Recommend
24 
 Thumb up
 Hide
4 Posts

Kahuna» Forums » Reviews

Subject: An unusually nasty two-player game rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Bruce Murphy
Australia
Pyrmont
NSW
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Kahuna is a 2-player card-driven area control game published by Kosmos and Rio Grande. The original game was published in a small run by Bambus Spiel as the sightly less memorable Arabana-Ikibiti. In the game, players vie for control of a series of interlinked pacific island that can be connected by bridges.

The components are simple but nice. A clear map showing the islands and the potential bridge paths from each, cards showing each of the islands, classic Euro wooden sticks in white and black that the players use to build bridges and finally round wooden control tokens that are placed on the islands when a player has control of them.



Players play alternating turns. Each turn consists of taking any number of actions followed by picking up a card (obeying a hand limit of 5 cards). Four island cards are kept face-up and players can also choose to draw from the face-down pile. Player actions are building a bridge between two islands (requiring a single card from either connected island) or removing an opponent's bridge (requires two cards from either of the connected islands).

The most import part of the game, gaining control of islands, is only achieved indirectly. When a player achieves strict majority of possible bridge slots from an island they gain control of that island. A control marker is placed on the island and all opponent's bridges leading to the island are removed. This is critical because removal of these bridges can lead to control markers being removed on other islands.



In the standard game, a control marker doesn't prevent other players building bridges to the island, but there are a strict minority of slots available, so control tokens can only be removed by removing a bridge, either directly or indirectly with a token.

The game is played over 3 rounds. Each round ends when all available cards are taken both from the pile and the face-up supply of 4. In the first round, a majority of islands controlled gives 1 point, in the second round 2, and in the final round the majority controller receives their majority margin in points. The discard deck is shuffled and becomes the supply pile for the next round, players keep cards and everything on the board between rounds. The winner is the person with the most points at the end of the game.

Strategy and variants

There are multiple small variants discussed in the BGG forums as well as mentioned in the manual. They mostly vary the terms of bridge placement (can a bridge be played onto an opponent controlled island?) or bridge removal (Does a removal automatically get you a new bridge)

One particularly interesting strategy revolves around restricting the cards that are available to your opponent. If there are one or two islands on the edge of your controlled space that are particularly vulnerable to attack then it's relatively easy to hold onto those cards or at least bury them in the deck to prevent your opponent getting an foothold since there are only 2 for each island.

This is a strange game. At the same time, the only way to get anywhere is carefully timed swooping attacks on the other player. At the same time, the safest time to build bridges to an opponent's controlled island is after they already control it, since they can't easily remove them. Similarly, it's hardly worth gaining control of an island until your opponent has some bridges on it, since you won't remove any of their bridges. Timing can be everything, especially since being a turn too late can be critical if your opponent has a perfect hand of 5 cards and gains a crucial control marker first. This can lead to a game of timing and placing temptation in your opponent's way.

There's also quite a wide range of defensibility among the islands based on the number of bridge spots both of the islands and of the immediately surrounding ones. 3-bridge islands are easy to gain, but easy to lose again as well. Some island complexes are more easily defended than others, but nothing is impenetrable.

A couple of folks have noted a runaway leader problem in the game, and poor play or very unlucky cards can leave you in a position that difficult to recover from. A couple of games should illuminate strategies so everyone can spot weak points.

Conclusions

This is a nifty lightweight 2-player area control game. The card driven play leads to some randomness, but mostly forces the players to adapt their strategies to match the cards they've managed to pick up. There's a small runaway leader problem (or at least the game doesn't handicap the leader), but that's perfectly acceptable in a lighter weight fast-playing game. Well worth picking up a copy!

10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bruce Murphy
Australia
Pyrmont
NSW
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Hm, that sounds cool. Shame I didn't find it here listed as a variant.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Justin
United States
Creve Coeur
MO
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Many PBW sites play with open info "variants" because the information is ultra-trackable via the game's own history logs.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.