Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Tuesday 3 January 2017

I thought *you* packed the map!?:- Karuba

Game: Karuba


Designer: Rüdiger Dorn


Karuba is a 2-4 player tile-laying game in which you race to take your explorers across a map to hidden temples, all the while picking up as much treasure as you can. Each turn you draw a tile and either lay it down on your map to create paths, or throw it away to provide movement points for your adventurers. In essence Karuba is a simple game, each turn you only have 2 actions you can choose, but it’s all about how you use them.

The genius thing about Karuba is its fairness, everyone has the same game board with the adventurers starting in the same position and the temples they need to get to are in the same places. Only 1 player actually draws tiles off a blind stack, everyone else has their tiles laid out on front of them and when the lead player draws a random tile they take their identical tile from their array. So this way everyone is on the *exact* same footing; if you get unlucky and draw cards in a bad order, everyone else has the same tiles to deal with. A hard game of Karuba is hard on everyone equally which I think adds a lot to the experience, much like Chess, if you lose a game of Karuba it’s because you have been outplayed.
A game set up for 2 players, everything is set up identically except for the tiles.

Having said that, the person who is drawing blind may have a slight disadvantage, they don’t get to see what tiles are left in the pile like everyone else can. A minor thing, but it can slightly hinder their planning. Once you have the tiles you lay them down to form a map, you have to be careful with crossroads to ensure every adventurer can get to their coloured temple, the last thing you want to do is block someone off. However when you discard tiles for movement you get to move 1 space per exit on the tile, so discarded crossroads allow you to move much faster. At its core Karuba is a race, and the most points go to the first person to discover each coloured temple. However you might find it more worth your time to take longer routes that you hand-crafted to be covered in gems and gold to get valuable bonus points.
A game underway, The bottom player has actually penned his blue adventurer in with his brown one, the other player is waiting for a 4 way crossroad or else will face the same fate.

My biggest gripe with Karuba is the set up time, for a game that can be over in 20 minutes it takes a bit too long for everyone to sort their number tiles in order, but if you didn’t then you’d probably find that it doubles the game length as everyone searches for that one tile. I appreciate the simplicity in this game, you have little choice on what to do, but every choice on how to do it. There is a great part of the mid game when you notice that everyone is celebrating/groaning about different parts, you look up and realise that their maps are so very different to yours, despite having used the exact same tiles to make them. Karuba isn’t a game for a hardcore gamer group, but it’s super-easy to learn, and fast, it makes a great warm-up game or game for the family which I can highly recommend.


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