Review – Karmaka

Posted on by Jesta

A Hand Management, Take That game.

Title: Karmaka

Year Published: 2016

Designer: Eddy Boxerman, Dave Burke

Publisher: Hemisphere Games

Players: 2-4

Game Time: 25-60 mins

Set-up Time: ~1 min

Ages: 13+

Theme: Karma?

Mechanic: Card Drafting, Deck Building, Hand Management, Set Collection, Take That

How to win: Achieve Transcendence.

Game Description

Players begin the game as lowly Dung Beetles. In life after life (hand after hand) they climb their way up the Karmic Ladder, racing to see who will achieve Transcendence first!

Set Up

Each player adds a Meeple to the Dung Beetle level of the Karmic Ladder. Put the Karmic Rings in a pile, shuffle the deck to create ‘The Well’, and deal 4 cards to each players hand and 2 to their starting deck.

Select a random First Player.

Game Play

On a turn a player MUST Draw a Card and then MAY play a card. If the players deck is empty obviously they don’t have to draw, but then they MUST play a card.

A card can be played in one of 3 ways…

For Points – Face up and visible in a ‘Deeds Stack’ in front of the player, in the order they were played.

A players Deeds Stack.

For the Ability – Use the ability on the card, but then offer it to other players depending on who the card effects.

If it effects an opponent, they can either take it and put it in their ‘Future Lives’ pile, if they don’t want it it’s discarded to the ‘Ruins’. (The games discard pile)

Any card that a player plays on themselves or effects multiple other players, are offered in clockwise order.

If a card lets a player play another card, (like Journey pictured above) the previous card is offered before the next card is played.

Play to the Future Lives pile – The card is placed face down in the players ‘Future Lives’ pile. (More on this pile in a bit…)

If you can’t play or draw because you’re out of cards, you Die. Add points from one colour of cards in your Deeds pile, including Wild Cards and add +1 for each Karmic Ring you wish to spend. If you have enough points you may move up one level on the Karmic ladder.

The player needs 4 to go up a level. They have a +3 from Green +1 from Embody ( a Wild Card) giving them a total of 4. This is enough to transcend.

If you don’t move up a level, gain a Karmic Ring.

Either way, a player will now get a Rebirth. That player will discard their Deeds to the Ruins and draw their Future Life cards into their hand. They then draw cards from the Well into their new deck so the number of cards in hand plus their newly formed deck equals 6 cards in total.

Play continues clockwise

Game End

First player to achieve transcendence wins.

Round Up

What a nice game… Every time you play a card the choice are agonising…

Playing for Deeds or your Future Lives deck is simple. Will it be useful next time or is it going to help you Transcend this turn? Maybe put it there then.. simple.

Put what if it has a really great (or evil) ability? You play it and gain the benef… oh wait, hold one… You now have to give it to your opponent for them to play, or worse, play back on you.

Karma huh?

It’s a very interesting game with phenomenal artwork. Even though it’s a ‘Race to the Target’ game AND ‘Take That’, two things I really dislike, I really enjoy this game.


Unique, and very nice.

I give it 7/10

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