Kahuna Review


Kahuna is a game by Gunter Cornett, published by Kosmos. It is for 2 players. In this game, players will be vying for control of a series of islands. They will be building bridges to link islands together and grow their power. The player that can control the islands the best will be declared the winner.

To begin, the board is placed on the table between the two players. Players decide which color they will play, either black or white. They will then receive 25 bridges and 10 Kahuna markers of their chosen color. The cards are shuffled together. 3 cards are then dealt to each player. The remaining cards are placed face down in a stack beside the board. The top 3 cards are then flipped over and create a line next to the board. The starting player is chosen and play now begins.

The game is played over three rounds with scoring after each round. On a player’s turn, they are allowed to play up to 5 cards from their hand. By playing a single card, a player is allowed to place one of their bridges on one of the dotted lines that connects the island on the card to one of it’s neighboring islands. Once they have played that one card, they are allowed to repeat the process as long as they have cards to play, up to 5 cards worth. Used cards are then placed in the discard pile. Players can also play 2 island cards to remove an opponent’s bridge as long as the bridge is between the two islands represented on the cards. The bridge is then returned to the player. A player may also discard a number of cards by placing them secretly under the discard pile. Once a player has bridges on more than half of the connecting island lines, they control that island by placing one of their Kahuna markers on the island. They then remove any of their opponent’s bridges and return them to the player. Sometimes removing these bridges will cause the other player to lose control of a neighboring island. If this happens the Kahuna marker is removed from that island and returned to the player. Once a player has played the cards all the cards that they wish to play, they then have one of two choices. They may draw a card from the deck or they can take one of the three face up cards from the line, replacing it with the top card of the deck.

Once the last card is taken from both the deck and the line of cards, the round is over and scoring takes place. Afterwards, the discard pile is shuffled and a new line of 3 cards is placed out. The shuffled deck is then placed face down and play continues with the player who was next to play when the last card was taken.

Round and Final Scoring is done by each player counting the number of islands that they control with Kahuna markers on them. The player with the most islands after the 1st round score 1 point. The winner of the second round scores 2 points. After the third round, the winning player is awarded the difference in the two players points. The player with the most points at the end of the game is the winner. If there is a tie, the player who scored in the third round is the winner.


This game comes with some very nice looking pieces. The bridges and Kahuna markers are made of wood and are very sturdy. They come in two colors, black and white for the separate players. The board is very nice looking and small. This makes it fairly easy to be played on almost any surface. The art on the board is very nice and has a very nice feel to it. The cards are very nicely done as well with the symbols showing how each card should be oriented. I really like this feature on both the cards and the board as it can be very easy to get confused on which island is on the card. This is very helpful in figuring it out quite quickly. My daughter was even able to easily determine which island was represented on the card. When a 4 year old can do that, I’d say that you’ve designed it really well. There should be no problems in determining which island is which. I really like the simplistic design and how nice everything looks.
9 out of 10

The rulebook is fairly nice. There are some nice examples and a few pictures in it. The only real problem I found with it is that there seemed to be more text than what was really needed. It seemed that the designer tried to hard to explain things and by doing this made it a bit difficult to follow. Thankfully the rules are really that hard to understand so picking out the information that you needed wasn’t that difficult. I just wish it hadn’t been quite so wordy. I really felt like everything could have been written up on a single sheet of paper. I do however appreciate the variations on gameplay that were included so that helps me feel better about the size of the book. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad and it’s not that big. It just seems a bit bigger than it had to be.
8 out of 10

I really enjoy this game quite a bit. I like the abstract feel of the whole thing and think that it is fairly easy to learn and play. It’s not really difficult and can be easily taught. For me it seemed like the first round is more about getting your initial bridges out, while the second round is more about removing your opponent’s bridges. The third round is about keeping ahead of your opponent and every round is just plain fun. The game is family friendly and is something that you can play with just about any member of your family. You really have to be paying attention to what your opponent is doing and what options that are available to you from your cards and the face up line of cards as well. Getting some of the easier islands first appears to be the smart thing to do, but they can be easily lost during the later rounds. I learned that fairly quickly. A lot of the game has to do with how your opponent plays as well. If they are fairly passive and are content with simply trying to make their own bridges then you can go with a similar strategy, but if they are aggressively go after your islands then you have to be more defensive in your play style. In any case, I really enjoy the game and find it to be a lot like chess in a sort of abstract way. It’s a very strategic game that I like quite a bit.
9 out of 10

Kahuna is a light weight game of abstract strategy with an island theme. The game doesn’t take that long. Most games sessions only take about 30 minutes. The artwork is quite nice as are the wooden pieces. The theme doesn’t really play all that much into the game itself. When I first looked at the game, it made me think of Paradise Fallen. However the game plays more like Chess in a way, as it is more of an actual strategy style game. The game is very fun and can be played almost anywhere and with pretty much anyone. I really like the smaller board style and find that it’s quite portable. Fans of strategy or abstract games should really enjoy this. It is a great little 2 player game that looks nice and is great fun. I highly recommend it.
9 out of 10



For more information about this and other great games, please check out Kosmos at their English site.


About Gaming Bits - Jonathan Nelson

I'm a happily married man with 2 wonderful kids. I love my family very much. I'm a big fan of board, card and RPG games and have been playing for over 20 years. As a board and card game reviewer, I'm hoping that this blog will inform, educate and entertain you. If you like it, please tell your friends and have them join in on the conversations. Thanks and GAME ON!!
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