Karuba – Tabletop Game Review

The mysterious island of “Karuba” is rumoured to have hidden temples and a jungle teeming with treasure. You’ve been dropped at the beach and you’re not alone, other adventurers will soon be cutting a path through the jungle in search of those things too, who will get there first!

A tile-laying game, “Karuba” sees 2-4 players working against each other to be the first to not only make it to the temples in the jungle, but also collect the most loot along the way. “Karuba” is a light family game, but there’s plenty of depth for the more experienced gamer, let’s take a look.

HABA game Karuba tabletop game review by Gameapalooza Australian tabletop game news and reviewHABA’s Karuba, a family game of treasure hunting.

Karuba – Setup & Gameplay
Setup couldn’t be easier, each player gets a player board (the island of “Karuba”), 4 adventurers (of four different colors), 4 temples (of four different colors, matching the adventurers) and a set of game tiles. All players have the exact same components, with only the back of the game tiles differing in color to differentiate them from one another.

One player places the adventurer meeples and temples on their board, adhering to the placement rules, all other players copy that exact formation. Game tiles for all players but one are placed face up in number order around player boards so it’s easy to find a specific tile. One player is like the bingo caller, their tiles are placed face down and mixed up. The gold and diamonds are placed in reach of all players and it’s time to begin.

Everyone now has identical islands, with adventurers waiting on identical start places and temples on identical jungle areas. And this is where the game gets super clever. The tile caller draws a tile at random and calls out the number, all players draw that same tile and place it anywhere on their island. Tiles have trails on them in various orientations and with various entries and exits (2 through 4). From now on everyone is playing their own island, with their own routes. When placing a trail on the island the number must be readable by the player, so there is only one way that tile will go, you can’t turn it to suit what you need.

HABA family game Karuba game review by Gameapalooza Australian tabletop game news and reviewsGet your adventurers to the matching temples in HABA’s Karuba.

Movement is done by sacrificing a tile and moving the amount of exit / entry points on that tile. It now becomes a clever strategic game of laying trail tiles and utilising sacrificed tiles in the best way possible, to try and get each adventurer to its matching coloured temple. The first there gets a temple treasure worth more than the next. Points can also be accrued by picking up gold and diamonds along the trail (with some tiles depicting gold or diamond treasure).

The balance within the gameplay of “Karuba” is just beautiful, it’s simple to teach and easy to pick up, but the depth of strategy within such a simple gameplay mechanic is amazing. The decision making of where to place tiles is great because it really forces you to think ahead as to what directions each of the four adventurers need to go in in order to make it to their respective temples. The sacrificial aspect for movement has been seen in other games, but in “Karuba” the balance is just stupendous. Should you prioritise movement over path clearing this turn, will you have enough movement left at the end if you prioritise clearing over movement? It’s a beautiful, intricate, simple yet challenging web.

Another thing that makes “Karuba” great is the mix of addictive play with ‘no two games are the same’. Sure you’re trying to do the same thing every game, but given the nature of the setup and the randomised gameplay, no two games are ever going to be truly the same. It’s fast to play too with hardly any downtime because everyone is placing tiles on every turn.

Gameapalooza House Rules
None, why bother, it’s gorgeous just the way it is.

Players 2-4
Ages: 8+
Setup Time: A few minutes (setting up the tiles in number order)
Play Time: 30-40 minutes

Game Build Quality
HABA are probably most well known for their children’s games, but don’t be fooled, that doesn’t mean they don’t do quality. Even their kids games are gorgeous and well made and “Karuba” is no different. Nice sturdy player boards, awards and tiles. Beautiful wooden meeples and temples. Gorgeous little gold nuggets and tiny diamonds. Great box and a good rule book, there’s really nothing bad to say about the build quality of “Karuba”.

Karuba by HABA game review by Gameapalooza Australian tabletop game news and reviewsThe Karuba board game is a beautiful thing indeed.


”Karuba” is a beautiful game. A simple game to teach and play, but with enough depth that even experienced gamers will enjoy. The box states it’s addictive and it’s right, we’ve not played one game of “Karuba” where the players haven’t asked to play another. If you’re looking for a fun, light – but brilliant – family game, you’ve struck treasure with “Karuba”. Wonderful stuff.

[author] [authorimage timthumb=’off’]/content/images/2016/02/gameapalooza-micro-review-icon-sm.gif[/authorimage] [authorinfo]Micro Review – Karuba is a wonderful, easy to teach and play game. Despite its ease of play Karuba has quite the depth. No down time and great components means Karuba is a MUST buy title. Fun fun fun.
info] [/author]

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