Karuba is a tile-laying game for 2 to 4 players. Players are leading expeditions consisting of four adventurers to the mysterious island of Karuba to retrieve artifacts and treasures. The game ends when a player has navigated all four adventurers to their temples. The game is won by the player that has gathered the most points.
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Pro Easy to learn
Karuba is a very simple game that has only a few mechanics. All players have individual gameboards and tiles that are set up in the same way, the players decide where to place the adventurers and the temples. One player has their tiles shuffled in a deck, this player is the expedition leader.
Each turn the expedition leader will choose a tile and call out the number on it, the players then find this tile and decide what to do with it. You can either place it anywhere on your map or discard it to move one of your adventurers.
The game ends when either all tiles are played, or a player has reached all four temples. The goal of the game is to gather the most points, be it by reaching temples or gathering gems on the way. The temples give more points to players that reach them first.
Pro Aesthetically pleasing
The game looks great and the components are detailed and add a lot to the theme. The gameboard is a stylized map of the jungle with portraits of the four adventurers on the left. The tiles form a clear and understandable path through the jungle when placed, and the numbers are easy to read. The meeples are designed to look like temples and adventurers, they are colored and easy to distinguish and spot on the gameboard. The treasure tokens are detailed, colorful, and come in many sizes to represent more points. The little crystals and gold pieces are very shiny and come in different shapes.
Pro Well-made components
The components in Karuba are durable and should hold up to regular wear and tear very well. The gameboards are big and don’t feel flimsy, the cardboard tiles are thick, sturdy, and have a pleasant weight to them, the little crystal and gold nuggets are made of plastic, the temple treasures are made of cardboard, and the temple and adventurer tokens are nice wooden meeples.
Karuba can be played by pretty much anyone and in many settings. The game is great for families with players of many ages due to its simplicity and still good for a group consisting of experienced gamers because of the decent amount of strategic depth.
Pro Meaningful strategic decisions
Karuba can be quite strategically deep because it offers some interesting choices to players. Everyone’s trying to solve the same puzzle and use the same tiles, but the way you do it is going to be different. Is it better to place the tile or to discard it for movement? Which adventurer do you move? Adventurers can’t pass through each other, so it’s important to plan ahead.
There are many ways to gather points – reaching temples and gathering gems. If you reach the temple faster, then you’ll receive more points, but often gathering gems can also be very profitable, so it’s important to keep an eye on what your opponents are doing and adjust your strategy accordingly.
Since all turns in the game happen simultaneously, there’s never a dull moment. A player calls out the number of the tile, the players decide what to do with it (place it or discard it for movement), and the game progresses in this fashion until it ends.
Con One player is at a disadvantage
The player that takes on the role of the expedition leader must have their tiles shuffled in a deck. Each turn this player will draw a tile and call out the number so every player plays the same tile. This means that the expedition leader, unlike other players, doesn’t get to see what the remaining tiles look like and whether it’s possible to, for example, finish the path they have started or reach the temple in time.
Con Not a lot of player interaction
Karuba is basically a solitaire experience. You’re trying to solve the same puzzle in a different way. The only player interaction comes in the form of drawing tiles that determine which tile all players must use and watching other players’ progress in reaching the temples.
Con Takes a while to set up
Karuba has a lot of components that take a while to sort through and set up. On top of shuffling the deck, placing the gameboard and the treasure tiles, before every game you need to arrange 36 tiles in an ascending order, which be quite annoying.