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Review – Bunny Kingdom

Review – Bunny Kingdom

This is a review of Bunny Kingdom designed by Richard Garfield. It plays 2 – 4 players. Realistcally, I’d estimate the playtime at 60 minutes.

Veteran designer, Richard Garfield, is a man of varied design strengths. Gaining initial popularity developing Magic: The Gathering, Garfield has proved to have many interesting tricks up his sleeve over the years from accessible hits like King of Tokyo to cult collectibles like Android: Netrunner. Garfield’s designs are diverse and the implementation is thoughtful, so let’s dig into how his latest, Bunny Kingdom, stacks up.

In Bunny Kingdom, players will work to control large swaths of land by drafting cards around the table and claiming territories on a 10×10 grid. The main thing to know about scoring is that you score your contiguous areas based on how many different goods you produce and how many towers are present – both of these aspects being developed over the course of the round.

Bunny Kingdom Board Game
The blank kingdom, ready to be populated.

The map starts blank, save for a dozen or so first level cities, unoccupied. Each player is given a hand of 10 or 12 cards (depending on player count), they choose two, and slide the remainder of their hand to the next player at the table – fairly standard practice for a drafting game. Before looking at your new hand, players will resolve the two cards they’ve just set aside. All of this happens simultaneously, so things can move fairly quickly.

There are a few basic types of cards, the most common being one that names one of the 100 territories on the board. If you played this card, place one of your adorable, little bunny figures on that space. You now own it and will for the remainder of the game.

The next card type is a building. Buildings can be one of several different resources, a city-tower upgrade, a special building, or a camp that lets you claim an area that is unoccupied. Place the building card in front of you and take the appropriate token or figure for said building. You won’t construct this building until the drafting phase is over.

There are also parchment cards which are the only cards that players don’t reveal. Keep these face down and simply set them aside, as they count for endgame points. They will, however, give you long-term goals to work towards such as gathering a lot of one resource, collecting a set of treasure, etc. so don’t forget what’s on them!

After players have drafted all the cards in their hands, you move into the construction phase where you actually lay your buildings out. This, again, is done simultaneously unless you have a camp, which is the one building that has a resolution order. The player with the lowest value camp gets to place theirs first. Waiting to place your buildings until the end of the turn is forgiving, as players can assess their entire round before building. It also sort of evens out the “value” of some cards at different stages of the draft round. What’s more is that you don’t even have to build the cards you played that round, and sometimes you may not even be able to.

Once building is complete, every player will score their fiefs. A fief is a single territory or group of territories that are connected by a flat site (no diagonal). Each fief will score its wealth (the amount of different resources it produces) multiplied by its strength (the amount of towers on all the cities in the fief). For example, a fief producing carrots, wood, fish, and pearls (4 different resources) and containing two cities with two towers each (four total) will score 4×4 = 16 points.

The round described above will play out four times total and then you’ll go into final scoring where you’ll tally the unique conditions of your parchment’s end game rewards.

The game’s mechanics are dead simple but you will find yourself balancing your actions in response to other players as you manipulate the draft. You can strategically force other players to play cards that connect their fiefs (potentially causing them to lose points) or press your luck and hope that certain cards will be less enticing to other players and that you’ll get a second chance to grab them.

The land before you is undeveloped and free for the taking. Every player represents underlings of various bunny clans who are looking to claim territory in the name of their leader.

The theme comes out in cute and clever ways through cards and effects, but the immersive world is left largely up to your imagination – and that’s fine really. Bunny Kingdom thrives in its simplicity so there’s no reason to bog things down with thematic twists.

I love the art in Bunny Kingdom! The card art is unique and detailed and the illustrations are wonderful. For as much time as you’ll spend studying the board, you can just as easily get lost in the card art.

Bunny Kingdom is packed with cute bunny and fun city minis, as well. Everything about this game is beautiful to play and it looks impressive on the table.

One complaint I have, though, is the board size. It feels maybe 6 to 8 inches smaller than it should be and will fill up fast. Towards the end of the game, things look busy. This becomes a bit of a hangup, as you’ll spend a lot of time checking the board, comparing it the options in your hand, then back to the board, etc.

In theory, Bunny Kingdom moves right along. Your options can induce some analysis paralysis, but since every phase resolves simultaneously for the players, the AP is collective. You’ll agonize over some decisions and wait as others resolve their cards with hesitation.

Otherwise, there are really no choke points or things that could speed this game up. It’s basically action the whole time. One thing I will caution is that while it looks good for kids, you may find yourself having trouble advising younger kids while also focusing on what is actually happening. That’s minor and possibly not even valid, but I’m just comparing it to games where the options are fewer and the choices are asynchronous.

Bunny Kingdom Board Game
This photo was on the second turn, and things were already starting to get cramped.

I bought this right at release for $50 and, while I think this is a great game, that feels steep. There’s a lot of empty space in this box – the board, folded in quarters, doesn’t actually take up the entire box space, but it really should have.

The size of the board feels a bit cramped and I hope it wasn’t a financial decision. Aside from that, the components you do get are high quality, hard plastic.

Bunny Kingdom can be taught fairly simply – I would start by explaining how the fief scoring works, show players a few of the cards as examples, and then you can pretty much begin from there. Every phase plays simultaneously so new players can mostly just follow along with what you’re doing.

The concepts are simple and unique enough that both new players and veteran gamers will find something to love here.

Combine the ease of play with the fantastic art and I think Bunny Kingdom will be hitting my table pretty often.

As I mentioned, the box has a lot of dead space and empty compartments, so I’m wondering if there are expansions planned for this? I feel like it’s a fairly complete game, as is, though.

In a game, players will only work through a bit more than half of the deck of cards, so this adds variability to the game, as you won’t see everything every time. It’s this scale and size that make Bunny Kingdom more replayable than you’d anticipate.

Final Thoughts
I’ve heard people compare this to Acquire (in the way tiles are claimed) and I’ve compared the scoring to Kingdomino myself, but Bunny Kingdom is very unlike those games in most every other way. It’s a unique title that is accessible, adorable, and gratifyingly thinky. Definitely a hit for me!