Kahuna is a short 2-player game that makes me feel clever. I really, really like feeling clever.
How to Play
Kahuna is all about timing, efficiency, and momentum. This is a game where each card is a potential bridge (or half of a negative bridge) used to control islands which by controlling you remove other bridges letting you control more islands. I let myself get carried away there purposefully, but the rules are actually fairly simple.
In this game you fight for control over 12 islands. Whoever controls the most islands, at 3 points in the game, scores points. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins.
- Play any number of cards in hand
- Draw 0 or 1 card
You gain control of islands by playing cards.
Each card has the name of an island on it. When you play that card, you place a bridge on any of the connections stemming from that island. For example, if I play an Aloa card, I can place a bridge on the Aloa-Bari connection, the Aloa-Duda connection, or the Aloa-Huna connection.
If placing this bridge grants you a majority of potential bridges controlled for an island, you remove all your opponent’s bridges touching that island and place one of your discs on the island. The disk shows that you control that island. For example, say I have the Aloa-Bari connection and my opponent has the Aloa-Duda connection. I then place a bridge on the Aloa-Huna connection (I could use either an Aloa or a Huna card to do this). I now have a majority on Aloa and would remove my opponent’s Aloa-Duda connection. This could cause your opponent to lose a majority on a different island. This in turn means they no longer control that island.
The second use for cards is to remove bridges. It takes 2 cards to remove 1 bridge. You can either use 1 card from each island or 2 cards from 1 island. For example, if I wanted to remove my opponent’s Aloa-Duda connection, I could use either 2 Aloa cards, 2 Duda cards, or 1 Aloa card and 1 Duda card.
At the end of your turn, you may draw 1 of 3 face up cards, 1 face down card, or choose not to draw. If your opponent chose not to draw on their turn, you must draw on your turn. Your hand size is 5 cards, if you have 5 cards in your hand at the end of your turn, you may discard a card face down to draw a card. If you draw a face up card, turn a card from the top of the deck face up to replace it.
When you draw the last face up card of the deck, the round ends and scoring occurs. A game has 3 rounds. Bridges are not removed at the end of each round. Shuffle the discard pile to reform the deck for the next round.
- After the 1st round ends, the player who controls the most islands gains 1 point.
- After the 2nd round ends, the player who controls the most islands gains 2 points.
- After the 3rd round ends, the player who controls the most islands gains 1 point for each island they control more than their opponent. So, if player A controls 6 islands and player B controls 3, player A would gain 3 points.
- The player with the most points wins.
I enjoy this game. Like all of my favorite games, this game has a decent amount of depth to it. The rules are simple, but the more I play it, the more I realize. How much do you hoard cards? When is the best time to gain majority on an island/kick your opponent’s bridges off of islands? Which island connections are safe and which are risky? Do you want to expand your bridges on islands where you already have a majority? When do you want to not draw a card? How often should you remove bridges? These are a few of the interesting questions that arise when playing the game.
This game also has the potential for really huge, impressive moves. “I remove your bridge here, so I can play mine there and take control of this island. That then makes you lose control of this island so I will take control of that one too, kicking you off it entirely as well.” I also find it interesting that sometimes the most dangerous thing you can do is to gain control of an island.
Planning is highly rewarded in this game, but you can get lucky face up draws as well. You can mitigate this luck slightly by not drawing a face up card. This in turn doesn’t give your opponent a guaranteed new, situationaly perfect card. I very much still want to play this game more.