Karuba published by Haba designed by Rudiger Dorn

Karuba and the Quest for Fortune and Glory



Even the whiff of fortune and glory lures people out of nowhere. Inhaling deeply the only thing I get a whiff of is the salty air. Lifting a box of supplies from the boat then walking it to camp is a workout in itself. Bending over I set the box down. One corner of the box sinks a bit more than the others so it sits at an odd angle. Our expedition was fortunate enough  to be given a couple of the latest scientific inventions.  One is the insect repellent Indalone the other a cream to protect us from the searing sun. A man named Frank Greiter gave us something he calls Glacier Cream with the agreement that we record how effective it is in protecting us from sun burn. Wedging the crowbar just under the lid I pry it off. Time to distribute supplies.

Each player is supplied with a player board, 4 adventurers, 4  temples, and 36 numbered tiles. A pile of gold nuggets, diamonds, and the temple treasures valued 5, 3, and 2 (for our 3 player game) all sit within reach of the players. You will create 4 stacks of the temple treasures, one for each color temple, with the lowest value 2 on the bottom and the highest value 5 on the top. While each team is in competition all players cooperatively decide on where to place their adventurers and temples. Adventurers are placed on the beach and temples are placed on the edge of the jungle. One player will take their stack of 36 tiles and place them face down in one or two stacks. They will pull from this stack and call out the number of the tile pulled. The other players will arrange their tiles in numerical order surrounding the edges of their player board.

I still marvel at how quickly word spread of the riches deep in the jungle of Karuba. Lying out in the open overnight reminds me of a story I heard years ago. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson decide to go on a camping trip. After dinner and a bottle of wine, they lay down for the night, and go to sleep. Some hours later, Holmes awoke and nudged his faithful friend. “Watson, look up at the sky and tell me what you see.” Watson replied, “I see millions of stars.” “What does that tell you?” Watson pondered for a minute. “Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets.” “Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo.” “Horologically, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three.” “Theologically, I can see that God is all powerful and that we are small and insignificant.” “Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow.”
“What does it tell you, Holmes?” Holmes was silent for a minute, then spoke: “Watson, you idiot. Someone has stolen our tent!”

Slowly sipping a cup of coffee team members walk past to get ready to hack some paths through the jungle in search of that all important fortune and glory.

The game is afoot when the first face down tile is drawn and called out loud. Each player can take one of two choices for the tile called. One choice is to place the tile on an open spot on their player board. The other choice is to discard the tile and move an adventurer up to the number of path entrances on the edges of the tile.

The first tiles called in order: 34, 24, 4, 1, 28

The first 4 moves are all simply placing the tile in a way that player thinks is their best move. With the fifth tile, 28,  player #2 moves and stops to gather the diamond on tile 4.

To gather diamonds or gold nuggets you can choose to discard the tile then move an adventurer and end that movement on a tile with a gem. Any left over movement you may have is lost.

The next tiles called: 19, 27, 15, 23, 13

Player #3 takes a diamond when tile 27 is called. This leaves me as the only player with 0 points. No worries as that changes with the very next tile called.

The next tiles: 3, 17, 36, 6, 8, 

I take a diamond (worth 1 point) when tile is called. Hey, I’ve caught up! Not so fast…

The next tiles: 11, 32, 30, 29, 9

They very next tile, 11, player 2 takes a diamond. With tile 30 player 3 moves and takes a gold nugget (they are worth 2 points). Player 3 also takes a diamond when tile is called. Okay, so much for catching up.

The next tiles: 26, 10, 2, 22, 14

Starting with tile 10 ,except for about 2 tiles, all remaining tiles by all 3 players are discarded for movement or gathering treasure. With tile  10 I stop to gather a gold nugget. Yay! With tile 14 player 2 is the first to reach a temple and so gets the 5 point token. Boo! Player 3 realized at tile that they made a rookie mistake. Player 3 had cut themselves off from any paths to two of the temples. While player 3 wandered around aimlessly in the jungle I was busy trying beat player 2 to temples.

The next tiles: 12, 5, 33, 21, 20, 25, 7, 35, 16, 18, 31

As it turned out player 2 was able to be first to 3 of the temples. Thus scoring more treasure than the other 2 players. In fact this game ended with one tile remaining (31). The final score was: Player 3 with 10 points, Player 2 with 23 points, and myself at 18. Even had the game gone to all 36 tiles I would’ve only scored 3 more points.

Karuba ends in one of 2 ways. One way is for all 36 tiles to be called. The other way is for one player to reach all four temples before the last tile is called. There is a tie breaker. The player with the most tiles on their board would win. In other words the player with the fewest discarded tiles.

Time to go home. Nearly dropping the last box into the boat I’m ready to head back to the freighter where a hot cup of coffee and soft bunk await. Bouncing across the water  the bow occasionally dips a bit into the wave and sprays us with a refreshingly cold mist. With time to think I realize despite not getting all that fortune and glory we still had one action packed adventure. Besides, as a contemporary archaeologist noted, all those discovered artifacts, “belong in a museum.”














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