FTW Staff Picks - Kulami

For The Win Board Game Cafe's Staff Picks is a weekly series where we take a quick look at some of the staff's favourite games, old and new.


Genre: Abstract

Designer: Andreas Kuhnekath

Player Size: 2 Players

Game Length: 20 minutes

For fans of: Connect 4, Pentago, Checkers

Thinking multiple moves ahead is generally a concept that dominates most of the Abstract genre of tabletop games. With stripped down mechanics and basic rulesets, it becomes more important to plan moves in advance while also attempting to predict your opponents moves. In many ways, if you can control the movement of your opponent and force them into defensive situations it creates a strong advantage. It's not necessarily tempo, but rather dictating the flow of the game. 

Kulami is a head-to-head abstract game, where every marble placed directly creates the opportunities for your opponent. There are multiple different sized wooden tiles that are used to create the game board. The only restriction is that the board cannot exceed a 10x10. Other than that the board can be configured in any way you choose. This allows for quite a bit of diversity between setups. All these configurations allow for a lot of replay value, especially considering how quickly the games go. It's the type of game that works well in a "Best of" style of play.

The goal of the game is to score points by claiming the majority of spaces on each tile. Each tile is worth points equal to the amount of spaces on it. Each tile ranges from 2 to 6 spaces. On a given turn a player places a marble on the board. The rules for placement are:

  • the player must place their marble either horizontally or vertically in relation to their opponent's last placed marble

  • the marble cannot be placed on the same tile that the opponent just placed their last marble

  • the marble cannot be placed on the same tile that the player last placed their previous marble

The game ends when all marbles have been placed or the current player has no more legal moves available. The tiles are then divided by majority and each player tallies their score. Whoever has the highest score is declared the winner of the game. 

Kulami is essentially an area control game. Its scoring mechanics are reminiscent of Eight Minute Empire. It makes for a great opener to a date night. It gets the brain moving, but maintains simplicity - which is key for anyone new to the hobby. If you're looking for a change of pace from "x-in-a-row" abstract games, give Kulami a try!

Earl OliverosComment