I recently received a copy of the 2016 Spiel des Jahres nominee, ‘Karuba’. It’s a tile-laying game of sorts, albeit less free-form and less interactive than Carcassonne. It’s really about solving a puzzle more efficiently than everyone else at the table. I don’t really aim to explain or review the game, however, as plenty such explanations and reviews are already out there. There is one interesting angle that I would like to touch on, however.
I have always been a fan of correspondence chess1, the idea that the game is open, all information is public, and moves are simple enough to easily notate, pass back and forth, and replicate. It was immediately obvious to me that Karuba has a great potential as a correspondence game. Due to the lack of interaction, it will certainly be nothing like chess. But as a casual puzzler, all the pieces are there for correspondence. All information in the game is public. All players start with the same board configuration. All players place the same tile on a given turn. Because of the way this mechanic works, tiles have unique numbers and would just as easily be described in correspondence. To ease in initial setup, rows and columns of the board already have labels. The four explorers every player controls are all unique colors, and can therefore easily be described in notation.
I don’t expect a huge community to explode around correspondence Karuba, but this possible means of play immediately struck me as such a perfect fit. Kind of the icing on an already rather impressive cake.