Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Sunday, 7 July 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Bunny Kingdom: In the Sky

Game: Bunny Kingdom: In the Sky

Publisher: Iello Games

Designer: Richard Garfield

Year: 2019


Bunny Kingdom is one of my favourite games. It's one that continues to hit the table and it was the game we played to bring in the New Year of 2019. (Yes, we do have wild New Year's Eve parties!) When I saw that it had a new expansion coming this year, it was an instant must have, even though the Bunny Kingdom base game feels like a very neat standalone package.

If you've not played Bunny Kingdom, then in a very brief overview - it's a card drafting game where you are using the cards to place bunnies on the board grid to create fiefs containing towers and resources to score points over four rounds. Whilst it's not an area control game, it is a game of building up presence on the central board and our opponents can try to prevent you from expanding lucrative fiefs with some hate drafting - even more so in a two-player game. 

Gameplay

Bunny Kingdom: In the Sky adds a second central game board to Bunny Kingdom, along with lots of new mechanisms and a host of new bunnies - some for each player to allow them to spread to the kingdom in the sky and enough bunnies for a 5th player.

The game is fundamentally unchanged, with four rounds, each split into a drafting phase, a placement phase and a scoring phase. However, there are a number of new elements;

     1. Carrotadels - Carrotadels are very large cities, with 5 carrot towers, that make sure that your fief has a minimum of five towers at the end-of-round scoring. These are really powerful in the early stages of the game.
     2. Coins - You gain a coin each time you turn a size 1 fief into a size 2 or more fief. Coins will be part of your end game scoring, so making lots of small fiefs can be great for your end game scoring, but maybe not so great during the game.
     3. Farms - Most of the new farms are pre-printed on the new board - the Great Cloud. Each of these farms gives a new Wonderous Resource that is counted in your end-of-round fief scoring. There's also a few Luxury resources that are tokens, much like the luxury Farms in the base game. The second purpose of these Wonderous Resources and Luxury resources is in the end game scoring where your number of coins is multiplied by the resource total to give you big points boost.
     4. Rainbows - Rainbows have a specific source square on the Great Cloud, but you can land your rainbow wherever you like on the base game board - this connect two fiefs, much like a Sky Tower, but the landing spot of the rainbow can be changed each round.
     5. Chimneys - Chimneys can be placed in one of your fiefs in the sky, meaning that one of the basic resources from that fief, counts as existing in every fief on the original game board.


Amy’s Final Thoughts

Bunny Kingdom: In the Sky adds a lot of new resources in the game, and a lot of reason to want to get them. The inclusion of money, which is multiplied by the number of rare resources you own at the end of the game, adds a whole new dimension to how you play. Sure you can simply treat it as a few bonus points at the end of the game, but it's quite possible to try and get as rich as possible the whole game. With a bit of luck, and the right scrolls for end game bonuses this can easily be a competitive way to play. There's something magical about having almost all of your points be end game points too!



Of course if you don't build any fiefs you still won't be winning any time soon, however if you nab the new 5-point citadels then you can get away with smaller fiefs easily, even more so if you are able to get a chimney or rainbow bridge which both allow you to transport resources from the sky to the lower lands. The sky lands are, mercifully, a little easier to connect than most places, though you still have to rely on getting the right lands to connect them all together. Naturally the traditional strategy of building one giant fief and connecting as much as possible to it still works, and if you can get the new resources and connect them then you'll be scoring higher than ever! But the important thing is that Bunny Kingdom: In The Sky no-longer has one(OK maybe two) ways to win, you now are given a lot more choice on how you like to play, though still with the reliance on drafting to make that a reality.

Bunny Kingdom: In The Sky feels a lot like a 'big-money' expansion to me. Everything you could do in the original you can still do, just better. But there is more to it than that, new ways to win, new ways to supplement your points with small investments and most importantly more bunnies! More for every player and a 5th player too! Overall it's a great addition to the base game which simply improves the game without detracting or significantly increasing play time.


Fi’s Final Thoughts

Bunny Kingdom: In The Sky definitely adds complexity to the game. With a starting hand of 12 cards (in the 2-player game) you have a few more cards to deal with and your choices are far more wide ranging. There's some really lucrative cards in there, such as the 5-value city or the chimney at the start of the game, or the new resources which will boost your fief scoring and also help your end game scoring. It's sometimes hard to concentrate on the need to actually acquire land. The added new choices definitely make it slower during the early stages of the drafting. Fortunately we are fast players, but some may find that this is a little frustrating.

During our first game with the expansion, I wasn't really sure that I needed it - it had a feeling of just being more of the same with added complexity for no reason. However, in our second game, after experiencing end-game scoring in the first game, my eyes were opened to all of the new possibilities. I enjoyed the rare resource strategy in the base game and now it's worth double the rewards, both for your in-game fief scoring and you end-game multiplication by the number of coins you have. Tying this all together with claiming the right territories in the sky is a really fun puzzle. If you're going for a high end game score then coins are also key, which means creating lots of small 2x1 territories early on and then crossing your fingers to be able to connect them later - it can be high risk but the pay-offs are large. Creating these small fiefs can also tie in nicely with the 5-tower castles if you do it right.  The way that all of these new elements seem to blend so well with each other really makes the expansion stand out for me.


I have heard some complain about the four rounds of Bunny Kingdom feeling quite repetitive and whilst that's something I've never felt because I enjoy the way the game builds over time, I think that the expansion also addresses this concern. The game has a new pacing because of the rewards for more distributed fiefs early in the game. This means your score might not build up so linearly throughout the rounds and it's harder to see who is going to win. Now that there are two different ways to gain end game scoring, it's also even easier to come from behind and pull of a victory.

Bunny Kingdom: In The Sky is definitely my favourite expansion of the year at this point and it's one I'll play with every time we play Bunny Kingdom. However, because of the added variety in your choices it might not be one I throw in with all new players when introducing the game. This expansion adds so much to Bunny Kingdom without actually changing the game - it just makes it new and exciting, which is perfect for a game that we originally loved so much.


You Might Like...
  • The new end-game scoring in Bunny Kingdom: In the Sky adds whole new strategies into the game.
  • The new resources, plus the rainbow and chimneys give opportunities for massive scoring, which is always fun!
You Might Not Like...
  • Bunny Kingdom: In the Sky is a 'more of the same' expansion with one new point scoring mechanism. If you're looking for a hugely different game then this isn't the expansion to provide it.
  • The expansion adds new dimensions to the game, making the drafting choices more difficult, which can slow the game down.

The Verdict
8.5/10 Bunny Kingdom: In The Sky definitely adds complexity to a game that already felt finished and perfect. However, after a couple of games getting used to the new choices, it's an essential expansion for us. We love the new strategies and the big money feel that make Bunny Kingdom: In The Sky feel like an expansion that's perfect for true fans of the original.


Bunny Kingdom in the Sky was a review copy kindly provided to us by CoiledSpring Games.

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