Introducing Bunny Bunny Moose Moose
It's hard to take a game seriously if it has a title like Bunny Bunny Moose Moose. Fortunately you don't have to, and you shouldn't, because this is a zany party game from versatile designer Vlaada Chvatil, and it's indeed full of silliness. If ever you wondered whether the guy who designed Through the Ages had a lighter side to his personality, this game sure proves it. Yes that really is him pictured there on the right, play testing a prototype of the game.
Basically the concept is that a changing set of cards is on the table, which earn points when players match the pictures on the cards with actions like making antlers or rabbit ears beside their head, or poking out their tongue. Yes it's that crazy, and can make for some incredibly hilarious scenes. But this is no ordinary party game, it's one for thinking people - which means BGG gamers like you!
So let's find out more about this new game, which if nothing else deserves a medal of honor for extraordinary uniqueness!
Published by Czech Games Edition, the box comes in the size you'd expect from fillers like For Sale, and features a smiling rabbit and smiling moose. If that doesn't immediately give you a hint of the silliness that lies within, nothing will!
The reverse side of the box lists the game's components, and introduces the core concept of the game, namely that players are animals trying to hide from a hunter by acting out the roles of rabbits and moose, by making rabbit ears and moose antlers of various shapes on their heads.
So what do you get inside?
• 6 player cards (one in each player colour)
• 12 wooden figures (rabbit and moose in each of six player colours)
• 15 trail cards (score track)
• 111 scoring cards
• poem sheet
Everything inside the box
These colourful cards feature the delightful bunny and moose artwork that is a hallmark of this game, and their only purpose is to remind players of their chosen colour.
Each player also gets two wooden figures in their colour - a rabbit and a moose - and they are effectively used to keep track of scoring.
Rabbits and moose
What should we call them - rabbit-eeples or bunny-eeples? Moose-eeples? Whatever the case, they're cute and attractive! They also match the player boards.
Player board and figures
As the game progresses, player's rabbits and moose will make progress along a "trail", which is made up with 15 trail cards. They're made out of fairly thin card, but are double sided, with unique artwork on each card, and very attractive. The winner will be determined by the player who can move his rabbit and moose as far as possible along the trail. Cute and thematic!
So how do you move your rabbit and moose? That's where the scoring cards come in. There's a deck of 111 of them!
Deck of all 111 Scoring cards
As the game progresses, one player will be flipping these face up on the table, and players will be trying to do actions that match the pictures in a way that scores them the most points possible, until a hunter card appears, at which point scoring happens. So this deck has a large variety of different types of cards in it, but mostly picturing rabbits and moose.
Some of the types of cards in the Scoring deck
Perhaps the most important card of all is the Hunter card, because whenever it shows up, the round stops, everyone freezes, and scoring happens. Bam! Here's what he looks like:
We'll explain what some of the other different cards are and how they work during the explanation of how the game works.
Random scoring cards
Yes, really, a poem sheet. When's the last time you remember a game having a poem sheet as an essential game component? Well there's one here in Bunny Bunny Moose Moose, although hopefully by now you've come to expect surprises like this! Here's what it looks like:
The 6-line poem for standard games
Basically the poem will be read in order to generate a "rhythm" for when the scoring cards are revealed, which happens once per line. So for a normal game, you there will be six piles of cards. But if you want a more challenging game, you can flip the poem sheet over, and use the 8-line poem instead of the 6-line poem, and thus use eight piles of cards.
The 8-line poem for advanced games
The rulebook is a glossy 12 page affair.
Rule book cover
Although there's quite a bit of fine print, there's also lots of diagrams and examples. Take my word for it - you need them! This game is all about the visuals!
Sample spread from the rule book
To start, everyone takes a player card in their chosen colour. The trail cards are laid across the table as a scoring track, and all the players figures are placed five from the end. Everyone needs to be on the same side of the table, except the player who will start as the narrator - he will be on the opposite site of the table and will read the poem and flip over the scoring cards.
Set-up of a four player game
My picture really shows you how it looks, but it really can't compete with what must be one of the most funny diagrams to ever appear in a rulebook!
Humorous rulebook diagram explaining set-up
Flow of Play
The way a basic round will work is as follows:
1. Betting: The narrator "bets" on another player by placing his card in front of one of the other player. Basically this just means that he'll get to move his moose or rabbit this turn too - by the same amount as the figure of that player.
2. Dealing: The narrator reads the poem, at the end of the round flipping a card face up from the deck so that all the players can see it. There will be just as many piles as lines in the poem, so after reading the poem once cards will start replacing existing ones. During this process, players will try to make actions that maximize the points they could earn from the face-up cards on display. We'll explain the actions and score cards shortly, but first we'll finish giving you an overall perspective of how the game works. But here's what it might look like in an actual game!
Can you recognize some of the well-known BGG personalities playing here?
3. Hunter: When a Hunter card appears, the narrator says "Bam!" when reading it, and all players must freeze and hold their position. Note that the Hunter card is ignored if it turns up while reading the poem the first time. Players can change their actions as often as they like before a hunter is revealed, but at this point they can't make any changes!
4. Scoring: The narrator calculates the score for each player, based on how their current actions match the cards that are currently on display at the top of the six piles, and their moose or rabbit figure is moved forward or backward based on the number of points they scored that round. Both the rabbit and moose that are in last place on the score track at this point are moved forward one space, as a `catching up' mechanism to help players who are behind.
Mid-way a game
End of Game
This process is then repeated with the next player becoming narrator. After everyone has been narrator two or three times, the game ends.
At this point the winner is determined by looking at the rear-most figure of each player - the rear-most figure that is the furthest ahead is the winner; while the front-most figure of each player is only used to break ties. This means you'll need to ensure you keep both your figures moving forward! Here's an example:
How to determine the winner
Actions and Scoring: Regular cards
The real heart of the game lies in making actions that match the scoring cards, so let's take some time to explain how this works. It's the most important and the trickiest part of the game - which is why this is a party game for gamers. Yes, for smart people - that's you isn't it?!
Look, it's a Moose ... that thinks it's a Rabbit!
Players must use their hands to act out either a moose (with antlers), or a rabbit (with ears), never a mixture of both. Here's how to do it, along with some of the cards that will earn you points for doing so.
First let's show you some basic moose antlers. They can either be on the left hand side, or right hand side. And they'll either be pointing up or down, and be wide or compact (i.e. making four different possibilities). Here are some of the cards which give you points for having moose antlers:
And here's the actions that fit with them:
There's just as many possible combinations for rabbit ears, which can either be straight or floppy, and be on top or on the side:
And here's the actions that fit with them:
Note that the yellow cards are positive scoring points, while the orange cards will subtract from your score.
Ambiguous Antlers and Ears
Now if that's not tricky enough, we're going to up the ante. Some cards can be matched in two different ways! This means that they'll score you points if you match either of the two actions that fits that card.
Here's what these mean:
Double Antlers and Ears
So far so good, it's not too complex just yet. Or is it? We're only just getting started! Because now let's show you some cards that give you points for ears or antlers on both sides. These cards show ears or antlers on both sides, which means there are two ways to match these cards - if you match them both, you score the points twice.
Do remember that you need to have both hands as antlers or as ears, you can't have one of each, otherwise you classify as a "bush" and earn no points at all!
Neither a rabbit nor a moose, but a bush!
Actions and Scoring: Special cards
If your head isn't spinning just yet, don't worry, you've got another thing coming! Here are some special cards that you can leave out in your first game or two if you wish, but that will really cause your brain to melt! They're recognizable by having different coloured borders - instead of the yellow and orange cards that make up the majority of the deck, these are white, red, and blue.
Rabbits and Moose cards
These are cards that you'll score with if you are a rabbit or a moose, regardless of how you have your ears or antlers. Sounds simple? Here's the kicker: a rabbit that sticks out its tongue thinks that it's a moose, and a moose that sticks out its tongue thinks that it's a rabbit! Don't ask why, that's just a strange psychological phenomenon and freak of nature! So if you're a rabbit, you can stick out your tongue to get points with this particular moose card!
Rabbits and Moose cards
Notice too that some of these cards are marked with a 2x multiplier. That means that they'll double the scores of all your other cards that round - assuming you match the action of the multiplier card!
There's also a few cards that earn points for sticking out your tongue, regardless of whether you are a rabbit or a moose. Clearly the designers want us looking silly by poking out our tongue at some point!
Score Reversal cards
Finally, as one last evil trick, the designer has come up with this: a card which turns positive scores negative, and negative scores positive. Talk about messing with your mind!
Example of Play
Alright, maybe all this sounds a bit complex! And it is ... in a way, although it does grow on you quickly enough. But the rulebook does include a few helpful examples of how scoring works, so let's just show you one of those, to illustrate how this might actually work in the field... errr, gaming group!
Scoring example for a player who is a Moose
What do I think?
Components. The components are nice enough. For the size of the box, you certainly get a lot of cards, and while they are on the thinner side, the charming artwork on them has an immediate appeal. The rabbit-eeples and moose-eeples are both unique and attractive, and despite all the silliness (I like silliness by the way!), when combined with the trail cards there is some genuine thematic flavour.
Skill. There's certainly room for clever play, and the person who can think quickly and adjust their actions accordingly is going to have the best chance of winning. The outcome certainly isn't random, despite the constantly changing cards, because if you're good at scanning the six cards in play and at a glance surmising the optimum way to score points and making the matching actions, you should do very well and win more often than not. The in-built catch up mechanic does prevent things getting too out of hand, and gives players who are in last place a chance to recover. In fact, sometimes you can even use this mechanic to your advantage. But quick and clever thinking is the order of the day, and will reign supreme when playing this game, so in that respect it stands out from many other party games.
Complexity. The real challenge with Bunny Bunny Moose Moose is the entry point needed to understand the rules and enjoy it. It certainly can be enjoyed, but players do need to take the time to process the rules, and understand what actions fit with each card. The difficulty is that this can't be done at leisure - the whole point of the game is to do this very quickly as cards come and go. So there is a certain threshhold of intelligence needed to play this game well due to the real-time game-playing decisions that need to be made. Fortunately there are good ways to simplify the game somewhat, such as by omitting some of the special cards (e.g. the multiplier and score reversal cards, the rules about which animal you are by sticking out your tongue, and even dropping from six to four piles). I think the game would have benefited by making this simpler form of the game the standard way to introduce the game, because even the simplified rule-set may prove to be beyond the reach of some older children and will stretch the limits of a family group. It's probably a good idea for most groups to start with the simplified rules in their first game, and then work up to the point where everyone is ready to use all the cards.
Speed. In one way Bunny Bunny Moose Moose reminds me of games like Speed, Ubongo, JungleSpeed, and belongs to a similar category of real-time games. In this case you're not so much looking for patterns, but trying to mentally classify the card images you see and then make a quick decision about which cards offer the most points, and then speedily making the appropriate action. In other words, it's pretty serious stuff despite all the silliness, and it all needs to happen rather quickly! You really need to concentrate hard, and respond quickly.
Fun factor. There’s no doubt that Bunny Bunny Moose Moose is a fun game, and you only have to look at title of the game, the artwork on the components, and the diagrams in the rulebook to see that! Watching others play the game can be particularly hilarious.
Customizable. It certainly can be challenging to play well, but I don't think this game should be evaluated only on the full game. If it's too complex off the bat, then simplify it. Remove all the special cards from the scoring deck, or remove all the cards with ambiguous ears and antlers (taking out a proportional amount of hunters as needed). I think that too many folks have been scared off by the full monte, and I don't entirely blame them. But we tried this game with less piles and with just the simplest cards in our first game or two, and this gives you the fun and silliness without the complexity, and you can add the complexity as needed and as desired. This level of customization hasn't really been highlighted enough by others or even the rules themselves, and it could potentially redeem the game for many people that it didn't work with first time around. For an example of the possibility, see the variant I have proposed for beginners and new players, which essentially involves removing some of the more complex cards (mainly the ambiguous cards) from the game, and enables it to be taught to new players and even non-gamers in little more than 5 minutes:
The Bunny Bunny Moose Moose Made-Easy variant
Don't be fooled by appearances, these people are concentrating very hard in order to do this!
Altogether Bunny Bunny Moose makes for a rather unusual set of attributes not often seen in games: speed, skill, and silliness. If this combination might work for you, definitely give it a shot.
What do others think?
There's no doubt that this game needs the right people to be enjoyed, and so it's no surprise that some gamers found the rules confusing or too complex, while others just didn't find the pattern recognition and face pulling appealing. For some, the combination of a silly game with moderately complex rules was a guaranteed recipe for disaster. Others point out that in practice it is fun the first couple of times around, but then begins to lose its novelty. The upshot is that the game itself isn't fundamentally flawed, but it does have a narrow target audience who will enjoy it, and you have to be the kind of person that doesn't mind some silliness, along with being prepared to digest a rule-set that isn't as elementary as your average party game. It's a party game for gamers, and while almost everyone finds it fun to watch your friends pull funny faces, you are going to have to be prepared to take the time to learn the rules in order to enjoy playing it. As mentioned already, the game's saving grace is that it's fully customizable, so if you want to turn it into a lighter party game and enhance its accessibility, it's easy enough to remove some of the cards and complexity.
Here's a selection of positive comments about the Bunny Bunny Moose Moose:
"I just love games of quick thinking, and some acting is also nice." - Antti Tahvanainen
"Its goofy. Its unique. It plays best when you're feeling very silly (wee hours and/or drinking). After playing once, this immediately went on my want list." - Chester Ogborn
"Great with a good group of people in the right mood." - Richard Morris
"A positive suprise for me! I thought that I wouldn´t like this game at all, but I found it to be a hilarious experience!" - Touko Tahkokallio
"A party game for gamers. Fantastic!" - Graham Charlton
"Very good, fun, silly party game by Vlaada Chvátil." - Soren Vejrum
"This is a fantastic family party game." - Eric Johnson
"Simple and somehow stupid, but hilariously fun and very well designed little masterpiece from CGE." - Tommy Ryytty
"A lot of fun in a small box. Has to be played with the right group of people." - Jean-François Jouin
"It's a totally silly little game, but deceptively strategic and very, very, difficult to play well." - Tim Fiscus
"It's more of a gamer's party game. The game is just an excuse to look silly but it has a solid good game mechanics in it unlike in many other party games. Hilarious, good & fun game." - Olli Mäkiketola
"That´s a real party game. The playing and also the watching fellows will have their fun." - Monika Dillinger
"A very solid design. It's very reassuring to see that it is possible to design a party game with mechanisms that make you feel like you are playing a fine-tuned German gamer's game. The gameplay is absolutely hysterical, and there's no sign the usual annoyances we've learnt to expect from party games." - oskari
"Three ingenious ideas in one party game idea (the basic hand signals to match the optimum card combinations, the scoring track, and the winning condition)." - Michael Kröhnert
So is Bunny Bunny Moose Moose a game for you? In the final analysis, it has to be admitted that this game occupies a somewhat unusual niche on the gaming shelf, because it combines light-hearted elements of silliness and fun with a real mental challenge that needs to be performed under time pressure, and requires one to process a less than elementary rule-set. This means that this is certainly not a game for everyone, and while it is certainly going to be a hit with the right group, the complexity of the rules is going to prove a real barrier for many people - which is a shame in many respects, because the game does deserve better. Fortunately, the fact that it's easily customizable should help most people use the rules and cards that match their own preferred complexity level - just give my "Bunny Bunny Moose Moose Made-Easy variant" a try!
Whatever your personal feelings about the game, in the end one has to appreciate the fact that Bunny Bunny Moose Moose really is a clever accomplishment in game design, and there's some brilliant ideas here, even if the result is going to be a bit beyond the average non-gamer. You'll have to decide whether the unique mix of silliness and challenge, fun and complexity is going to work for you and your group - and if you think it will, it could prove to go over very well and create a lot of laughs. One thing is for sure, if you do decide to add this to your collection, you'll have no other game like it!
The complete list of Ender's pictorial reviews: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/37596
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- Randall BartUnited States
CaliforniaThis is a picture of a published game designer
Quote:What should we call them - rabbit-eeples or bunny-eeples? Moose-eeples?Lagomeeples and bullweeples.
This game is definitely not for Games to play with a handicapped friend.
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- Tim Royal(Auzette)United States
Quote:What should we call them - rabbit-eeples or bunny-eeples? Moose-eeples?
Silly rabbit! They're "Meat-ples"...
Awesome review, by the way... but then, that's kind of the norm for you.
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