Looking for a game with a strange theme? I present you KUNE v LAKIA: A Chronicle Of A Royal Lapine Divorce Foretold. A game where two royal rabbits are getting a divorce. You are one of those rabbits and you and your soon to be ex-wife or husband have to determine who gets the most out of this divorce. Happiness all around.
Well, you cannot deny that this is a pretty weird setting for a game, right? However, it is different, it is original, and I admire that. The illustrations are also pretty unique. They are pencil drawings. Some will like it, other will not. I think it makes this game about a heavy topic, like a divorce, kinda cute.
The gameplay is pretty simple. One player plays Lakia, the other Kune. Every player starts with their own set of property cards and during the game you are trying to secure your property and get more out of the divorce by influencing different courtiers. You are royalty, don’t forget that.
There are five different courtiers. Each courtier can be on Kune’s side, allied to Lakia, ambivalent or can be neutral. They start out neutral, with no ability, but during the game, when they change allegiance, they will get new abilities.
It’s a card game and in your turn you can do one of four things. You can influence a courtier. Every courtier has its own set of symbols. The cards you have and will acquire also have one or more of these symbols and you have to play cards that match the symbols of the courtier to influence him or her. Some cards have influence effects, so when you play them you can resolve these effects. You then can draw a card from the deck belonging to the courtier that you’ve influenced and you can switch the allegiance of the courtier. When the courtier is neutral or ambivalent it switches allegiance to you, when he’s allied to your opponent it becomes ambivalent and, lastly, when it’s already on your side it stays on your side and you can execute its action, its ability.
The second thing you can do in your turn is ask for counsel. There are five carrot tokens and when a courtier is on your side or is ambivalent you can ask them for council. This means that you place a token on its card and execute its action. That can be very handy.
You can also, as a third option, play a plot card from your hand. The cards that can be used for plotting have all kinds of effects. Maybe you will gain more cards, or the other player will have to discard cards, or you may store a card and therefore gaining more points at the end of the game.
The last option you have in your turn is to pass. The other player can then do two more actions and then the round is over. You then become the first player during the next round and you will get the Edge card. This card is worth some points at the end of the game, but it can also be used to do an action, a better action mostly, during your turn.
At the end of the round, all players will take their discard pile back it their hand, the carrot tokens are removed from the courtier cards and the new round begins with the player who has the Edge card. The game ends after the round when three of the five courtier decks are empty.
Then you count all your points. Most cards are worth some points, stored cards or worth an additional two points, the Edge card is worth two points and, depending on their allegiance, the courtiers are worth some points as well. For instance, the Duke’s sister, Countess Katia, is worth five points for Kune if she’s on his side, but worth two points for Lakia if she is or her side. King Ludwig is six points for Lakia and only one for Kune if he is on her or his side. Whenever a courtier is ambivalent, the players look at the cards in their deck with the corresponding courtier trait, every card belongs to a certain courtier, and gets one point for every card they own with that trait.
The player with the most points is the winner and walks happily out of the courtroom.
What do I think of this strange two-player deckbuilder?
I already told you that I like the theme and illustrations. It’s something different. Weird, but in a good way.
Further more, it’s deckbuilder and I enjoy deckbuilders. However, you are basically building a deck without knowing what your building materials are going to be. The cards are randomly shuffled into five, face-down, decks and assigned to the courtiers. So, you never know upfront if the card you are going to draw is a card good for plotting, good for influencing, you don’t know which courtier trait it has or which symbols it has.
You therefore are doing the best you can with the cards you get. It is a light tactical game, but the tactics come from the hand management, not the deckbuilding.
A card can be used for three things. It can be used for the symbols on it, so you can influence a specific courtier, it might have a plot ability and it can also be stored, which takes it out of your deck. This is where the game becomes fun. You might want to use three of your cards for their symbols, so you can get the King on your side, giving you the opportunity to ask him for counsel and giving you some points if he’s still on your side at the end of the game. However, one of those three cards has this cool plot ability that allows you to convert another courtier, the Countess, and lets you store that plot card as well. Interesting choices.
The game goes back and forth, both players are manipulating the ‘board’ and get more and more cards until the game ends.
I do feel that KUNE v LAKIA has a slight ‘the strong get stronger’ problem. Once you have more cards than your opponent you will have the advantage over your opponent in terms of quantity of actions during a round, but also quality of actions. You have more cards to choose from, so your actions will fit the occasions better. If you let this happen, if you can’t keep up, you know you’re doomed.
It’s also pretty hard to keep track of the amount of points the players have during the game. There’s no way you can tell. You can be sure that Lakia is on the losing side if all courtiers are allied to Kune and Kune also has a hand of cards that is twice as big as Lakia’s, but the exact amount of points are pretty much hidden until the end of the game.
So, the game has some minor issues, but overall I enjoyed it. The hand management and card abilities where interesting and it’s a real head to head game, as it should be when divorcing rabbits is the theme.
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