviews where you need to read it in the correct context. Get Bit! is a simple game meant to be the appetizer to your larger game night. Get Bit! excels in this role because it plays in a speedy 10 minutes, yet there is actually some strategy involved. Analyzing your opponents' discard piles turns into a great mental warmup as you attempt to make the best possible move while limiting your odds of losing a turn.

Even if you do take a few shark chomps, the toss to the front and the refill of your hand both serve as strong catch-up mechanisms that will ensure nobody gets beaten down too hard in this game. After all, you don't want to start out the night with a punishing experience.

All things considered, if you don't enjoy Get Bit! as a quick-playing casual experience, than you probably just hate having fun.

MTV Geek received a complimentary review sample of this game