Calvin’s Commentaries: Lacuna: A ‘Zen-like’ game experience

When I initially opened the tube containing the game Lucuna and gave the rules a very quick perusal my first thought was that it was going to be a very ‘Zen; game.

Before starting to pen this review I then checked a definition of Zen to be sure.

Zen is a a Japanese school of Mahayana Buddhism emphasizing the value of meditation and intuition, and yet that holds pretty well with Lacuna a 2023 release from designer Mark Gerrits.

Lacuna is a game for two players about collecting flowers on a pond at night.

From that alone, you sort of get the feeling this is one is going to be a rather relaxing exercise – and it is just that.

But, Lacuna is also fully an abstract strategy game. Once the ‘board’ is set up, imposed luck goes out the window. You can see exactly what is available to you in terms of actions, and what will be left to your opponent in what is a two-player contest.

The board is a rather large, rather pretty cloth you spread out.

You then place the colorful wooden flowers in the container and sprinkle them as evenly as you can over the cloth play area.

While the result is rather nice visually, a couple of considerations, To start with the flowers are round. Some are going to hit the game table and roll. Players need to be quick or you might be chasing flowers under the Chesterfield or microwave cupboard depending on what room you are playing in.

The flowers are slightly different in shape, thankfully, because the colors, at least under the light in our game room were a bit hard to distinguish.

Once on the table, players have six player pieces each – nicety weighted little metal minis – which you take turns placing. You place somewhere on an imaginary line between two flowers of the same color, collecting both to your ‘stash’.

When each player has placed all six, you then collect whichever flowers your pieces are closest to.

Then it’s easy – whichever player has collected four, or more, of four, or more colors wins.

Lacuna is not a brain burner, although you do need to consider what you are most likely to collect in phase two, because winning in phase one alone is impossible.

A quick game, that looks very nice, and can be taught in about two minutes, so think relaxing filler. This one won’t be deep enough for some, but it was fun and has a charm all its own.

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