Designer: Rüdiger Dorn
Duration: 40 minutes
You land on the island, a thick dense jungle that you don’t see a way into. Your expedition leader pulls out some sort of map, and everyone interprets it a little differently. You all decide to forge your own path, but only one of you will reach the temple first and claim the best treasure. But theres treasure along the way to tempt you… will you stop and claim the smaller treasures, or race to be the first one to each temple?
Haba is known for its yellow box kids game (such as Animal upon Animal) but a few years ago, they decided to venture into family games, and Karuba was one of the first. It was so good it was nominated for the Spiel de Jahres (Game of the Year). So how does this jungle adventure stand up to the hundreds of tile laying games out there?
What’s in the box?
Inside the box there are 4 player boards, 64 crystals, 16 gold nuggets, 16 temple treasures (2, 3, 4 and 5 points in each colour), 16 adventurer meeples and 16 temples (4 of each colour) and 144 jungle tiles numbered 1-36 (a set for each of the 4 players).
The components are typical Haba; solid sturdy cardboard and nice wooden pieces. The art is well done, colourful and cartoony enough to appeal to older kids, detailed and well graphically laid out to stand up with any other game. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel or anything, but it keeps up with any modern game. No complaints here!
So how do you play?
Every player will receive a player board, one of each colour adventurer and temple and their 36 tiles. One player will be chosen to be the expedition leader; every other player will place their tiles up in number order around their board, while the leader will shuffle his tiles and place them face down in a stack (my amazing wife made a drawstring bag for the tiles, which works really well when drawing them). Place the crystals and gold within reach of all the players. Choose the amount of temple treasures and values depending on the player (see the rule book) and put them out.
Then, each player will decide the starting position of an adventurer and its matching colour temple, and all players will follow suit so that every players board is identical. The adventurer must be placed on the beach, and the temple in the jungle, and must be placed at least 3 numbers away. The next player will do the same with a different colour, and so on until all 4 have been placed (in a 3 player game, the starting player will do 2, and in a 2 player game each player will do it twice). Now we are ready to begin!
With every player having an identical board, the leader of the expedition will draw the top tile from his stack and call out the number (kinda like bingo). The other players take the same tile, and the players decide to do 1 of 2 things with their tile:
- Place the tile on their board: the player may place the tile anywhere on their board in an empty square. It doesn’t have to touch any other tile, but must be placed with the number facing upwards, meaning you can’t rotate the tile. If there is a crystal or gold nugget on the tile, place it on the tile.
- Discard the tile to move an adventurer: You may discard the current tile and move ONE adventurer as many spaces as there are ends of paths on the tiles (a straight or curved line has 2 ends, a 3 has 3 and a cross has 4). You don’t have to move them all the spaces available, 2 adventures cannot share a tile and they can’t leapfrog over another. You may choose to stop them on a tile with a crystal or gold nugget; you will collect that treasure on the tile when you stop on it, pick it up and place it in front of you. If your adventurer reaches the temple of their matching colour, they take the topmost treasure tile of that colour and place it in front of them (if 2 players were to get there on the same turn, they both receive the same points. The other player will take crystals matching the number difference between tiles.
After every player has placed or discarded their tile, the leader will draw the next tile and so on until either the last tile is played, or one player has collected one of each 4 treasure. The game will end and players will tally up their points. They receive points for the face value of their total temple treasures, plus one point for each crystal and 2 for each gold nugget they collected. Add it up, and the highest total is the winner. Ties are broken by whoever played the most jungle tiles on their board. And that’s Karuba!
Is it any good?
I’ll start with the only thing I miss in Karuba; player interaction. There isn’t any, everyone is focusing on their own board and whatever everyone else does, it doesn’t affect you. That being said… its probably one of the best, if not THE BEST puzzle games I have ever played. Not only is it extremely easy to teach and to play, its really fun building your own jungle route, deciding whether to discard or play a tile and using yourself when you have blocked off a path you REALLY needed. It’s an awesome race game with a really fun bingo-like mechanic that fits it perfectly. This is the perfect game for older kids who love puzzles or think strategically.
Haba really hit it out of the park with their foray into family gaming, rolling out what may be one of my favourite games to teach anyone who hasn’t played games like this before. Players who love conflict and player interactions won’t find it here, and this probably won’t be a game they enjoy. I love player interaction, but Karuba is so well done I don’t miss it. It’s an amazing design and one of my all time favourite tile laying games. The more I play it, the more I enjoy it. If you like puzzles or tile laying games, I highly suggest Karuba; you will not be disappointed.
- High quality components you expect from Haba
- Really fun tile-selection mechanics
- The best puzzle game out there
- Player interaction? What’s that?