Game Review: Killer Bunnies and the Quest for the Magic Carrot

I’ve had this game for quite awhile, but haven’t had the opportunity to play it much. My kids were getting bored during Christmas Break (before Christmas replenished the new-things-to-do-stock), so I pulled it out and taught them how to play.

Killer Bunnies is a tongue-in-cheek game with a lot of cultural references. The basic idea is to be the player with the magic carrot at the end of the game. To do this you have to do two things: collect carrots and keep at least one bunny alive. Of course the correlary of this is that you want to try to kill the other players’ bunnies. You can do this through numerous means, but the two most common are to starve them or to attack them. You starve them by placing a “feed the bunny” card on an opponent’s bunny. If he can’t come up with the required water and cabbage cards by the end of his turn his bunny dies. You attack them by playing weapon cards that force the owning player to roll dice to score a number above the weapon’s offensive value or lose the bunny. There are numerous cards that also provide for varied game play, interfere with opponents (or yourself), and give advantages or defensive options.

Carrots are obtained by either buying them with money that you accumulate throughout the game (but is often needed to buy cabbage and water) or by playing cards that allow you to draw a magic carrot. There are other cards, too, that allow you to steal them from others. When the last carrot it drawn the game is over. Anyone without a bunny must forfeit their carrot cards to whomever has the most remaining money.

Each carrot card bears a unique number, and there is a corresponding deck of cards used for selecting the Magic Carrot. This deck is shuffled, and the card on the bottom bears the number of the Magic Carrot. Whomever has this carrot card is the winner. So while having more carrots increases your odds, it does not by any means guarantee victory. (In fact the opposite often seems the case. Those with the most carrots seem to be the first ones eliminated if you make your way to the bottom of the deck revealing all the carrots that are not the magic carrot, as our family often does.)

My kids enjoy the game, though there are frequent bruised feelings over the killing of one another’s bunnies. I don’t mind the game, but I have a hard time getting past the fact that very little of the game play actually has much to do with winning the game. Killing and defending bunnies is largely filler while waiting for the carrot pile to run out. If it weren’t for the rule about players without bunnies not being able to keep their carrot cards it would be entirely pointless, and you could pretty much just hand out the carrots, choose the winner, and skip all other aspects of the game.

It’s an amusing way to pass the time, but either I’m missing some key nuances, or the strategy element is rather small. It does have a few interesting factors, such as the ability to add players to the game at any time (since the winner is drawn at random, those with few carrots have as much a chance as anyone else, really) and to speed up the game by simply stopping and distributing all remaining carrots equally. This is also evidence as to how little the main gameplay really matters.

It’s not my favorite game, but it’s a good one to pull out from time to time. I can’t shake the feeling this game was someone’s attempt to compete with Munchkin, but they fell short. But my kids do enjoy playing it, and it is a good change-up from the many more serious games we’ve obtained recently. So un-named friend who gave this to us and who is no doubt reading this review, we do appreciate it, no matter how this review sounds. :0) (Besides, this friend also gave me LotR Risk and Settlers of Catan, both of which will rate highly when I review them, not to mention Starcraft and Luxor, which devoured large chunks of my life (in a good way)).

Ratings:
Over-all Rating: 5 – It’s simple-minded fun, and a good palate-cleanser after some heftier games, but it’s hard to shake the feeling much of the gameplay doesn’t matter.
Lotsa-Pieces: 6 – It’s mostly cards and dice. The cards are heavy, plasticized cardboard that don’t shuffle well, and with the boosters the deck is really thick. Setup itself is not terribly complicated, though.
Randomness: 8 – The cards are shuffled, and come up when they come up, but players have the ability to save many cards for later use. The fact that the winner is chosen at random simultaneously gives players hope and makes winning largely meaningless.
Competition: 9 – The point of the game is to kill other players’ bunnies, and the truly cut-throat will go all out for this, while others will shy away from it.
Strategy: 4 – There is some balancing of resources required between protecting your bunnies, buying carrots, and killing off opponents, but randomness carries the day.
Variety: 4 – The amusement factor comes from the various cards and the chaos they can introduce, but once you’ve seen all the cards the novelty wears off quickly.
Will my wife play it: No
Will my youngest play it: Yes

Questionable Elements: Killing bunnies. This is largely cartoon-style violence if you don’t think too much about what you’re really doing.

Time: 30 – 90 minutes, dependant mostly on number and speed of players. Flexible end point.

Players: 2-6, can add players at any point.

Age Range: 12 to adult – My kids are younger than that (10 – 12) and do just fine. It’s fun for adults, too. As with most games, the age range seems somewhat arbitrary.

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