Karuba Junior

Publisher: HABA

Designers: Rudiger Dörn & Tim Rogasch

Ages: 4-8

Players: 1-4

Duration: 5-10 min.

You’ve landed at the shore of the island of Karuba. You’ve heard that there’s treasure in the jungle, and you set out looking for paths. But what’s that on the horizon? PIRATES! You’ll have to race to find the treasure, but also watch out for dead ends… and find all 3 treasure chests before the pirates reach shore. But don’t get lost, or it’s game over…

Karuba Junior is the kid’s version of Karuba, and of course it’s simpler, but the biggest difference it that it’s a co-operative game: everyone works together to win, or you all lose the game. Karuba is one of my favourite games of all time, so does this kids version capture the excitement of the original, or is it just full of dead ends in the jungle?

What’s in the box?

Inside the box there is a game board (made of 2 pieces), 28 tiles, 3 wooden adventurers and 1 pirate ship. The components are awesome: nice thick cardboard tiles, a huge player board, and nice big wooden adventurers. The pirate ship is especially great, with a awesome cloth sail. The art is really great and vibrant, and has a bit of a 80’s anime feel to it, especially the character design. HABA has always had great components, and Karuba Junior continues to hold up that tradition.

I love the wooden components!!!

So how do you play?

To begin, set up the game board, and randomly distribute all the tiles around the board, and place the 3 adventurers on the beach (the instructions also suggests you give them names, and seeing as I’m a child of the 90’s, mine are Yakko, Wakko and Dot). The place the pirate ship on the first spot on the board farthest away from the shore, and you’re ready to find some treasure!

The youngest player begins, and they will choose any face down tile and flip it. Then they will preform the actions on the tile:

  • If it’s a tile with a path on it, place it connecting to an existing path. You may turn the tile any way you want to.
  • If it’s a tiger, place it connection to a path: that path is now dead ended.
  • If it’s a treasure, congratulations! Move one of the adventurers to that tile.
  • If it’s a pirate ship, uh oh! Move the pirate ship towards the beach as many spaces as there are on the tile.
img_4996.jpg
Pirates and tigers and… treasure? OH MY!

After a tile is used, then the next player takes their turn, and so on until one of 3 end game conditions are met:

  • If all 3 adventurers reached a treasure tile, congrats!!! You’ve won the game, and beat those nasty pirates.
  • If all the paths are blocked off (due to tigers and treasure), then you can no longer continue and you’ve lost the game… try again!
  • If the pirates make it to shore before you find all 3 treasures, then the pirate win and get the treasure, and you lose. Try and be faster next time.
Found one treasure, but hurry! The pirates are heading to shore!

The game can also be played solo, but it doesn’t change the game at all, except you will be drawing all the tiles by yourself.

Is it any good?

Karuba is a fun game, and great for older kids (8 is a great age). But if you have younger kids like me, then this version is a lot of fun. It’s great drawing tiles and not knowing what comes up next, and it’s nice to watch your kids try to connect paths. The excitement that comes when you draw a treasure, and the disappointment when a tiger comes up. It’s super easy to play multiple times due to its quick length, and it’s a lot of fun to play multiple games.

As I said it before, the components and art are amazing. I absolutely love the art style, it really reminds me of shows I watched from my childhood and my daughter loves it as well. And it helps that the component are thick and chunky. It makes the game really stand out, and perfect for that preschool/kindergarten age.

One thing about this game is that there isn’t really much strategy, and sometimes it feels more like a puzzle or an activity than a game. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes it just feels like you’re going through the motions and don’t have too much control over the strategy. This is fine for younger kids, but as the kids are older it doesn’t become as fun, and there’s that little gap of age between Karuba and Karuba Junior that is missing.

Ready for a new adventure into the jungle?

All in all, Karuba Junior really captures the spirit of the original game. You’re still racing through the jungle, but this time you’re doing it as a team and racing against those dastardly pirates. It’s a lot of fun to play with kids, and with those great components it’s a lot of fun whether you get all the treasure or get lost in the jungle!

Pros:

  • A fun games that’s perfect for young kids, and feels like a puzzle.
  • Plays extremely quick, and easy to play multiple times.
  • Great components, and amazing art that has a really great vibe.
  • Super easy to learn and captures the spirit of the original game.

Cons:

  • Doesn’t offer much strategy, and feels more like an activity than a game (but a good activity, like a puzzle)
  • Really best for 4-6, older kids might find it boring.

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