For the adventurous gambler, check out our strategic placement game review Karuba especially interesting. The board game by game designer Rüdiger Dorn is one of the candidates for the award of the Game of the Year 2016 award Karuba by HABA against the competition Imhotep from Kosmos as well codenames from Heidelberger Spieleverlag, you will find out on July 18th at the earliest. However, we are already showing you how the adventurous placement game fared in our detailed board game test. Have fun with the following review too Karuba.

A story of gold and crystals

The classic adventure begins with opening the game packaging, the design of which the publisher has done well. Inside you will find four player boards, 144 jungle tiles, 16 adventures and temples each in four different colors, 16 treasure tokens that match the temples and a good handful of crystals and gold nuggets. An easily understandable rulebook rounds off the contents of the pack. At this point, HABA deserves praise for enclosing several plastic bags in which you can stow your material sorted after playing. The processing of the game material is almost flawless. The game boards, jungle cards and treasure tokens are made of sturdy cardboard. The game tiles could be pushed out of the cardboard frame without any problems and, above all, without damage. The pretty characters are made of wood, while the crystals and gold nuggets are made of plastic. The nuggets are not as flawless as real gold, we have already seen a few plastic noses. In terms of play, however, this is irrelevant. The structure of Karuba is easy to do. First you distribute the player boards and the jungle tiles, of which each player receives 36. The backs of the jungle cards are color-coded, which only makes sorting easier for you and has no playful relevance. Place the crystals and nuggets in the middle of the table, easily accessible. The values ​​of the four temple treasures are adjusted based on the number of players: with two players use the values ​​5 and 3, with three players the values ​​5, 3, 2 and with four players, of course, the complete set. The four stacks of temple treasures are sorted in descending order, ie the treasure with the value 5 is on top. You will find out later why this is not only important, but also strategically important. Each player then receives 4 adventurers and 4 temples, i.e. a duo of each color. No matter how many players your round includes, all adventures and temples are always set.   

The expedition leader: There can only be one

Time for phase two in our board game review, too Karuba: A decision follows as to which player should slip into the role of the expedition leader. In purely playful terms, this distribution of roles does not offer any advantages, but the expedition leader is essential for the course of the game. He is the one who basically specifies the jungle tiles to be placed. The expedition leader places his jungle tiles face down and shuffled (important!) Next to his board. The other players sort their tiles around their player boards. How exactly you sort it is up to you, the main thing is that you can find the jungle tiles without a long search. Once you've prepared the islands and treasures, it's time to place the adventurers and temples. In turn you place one adventurer and one temple of the same color. The adventurers are placed on the beach sections, the temples find their places on the degrees in the jungle. After one player has decided on the positioning of a set, the other players act accordingly, so that two to four identical player boards are created at the end of the deployment phase. You are relatively free to position yourself, but there must be a minimum distance of three fields between the adventure and its matching temple. As a strategic rule of thumb, the further away the duo is from each other, the further the path to be covered, which leads to a gentle increase in difficulty. Once the treasure hunters and temples are in place, you can start.

Carcassonne for treasure hunters

The round always begins with the expedition leader taking one of the upturned jungle tiles from his stack and showing it to the other players. This is reminiscent of the classic board game Carcassonne, with the difference that not every player pulls his current card out of the sack, but only the expedition leader has to prove a lucky hand. By now you will know why it is wise to sort the jungle tiles in advance. Each player then takes the jungle tile with the same number and places it anywhere on his player board. Elementary rule when laying out: The printed number must always be legible the right way round. However, whether the paths are correctly aligned is not a prerequisite, so that dead ends can also arise. So you now try to lay the paths to the appropriate temples round by round. The right resource is placed on jungle cards with printed crystals or gold nuggets when they are laid out.

Since just placing the jungle tiles is not rewarded with points, the question now arises as to how the adventurers are moved. Instead of placing a captured jungle tile on the player board, you can alternatively move one of the adventurers. The number of steps depends on the number of exits of the paths on the tiles: either 2, 3 or even 4 steps. You can take the maximum number of steps, but you don't have to. You only collect crystals and gold nuggets if you stop on the resource field. This system means that you always have to weigh up which are the most worthwhile paths for you. Is it worthwhile to walk a long way to a temple that only grants two victory points or do I prefer to collect the surrounding resources, but forego a few steps. You always have to keep an eye on the moves of your fellow players in order to decide at an early stage which goals are particularly worthwhile.

In the end, every wasted step may mean that you will no longer be able to obtain lucrative resources with the remaining jungle tiles. The later the game, the more exciting it becomes Karuba. During the board game review, figuring out a basic strategy was found to be extremely helpful. Careless laying often resulted in a large number of tiles being thrown away for comparatively short distances. Draws from the constant adjustment of the laying strategy Karuba much of its appeal. There is a lot of tactical potential hidden behind the easy-to-learn rules. It remains Karuba but always comprehensible and in some cases also predictable. If you keep an eye on the remaining cards and analyze the positions of the adventurers, you can get an approximate picture of the options for action of your fellow players.

Images of Karuba


Number of players: 2 to 4 players
Age: from 8 years
Playing time: 40 to 60 minutes
Difficulty: medium
Long-term motivation: high

Publisher: HABA
Year of publication: 2015 
Authors: Rüdiger Dorn
Language: German
Cost: 25 Euro


Karuba is one of those board games that generate maximum gaming fun with a clear set of rules. The fact that the title from HABA is not a monster of complexity actually has a very positive effect on the entertainment factor. Similar to the classic board game Carcassonne Courage, the game principle of Karuba very slowly, which is just as beneficial to the high replay value as the fact that the game games always differ in the course of the game due to variable starting and ending points as well as the luck factor when pulling the game board. Fans of entertaining strategy board games come by Karuba fully at their expense. Thanks to the comprehensible placement rules, families can look forward to a wonderful title for the next game night. Children sometimes need the support of their parents when placing the tiles in accordance with the rules, but they quickly recognize their own placement tactics. Because the players always make their moves in parallel, there is very little downtime, even in a 4-player game. Karuba is recommended for almost every type of board player: whether die-hard strategy player or casual adventurer, the game mechanism is gripping and exciting. Overall is Karuba in other words, an excellent board game that would have deserved the title Game of the Year 2016 as much as its strong competitors.