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Bunny Kingdom review
Score : 8
Straightforward and simple rules yet tough decisions
No downtime as everything simultaneous
Fun and colourful components
Interesting two player varient
Some of the best cards are limited so large luck element
Scoring can be a little fiddly
I looked across at other bunny lords and couldn't suppress my smile. Each of us had been sending our colourful bunnies out across the land to claim our territories but my bunnies were close to building one of the largest cities in the kingdom which could see me crowned big-ears by the Bunny King. We needed a mountain to build that city on though to expand our territory but that mountain also happened to adjoin another lord's lands. Both of us would be wanting to claim that territory as a matter of priority, it was just a matter of whose bunnies would get there first.
In Bunny Kingdom, you play rabbit lords, all competing to be crowned big-ears by gaining the favour of the Bunny King. This is achieved by spreading your bunny population across the 12 by 12 square board, producing resources and collecting treasures or completing parchments, all of which will gain you victory points.
Each individual fief (board squares containing your rabbits linked orthogonally) is scored by multiplying the number of unique resources contained by the number of towers in your cities. There are four rounds, with scoring occurring at the end of each round. At the end of the game, additional points are scored for parchments, which may give bonus points for each fish resource you produced for example, or every city you own.
At the start of each round players receive ten cards. These cards could contain co-ordinates of a square, where you place one of your bunnies, buildings such as cities, parchments, camps to temporarily claim any empty square or additional resources to those existing on the board.
Each lord will play two cards face down, and pass the remaining eight to the next player. The two cards are played simultaneously with rabbits being placed immediately, buildings being held until the end of the round when all cards have been played (to give you more choice of where to place them) and parchments kept secret until the end of the game. Then everyone will play two of their new eight cards, pass on six and so forth until all the cards are played, at which point everyone will place their buildings.
The challenge comes with each square only being able to hold one placed item, whether a new resource, a city or a sky-tower. Should you place a small city that will score low but in each round, or keep that space free in case you manage to grab one of the larger cities. How about holding on to that unique diamond resource card which can only be placed in the mountains? Grab the mountain card with co-ordinates right next to your kingdom and it's a huge scorer. If you don't get that card, it will end up in another mountain with no cities attached and be wasted.
The scoring system is really clever, as you need to have large kingdoms joined together to give you the space to add resources and cities to gain huge multipliers, but if it's too big you will have non unique resources which could have scored as unique if in a smaller fief. Also, claim too many of the rabbit cards in a large area and everyone else will have taken the cities and resources. Then again, having cities and resources is no good if you haven't claimed adjoining spaces to place them on.
Each round there are a wealth of good choices to make, and even if no card is particularly useful for you now, the cards will likely help the next player you pass to, so you need to sometimes play cards just to stop the next player utilising them for their strategy.
The only real issue we have with the game is that there are some limited very powerful cards in the game, and both sky-towers and the three largest city cards can be huge points earners. The fact there the same player could potentially draw these in the game means there is a lot of luck. Even if these get dealt quite evenly, with only three of these largest cities, someone is going to miss out at full player count.
A minor issue is that the scoring, especially in rounds three and four as the board fills can be a little fiddly. Whilst the concept is straightforward (resources times city towers), counting unique resources, working out which fiefs are joined and ensuring nothing is missed can take a little more time than is ideal, but this gets better the more you play and is a small quibble in a good game.
Bunny Kingdom is fast moving, with everyone acting simultaneously so there is no downtime, and the rules and objectives are straightforward and simple. The components and board are very pretty too and there is something satisfying about the way the bunnies sit atop the cities once placed, and a board filled with colourful bunnies always draws the attention of other gamers. Despite this apparent simplicity, there are always tough decisions to make. A highly recommended game for those times when you want an interesting game that still plays quickly and is welcoming to all, irrespective of experience.
By: Richard Garfield
Number of players: 2-4
Play Time: 45 mins
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