Karuba: Lush green tile-placement fun!

Karuba: Lush green tile-placement fun!

The Toy Fair Trends articles are done (whew!) and before I hop into my Easter Basket games article, I thought I’d review a game I’ve not had a chance to talk about because I’ve been so focused on Toy Fair stuff. Karuba is not at all Irish or St. Patrick-y, but it does have a nice lush green feel to it so it’s slightly fitting I’m reviewing it on St. Patrick’s Day.

I first saw Karuba at HABA’s booth at Toy Fair last year, and Santa brought it for me so we’ve been playing it for a couple months and I still enjoy it every time it’s brought out. The deal is that everyone gets their own board and there are 4 different color explorers that everyone places on the same spots along the two beach sides of the board. Then there are 4 temples in colors that match the explorers and they are placed along the two jungle sides, so everyone gets the exact same setup. One player is the tile number caller and everyone else will find their tile of that number so everyone is playing the same tiles on boards with the same layout. Tiles sometimes have a single path, a crossing path, a path that splits, additionally they can have gems or gold nuggets placed on them too and everyone gets to place them wherever they want on their board. The tiles don’t have to touch another tile, they just have to be placed so the number is in the upper left corner (so no rotating them).

So far pretty easy, right? Same board setup, you place the tile wherever just so long as it faces the right way. You can also choose to not place a tile (discard it) and instead make your explorer move. Explorers can move up to the number of paths that touch the edges of the tile (a straight path is 2, a crossroad is 4). I’m sure you’ve guessed that each explorer is trying to reach the temple that is their same color – and you’d be correct! The first player whose blue explorer reaches the blue temple will receive the most points, the second player will receive less, and so on. It’s the same for all 4 of temples and the number of points is dictated by the number of players. The other way to get points is to pick up gems (1 point) and gold nuggets (2 points). The game ends when one player has reached all 4 temples OR you run out of tiles, so sometimes it’s wise to not make it to all of the temples but instead snatch up all of the gems and gold you can to maximize points.

Overall the game is easy to learn and fun and puzzle-y play for the whole family. There isn’t a ton of player interaction, but you will need to take a peek at how close your opponents are to reaching a temple to plan your moves. I really enjoyed this game for it’s simplicity and replayability — and it plays well with 2 players as well as 3 or 4.

Karuba Stats:
~$26 at Amazon, local game retailers
2-4 players
~30 minutes (could be longer if players are slow to make decisions but encourage everyone to keep it moving!)
Ages 8 and up