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Subject: First Session - somewhere over the Atlantic rss

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Jon Cormier
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I picked up Kahuna a few weeks before my wedding because I was looking for a decent two-player distraction. TV, movies and whatnot were not particularly effective on keeping me and my future wife entertained. Needless to say in the lead up to our wedding day Kahuna didn't see the light of day either.

I did pack it for our 7 hour flight home from London. After watching X-men: The Last Stand we decided to take out the game and give it a whirl. Naturally I forgot the rulebook at home so we played with what I remembered. Thankfully the rules aren't that complicated so any mistakes we played with wouldn't have really affected the outcome. Really, the only rule I couldn't remember was whether or not a round ends when all cards are picked up or just the face down pile is picked up. Like I said, it really wouldn't have made a difference.

We started the first go as a test to see whether or not the game had any potential for fun. My track record wasn't very good in this manner. I picked up Carcassonne and while she swamped me at it both times we played my wife doesn't actually see the point, as she puts it. Well, Kahuna redeemed my standing in the whole selecting games for us to play aspect of our lives together.

After a few fits and starts getting used to playing a strategic card game for the first time we both started to catch onto the strategies of the game. And about three-quarters of the way through our first round I knew this game was a hit.

It's not until you see the chain reaction effect in motion that you can truly appreciate how fun Kahuna can be. At first we sort of avoided one another building up our own sections of the map, but the random card drawing aspect keeps this plan limited at best. Eventually you can't help but run into one another, as the card count lowers. Trust me, it's satisfying to say "Goodbye, Jojo! So long, Coco!" as you crumble someone's banana republic.

Personally, I like that there's a bit of randomness in the game. I think adds to replayability. But the randomness doesn't outshadow your need to plan tactically. I guess that's what it is - more tactical than strategic. You need to win with what you have and what you are given, it doesn't really matter what your strategy is.

So in the end, I lost the first game 7-0 but we tied the next game (although I think she won since she had more islands on the last round - but I won't tell her). It was fun and it takes enough brain power to keep you interested until the end. You want to stay focussed but you're always tempted by reaching further than your grasp. It's a light little brain burner but that may just have been because the air conditioning on our plane was off for a while and it was getting too hot to think.

I was a bit resistant to the game, as was my wife, but I think being trapped on the plan with little else to do helped us give it a shot. We're both glad we did since we tend to look at with a glint in our eyes, waiting for the next chance to crumble one another's achipelego empire.
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