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Lacuna Board Game Review

WBG Score: 7.5

Player Count: 2

You’ll like this if you like: Tak, Hive, Onitama.

Published by: CMYK

Designed by: Mark Gerrits

This is a free review copy. See our review policy here.

Board games in tubes. You a fan? I am torn. They look awesome. But what if you get too many? How can you store them efficiently? That said, I only have a few and was very happy to add one more to my collection. Lacuna, an abstract strategy game from CMYK is available from July 2023, and markets itself as "a cozy game of mystical geometry." Each word in that blurb pulls me right in! But does this deliver on what it says on the awkwardly packaged tube? Let's get it to the table and find out.

How To Set Up Lacuna

Well, it couldn't be easier. Open the tube and take out the material cloth board inside. Lay this out on the table (or floor). Give one person the gold pieces and the other the silver. Then put the inside lid back on the tube and pour out the wooden flower pieces onto the board. If any roll off, and some will, just drop them back on. When done, space out any clusters of flowers that may have formed to create an open and even spacing. You are now ready to play.

How To Play Lacuna

The first player now takes one flower to add to their collection. This is because the second player will place the final piece which is a significant advantage. The first player then places their first piece. Players are looking to find spaces between matching flowers where they can put one of their metal markers. When they do, they must ensure there are no other flowers in the way. A clear line of sight must be present.

When players place their piece's, they can do so anywhere on the imaginary line between the two matching flowers. They will then take those two flowers to add to their collection. Players will take it in turns like this, placing their pieces until all six markers are down for both players.

There are seven different colours of flowers and seven flowers in each colour. Players are looking to get a majority of flowers. Four or more flowers of the same colour in four or more different colours wins the game.

When you place one of your markers down, there must be space between the two flowers to do this. You cannot jiggle two apart to place your piece down.

Once all the metal markers are down, there will still be quite a few flowers on the board. Claiming the flowers by placing your marker is only half of the game. The remaining flowers are claimed by the player with the closest marker to it. For most flowers it can be easily determined which player will take it. But for a few it will be harder to tell just from looking.

In this situation, you need to get the ruler (provided) to assess who was closer. If it is tie, then the player with the second closest piece takes the flower. Where you start and end the measurement from is up to you, just make sure you are consistent for both players. It feels like a piece of string would have been better chosen for this purpose. One you could hold onto the flower with one finger and rotate between the two closest markers. I may add a piece to my tube to do this in future.

When all the flowers have been claimed, stack them up and see which player wins. It's pretty quick as this is just about majority. If you have four or more, you know you have won that particular flower. If you have three or less, you know you have lost.

Lacuna Board Game Review - Is It Fun?

Lacuna plays very quickly. So much so, the best way to teach it is to play a game. It will be done in a few minutes and the other player will understand the intricacies of how you can choose, and more importantly, why you would choose certain flowers a lot easier this way. It will also help you realise if you are going to enjoy this game or not. Looking at a piece of cloth with wooden flower pieces on and deciding how best to place six metal markers in order to take/control the most amount of wooden flowers as possible; it won't be for everyone. Not everyone enjoys abstract strategy games like this. I think often because they don't click for most people at first. But many games don't click for me right away. I have to learn the strategy of most games before I get any good at them. And I enjoy them a lot more when i am better at the game.

Abstract strategy games like Lacuna are no different. But I often find people's patience for games like this to be a lot less. Perhaps because the inference is that there is less strategy as the rules are simpler? I find that decisions are made a lot quicker, sometimes before they are even played, as to weather people are going to enjoy them or not with games like this. I mention all this because this game is frustrating when you first play it, or at least, before you 'get it'. But, when it clicks, and you start to see the patterns form in your mind, and understand how to control the board more effectively, it becomes a brilliant two-player tactical battle.

A game that sets up quickly, plays fast, and is easy to teach, but offers genuine thought provoking moments that feels wildly satisfying when they pay off, well, that is a game for me. Lacuna offers this. But it took me a good ten games or so before I felt like that. I lost most of my first ten games (to a ten year old!) and found the game to be limited and frustrating. But then I started to see how to place my markers in a more effective way and the game blossomed.

Initially, I was just thinking about which flowers I wanted and placed my markers between them to get those two flowers. I then started thinking more about the area control game that happens in the second stage. Placing one marker is not just about claiming two flowers. It is about controlling parts of the board. This is why going second is such as advantage as you can swing the game a lot with the final placement. Each time you place a metal piece, you need to see the board being cut in half. Separating the parts you control from the parts your opponent has. The more pieces placed, the more segments of the board. At the end, there will be 12 areas of control. Working with the flowers already taken, you need to ensure you have the right areas in your control. You don't need the most flowers. Nor do you need the most colours. Just four or more in four or more colours. You could win with 16 flowers with the losing player having 33. There are 49 flowers in total but having more won't necessarily win you the game.

The designers could easily have created variations where I win with the most pieces, or with the most sets of colours. But the genius is in the tightness created by getting majority in each colour. However, a good variation to house rule with younger players is this. Most flowers wins. But the correct rules creates a fascinating area control battle, which does not need variation as each game is different due to the random set up. On that, some reviewers have complained about the set up due to the flowers rolling off the board as you tip them out of the tube. Really? Sure, one or two probably will roll off, but just pick them up and pop them back on. The set up of this game is a breeze. It takes seconds. That is an odd one to complain about for me.

I would recommend this game to anyone who enjoys abstract strategy two player games who is looking for something to add to their collection that looks great, plays fast, offers a relaxing but competitive game experience, and is willing to learn the intricacies of the choices offered.

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