bunny kingdom (2017) review
Do you know Richard Garfield? No ? Shame On You ! You need to go and find information on him! If there is an author who has stamped their mark on the world of the board games, it is him. This man is none other than the father of the revolutionary card game : Magic The Gathering (yes just that!) and the excellent Netrunner. He also tackled different styles of board games (not just card games) including the very fun Roborally, the very original Filthy Rich or the very addictive King Of Tokyo. And more recently, we owe him for the very excellent Keyforge. Yes, there may be a little too much superlative, but with him it is never enough. As you can see, he is not just anyone. Everything he touches (or almost) turns into a true playful pleasure. Suddenly, when a game is named after him, the anticipation grows. This is the case with Bunny Kingdom.
In 2017, with Iello publishing and Paul Mafayon (Earth reborn, Loony Quest) illustrating, Bunny Kingdom was released. The game for 2-4 players, proposes to revisit the card drafting system by combining it with a zone control. The games are announced between 40 and 60 minutes.
Each play embodies a Rabbit Lord and his army. They must fight to take possession of virgin territory in the name of King Lapinot. The best Lord will have the title of “Great Ears.” Well... ok! Saying it like that, the theme is not a dream. But you play badass rabbits anyway! They are warriors and they fight for carrots, but not only and ... Ok. It's better that I stop here? So yes, the theme is not the most exciting thing at first. We can even say that it is something that we did not expect necessarily from the imagination of Richard Garfield. But let's admit why not.
To help us get in the mood, the game has great illustrations. There are many cards with unique designs. There are also a lot of reference here and there. It's colorfully beautiful. One could even say that it is sometimes a little childish in it’s style. This is also a misleading aspect of the game because behind it’s childish looks, it is quite a deep game. Apart from the cards, which represent the central mechanism, you’ll find a plateau and dozens of figurines. Your rabbit army is represented by small bunny miniatures of your color. There are also castle figurines, with a number of towers corresponding to the evolution of the city (one tower for level one, two towers for level two, three towers for level three).
These miniatures are small but the rendering is good and on the board they fit perfectly. I had the chance to play with both editions. Indeed, the first edition of the game suffered from a problem of poor graphical choices. The board was too small which made reading the game, especially the counting victory points very calamitous. Iello reacted very quickly and in the second edition corrected a lot of problems. The publisher has made a larger tray for better readability, boxes for the score that can accommodate several rabbits, reworked some colors, inserted a plastic insert. A good job of catching on and improving. With the fairly important material, once set up, we must admit that it looks very nice on the board.
The main game system is the card draft. Depending on the number of players, each will receive an identical amount of cards: 10 to 4 players, 12 to three. The game for two is slightly different. Each player chooses two cards and passes the rest to their neighbor. You play these two cards, you’ll then choose again two new and continue until the deck is depleted. With two players, there are four piles of cards as in a game for four players. Whenever you have to choose cards, you draw one from a neutral pile. You will always choose two but you keep one, another discarded. You continue like this until we have no more cards.
There are several types of cards.
You will find the terrain cards have a corresponding letter and a number. When you play one, you take control of that terrain by putting one of your bunny on it. Each terrain is unique. If you have for example, the A1 no one else can have it.
Then you have the building cards. These cards will allow you to add castles, mine resources on one of your fields at the end of a round. In the meantime, you take the figurine or the corresponding token and leave it on the card.
You will also find a cards power to apply immediately. Just read what it says.
Finally you will have the scrolls. These cards will remain in front of you face down. They will earn bonus points at the end of the game based on what you have achieved.
Once the draft is finished, you move to the construction phase. This is where you can put your tokens or castle figurines on the board in a field that you own or want to own (example with the camp). It is also possible to link two cities between them with the air relay or to produce new resources.
When everyone has decided to finish the construction phase, you’ll go to counting points. Nothing to complicate. You count for each possessed fief, the number of tower on them, multiplied by the number of different resources. You advance your token on the score track. A fief is one or more adjacent rabbit set of your colour, with at least one castle and one resource. You’ll do this four times and then look to see who wins.
And that's all. The game is not complicated at all in its rules. As often in this type of game, the more you play, the more you will know the cards and the more fluid the game will be. The turns are played quickly. The game flow nicely. There is no waiting around. On the other hand, luck is an integral part of the game system even more than in a classic draft. With two players, it is a little more strategic because you have more control. By cons, at three or four players, you’ll be fighting not only against the other players but also against the luck of the draw. There is also a decrease in large fiefdoms depending on the number of players. That can be felt in the final scores. The theme is quickly forgotten. Rabbits or something else would have worked just as well. As for the interaction, it is more indirect and light. In the first play, player will clearly play in their corner. Then gradually, will try to block the others by taking the cards they wants. Even though it's easier in the two-player setup, it can be done more with more players. But the cost will be more important because by doing that, you sacrifice your strategy. The interaction will therefore be more on an issue of land use and situational opportunism.
We can not keep from compare the game to the master stallion of the genre that is 7 Wonders. In terms of learning difficulty, Bunny Kingdom is slightly less complicated. The rendering during the game is more concrete because you see the tray fill up as and when. By cons in terms of games, it will be longer. It will also be more risky in the strategy. We are much more dependent on the drawing of the cards and where the other players will be placed. Finally, even if the main engine is the same, the two games are downright different. Whether in the sensations of games, but also in the fun.
Behind a childish aspect, Bunny Kingdom is a game that has a certain depth. Simple in these rules, it can quickly become strategic while taking into account the important aspect of luck. The counting of points is perhaps one of the black spots of the game finally. It can be seen as unnecessarily complicated. Fortunately, Iello has redone a larger board which makes it possible to identify each icon much better. With the first edition, it was pretty bad. Once we got used to it, it is not as binding as before, even if it always takes a little time.
Seeing the evolution of the board and its personal evolution is a pretty important thing. Bunny Kingdom is about having long-term vision. Even if it is important not to go empty headed, the closer you are to the end, the more points you’ll make. So, for seasoned players it may be easier to anticipate. Try to define the objectives of your opponents, prepare a trap and isolate, leave a camp at the right time ... Where finally, the family player will only play their cards to do something good. Again, this type of opportunity proves the intelligence of the game. It can be played between different types of players and with just as much fun. The game offers several playful readings and several methods to win.
The game has an extension, available at Iello, which has just been released. Bunny Kingdom: In the sky authorizes to play five and offers a new board with new resources and cards. (I have unfortunately not had the opportunity to try it yet).
Playable in all configurations and appreciable in each with different degrees of strategy, Bunny Kingdom is a surprisingly, very good. Another victory for Garfield. We have the impression of a concrete evolution marked by the change of the board as the game progresses. Whether played with friends or with the family, this works really well. Beautiful, nice, simple, full of humor, accessible but nevertheless strategic, this game has it all. Not to mention the fact that it has most importantly replayability, due in large part to chance. From one game to the other, everything can change which prevents THE syndrome “one-way from winning”. Would you like a little carrots with that?
Technical Score 8.5 / 10
The cards are beautiful (can be a little thin). The game is full of humor and winks. The miniatures of rabbits and castles (a little brittle) are well made. The whole thing may still be a little small (we’re get old) but the improvement of the material compared to the v1 are a real plus. We recognize the serious work of the publisher.
My BGG Score 8.5 / 10
(Very good, fun to play and I recommend it)
A success. Rules are simple but the game is very smart. More you play, the more fun you will have. Big replayability on the menu. A game without headaches but offers a good challenge. Little regret at the level of an almost nonexistent interaction.
Combined Score 8.5 / 10
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