Karuba Review

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Travel through the deep jungle in search of lost temples full of valuable relics in Karuba a game from Rüdiger Dorn, published by HABA.

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In Karuba you are adventurers who want as much treasure as they can get. Valuable relics, gold or diamonds, it doesn’t matter as long as it’s a lot.

This basically is a puzzle style tile-laying game. Every player has a grid and the four adventurers start on spots along the left and lower border, the beach, and the temples in the same colours are placed on the right and upper border of the board, the deep jungle. The exact location of the temples and adventurers is determined by the players themselves. A player basically chooses the location of a temple and adventurer of one colour and the rest puts that adventurer and temple on the same spot. So, all player begin the game with the same set-up.

One player, randomly, places all his tiles in stack, the other players place their tiles around their player boards, in order. The first player draws a tile from his stack and reads the number out loud. All players take that tile and can now choose to do one of two things with that tile.

This is nice. All players start with the same board, with their adventurers on the same spots and use the same tiles at the same time. The only difference is that every player decides for themselves where to place a tile. That is what you call and honest contest.

Firstly, like I already said, players can place a tile on their player board, without rotating it. The number must always be in the top-left corner.

 

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A tile has a road on it with connections to two, three or four sides of the tile. Some tiles even have diamonds, one point, or gold nuggets, two points, on them.

Your adventurers need to travel along these roads to the temples of the same colour. The yellow traveller must go to the yellow temple and if he’s the first one that reached the yellow temple he gets a relic worth five points, if he’s the second player he gets fewer points on so on.

How to travel along those jungle paths? Well that’s the second thing you can do with a tile. You can discard it to move one adventurer. How much you can move depends on the type of road that’s on it. If it’s a crossroad, you can move four times, if it’s just a road that starts on one side and exits on another, you can move one adventurer two tiles.

You can use all you movement points, but if you want to claim a nugget or a diamond, you must stop there.

If everyone has placed their tile, the first players draws another one and reads the number out loud. The game ends when all adventurers of one players have arrived at their temples, or when all tiles have been drawn.

You add up all your points from diamonds, gold and relics together and the player with the most points is the winner of the game.

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The whole game takes about half an hour, at most, it can be explained in five minutes and is crazy addicting. You just want to know if you can solve that puzzle better than before and better than your opponents.

You constantly have to think what’s a tile worth? Can it better be used to move, or do I need it on my board? And that can be easily seen, because you know which tiles have been drawn already and which are still in the stack. You only don’t know when they will be drawn.

Then there are these tiles with diamond and gold on them. These are points you do need, but these treasures do slow you down, because you have to stop at these tiles when you want to claim them.

And remember that it’s also a race to be the first at a temple, because you then get more points, so you do want to move fast. At least with the yellow adventurer, the one that the other players are also moving with, because if no player is moving the brown one, you can take your time and pick up every diamond along the way. Is that really the case? Isn’t it better to let the yellow guy take all the diamonds and make sure you definitely be the first with the brown guy. You don’t want to risk spending loads of energy in racing with the yellow one and then come in third, do you?

You can see that the rules of Karuba are incredibly simple and the game concepts are too, but there is still enough to think about. And that’s why it’s a very solid entry for the Spiel des Jahres; easy rules, addictive gameplay and it looks good too. A prefect family game.

 

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