Review: Karuba – greatest treasures in the jungle

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Treasure searching is the one and only true adventure, where you have no goal set at first. It will bring you into the deepest waters, where light never reaches, to the highest peaks of mountains, where you are barely gasping for air and into the jungle, where swarm of venomous creatures breathe on your neck. Each step for gold or precious stones is redeemed with risk. But it’s worth it!

And although you might think, that treasure hunters died out with modern days, the opposite is true. They remain in our imagination, whether it’s Nathan Drake or Indiana Jones. And now, there will be more, although actually nameless. This is because of boardgame designed by as part of a new family series of board games from . This game is new for spring 2016 and Stephan Claus has contributed his illustrations to it.

Beige box conceals its own treasures. Players are certainly happy to be persuaded to pull all contents out of the box and begin to play. First, they will need four big game boards, which are divided into chessboard squares and around them are given coordinates in degrees – ranging from ten to hundred and ten (one half for the beach and second for the jungle). Each participant receives a set adventurers shrines (four different colors), but also a set of jungle paths with one color back. Points for players are prepared into the game by valued buildings in the jungle. Their corresponding tiles create piles in descending values for each shrine color. Besides them will lie crystal stones and gold nuggets.

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Before the game begins, players must deploy shrines and their treasure hunters to their board. Together, everyone will decide on position of one shrine color, which must then others respect and place it in the same way. Players can also choose one leader of expedition, who shuffles jungle tiles, while others spread theirs around the board according to numbers. They will find them best like this.

Expedition leader always reveals upper tile from his shuffled pile and is now on the other players to find corresponding number in their inventory. Then everyone tries to put a piece anywhere on his game board, based on his own judgement and tactics. Each player has to respect the board layout and paths always have to stay connected. Therefore, they are also not allowed to lead out of the plan. Additionally, the pieces must be properly rotated with their number in the upper left corner. Some positions may also contain valuable rocks, that has to be placed there immediately and heroes can collect them later.

Laying tile is not mandatory. Instead, player can throw it away and trade it for a chance to move one of his heroes. And that’s not all. The more valuable tile he discards without playing the more steps can he move (ie always from two to four). Heroes always start their journey from roads starting on the coast. Heroes cannot jump over each other and even movement points cannot be divided among several of them. To lift the precious stone laying somewhere on the tile, figure has to stop its movement on that exact place and let rest of the points be forfeit.

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Once one of the adventurers arrive to the shrine, he gets the most valuable plate available in that color. First arrival gets the biggest reward, slower players will receive lower and lower values based on their order, in which they reach that temple. Players then continue and try to build paths as quickly as possible, leading to the treasures and get the most valuable ones for themselves. Game ends, when one player reaches all four shrines or all 36 jungle tiles are played. In both cases, players add up points for shrines together with two points for every nugget and one point for every crystal. The one, who gathered the most points, is the winner.

Karuba might seem like an ordinary connection tile-laying game. All this is true in the base, until you build a proper connection between your hero on the coast and the deep jungle. But once you learn about shift paradigm, it starts to get interesting. To gain something, you have to throw some tiles away. So each movement is redeemed by one tile, that could otherwise contribute to creating paths. It is important to use the same path for more heroes, because not everyone will have his trail paved straight to his goal. But the longer road goes, the more steps hero has to make. Players must use every piece wisely.

Players must constantly decide, how will they use which tile. It is not only about the correct location on the map, but possibly bad option for others. And it is not easy to look out for it all. In the game, there is not any pich of coincidence (it only determines order of road tiles). Players all have exactly the same initial conditions, and it is up to them, how will they handle it. Only the one with better planning eventually becomes the winner.

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Variability is then quite nice, as its guaranteed by another starting places for temples and adventurers. Thanks to this fact, no game will be the same, and it is necessary to really appreciate this. Especially while maintaining the lack of any luck in gameplay.

Opponents do not affect each other. Everyone solves his own puzzle and it is actually also the only complaint about the whole game. But it also makes sense. Any attacking would shatter any impression of exactly the same conditions, so it is understandable, why the game does not contain it and if you do not like it, you are not welcome here in the land of thinkers. It also means, that it really does not matter, whether you play in two, three or four rivals. It is always the same and great. All the better, the game does not last long. If the players do not take too much time thinking about options in placing tile (all are playing at once), every move can easil fit within a minute, which together represents a reasonable half-hour time to complete whole hunt for the treasure.

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Karuba is great fun, but at the same time really thoughtful and tactical game. It gives players a really hard time and is nowhere near relaxing. Here, every step, every move and every mistake counts. Karuba will therefore examine your psychical strength, but it is not overly complicated and is suitable for  differently demanding players.

DesignerRüdiger Dorn
ArtistClaus Stephan
PublisherConclave Editora, HABA, Nabita World co., Ltd., Swan Panasia Co., Ltd.
Year Published
# of Players2 - 4
User Suggested # of Players Best with 4+ players
Recommended with 2, 3, 4 players
(113 voters)
Playing Time40
Mfg Suggested Ages8 and up
User Suggested Ages6 and up
(66 voters)
Language DependenceNo necessary in-game text
(21 voters)
CategoryExploration, Puzzle
MechanicBingo, Connections, Grid Movement, Network and Route Building, Simultaneous Action Selection, Tile Placement
ExpansionBrettspiel Adventskalender 2016, Karuba extension: bonus tiles, Karuba: Add-on, Karuba: The Volcano
FamilyComponents: Gems/Crystals, Series: Family Games (HABA), Theme: Archaeology / Paleontology, Theme: Tropical
Primary NameKaruba
Alternate Namesカルバ, 卡魯巴, 카루바

Infos courtesy of boardgamegeek.com. More Infos.

Review: Karuba – greatest treasures in the jungle
Final word
Karuba is elegant and tactical game, that can provide some great fun and at the same time make you thing. The game is giving all players the same conditions and offers no luck, that would set their chances for victory apart. At the same time, individual matches are sufficiently different and game takes just over half an hour. There is never enough thoughtful and entertaining games on the market, so we are glad, that we can include Karubi among them and recommend it to all .
Reader Rating0 Votes
Pros
very tactical game
no luck
plenty of tactical options
variable
all the same numbers
playing time
Cons
lacking any contact
4.5
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