Karuba is a simultaneous tile-laying game designed by Rüdiger Dorn and published by HABA. A game lasts 30-40 minutes for 2-4 players age 6+.
To set up Karuba, each player receives an identical game board. Players then agree on the placement of the explorers along the shore and the temples in the forest. One player (the expedition leader) starts with their path tiles face down. The other players should arrange their tiles in order so they can find specific tiles quickly. Lay out the Gold (2 points), the Diamonds (1 point), and pile up the temple treasures (5, 4, 3, and 2 points).
Before beginning, players should strategize the best path to efficiently move their explorers to their respective temples. Strategically laying tiles so multiple explorers can share the same path seems to be the key to victory. This is where adults can have a huge advantage over the youngest players.
The expedition leader selects and reveals a tile for everyone to play. The other explorers find the same numbered tile and everyone plays that tile on their board. Players must make sure they orient every tile so the numbers are in the upper-left corner. Players can place their tile anywhere on the board, preferably somewhere that will help one (or more) explorer find their way to their corresponding temple.
When a player places a tile with Gold or a Diamond on it, they take that item from the supply and place it onto their tile. They can then choose to discard a tile to move one or more explorers. The number of spaces the explorer can move is determined by the number of paths leading to the edge of the discarded tile. If a player moves onto a tile with a treasure piece they take it and add it to their bank.
When a player’s explorer reaches their appropriate temple that player receives the largest temple treasure left. If two explorers arrive on the same turn, the second explorer takes an extra diamond to equalize the points.
The game ends when the expedition leader draws the last tile or when all four of a player’s explorers reach their respective temples, whichever happens first.
- Lydia, 10, finds it frustrating that she needs to spend tiles to move.
- Rebekah, 8, says she loves it because, “I can see the right path so that all of the explorers can go on the same path!”
- William, 6, loves to collect the Gold and Diamonds along his path to earn extra points.
- Mark, 37, believes that choosing the most efficient path is tricky for young kids, but also the essential strategy to win, which makes experience a huge advantage over youngsters.
Although Rebekah squeezed out the victory with 24 points, Mark had 23, William had 16, and Lydia had 14 points.
During game play, players can see how other players are laying their tiles and copy their neighbors’ placement. To avoid this, players could all grab from their separate face-down piles. This would reduce players copying each other, but would remove the simultaneous play mechanic of the game.
It also could escalate another difficulty that we have found: distracted players miss a turn, fall behind, and inevitably lose.
Whether a player is taking too long or just not focusing on the game, they sometimes miss a tile. Avoiding this requires a diligent and patient expedition leader to make sure everyone has played before moving on. If everyone grabs a random tile, the expedition leader would have a more difficult time keeping everyone on the same pace.
The Karuba board and tiles are simple and fun. My kids enjoy setting up the initial placement of the explorers and temples, and they love the gold and diamonds. The adults and kids have all had a blast every time we’ve played!
Number of Players: 2-4
Age Range: 6+
Playtime: 20-30 minutes