Saturday, February 15, 2014

Kosmos Two Player Game Series - Kahuna by Gunter Cornett

In Kahuna, two players fight for control of a group of south sea islands. Kahuna was the second game of the series I ever bought, way back in the mid-90s.

Each player has a hand of cards, a bunch of wooden bridges and 10 Kahuna stones. The deck is composed of 24 cards, 2 for each of the twelve islands. On your turn, you play from 0 to 5 cards and then draw one card from the top of the deck or from three face up cards (like Ticket to Ride). Playing a card lets you place a bridge from that island to one of its neighbors. If you then have a majority of the possible bridges on either island, you take control and place your Kahuna stone on the island. When you do this, you remove any enemy bridges touching your new island, which can result in the other player losing control of neighboring islands. You can also use two cards (same-same/same-neighbor/neighbor-neighbor) to remove a bridge already placed.

You may only hold five cards in your hand at one time but since you can play all of them in a single turn, big plays with multiple bridges is a definite possibility.  Such a play is inevitably followed by rebuilding turns where you're mostly drawing cards.

The players play three rounds, gaining one point for having more Kahuna stones on islands after the first round and two points for having more Kahuna stones on islands after the second round. Whoever wins the third round scores the difference between the number of their stones and their opponent's. Highest total score wins.

I took an early lead and at the end of the first round had five islands to Carol's three, scoring 1 point for winning the round.

After the second round, I still had five but Carol had grown to four.  Note how we've substantially shifted positions.  For my win of the second round I scored 2 more points, giving me a total of 3.

For the third and final round, whoever has the most islands scores the difference between the number of islands they control and their opponent. If the game is then tied, whoever won the third round is the victor. So, if Carol could best me by 3 islands, she would match my score of 3 and win the game.

Going into her last play of cards, Carol was able to do exactly that, running up a total of 3 more islands than me. Unfortunately for her, I had a decent hand of cards left and was able to steal some islands from her on my last turn, giving her only a 1 island advantage.  Here's the final layout of the board.

Final scores:

        Bob:    3
        Carol:  1

Coming up:  The first totally abstract game, the classic Reiner Knizia tile-laying game, Ingenious.

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