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It’s always interesting to see the highs and lows of a designer and while we loved R&R’s Outback, their tribal bluffing game Costa Ruana horribly disappoints.

Picture of Costa Ruana set-up with 3 players midway through a round of the game.
I will say at least the islands and components are nice looking.

Costa Ruana’s premise is that a bunch of pirates have buried treasure on some small islands nearby. Your village shaman wants you to go steal it. The only problem is that other villages have also noticed the treasure.

From here, starting with the active player, everyone places one card face up in front of themselves or another player. Then one card face down in front of themselves of or another player. These cards have different commands like: send two natives over to the islands, bring one native back, move to a different island. The twist though is that each card has a different colour background that relates to the condition cards. Before the cards are activated the active player gets to flip one of these condition cards and any cards that don’t match backgrounds with the condition cards are removed.

The active player is always at an advantage and in a head-to-head two player game, the best strategy seemed to be follow the leader. If they’ve placed a beneficial blue background card on their side, do the same. Every round and every game of the two player mode felt like it fell into a repetitive mire. Put villagers on the island, bring villagers back with treasure, move to another island to steal more treasure. All the while trying to block each other by matching the number of enemy villagers on each island.

Image depicting the various island and player action cards (moving islanders and treasures)
Looking at these cards brings back so many memories of bored sick days. I hope CBBC has gotten better since I was a nipper.

The components are neat though, each player gets a teepee that they drop their claimed treasure into. Which is useful at preventing players from ganging up on the winner (but almost pointless in head-to-head). And I’m always a fan of little diamonds in boardgames.

Aside from the lackluster gameplay, Costa Ruana is let down by its childish artwork which puts me in mind of a CBBC cartoon. Which with an age rating of 14+, just doesn’t fit the audience.

Verdict

Costa Ruana is an unfortunately unattractive game that fails to engage beyond a very simple ‘read-your-opponent’ level. The ball always being in the active player’s court makes tactical decisions a bit of a shot in the dark and the gameplay gets repetitive very quickly.

You can find Costa Ruana on the R&R Games Incorporated’s website HERE

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Medals

  • No Good Here

Shames

  • Bored

Stats

  • <1 hour play
  • £20 - £30
  • 2-6 players