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Karuba» Forums » Reviews

Subject: For the Meeple, by the Meeple (Review of Karuba) rss

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Michael Carpenter
United States
West Virginia
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BOX ART




QUICK FACTS
Style of Game: Family
Play Time: 20 to 40 minutes
Theme: Jungle Expedition
Number of Players: 2-4
Main Mechanics: Tile-laying, Racing
Components: Okay
Weight: Light

SUMMARY
Karuba is a 2-4 player family game set on the island of Karuba. You and your expedition team will attempt to navigate the thick and dense jungle that covers the island. Being the most efficient team to navigate the jungle paths will lead you to the great treasures found deep in the jungle temples and victory.

THEME AND MECHANISMS
I would say you have to reach pretty far to see the blend of theme and mechanisms is this one yet it's not like the game is dry. The random draw of the next path makes sense thematically, but being allowed to place it anywhere on the island does not. It is as if you are uncovering the island in patches, rather than by following a path.


SETUP
Each player should take a player board (island), a set of 36 jungle tokens (all of one color), 4 adventurer meeples (1 of each color), and the matching 4 temples.





One player should be chosen to be the expedition leader for the current game. That player will stack his or her 36 jungle tiles face-down near his or her island.

All other players should put their 36 jungle tiles face-up around their island.



All crystals and gold nuggets should be placed within reach of all players.



Players should reference the rule book to see how many and which temple tokens to use according to the number of players. All temple tokens that are to be used should be stacked on top of each other in descending order and placed within reach of all players.





The final thing for players to do is cooperatively place the adventurers and the temples on the islands. Players should divide the opportunity to place the adventurers and temples as fairly as possible according to the number of players in the game. When placing the adventurers and the temples adventurers must be placed on degree locations along the beach and temples must be placed in degree locations in the jungle.

Beach locations:


Jungle locations:


This is an example of how a player's island could look at the beginning of the game.



Players divide the responsibility of placing the adventurers and temples to start the game because all players should start with identical islands. The adventurers and temples should start in the exact same locations for all players. Remember, each player receives an adventurer and a temple of each of the four colors. The adventurers and temples are not given to each player based on color.

Once all players have identical islands play may begin.




GAMEPLAY
Gameplay in Karuba is simple. The expedition leader (that was chosen before the game) should reveal the top jungle tile from the stack that is face-down near his or her playing area.

Each jungle tile will have 2 or 3 key pieces of information on it. Each tile will have a number in the top left corner, a jungle path with 2, 3, or 4 connections to the edge of the jungle tile, and some jungle tiles with have a gold nugget or crystal icon on them.



This is jungle tile #27, it has a path with 2 connections to the edges of the tile, and a crystal icon.

Here is an example of jungle paths with 2, 3, and 4 connections to the edge of the tile.



The expedition leader should announce the number of the tile so each other the other players can find that tile around their island. Each player then has to decide if he or she would like to A) Place the tile on their island or B) Discard the tile to move an adventurer.

Placing a Tile:
When placing a tile on an island players must follow a few rules of placement.

- You may only lay tiles on free fields.
- The tile must be placed so that the number is in the top left corner.
- Tiles do not have to be placed next to other tiles.
- You may create paths where tiles without paths border each other and thereby lead to dead ends.
- If a tile with a crystal or gold nugget is revealed, everyone takes the appropriate item from the supply and places it on the tile after it is placed on the island.

Discard Tile and Move Adventurer:
- For each discarded tile, you may move and adventurer as many steps, in any direction, as there are paths connecting to the edge of the discarded tile.
- A step is always one tile movement.
- Adventurers may only move along the paths.
- Only one adventurer may occupy each tile, leaping over adventurers is not allowed.
- Movement points may not be distributed amongst several adventurers.
- Movement points may be forfeited.

As players move adventurers around the island they may stop on tiles to collect crystals and gold nuggets. An adventurer must end it's movement on the tile that holds the item for the adventurer to collect the item. This is why movement points may be forfeited. Each crystal collected is worth 1 point at the end of the game and each gold nugget collected is worth 2 points at the end of the game.

The second way to score points is to move an adventurer from its starting location to the location of the temple that matches its color.



Notice the adventurer is no longer on the island space nearest the temple. It is actually off the tile and located near the temple. Adjacency is not enough to count as reaching the temple. The first player to reach a temple receives the top most temple token from the middle of the table. If two players reach the same colored temple on the same turn one player will take the top most temple token and the other player would take the next temple token (remember, temple tokens are stacked in descending order during setup) and then makes up the difference of the other player's temple token value with crystal pieces from the middle of the board.

Example:
In a two player game both players reach the blue temple at the same time. One player would take the temple token on top of the stack worth 5 points and the other player would take the only other blue temple token used in a two player game, the temple token worth 3, and 2 crystals (worth 1 points each).

The game ends when one player has moved all four of his or her adventurers to the matching temples OR if all 36 jungle tiles have been revealed and placed on the islands.

The player with the most points after adding all of their collected temple tokens, crystals, and gold nuggets is the winner.

In case of a tie the player that is tied and has placed the most jungle tiles on his or her island wins. If there is still a tie, no player wins.


FINAL THOUGHTS
PROS:
- You can open this rule book with ZERO experience with Karuba and have everyone up and running in no more than ten minutes
- Anyone can enjoy this game at least once
- The game offers more than you would expect but stays well within the family weight of games
- This is another game that offers the addictive concept of trying to efficiently cover an area of space with tiles (It may just be me, but this is one of my favorite tasks in games)

CONS:
- This game is LIGHT as a feather
- In a classical sense, there is no player interaction. The racing mechanism causes suspense between players but I cannot directly interact with another player to stop them in any way. (I want to say that this is in no way a con for me personally but does seem to be considered one by a lot of people)
- The rule book does not clearly explain the rules of reaching a temple (meaning adjacency is not enough to reach a temple) but the information is online

I want to take this opportunity to touch on something. Karuba is 2-4 players working on their own island, no pure player interaction. For those people who cringe when a game feels solitaire, I ask why? In some senses a solitaire feel is the purest measurement of competition. This is especially true in a game like Karuba where there is a "make your own luck" aspect. Golf offers zero player interaction and yet it is deemed as one of the hardest games/sports out there. Where do a lot of casual golfers find the true enjoyment of golf as they fail miserably on the course... the interaction that is offered by being around good company. Am I saying I would prefer to only play games like this, no, but to avoid them altogether is just as extreme. Maybe Karuba just does this better than most games of this nature, but when I win Karuba I feel like I have outplayed the opponents. I don't feel like I did anything to impact them at all, but I think it is nice to have a game that just tells you whether you deserved to win or not. This is a game (as light as it is) that can easily show you your wise choices and your poor choices. To each their own, and I wouldn't want to play these types of games all the time but solitaire-ish games seem to get unnecessary criticism.

With that out of the way, let me get to the game. Karuba is good. It isn't great. It isn't my favorite game. It isn't even close. I do believe though that it will have a solid spot in my collection in a multitude of categories. I can easily use this game to introduce new players to the hobby. I can play this with kids. I can play this with the other adults in my family. Some reviewers say gamers will like it as a filler. I could see that but I don't know that it would be a long-term staple in that category for gamers. The flexibility this game offers is useful. It is almost as if the game is more useful than it is enjoyable (that's not to say I do not enjoy it). Why is this game so good in so many categories? Simple. The mechanism of covering an area of space efficiently is addicting. The rule book says the game is addicting and it is. The idea of covering space efficiently is a challenge people like to take on. It is by no means a complex design but sometimes simplicity is brilliant.

Karuba's simplistic core is okay but it is the few subtle mechanisms that are added on that make the game good. The fact that discarding tiles is the only means of movement and the tiebreaker involves how many tiles players have discarded makes for a sensational additional emphasis on efficiency. You already have to decide if you want to win the race to the temples, then if you decide to you also have to win the race by discarding the correct tiles. Discarding too many tiles can hurt you in the end game because scores are relatively tight. The addition of the crystals and gold nuggets would just function as a way to separate scores but because you have to stop on the item to collect it, the mechanisms adds yet another factor to the efficiency the game demands.

A big factor in my liking of this game is that it does have a solitaire nature. If parents are playing this game with their young kids they don't have to compete against the kids aggressively, they can simply challenge themselves to be as efficient as possible at completing the task without having to negatively impact other players. Sometimes having to be as efficient as possible can seem like working during a game but when the game is as light as Karuba, the task is simply enjoyable.

Look, I don't mean to make the game sound phenomenal. I don't think it is phenomenal at all, but I do think it is a good game for a family to own. I am not going to try to defend the weight of this game and claim it is deeper than you may think. It is light. It is meant to be light. There is nothing wrong with that. If you want more out of the game than it seems to offer it probably isn't for you. I will say though that it offers the type of challenging/addictive feel you get from an app game that makes you think you can beat your high score. That may not be what everyone is looking for in a game but I for one love that exact kind of challenge.

I am going to give this game slightly higher than a 7 because while the weight and play time make it easy for me suggest and make me willing to play it in most situations, the game itself is only good, not great in my opinion.


Rating - 7.5/10


If you enjoy my reviews please recommend and check out my geeklist For the Meeple, by the Meeple

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Michael Frost

Iowa
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Nice review. Opinions clearly expressed. And well written.

I've found Karuba to be a great light game for 2-, 3-, or 4-players, which is nice. As well as one that holds the interest of both children and adults. So...a very good family game indeed. A lot of fun. No one gets mad.
 
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Michael Carpenter
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West Virginia
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Hey, thanks for reading the review. It is definitely a solid little game for families. I have jot played with 4 yet but 2 and 3 work great. I can't imagine 4 would change much given the solitaire nature of the game. If anything it would probably make the race to the temples more exciting.
 
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Sir Gomi
Australia
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Great review, gives me just the information I need. My wife spotted this at the store the other day and we opted for another game instead, but I know we'll go back for it now.

We play a lot of Carcassone, and Carcassone the Castle, and you're right, the tile laying mechanic can be addictive.

My wife especially will enjoy that it's not a game where we're in direct competition, she always insists on 'her' areas in tile laying games! I get in trouble when I encroach!

 
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Michael Carpenter
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I have already played this game more than I ever expected. I thought this would be something that I would play with my mother that enjoys games but struggles with deeper games. Instead, I have played it several times since writing this review at two and three players. Both are great. If you like this kind of game you'll get your money's worth! I hope you enjoy.
 
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tom tom
United States
Springfield
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The moans of a player that realizes they have blocked out a explorer from moving off the starting spot....PRICELESS
 
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Michael Carpenter
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1qwerty wrote:
The moans of a player that realizes they have blocked out a explorer from moving off the starting spot....PRICELESS



So true! For as family friendly as the game seems... It is brutally unforgiving. You have to make the stupid mistake but man it punishes you. Lol.
 
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