When comparing Karuba vs Charterstone, the Slant community recommends Karuba for most people. In the question“What are the best board games for families?” Karuba is ranked 3rd while Charterstone is ranked 5th. The most important reason people chose Karuba is:
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.
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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.
Mechanically Charterstone is extremely simple, which makes it greatly accessible to people of all ages. The advanced rules are introduced to the players as the game progresses, but the basics are straightforward. On your turn you can place a worker on a tile or retrieve all your workers.
You can go to any tile on any charter, each building has a different resource cost to use and a different purpose. There are five initial spots called the “Commons” that you can go to in order to gain money, score objective cards, construct buildings, or open crates. Opening crates lets players draw cards from the “Index” which adds new rules to the game.
Pro Drop-in / drop-out system
Thanks to the Automa system that lets an NPC character take over one of the player spots, you can fill in for a player that, for example, couldn’t make it to a gaming session or doesn’t want to continue the campaign.
Pro Replayable after finishing the campaign
Charterstone is a legacy game, but you can keep playing it as a regular worker placement game after you’re done with the campaign on the map you’ve created over the 12-game campaign.
Moreover, if you want to play through the campaign again and experience what you missed in your initial playthrough, you can buy the official recharge pack for about $30 to get back all the components you used and use the other side of the double-sided gameboard that has the same map.
Pro Huge variability
Every game of Charterstone will be completely different due to card draw, personas, and strategies. Many campaigns end with situations where half of the deck is still undiscovered.
Pro Adjustable to player count
Charterstone is a balanced game when played with any number of players thanks to special rules that vary depending on the player count. Furthermore, the Automa system lets you introduce NPC players to the game that can fill in other players’ spots if you want to add more action to, say, a 2-player game.
Pro Amazing components
The parts that make up Charterstone are both aesthetically pleasing and well-made.
When first opening the box, you are already greeted by an organized view of the components– everything’s stored in labeled white boxes. When looking at the components themselves, there is no mistaking what they represent or what they’re supposed to be – a pumpkin looks like a pumpkin, etc.
The quality is top-notch, and the components should hold up to plenty of plays. The white boxes that store most of the components are made of thick cardboard, the player tokens and the resource tokens are wooden, the cards are made of thick cardstock, and the coins are metal, which feel exceptionally nice and valuable due to the heftiness.
Pro Satisfying progression
The game reveals itself as you progress, be it storylines, rules, buildings, etc. It feels nice to see your village grow and bits of the story unfold over the ~12 hours of gameplay. You get attached to characters, socialize with others, and create your own stories in the process, which creates another adventure on top.
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.
Con Potential information overload at the start
If the players choose to open a lot of crates in their first games, then they might suffer from information overload because of the number of new rules thrown in the game. Some users have reported that the rules are sometimes easy to misinterpret, so this can add to the frustration.
Con Quite long
There are 12 games in the campaign, so you must dedicate approximately 12 hours to finish the whole thing because a single game takes an hour or so. This might also be too long if you’re playing with kids because they could get bored or distracted.
Con Aesthetic won’t suit everyone
Though the art of Charterstone is quite detailed and colorful, it’s also very cartoony and the characters are happy-looking bobble heads, so while the aesthetic might be great for children and families, it might seem childish to others.
Con A bit pricey
Charterstone retails for around $45 depending on the site, which can be expensive for some. If you add in the recharge pack for new campaigns, then that’s an extra $30, but after your second campaign there’s no more room on the gameboard, so you’ll have to buy a new one for that if you want to start over yet again.
Con Requires a dedicated group
Charterstone suffers from a popular legacy board game issue - it might be difficult to gather the same people for a session to try and finish the 12-game campaign. Though the Automa system lets NPC’s fill in for other players, if it’s used in the middle of the campaign, then it renders the score tallying at the end of the campaign pointless.