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Subject: Bridge over troubled waters rss

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Jim Cote
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Kahuna is a unique and intriguing 2-player abstract from Kosmos. Players compete to place the most stones (bearing the mighty handprint of their leader) on the 12 islands. The player who scores the most points over 3 rounds is the winner...the big Kahuna.

Rules

Kahuna's board is a pretty yet functional map of 12 island connected by dots. The islands are named starting with the first 12 letters of the alphabet and arranged in order:

ALOA...BARI...COCO
DUDA ELAI FAAA GOLA
HUNA IFFI JOJO KAHU
......LALE


The dotted connections between the islands are where bridges may be placed. Each island has from 3 to 6 connections possible. There is a deck of 24 cards--two for each island, and a set of round stones and bridges in black and white. The cards are shuffled, each player is dealt three, and 3 are turned face up

On your turn, you can play no cards, one card, some cards, or all your cards. You can do two things when playing cards:

- Playing a single card allows you to place a bridge on any empty dotted line connecting to the island on the card.

- Playing two cards bearing the same island, or two cards bearing the names of island on opposite sides of a single dotted connection allow you to remove the respective opponent's bridge.

Immediately after playing a bridge, if you now have more than half of the bridges that the island(s) support (2 bridges to an islan with 3 connections, 3 with 4/5, or 4 with 6), you must add one of your stones to each island. After adding a stone to any island, you must remove all your opponents bridges.

If, after removing a bridge (from adding a stone, or using cards to remove a bridge), your opponent no longer has more than half of the bridges that the island(s) support, you must remove his stone(s).

At the end of your turn if you have less than 5 cards in your hand, you may draw one of the three face-up cards, draw a card from the deck, or do nothing. If you do not draw a card, your opponent is required to at the end of his turn.

Once the draw deck and all three face-up cards are drawn, the round ends. Shuffle all used cards (keep cards in hand), and deal 3 new face up cards. Leave the board as it is. Play 2 more rounds the same way. The player with the most stones at the end of round 1 gets 1 point. The player with the most stones at the end of round 2 gets 2 points. The player with the most stones at the end of round 3 gets the difference in points. Ties go the winner of round 3.

Comments

This is not your run-of-the-mill area influence game. The only direct action you can take is to play bridges. But scoring is done using stones, which are an indirect result of bridge majorities. In most area influence games, you add "units" to specific territories, your opponent adds more, etc. In Kahuna, each bridge supports the creation (or existence) of a stone on two islands. Placing a new stone destroys all opponents bridges connecting to that island. You cannot build an unbreakable defense with a simple pile o' cubes. Every region of stones you create has to end with bridges going to island with no stone, or an opponents stone. Your edges are always vulnerable.

Another very interesting aspect of play is that it is not always good to place a stone when you are able. If you cause a stone to be played early, then your opponent can add bridges safely to that island. If you wait until your opponent plays their bridges, then your stone (if you can still play it) will destroy all their hard work. Order is important. Since at least some of the cards are drawn from the face-up set, you always have some information about your opponent's options.

It is tempting to play any bridges you are able, but this is often a bad idea. As I said above, it is very often correct to delay your actions until after your opponent has committed his cards. This does not mean that players simply build up their hands, playing out a big game of chicken. You need to make some kind of base from which to grow your influence. Playing a card to add a bridge is much easier than playing two specific cards to remove one. If there's an empty connection that you really need, it is usually right to take it if you are worried that your opponent might play there as well. This is when it is nice to be able to remember what cards are left in the deck. There are only two cards of each island. Thus, there are only 4 cards that allow to to play each bridge.

Be aware of the ripple effect. Playing a single bridge can result in two stones being placed, which could remove many of your opponent's bridges, and potentially many of their stones. Removing a single bridge could have a similar effect. Be aware of which cards in your hand allow you to play at these vital points. I've been ahead 5-4 in stones, and after a single turn of my opponent, ended up behind 2-7 in stones.

Because of the way scoring works, if you beat your opponent by 3 or more stones in the final round, you will win regardless of the results of the first two rounds. If the final round is very close, then the scoring in the first two rounds does matter. Nevertheless, I do find the scoring system to work very nicely.

Summary

Components: 9. Nice board, quality cards, and all wooden components. Quite a bit of thought went into the playability. The board has two sumbols on it (fish and turtle). The card backs and fronts also have these symbols, allowing you to make sure they are in the proper orientation for shuffling and drawing. My only issue is that the symbols on the card backs should have been reversed so all the symbols are always on the same sides during play (would have been a 10 for components otherwise). Also, each card has the name of the island, a number of lines showing the number of bridges that island has, and a map of the whole board with that island in red. Very user-friendly.

Rules: 9. Pretty easy to understand. My only beef was that it wasn't crystal clear that you could add bridges to an island with an opponents stone.

Overall: 8. Fun but dry. The box says 30-40 minutes playing time, but we suffer from a moderate amount of AP, making it more like 45-60 minutes. Great game for such a tiny box.


- ekted

http://ekted.blogspot.com/
 
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Mike Cooper
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I don't understand the following section of your review.

Quote:
My only issue is that the symbols on the card backs should have been reversed so all the symbols are always on the same sides during play (would have been a 10 for components otherwise).


Are you saying that the fish/turtle orientation on the front of the cards should match the back? Because my set is exactly like that.

Or is it an issue about how you flip the cards over? If you flip them bottom-over-top then, yes, the symbols switch sides. If you flip them side-over-side, then they stay the same. If that's what you meant, then it's just a style-of-flipping issue, not production.
 
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Jim Cote
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If you place a draw deck between 2 players, they naturally draw cards towards them and face up. This means you have to put the fish/turtle symbols backwards to make the drawn cards have the proper orientation. I've never seen anyone draw cards "from the side" in any card game.
 
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Paul Sauberer
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ekted wrote:
If you place a draw deck between 2 players, they naturally draw cards towards them and face up. This means you have to put the fish/turtle symbols backwards to make the drawn cards have the proper orientation. I've never seen anyone draw cards "from the side" in any card game.


I have to admit that I have absolutely no clue as to what the complaint is here.

The card fronts have the fish/turtles that match the orientation on the board and so do a great lob of pointing out the location of the island.

The card backs have the turtle/fish one on top of the other, similar to how they are on the board, and I can't figure out how this would affect anything at all.

Am I missing something?
 
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Mike Cooper
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ekted wrote:
If you place a draw deck between 2 players, they naturally draw cards towards them and face up. This means you have to put the fish/turtle symbols backwards to make the drawn cards have the proper orientation. I've never seen anyone draw cards "from the side" in any card game.


Okay, I'm going to play devil's advocate here for a minute, if that's okay. devil On what do you base your "naturally" comment? Because you were taught to do it that way? It's the way I was taught too, but that doesn't mean it's the only (or best) way. Maybe it's an evolutionary problem?

I just did some "testing" by drawing from a Kahuna deck that was off to the left (and right) side. If I drew the card from the short side, as I brought it closer to me to look at it, my wrist rotated so the card was now between 90 - 150 degrees of vertical, meaning I still had to rotate the card to the "correct" orientation. Being the nimble fingered sapiens we are, manual dexterity suits us. (Okay, I pulled that last comment out of my butt.) Try it and I bet you do the same thing.

If I put the deck directly in front of me, then flipping the card from the short side meant that, yes, the symbols were upside down when I drew the card into my hand. Take a look at the position of your palm in both instances. With the deck to the side, my palm was bisected by the long edge of the card. With the deck to the middle, my palm was completely off to the side of the card.

Given that data and the location of the deck during a game of Kahuna, I think the most likely scenario is that the card would have to be rotated to fit into ones hand anyway. So the orientation of the symbols is closer to being correct from an evolutionary standpoint, I guess. (Again, I'm pulling comments out of thin air.)

I tried googling some statistics/surveys in case anyone had done research on the subject, and couldn't find anything. I'm still going to wager that it was merely a design choice so that the front and back of the cards matched, with the possibility that Gunter was taught to flip the cards sideways.
 
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Jim Cote
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Thosw wrote:
I'm still going to wager that it was merely a design choice so that the front and back of the cards matched, with the possibility that Gunter was taught to flip the cards sideways.


Perhaps. I've just never seen anyone draw cards that way ever, no matter what the location of the deck. And before you ask if I've really payed attention, the answer is yes.
 
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Jim Cote
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Psauberer wrote:
I have to admit that I have absolutely no clue as to what the complaint is here.

The card fronts have the fish/turtles that match the orientation on the board and so do a great lob of pointing out the location of the island.

The card backs have the turtle/fish one on top of the other, similar to how they are on the board, and I can't figure out how this would affect anything at all.

Am I missing something?


Ok T is turtle and F is fish. You have the board on the table:

T
F

You have the draw deck on the table:

T
F

Now draw a card into your hand. When I do it, the card in my hand looks like this:

F
T

It's upside-down to the board, so I have to flip them every time I draw. So what we do is flip the draw deck:

F
T

So it doesn't match the board, but now drawn cards are right-side-up.
 
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Paul Sauberer
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ekted wrote:
Psauberer wrote:
I have to admit that I have absolutely no clue as to what the complaint is here.

The card fronts have the fish/turtles that match the orientation on the board and so do a great lob of pointing out the location of the island.

The card backs have the turtle/fish one on top of the other, similar to how they are on the board, and I can't figure out how this would affect anything at all.

Am I missing something?


Ok T is turtle and F is fish. You have the board on the table:

T
F

You have the draw deck on the table:

T
F

Now draw a card into your hand. When I do it, the card in my hand looks like this:

F
T

It's upside-down to the board, so I have to flip them every time I draw. So what we do is flip the draw deck:

F
T

So it doesn't match the board, but now drawn cards are right-side-up.


So when shuffling the deck, you make sure that the backs of the cards are all oriented in the same direction? You either have to do that or pay attention to how you put the cards in the discard pile.

It seems to me that the work involved in doing that is at least equal to turning a card over approximately half the time after drawing.
 
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Jim Cote
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Psauberer wrote:
So when shuffling the deck, you make sure that the backs of the cards are all oriented in the same direction? You either have to do that or pay attention to how you put the cards in the discard pile.

It seems to me that the work involved in doing that is at least equal to turning a card over approximately half the time after drawing.


It's no work at all. All the cards are the same direction, and discarded the same direction. That's normal. Like I said, the only issue is that we have the put the draw pile with its symbols backwards from eveything else.
 
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