Dale Yu: Review of Lacuna


  • Designer: Mark Gerrits
  • Publisher: CMYK
  • Players: 2
  • Age: 10+
  • Time: 5-10 mins
  • Played with review copy provided by CMYK, played conservatively 50+ times with homemade version since 2018

So, normally I reserve my comments on a game until the end – but here, I’ll start with this statement.  I love this game. I’ve loved it since January 21, 2018.  It’s one of my all-time favorite 2p games, and one that I’ve made at least a half dozen copies of.  Wait, what?  The game isn’t even available for sale yet (though pre-orders can be done at https://www.cmyk.games/products/lacuna), but yet I’ve loved it for 5 years?!  How does that even work?

Well, back in January 2018, I went to a local gameday and ran into an old friend who was at the time looking at a few new games for possible publication.  While we were waiting in between games, he pulled out a little bag of cubes and asked if I was willing to test a small 2p game.  I said yes, he literally dumped out the bag on the table, and we were playing in 30 seconds.  After the third game, I learned that the game was named Oort, I wasn’t very good at it, and I really really liked it.  In this game, players were space miners, trying to collect different minerals scattered across the galaxy.  Throughout the course of the day, I kept asking for the bag of cubes and was playing it during any little bit of downtime. I couldn’t stop thinking about it nor playing it.

One of my first Oort sets. Yes, that hand is regular sized, which means that mini glass mug is small!

The next day, I emailed my buddy to ask permission to make my own set at home, and I was given said permission and asked to play it with a few other friends to see if this was something they thought was publishable.  So, between leftover bits in the gameroom and a trip or two to dollar tree for containers and cheap calipers, I made a few sets and started to show the game to folks.

Another tiny set, this tin has a 3″ plastic ruler in it!

There wasn’t space in the jars and tins for rules, so I emailed those.  And thanks to Gmail’s capacity to remember – here is my quick synopsis:

Goal is to control 4 of 7 colors. To control a color, you must collect 4+ of the 7 cubes of that color.

each player takes a set of 6 miners (meeples).

Collect the 49 colored cubes (7 each of 7 colors), mix them in your hand and hold hand a few inches off table and drop them and let them scatter where they may. If any fall off, pick them up and randomly toss them on the table.

On a turn, you place one of your miners. It must be on a direct line of sight between two cubes of the same color.  nothing may obstruct (not another cube, not a miner). You can place it anywhere on that line of sight,  then collect the two cubes at the ends of the line. The next player goes, following the same rules.

Alternate until all the miners are placed. There should still be 25 cubes on the board…

These remaining cubes are each awarded to the miner which is closest to that cube

Continue to award cubes until someone wins 4 colors


So, that’s all the rules.  It was played, and most of the people that played it liked it so much that they were asking me for the set to keep.  It got a lot of play around here as the 2p filler of choice.  As it turns out, the game didn’t get published back then, and it kinda slipped out of the rotation for a bit as games often do.  I didn’t hear much about it for the next 5 years, though the game would continue to get occasional play around here, especially at the holidays as it was a game that was perfect for an occasional gamer (and easily transportable in my pocket).

I was surprised and extremely pleased to hear that CMYK was planning to do a new version this year.  I had no idea that anyone was still actively pursuing the game, but it definitely deserved professional treatment.   The theme is now different – instead of mining asteroids or stars, now it’s all about collecting flowers.  The rules are pretty much the same with the exception that the starting player gets one flower at random to start (to balance out the advantage that the second player has of getting to make the final play).  Additionally ,there is a super nice cloth mat included in the game tube to provide a consistent surface (and one that makes it easy to see the different flowers).

The game is so simple, with my basic rule description taking only 183 words – but so replayable.  You only get six placements, so at most you can lock up three colors… assuming you take two pairs each of three colors.  In Lacuna, only half of the cubes will be collected via pawn placement; the final 24 cubes are distributed based on pawn placement.  You have a great deal of freedom in where to place your pawn – anywhere on the line between the two cubes – yet there are a surprising number of decision making points to consider when placing…

At the end of the game, you want to be closest to other cubes in order to collect them.  You might also want to see what color(s) your opponent is collecting, and if possible, obstruct a line between two cubes of that color to prevent them from being collected.  There are times when you’ll want to place your pawn as close as possible to another cube in order to guarantee that you pick it up (sometimes this is as good as playing between a pair).

I used to think that I always wanted to lock up three colors with my six placements, but now I’m not so sure.  I have more recently been trying to play in a way to make sure that I don’t start taking a pair of cubes and then have my opponent get the majority in that color.

As you can guess, with a large board with so many cubes on it, there are innumerable placement options, and rarely is there an optimal play (or at least not one that I can find).  You can take as long as you like to scan the board, consider your options and play your pawn.  Most turns honestly move pretty quickly here until you get to the final turn.  Admittedly that final play can take a bit of time because the last player can really work out the game’s outcome based on their potential play.  

Either way, the game scores itself.  If there are any debates on which flower is closer to a pawn, you can use the included ruler.  The ruler is also quite handy for determining if a line of sight is obstructed or not… you just turn the ruler on its side and see if it hits a flower or another pawn!

Our games take 5 to 10 minutes each, and this is definitely the sort of game that gets played multiple times in a row.  Games are pretty well balanced – the first player gets an extra flower and does get some degree of determining tempo as they place first; while the second player gets the advantage of playing last and all the advantages that come with that.

The bits are beautiful, and the gorgeous flowers on the dark cloth background give the game a striking appearance on the table.  Games are thinky yet relaxing, and I love the fact that I can teach the game in about 30 seconds.  I’ve spread a bunch of my plastic cube sets around, but the production quality of Lacuna means I’ll probably never play my homebrew versions again.  The heavy pawns are nice and stable, and they feel good in the hand and sit well on the mat.  I will admit that my eyes have a bit of an issue telling the difference between the gold and silver, and I have thrown in a old-fashioned set of white meeples to use for a higher contrast pawn.

I am finding that a hallmark of CMYK games is the attention to physical presentation and production.  Everything looks great and the components are beautiful while being fully functional.   Another example of the attention to detail is the little plastic insert that fits in the top of the tube letting you use the canister as a “flower shaker” to randomize the bits falling on the cloth…

As far as 2p abstract games go, this is one of my all-time favorites, and one that I am so glad to finally be produced professionally.  This 

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

  • I love it! Dale Y, Eric M, Jim B
  • I like it.  John P
  • Neutral.
  • Not for me…

About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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1 Response to Dale Yu: Review of Lacuna

  1. Chris Schreiber says:

    Hadn’t heard of Lacuna until I got the notice from CMYK that it was now shipping and available. Not knowing anything—but trusting CMYK—I was curious and fist pumped when I saw this review available. I hadn’t finished a third of this review before jumping over and buying two copies. Sometimes the Internet works exactly as intended. Thank you.

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