original German edition
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from 23 customer reviews
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Two Kahuna priests fight for dominance of an archipelago with twelve small islands. In order to properly enjoy the magic of the South Seas, they must determine which of them is the most powerful.
They both watch carefully which cards fate gradually brings them. Then they spin their webs, point their fingers with a bang at one, two or more islands and try to win the upper hand. In South Seas spell casting, one thing is certain: without tactics, the best magic means nothing.
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.
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?!
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.'
Twelve lovely tropical islands are the prize for which you and another powerful Kahuna priest compete in this most user-friendly of games. A deck of 24 cards, two for each island, enables you to use your sticks to build bridges between islands. If you build more than half of the possible bridges from any island, you place one of your Kahuna stones on it. But a sense of insecurity persists, since your opponent can use a pair of cards to remove one of your bridges. There is a delightful ebb and flow as bridges constantly change hands. The gods have decreed there shall be three rounds, after which they shall decide who is more powerful. Sticks and stones may mark my zones, but opposing cards can hurt me.
Nice graphics on a small box, intriguing looking game with an unusual theme. Could the contents live up to the promise of the first impression? After quite a few plays I would say that the answer is an unequivocal yes!
So how does it play? Each player starts with a hand of 3 cards dealt from a common deck of 24. The cards are named after the 12 islands on the board; nearby islands are linked together by lines which show where bridges may potentially be built. The number of possible links ranges from 3 to 6, which creates interesting tactical problems and possibilities. Basically the game consists of playing 0-5 cards from your hand (the maximum hand size is 5), then picking up a replacement. Each card played builds one bridge from the island named to an adjacent island. Thus, to build a bridge from BARI to DUDA you can play either a BARI or a DUDA card. When a player has a majority of links to an island (ie. more than half of the possible links), they place one of their Kahuna stones to show control. This has the immediate effect of knocking out any enemy links from that island which could possibly have a knock on effect on the control of other islands -- as soon as a player doesn't have a majority, the controlling stone is removed. Thus, because up to 5 cards can be played, big changes can occur in one turn. This creates one of the tactical choices, because by playing a lot of cards you shoot your bolt for a while while you accumulate more. Sometimes it's better to dribble cards something really devastating. You can also destroy an enemy bridge by playing two appropriate cards. The replacement can either be chosen from three face up cards or blind from the deck, which gives options between picking something you want but where your opponent knows what you have, and risking getting something useless. When the last card is picked up the round ends, and points are scored. There are three rounds, with 1 point being scored for controlling more islands than your opponent at the end of the first, 2 points for being in the lead after the second and the difference in islands controlled after the third.
It's a very easy game to pick up; even the difficulty in finding the islands relating to your cards is not a problem as the map is reproduced on the cards with the relevant island highlighted in red -- and half way through the first game you know where they all are anyway. Although the game rules are very simple there is a fair bit of depth. Firstly, different islands play quite differently, the ones with only 3 or 4 connections at the edge tend to become secure bases, the central islands with more connections become the battleground and frequently change hands. Secondly, each round plays differently; you build up fairly quickly and without requiring too much analysis in the first, the second involves much greater thought, trying to build up good combinations of cards with which to launch an assault on the enemy, and in the third the battlegrounds tend to be better defined and you know what you need to do. The mechanics of the game can lead to complex situations which require a certain amount of thinking, but never too much so that the other player becomes bored. There are many neat touches to the game, especially the 5 card hand limit, which sometimes causes you to play a card when you don't really want to show your intentions and the limited intelligence about what your opponents cards are or might be.
The theme matches the mechanics fairly well, perhaps because you don't have any preconceived ideas about what Kahuna magic should look like, and this certainly doesn't feel like a dry, abstract game like so many two player games are. Games are generally very close, with the initiative swinging from one side to the other and feel quite tense and involving. The game is mainly tactical with a smidgeon of strategy (eg. trying to block off one area), and some memory/card counting and luck. Although it doesn't have a strong "just one more go" feeling, this is a game which I am sure we will be returning to regularly. 8 out of 10 is the verdict from the Richards household!