What're you looking at!
My wife and I opened up Kahuna at the beginning of December and have played it 14 times. We enjoy the game quite a bit, and it is one of those rare games where I regularly beat her. Tactics and strategy are important, with the only luck factor being the draw of the cards. Play is somewhat like Reef Encounter or Rosenkonig, where you shouldn't focus too closely on a certain goal, but be able to go where the game takes you.
The gameboard is a nice ocean blue with twelve, named green islands on it. When you first start playing you might find it difficult to find the islands, but the board has fish and turtle symbols on the bottom and top so that you can orientate your cards to the board (the cards not only have the corresponding symbols on them, but also the whole map with the appropriate island highlighted). There are two cards for each island and they are of very good quality and make the islands easy to find.
There are 20 tokens and 50 bridges, half of which are white and half are black. The tokens have the handprint of the boxcover on them and are one of my favourite bits. The bridges remind me of hickory sticks and are good quality.
The rule book is clear and after one very close reading I hardly had to refer to it.
Set up is very easy. Each player selects a colour and is dealt three cards; then three cards are placed face up by the draw pile.
On your turn you may play anywhere from 0 to 5 cards, take the appropriate actions with the cards, and then draw a card either from one of the three face up cards or from the draw pile. You can never have more than five cards in your hand.
The islands are connected to each other by dotted lines, and anywhere from three to six lines are connected to any one island. When you play a single card, you can then place a bridge connecting to the named island on the card. For example, if I play the Aloa island card, I can place a bridge on any one of the three lines emanating from Aloa, provided my opponent does not already have one there.
When you have a majority of your bridges on an island, you may then place one of your tokens on the island and claim possession of it. If any of your opponent's bridges are on the island, they are removed. Doing so may cause your opponent to no longer have a majority of bridges on a neighbouring island, and they would then lose possession of that island.
You can also remove specific bridges belonging to your opponent by playing two cards. These two cards can be two of either of the islands, or one of each of the islands that the bridge is touching. For example, if my opponent has a bridge joining Aloa and Duda, I could remove that bridge with either: two Aloa cards, two Duda cards, or one Duda and one Aloa card.
When you have played all of your cards, or all the ones you intend on playing, you draw a card to complete your turn.
As you can hold up to five cards on your turn, you can perform quite a few actions by playing them all and cause quite a few changes on the board.
After all the cards in the draw pile and the three face up cards have been used, the player with most islands is awarded a point; no points are awarded if it is a tie. The bridges and tokens are not removed and another round is played, with two points being awarded to the player with the most islands. The bridges and tokens remain on the board as a third round is played, at the end of which the difference between the player's number of islands is awarded to the leader. In the event of a tie, the player with the most points in round three is the winner; if that is a tie, the player with most bridges is the winner; if that is a tie, the game is a tie.
The game can also end when a player has no bridges on the board in the second or third round.
Tactics are king in this game, and the board can change radically in a single turn.
Defensively, it is important to try to get a couple of outer edge islands and expand outwards to snag the middle ones. Islands with fewer connections are easy to secure, but can for the same reason be easy to lose.
This is a low scoring game, so it is worth saving up cards for a blitz at the end of round one to outscore your opponent, either by eliminating his island and/or gaining some of your own.
In general saving up cards, is good if you have a campaign in mind of captruing island or removing your opponents; however, your opponent can ruin all your plans before you get a chance to launch your campaign, so in highly contested areas, you may not be able to carry out your original plans to the letter. A series of one or two card plays can be very effective in keeping your opponent of balance.
Sometimes, one of the most effective moves is to recapture an island immediately after your opponent has finished playing a lot of cards. When recapturing an island is only a matter of a single brdige, you might be able to quickly knock out a couple of your opponent's newly placed bridges. This is much more effective than removing an opponent's bridge with two cards. When possible, draw cards for islands that might get taken away from you, even if you don't immediately need them, so you can quickly recoup.
Getting an island by using two cards can be quite tricky, but it is a lot easier if you have two cards of the same island, allowing you to remove any bridge from that island, and improving your chances of replacing it with one of your own.
It is definitely worthwhile to fill as many connections as you can with your own bridges. Later in the game your opponent will have a much more difficult time getting your islands from you.
This is a fun game, and is quite confrontational. If you want to win, you have to seriously disrupt your opponent's game. My wife and I have no problem with that.
What is ususual for us about this game is that my wife considers it to be much more luck based than I do. I think it is one of those games where it is what you do when you don't have the cards you want that makes the difference. You have to be able to play well the hand that is dealt you and go where opportunities take you.
The game is a little dry. Despite adding in sound effects and the occassional Abbra Cadabra, the game doesn't feel a whole lot like South Sea priests performing magic. There is also somewhat of a scripted feel to the game. A player certainly can come back, and after the first few plays our games were consistently close, but there isn't as much variety as some of the other games in the Kosmos two-player line.
Still, it is a fun game. I give it 7 out of 10.
ahahahaha i totally expected this to be a police corruption game with a title like that. i dont think many people would understand what im going on about, but anyone in australia, who knows Joh Bjelke-Petersen would know wat im going on about and why this is so funny to me!
but that was a good review im been thinking about whether i should buy this because im need for alot more 2 player games and after i read this review i think ill get it!