Tuesday, May 31, 2016


Today I want to tell you about Karuba, a tile laying board game by Rüdiger Dorn and published by Haba. In this game, you lead four brave explorers as they explore the jungles of Karuba, leading them to hidden temples and collecting treasure along the way. This game is currently nominated for the Spiel des Jahres award, one of the most prestigious awards that a board game can receive.

Each player starts with an identical game board, which is a grid of five by six rectangles that represent the land of Karuba. At the start, you take turns placing each of four explorers and four temples such that each player has an identical setup on his or her board. Then, on each turn, one player randomly draws from a collection of 36 path tiles, and each player places that tile wherever they would like on their board. The object is to create contiguous paths to connect each explorer to the same colored temple. When a tile is drawn, you may instead elect to move one of your explorers a certain number of spaces and not place the tile. Certain tiles reward treasure when you land on them, which are worth points at the end of the game. Once an explorer reaches a temple, you also receive points based on how many others players have already reached that temple.

The brilliance of this game is that everyone has an identical board and identical goals, and each receive their paths in the exact same order. So while there certainly is an element of luck in the game, the game rewards those who make the best choices with their early tiles. At any time you can look and see which tiles haven't been drawn yet, and since there are lots of duplicates, you always have a decent idea what your odds are of drawing a needed direction. You also have to take care in moving your explorers, as they can't move past one another, so you have to make sure that you're not blocking yourself in. 

The game is simple enough to teach to kids, but complex enough to be enjoyable for most strategy-oriented adults. It typically takes 30 minutes or so to play a game, so your investment time is also pretty small. 

The components are well made and clearly marked, and the theme is communicated well in the images and pieces. They aren't anything special, but they certainly get the job done. 

I certainly enjoyed playing Karuba with my gaming group the several times we've played it, and I look forward to playing it again soon.


  1. Karuba is nice. Also nominated in the "Game of the Year Category" is "Codenames", wich in my opinion is just a better and deeper family game you want to play again and again, definitly more ambient style orientated. Thanks for reporting Karuba and may the best game win that award, for what it's worth...

  2. After purchasing and trying out Karuba in the family but also gaming group circle, it appears that we have two top family games here. Karuba is more adventure and choice orientated, and as such, with deeper background, it fullly deserves the game year award. Haba is always good at providing the nice material and product and my vote would go that way now. Still Codenames is really worth buying, it even fits most of our adult-gaming contents after dinner. GGs !!!