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English language edition

List Price: $24.95
Your Price: $19.99
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Product Awards:  
Spiel des Jahres
Nominee, 1999

Ages Play Time Players
8+ 30-40 minutes 2

Designer(s): Guenter Cornett

Manufacturer(s): Rio Grande Games, Kosmos

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Product Description

Two priests, both followers of Kahuna magic, compete to determine who is the stronger. For the competition, they have chosen an uninhabited archipelago with twelve small islands. They have agreed to use their magical powers to build bridges linking the islands. Each link forged brings a priest closer to control of the islands bridged by the magic. When control of an island is secured, opposing bridges are destroyed, perhaps causing their opponent to lose control of one or more islands. Thus, drawing on fate and their skills, each composes a strategy designed to give them the edge they need in this fast-paced game of shifting control.

Product Awards

Spiel des Jahres
Nominee, 1999

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Guenter Cornett

  • Manufacturer(s): Rio Grande Games, Kosmos

  • Artist(s): Claus Stephan

  • Year: 1998

  • Players: 2

  • Time: 30 - 40 minutes

  • Ages: 8 and up

  • Weight: 368 grams

  • All-Time Sales Rank: #167

  • Language Requirements: This is an international edition or domestic edition of an imported item. Game components are language-independent. Manufacturer's rules are printed in English.

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4.2 in 23 reviews

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IQ challenge
August 16, 2005

This game is fun in that it can require some serious thinking if the players are experienced, but will also prove fun for first-timers. There are a lot of subtleties, e.g. which cards to discard, gauging which cards are in the opponents' hand, deciding whether to pick a card from the pile (hidden choice) or from the set of three cards on display (choice is then visible to the other player), etc.... The games are relatively short, and the materials are exotic. Highly recommended.

by Scala
Why I love this game!
August 03, 2004

1) Its easy to learn.

2) Its highly challenging - from choosing your replacement cards to deciding which islands to build your bridge.

3) Keeps you thinking constantly - every move your opponent makes greatly affects your next move.

4) Anticipation of the killer move - yup, either way, the thrill of waiting to execute a killer move (which in this game means placing a bridge that literally knocks off couple of your opponents bridges resulting in loss of control of several islands) and the devastation of being a victim of such a move is the highpoint!

Perhaps the best measure of Kahuna as a great game is that the loser accepts that he/she didnt lose through a heavy dose of bad luck, and cant wait to play again?!

Easy to play, easy to learn, hard to stop
March 28, 2004

When we open the box, my husband and I always say we're just going to play one game, but somehow three games later we're asking for best 3 out of 5.

This and Lost Cities are our favourite Kosmos 2 player games. We alternate between the two regularly. If you like these, I'd also recommend 'Caesar and Cleopatra' and 'Babel.'

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
One of the Best of the series!
December 28, 2003

I have never played a Kosmos two player game that left me with a negative impression, and have only played a few that left me with even a neutral feeling. Most have been great games, ones that I can play with my wife, my manly-man friends, and pretty much anyone I come across all with immense success. Kahuna (Kosmos and/or Rio Grande, 1998 Gunter Kornett) had an interesting name and was part of this austere line of games. How could I not pick it up?

And, not surprisingly, I enjoyed the game quite a bit. I did not think it was as impressive as much as others in the series (Lost Cities, Hera and Zeus, and Odins Ravens), but found it fun nevertheless. And even more surprisingly, as I look over my statistics for all the Kosmos games, I discover that I have played Kahuna more than any of the other games in this series. I think the reason for that is that I have more fun playing Kahuna, and that a win in this game is extremely satisfying. Kahuna is just plain fun!

A small board is placed on the table between the two players. On the board are twelve islands, connected together by dotted lines with each island having three to six of these lines protruding from it. A deck of twenty-four cards (two for each island) is shuffled, and three are dealt to each player. The remainder are placed in a face-down deck on the table, with the top three placed face up next to the pile. Each player takes a pile of 25 wooden bridges , and 10 Kahuna wooden stones. One player goes first, with play then alternating between the players.

On a turn, a player may play none, any, or all of the cards in their hand. For every single card a player plays for an island, they place one of their bridges on any of the open dotted lines protruding from that island. If, because of this placement, a player has bridges on a majority of the extensions from any of the islands, they take control of that island, by placing one of their control markers on it. All opponents bridges, if any that connect to that island are removed immediately. If this causes loss of control on other islands, the opponent must remove their control markers on those islands. A player may also play a pair of cards to remove an opponents bridge from an island. This pair must be any combination of the two islands that the bridge connects.

After playing cards (or not), a player may draw one card into their hand, to a maximum of five cards. They may take any of the face-up cards (which are immediately replaced), or the top card from the draw pile. If a player does not draw a card, their opponent must draw one on their turn. When the last card is drawn from the table, the round ends and scoring occurs. If both players control the same number of islands, no points are scored. Otherwise, the player with more islands scores one point in the first round, two points in the second round, and the difference in islands controlled in the third round. The next round then begins, with all bridges and controlling markers remaining on the board. Players keep the cards they currently have in their hand, and the remainder of the cards are shuffled and set up as they were at the beginning of the game.

After the third round, the player with the most points is the winner! It is possible for a player to win in an earlier round if their opponent loses all their bridges although this is rare.

Some comments on the game

1.) Components: The box art (which I see all the time everywhere in Korea board game cafes) is that of islands in the shape of a hand. Its probably one of my favorite bits of art in a game. The box is the same size of all Kosmos two-player games; which means its small, compact, sturdy, and holds the pieces well. I really like the board and cards, and how they match up. On one side of the board are fish, and on the other turtles. This way, when a player draws a card (which has a small map of the board on it), the player knows how to orient the cards so that he is looking at the card correctly. The cards are of good quality, showing the island that the card names highlighted in red on a map that is a copy of the game board. The card also has a number of lines on it that are equal to the number of bridges to that island, making it easy to see how many bridges are needed for a majority. The wooden pieces are of high quality, and the black and white pieces make for a stark contrast on the very colorful board.

2.) Rules: The rules are very simple, with one whole page dedicated to color illustrations on how to claim a majority of islands, etc. I find that the game is very easy to teach and play, although the strategies, which seem obvious at first, take about a game (and a crushing) defeat to learn.

3.) Strategy and Luck: Some complain about the luck in this game, especially when it comes to drawing cards. There is luck in this game, but I think that skillful play will almost always prevail over luck. For every card, there are multiple places to put a bridge, and learning just when to put the bridge on the table is a crucial part to the strategy.

4.) Theme and Fun Factor: The theme is tacked on, unless you can imagine magical bridges connecting Pacific islands. The fun is very high in this game, however. Setting up a chain reaction, that causes the opponent to lose the majority of multiple islands, is very fun and extremely rewarding. (Even when it happens to you).

5.) Time: The games run fairly quickly, especially once both players know what they are doing. Its definitely one of those games where players will ask to play it again immediately after the first game.

Kahuna is a very fun two-player game, one that includes skillful card playing and clever bridge placement. The only reason I would not recommend Kahuna is if you already own Kanaloa, which is essentially the same game, but allows up to four players. However, Kahuna is easy to store, bring out and play, and its very user friendly. I play hundreds of different games each year, so its hard to play the same game too many times. Im glad Kahuna is one of the exceptions to that rule.

Tom Vasel

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Very good tactical 2 player game
August 02, 2003

These kinds of games have always intrigued me, and Kahuna is absolutely top-notch.

The rules are simple, but bad tactical choices are severely punished. It's more of a tactical than strategic game, where the player who seems to be beaten during the first 2 game turns always have a come-back opportunit in the last.

Kahuna is likely to take over the throne on my list of 2-player card games...

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Perfect 2 player game... highly reccomended
October 08, 2002

Kahuna is the perfect 2 player game...way better than lost cities since this game actually requires thinking. The rules are not confusing, as some poeple might think...easy to pick up, but hard to master. Cool board design, graphics, and cool island names. this game is perfect for 2 players who enjoy games that require thinking!

buy it!

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Simply the best!
June 28, 2002

I'm playing it with my wife since 4 years and we are not yet tired. I simply love this game and won't miss it. You discover the deepness of the game only after you play it for some time, however, it is of course not 'chess'. But it is incredible fun!

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
A unique combination board/card game!
December 03, 2000

I have played about 10 games of Kahuna and I am finding more and more to like about this game. At first, I was surprised that there are only 24 cards, but came to appreciate how well-designed the game is. All the components are well made and have a polished feel to them. The South Pacific theme is well-suited and adds to the overall atmosphere.

As far as gameplay, I have found it to be a nice mix of tactics, some strategy and a good dose of luck. It plays quickly and each time you play, you find another tactic to use on the next round. The best part is just when it seems one side will run away with the game, a few well-placed attacks bring the game back to a more even level.

All in all, Kahuna is great 2-player game!

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
by Paul
Tough choices
December 31, 1999

The luck of the cards enters almost as a gambling element, waiting for the right card, or playing now. Wait too long, your move is no longer valuable.

The tug of war that ensues is frustrating and fascinating and the mechanics of the game are very very nice. Sly players can make ANY round fully unpredictable.

Playing a series of cards may leave you with 5-6 good moves to make, but choosing which to take is a conundrum.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
South Seas Magic
January 29, 2006
Kahuna is a fast-paced two player game that calls upon some advance planning and quick thinking. As you build bridges and claim Kahuna-control of islands like Faa, Lafe, and Huna, you begin to work out strategies and countermoves to maintain your control through the three short rounds of play. Average playing time is about the same as Lost Cities (around 30 minutes tops). It is amazing to me how quickly the control of the board can shift from one turn to the next; it is so easy to go from being the Big Kahuna to small-time operator.

I really want to give it five stars, but I keep losing! That doesn't stop me from playing over and over, it's just frustrating, and, hey, in Kahuna it's all about ME!

Fun to play
September 25, 2004
Kahuna is a fun to play game. And you do not know who is winning till the end. You are really good in round 1 - next round everything can change. Players are playing out cards to connect island. The player with the most connections to this island gets a point for this island. Doesn't sound too much fun? There are some more twist in - believe me.
by Roy L.
Fun Tactical Game That Rewards Careful Planning
July 24, 2004

Kahuna is a mostly simple and fun tactical game with a twist: it rewards careful planning. Players who develop skill at thinking ahead about the consequences of their moves have a clear advantage. But because luck also plays a role, even the most careful and deliberate players can be unseated by the combination of a good card and aggressive tactical response. These elements combine to make a balanced and fun game that nonetheless has a strategic feel. Excellent components too.

by Wong SH
Play only with the variant
June 11, 2003

This is one of the most unique two player games and certainly one of the most strategic. My main gripe with it is, as an earlier reviewer observed, it is difficult to fight back in the game if both players are good. To improve play, I now play only with the variant that when you remove an opponent's bridge with a pair of cards, you may put your own without an additional card. Or else the person with better cards in round one generally dominate the game. Still I like it for its deep play and nice components. If only I can find more people to enjoy it as much as Lost Cities.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Really a Three and a Half Star Nice Game
September 03, 2002

Not as much fun as Lost Cities, but definitely is a game you won't regret purchasing. Rules a bit confusing--can you build bridges back to an island that your opponent has thrown your bridges out of previously? My wife and I play you can do this. Anyway--solid, solid game. Enjoy!

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Easy to pick up, hard to put down
April 28, 2001

Another of the famed Kosmos 2-player series, Kahuna is one of the most board-like of the group, which has tended toward complex card games. While cards do enter play, the emphasis is on board placement.

The mechanics of the game are well-documented here, so on to Randy's impressions. Kahuna appeals to a wide range of gamers. My wife seems to like games with a placement element, like Settlers of Catan, and this one is right up her alley. The board actually has a bit of a Settlers feel to it, with the little bridges almost identical to the roads of the Teuber classic.

Even casual gamers find the rules easy to pick up, but there is enough strategy to keep most hardcore gamers happy, too. There is a real feeling of ebb and flow to the game, as ownership of islands are gained and lost, the cascade effect can change the board considerably with a single card play. Making sure one changes the board in one's favor just before scoring is crucial!

Normally I would have no problems giving Kahuna the full five stars, but the cards are a bit flimsy, and tend to chip a bit around the edges. This is the sole detraction from an otherwise excellent game. Highly recommended.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Quick, competitive, and fun... recommended.
April 22, 2001

My wife and I played this delightful game six times over our recent vacation and found it quick, enjoyable, and competitive. It uses both cards and a board and both are vital to play, not merely nice-to-haves. The momentum shifts radically from turn to turn, keeping the game intersting, and it's quick to play--about 30 minutes or less. The more you play it, the more strategic it becomes as you learn the geography of the islands and their connections, and as you become more adept at counting the cards that have been played. My wife and I now have three two-player games that we enjoy: Kahuna, The Settlers of Catan Card Game, and Carcassonne (also great with 3 or more). Highly recommended.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
game of changing fortunes
December 27, 2000

What I liked about Kahuna right away was its overall simple rules and play. What I liked next was its subtle strategy in playing which does not appear to anyone reading the back of the box. The game has luck as an element no doubt, but not overwhelmingly so. You still must think out your card play to build bridges and gain control of islands without hoping to get just the card you need by sheer luck. In other words, you rely on skillful play, planning and a bit of bluff to help you wih the game.

Since there are three cards showing that you can choose from on your card draw, the luck factor is greatly reduced I feel. Plus you can see what the other player chooses as well (unless you both draw from the deck every time, which usually lessens your chances of getting the cards you need in my opinion and reduces the chance to plan better).

I liked the game the first time I played it, and have ever since. It moves well, the games are usually very close, and the board is ever-changing, presenting you with new challenges to overcome on your way to controlling the South Seas islands.

I recommend this as a solid two player game and will add to your gaming enjoyment.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
A Solid & Entertaining Two Player Game
November 17, 1999

Kosmos has done a lot with a line of games for two players. Caesar & Cleopatra, Die Siedler Kartenspiel and Lost Cities have been solid if not very good games. Kahuna adds to this list of a good games with was is essentially a repackaging of Arbana Ikibiti.

The main idea behind the game is each player is a wizard trying to control a series of islands. This is done by playing cards which allow a player to place bridges between islands or remove existing bridges. Once a player has the majority of the bridges connecting an island control, the island itself falls under its control. The game is played in three rounds with the winner of each round scoring a point or two.

The game is simple, easy to play and yet full of decisions - more tactical than strategic. There is a decent ebb and flow to the game although it can be hard to regain control of islands late in the game, making it hard to catch the other player if he is ahead. I have found the game to play very evenly though leaving the outcome in question until the last few plays. I think there is enough depth for older gamers as a filler game as well as enough simplicity for kids. The components are up to German standards as usual.

The game really deserves three and a half stars. It is not as good as Lost Cities, but I think it is a must have in a collection. Kosmos has done a great job in putting a lot of fun/game in an 8x8 box.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
a good topological game
August 10, 1999

It's great entertainment for a half hour. My problem with it is that after the second round, if both players are good, the fate of the game is sealed, since once a lot of bridges have been placed, taking over the islands gets hard.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Good things come in small packages.
May 01, 1999

If you like Settlers of Catan (any series of the board game or the card game) or any other similar strategy game with a modicum of luck, you will like Kahuna. You and another player are competing over control of twelve islands. This is accomplished by interconnecting the islands with your bridges and when a majority of pathways is achieved, you claim the island with one of your Kahuna stones. The strategy factor rises from the play of cards which determine where bridges may be placed, or your opponents bridges removed.

The game plays in spurts as you usually take several turns gathering up an aggressive hand and blasting out across the map board. This back and forth assault by both players is great fun, and the three rounds of play move quickly. Victory is always a close contest and will never be known until the final round.

The high rating that I give this game is not for its intricacies or thought provoking intrigue, but for its elegance and fun. The excellent components including mounted map, and wooden pieces push this game into the 'must have' category. You will not find a better board game in an 8" x 8" package.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Fair 2 player strategy game
October 12, 2000

A bit of a cat and mouse game. It's ok for what it is, but nothing special. It's dry and it seems like it's missing something. I would try before buying.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Tropic of the day
July 14, 1999

Basically just a repackaging of Arabana-Ikibiti with a couple of different rules, Kahuna is an enjoyable strategy game with only a small amount of luck.

The aim - to control as many of the twelve islands as possible by having a majority of bridges leading from those islands - sounds simple, except of course that your opponent is doing the same thing.

The game can turn around rapidly with the strategic placement of one bridge, causing an Othello-like ripple to occur down the archipelago. But wresting control back from the leader isn't always easy, and the game can often end up a whitewash, particularly if one player is stronger than the other.

I find that the board and pieces, while constructed better than the average American game, aren't up to the usual German game standards. The board doesn't lay flat easily and the bridges - while made of wood - seem flimsy and almost matchstick-like.

One very clever thing about the map board and cards is that they have alignment markers - orange fish and purple turtles - on the corners, which makes it very easy to keep your cards (which also have a map on them for reference) oriented the same as the board. Smart thinking!

Kahuna is a worthy addition to Kosmos' Two-player games (others including Die Siedler Kartenspiel, Caesar & Cleopatra and Lost Cities).

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
not enough strategic options
June 02, 2001

I find this game is similiar to backgammon in that you are challenged to think while learning the game initially, but after a certain point, the strategy becomes obvious. Unlike backgammon, it gets repetitive very fast. At first it seemed to hold promise, but after a while each game appeared identical to the previous game we played. First round: hold cards until you have five and then play them, knocking out opponent's bridges. Second round: play cards where possible; knock out bridges when possible, replacing them with your own. Third round: same as the second round, just with the board even more filled up. For players like me who want more options, get games like Carcassone, Caesar and Cleopatra, [page scan/se=0630/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]Through the Desert, Lost Cities, Battle Line, and Elfen Land. These are all much, much better games for two players who like some true options and strategy.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.

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