The Board Soul

Drafting 102

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  • When you boil down competitive game mechanics to their bare essence, two things ring true: you want the most and you want your opponents to have the least. The many disparate subgenres of board games all converge on this simple endpoint. It’s why you can mash together so many disparate systems and still come out the other end with a cohesive work. Bunny Kingdom mashes together two distinct mechanics: area control and card drafting. These mechanisms are distinct halves of the whole of this game, but they actually compliment each other very well for the very simple reason that they both let you claim something for yourself and deny it to others. It also makes Bunny Kingdom one of the best games to teach players the finer points of drafting.

    In Bunny Kingdom, you want to score the most points by strategically placing your bunnies into adjacent groupings, or fiefs, that will score you points based on the fief’s power and resources. Appropriately for a game about rabbits, it comes with a card that’s just a big multiplication table, because that’s how your fiefs are scored. But to place down bunnies on the board, you have to draft cards that correspond to specific spaces on the board. There’s other methods of scoring points thanks to special Parchment cards, but either way, you’re entirely focused on the board for scoring and claiming victory.

    The beauty of Bunny Kingdom is how quickly real estate becomes scarce. Only one bunny can be in a space, and by the end of a game, almost the entire board will be filled up with colorful bunny minis. And because your points depend on you connecting your bunny empire to each other, you’re going to be trying to nestle your bunnies into key points on the map before someone cuts you off, either intentionally or accidentally. It’s always clear how well you’re doing because of how visual the game’s language is.

    But it’s the drafting that determines this. Bunny Kingdom is one of the best ways to show off the concept of drafting because you can see its effects immediately after every pick thanks to the game board. You pick two cards from the hand you’re dealt, play them, then pass the rest and repeat. Every location card you play lets you put a bunny down in the corresponding space, so you immediately see the consequences of your picks. You can also map out when your picks could hurt other players, illustrating the concept of “hate drafting” extremely well.

    Bunny Kingdom isn’t necessarily the best game for board game beginners. The scoring is a little weird, and the numerous options can be dizzying for someone not versed in area control games. Fellow drafting game 7 Wonders may be better to teach the bare basics thanks to its simplified drafting mechanics, but you’re mostly concerned with your own tableau in that game and barely care about what other players are doing. Still, for teaching the intricacies of drafting dynamics and strategy, Bunny Kingdom provides an incredibly effective tutor.

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