Karuba: The Card Game

Disclaimer: This review is from a reviewer’s copy of the game that was provided by HABA USA to Open Seat Gaming, but opinions are our own based on several plays of the game.

Game: Karuba: The Card Game
Publisher: HABA
Design: Rüdiger Dorn
Art: Claus Stephan

Mechanisms: Pattern building, Tile placement
Number of Players: 2 – 6
Game Time: 10 – 15 minutes

Description: Karuba: The Card Game takes you out of your home and onto the fictional island of Karuba, where you have to help your adventuring party find their way through the jungles to beautiful temples where archaeological wonders can be found.

Each player receives a copy of the same 16-card deck, featuring explorers, temples, paths, and treasures. They shuffle this deck and draw 3 cards to form their opening hand. The game is then played out over 8 turns. Each turn consists of the following phases.

  1. Choose cards – Each player chooses 2 cards from their hand that they hope to place this turn and places them face-down. (on the final turn, players must choose the only 2 remaining cards they have)
  2. Reveal cards – Cards are flipped over and the player with the lowest total of the numbers on their cards must discard 1 of those cards. If 2 or more players are tied for lowest total, they each must discard a card.
  3. Place cards – Cards not discarded are now placed into each player’s tableau with orthogonal adjacency to already placed cards, and with the width and height of the tableau not exceeding 4 cards (a 4×4 grid).
  4. Draw cards – Players refresh their hands by drawing 2 cards from their personal decks. (this phase is skipped on the final turn)

Once the 8th turn is complete, players score points for their paths. Each explorer with a continuous, unblocked path to their matching temple scores 3 points, plus bonus points for treasures passed along the way. The player with the most points wins!

Review: Sarah and I are fans of the original Karuba, so we were all about trying out the card game version of this title. The art is definitely reminiscent of the original, with bright jungle, temple, and character colors and fun art. It can definitely draw kids and adults alike into the game, and that’s a big draw of this title.

One of the best parts about Karuba: The Card Game is that it’s easy to learn, but it’s heck of a tough game to get down pat. It’s definitely one of those “feast or famine” sorts of things. You can either do really well based on your card draw, or you could totally fall flat on your face with it. I’ve never seen a score less than 6 (which would be if you got 2 people to their temples). The luck factor is a lot stronger with this game, so you need to keep that in mind while you’re playing.

Now, if you’re a fan of the original Karuba, it’s important to know that this game definitely has a little bit of a different feel because you’ve got a smaller space to work in and you have fewer cards to work with. This can get frustrating from time to time, but it gets a lot easier with some practice. You definitely want to be sure that, if you’re playing this with kids, they have some spatial awareness.

Overall, we really enjoy Karuba: The Card Game and what it brings to the table. It’s a great little twist on the original, and it now shares a spot right next to it on our gaming shelf!

Try, Buy, Deny: Enjoy Karuba, but want a quick puzzle that you can set up and play in less than 20 minutes? Need a game that has less of a footprint and that is easy to take with you when you go on vacation with your family? Enjoy any sort of puzzle? Then Karuba: The Card Game is a buy. You may even want to try it if you aren’t a fan of the original – it’s different enough that you may enjoy it!

Game On!

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