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BUNNY KINGDOM is a 2-4 player resource and terrain management game from French company IELLO and designed by the creator of Magic the Gathering® Richard Garfield.  It is beautifully illustrated by Paul Mafayon.

 Each player has a set of 36 tiny plastic bunnies in their chosen colour, Red, Black, Yellow or Pink, and these little little guys live in Bunny Kingdom, a New World island grid-lined into territories and surrounded by a berry-blue sea. 

Played over four Rounds with three Phases in each: Exploration, Construction and Harvest.
Exploration Phases 1 & 3 The players choose 2 of the cards to play and pass the others on clockwise.
Exploration Phases 2 & 4  The players choose 2 of the cards to play and pass the others on anti-clockwise.
When all players have chosen then in turn order you play the two cards you chose.
Territory cards allow you to Bunny up in the square shown on the card.
Building Cards allow you to take the required building and put it on the face up card in front of you.
Provisions cards let you immediately draw & play 2 cards from the main deck.
Playing a Parchment card you look at it and then put it face down in front of you - these come into play at the end of the game (they are missions you are trying to fulfill).

Construction Phase: Now you place the Buildings you have in front of you if you want to. Sometimes it is better to hang onto them until later so you can get the more points by having them in the best positions.

Harvest Phase: It's Carrot Crunching time - calculate your score and move your Bunny on the Chart.

The 100 territories that make up the grid are referenced by numbers 1-10 along the North and South edges and A to J along the East and the West and each territory, A1, B7 etc has one Exploration card for it. This means that it isn't a game with multi cards per land piece which you can develop and build on only to have someone else play a same location card and remove you from it - those games can be fun but are mainly frustrating. The only way you can lose a territory in BUNNY KINGDOM is if you only own it temporarily by using a 'Camp' card and even then if you are lucky enough to later gain the actual location/exploration card then you can own it for good.

Building on your territories.
There are cardboard Tokens for Farms, Camps and Sky Towers that can be built on the territories you own to provide much needed additional resources; Basic resources such as Carrots, Fish and Wood are illustrated as such within the borders of a small White Shield whereas resources that are considered to be luxury items (don't worry Brits, VAT isn't in place in the New World) are also illustrated within the confines of a Shield but on a Black background.

  Cities are represented to begin with by specific illustrations on the board and during Setup these locations are enhanced by unique 3D plastic models that look like Villages (one tower), Towns (two towers) and Cities (three towers) although for convenience and ease of play (and because only the towers are of importance) all are built under the auspice of being 'Cities'. Once built Token establishments and Cities remain where they were put.

The previously mentioned Tokens are L-shaped, counters that have been designed to be placed along the right-angles of the square territories; a semi circle cut into the triangular shape, centrally, so that the Bunnies base fits neatly into them when they occupy the same territory. These Tokens show the resource they supply which means that Plains - territories that have no natural resource production - can be turned into useful territories to control. You obtain the Cities and Tokens from cards that are not Territory fixed.

  Bunnies do not move around the board. Once they find a plot of land they like (where you put them) they stay there for the duration of the game, unless they are in a temporary camp and someone takes it over - if it is you taking over a camp with one of your Bunnies in it then the Bunny stays but the Camp Token is removed.

 There are Mountain Terrain Territories which are often separated by underground lava that bubbles up to form impassable crevices. When building larger territories to control the Bunnies need territory squares directly adjacent to each other, Bunnies do not like diagonals (nasty little things they are) and so only territory squares directly adjacent make the Bunnies happy. Horrible lava crevices between territory squares stop them from being directly next to each other. To combat this the Bunnygeneers have created Sky Towers which can go across lava, in fact the Bunnies soon realised that they could use Sky Towers to connect any two territories on the board (ones that they control of course).

Then the evil rules writer decided that as the Bunnygeneers had foiled their plans to keep Bunnies from building lots of Fiefs (groupings of two or more territories) and scoring lots of extra points because separate Fiefs can give VPs (and Rules Rabbits don't like giving away VPs) they decided that when two Fiefs are linked by a Sky Tower they now count only as one Fief. Sneaky!

  Certain buildings can only be constructed in specific fields (I thought I'd use another word for 'territory squares' just for a giggle - hope you're smiling?) denoted by the icon on them next to the Name of the Type of Building (top left) eg. the largest City (3 towers) may only be constructed on a Mountain though under regular house-hold lighting you may have to look quite closely because these icons are almost camouflaged.

Towers and 'different' resources in each Fief are where the majority of VPs are scored. VPs are marked on the score table. When we first started playing we looked at the 200+ expectation of VPs on the table. Due to the speed we were scoring we thought we'd be lucky to reach the 100 let alone 200+ but by the end of the fourth Round [end of the game] we were knocking on 300+; I must say that this shocked our little furry socks off at first, then we got used to it and anyone who didn't reach the 200-250 mark minimum was having a bad day.

  GAME of CARROTS!

Fiefs can have several City buildings. They do not have to be adjacent to each other (though obviously the territories that comprise the Fief do) but together the number of Towers in the Fief determine its strength. Thus a Fief with one of each City buildings in it has a total strength of 6 (1+2+3) so to determine the VPs you have to multiply the Strength by the number of different resources. So the aforementioned Fief (Str 6) with 2 fields producing Carrots, 3 fields for Fish and 2 for Wood, scores 18 (6 x 3) the fact that 7 fields are producing doesn't affect the score. Scores are determined at the end of each Round in the Harvest Phase.

With so many resource, man, and territory management games available it is unusual to find one that has taken the majority of the best parts from that 'so many' and rounded them into a totally new game. Richard Garfield has certainly done that with BUNNY KINGDOM. 

   

Some of our players muted that they would have preferred a random layout of territory tiles held in place by a 'numbers/letters' frame for each game, but to a point this has been covered by the fact that the territories are determined by randomly obtained cards which naturally means that players are unlikely to create the same Fiefs, size or number, each game. There are resources printed on the board in the majority of territories so of course these are always available to the owner/controller. Carrots in particular are extra valuable as they score with the resources and also per Carrot field in a Fief multiplied by the Fief's strength. Carrots rule!!!  Orange is the new Black Strength!

Expect to pay in the region of £40.00 for the base game and about £20.00 for the expansion BUNNY KINGDOM in the SKY. Alone or with the expansion it is a very enjoyable Land and Resource control game, one to play over and over. It is great fun for families and excellent strategic fayre for core gamers.

A great mysterious cloud has come to rest above the New World and the Bunnies of Bunny Kingdom sense the opportunity for more adventure with the most adventurous commander being given the coveted title of 'Big Ears'.

Richard Garfield's BUNNY KINGDOM is expanded to this new and wondrous floating island and new portals are opening to join districts (Fiefs) in both lands. These new portals in the Great Cloud World are 'Rainbow Bridges'; not the kind spoken of in the wonderful poem (author unknown), as they lead down to the New World not up to Pet's Heaven.

The Great Cloud World is not gridded although it does have squared spaces for Cities and exploration. Instead it has a shape I cannot think of how to describe other than to say the territory square formations, in lines, are, in territory number: 5, 6, 7, 6, 7 and marked with small yellow clouds as Rows, 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. 

 

BUNNY KINGDOM in the SKY brings some new rules and City pieces to the game, it also introduces Pink Bunnies to allow a 5th Bunny Master to play.

The new Cities are one of each level 1, 2 and 3 and three sky-blue 5-towered, deliciously named,'Carrotadels' (it would have been a nice touch to have had the towers orange, as unlike those in the grey buildings these are  actually carrot-shaped) - opportunity missed!

 

There are extra Bunnies for the other four colours making all Bunny Races up to 46 from 36 plus there are new Parchments (missions), two special 'luxury' Farms and a new type of Resource and new territory changing L-shaped Resource Tokens.

Another additional rule is for the two Chimneys (L-shaped Resource Tokens) which give most, if not all, of your territories access to a Basic Resource found in your Fief where the Chimney blows nice clean pure smoke into the atmosphere.

 

Coins are introduced so that the Tax Collector Bunnies have something to do. These Bunny Taxmen are something of an enigma because rather than take Tax money from you they immediately give you 2 coins when played and another coin when you begin a new District. Coins also allow trade - resources multiplied by coins owned for Carrots on the score track.

 

After playing BUNNY KINGDOM enough times to write the review of it we turned to BUNNY KINGDOM in the SKY and haven't looked back (down maybe, back never!) since.

What is really cool and Bunnylicious about the new board and all that comes with it, is that the game remains as well balanced as it was prior to the expansion. BUNNY KINGDOM in the SKY does nothing to deter players from the original game it only enhances the original base game by offering more of the similar and a few extra bits.

 

I will admit that on the very first time we added the Great Cloud World we were not 100% sure which territories were actually adjacent to each other. This is because there are no true diagonals and the only spaces directly adjacent are those to the left & right, those on the top and underneath are semi-adjacent (about 50%). 

 

After a brief discussion and another read through the rules we decided that the 50% adjacent territories were to be counted as adjacent territories (we could not find any explanation for or against this). Carrotadels can be built in either World, but do read up in the rules booklet on their strength and how it is counted during score phases. This is important as it is easy to make the assumption that they immediately add +5 to the Fief's strength, they do, but not always. Riddle anyone ?                                                           

 

Really happy to suggest BUNNY KINGDOM as a game to get as soon as you can. I would almost guarantee that not long after buying and playing you will be wishing you had bought the expansion BUNNY KINGDOM in the SKY at the same time. It is greatly much of the same with some variations but it is also greatly worth it, plus it's got PINK BUNNIES and RAINBOWS.

 

 

 

 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015