The simplicity of many abstract strategy games are their biggest draws.
Kulami certainly has a place on a list of such games based on the limited elements, yet there is a core mechanic at play which offers some definite variability in the game.
Kulami comes with 17 wooden tiles which are placed edge-to-edge to form the game board. The standard lay-out if a square, but you can use alternate arrangements too. Each piece has indentations to seat a marble in, and as long as there is maximum of 10 of these then the lay out is legal – 10 X 10 being the largest.
In turns, players place their marbles – one player has red the other black -- in the empty holes on the board. The first marble can be placed anywhere on the board. From there on, players must respect the following three rules when placing their marbles:
• The marble must be placed either horizontally or vertically in relation to the marble your opponent has just played,
• The marble cannot be placed on the same tile on which your opponent has just placed their marble,
• The marble cannot be placed on the same tile where the player placed their previous marble.
The last two conditions are the ones that are just a tad finicky as it forces some level of memory on the game, where each player did last laid a marble. In my case I grabbed a couple of wooden cubes in appropriate colours so they are placed in the tile with a marble by players. Next move collect the cube and repeat.
The game ends when all marbles have been played or when a player cannot play their next marble (i.e. both the horizontal and vertical spots where the player must play their marble are full, or the move is otherwise not allowed according to the game rules).
When scoring, “to facilitate the counting of the points, players can dismantle the board. Each player collects the wooden tiles where their color prevails. The tiles that have the same number of black and red marbles are put aside and do not count,” note the rules.
“Each tile counts for as many points as the number of holes it has, regardless of how many hole have been filled with marbles. For example, a tile with six holes gives the player six points; a tile with four holes gives the player four points. The player with the most accumulated points wins the game.”
Like many good games, Kulami does come with a couple of variants to expand play.
The game is played normally, but at the end of the game (before scoring) the players may score bonus points as follows;
The Biggest Area – “Before dismantling the board, each player identifies the biggest area of their color (Marbles placed diagonally are not considered connected). The player who has the largest area of connected marbles scores bonus points equivalent to the difference between the number of marbles in the two player’s largest areas.”
The Lines – “Before dismantling the board, players identify lines (horizontal, vertical or diagonal) consisting of at least five marbles. A line accounts for as many points as the marbles in the line. The player who has the most cumulative points with their lines will score bonus points equivalent to the difference between the two player’s accumulated line points.”
The wooden tiles and use of marbles are nice aesthetically, the rules straight forward, and the variants a nice option, which combine to make a game that is well worth checking out at www.foxmind.com