Capture Weaker Animals and Rule the Watering Hole in Light Card Game Kariba | Casual Game Revolution

Capture Weaker Animals and Rule the Watering Hole in Light Card Game Kariba


Designed by Reiner Knizia and published by Swiss gaming company Helvetiq, Kariba is an elegant little card game set at an African watering hole filled with animals of all sizes, from mice to elephants.

With a box slightly smaller than the size of your hand and one deck of cards, Kariba is a portable, animal-filled card game.


The waterhole game piece is set in the center of the table. Around its edges are the numbers one through eight. The deck of cards is then shuffled, five cards are dealt to each player, and the rest of the deck is placed on the table as the draw pile. Each card is numbered one through eight, and each number represents a different animal.

On your turn you may play one or more matching animal cards to the waterhole, placing the cards next to the edge which has a number matching the cards. If there are then three or more of that animal type at the waterhole, you collect the closest animal cards of a lower number value that are at the waterhole. So, for example, if you played three giraffe cards, which have a value of four, you would check if there are any zebras at the waterhole, as they have the value three. You would then take any zebras there, and put them facedown in your score pile. If there weren’t any zebras you would then check the twos and finally the ones. If there were no lower valued animals at the waterhole you would be out of luck. The cards with the value of one are mice, and they are the only ones that can capture a card of a higher value, as they can capture the eights (and only the eights), which are the elephants.

After you have played, you draw back up to five cards and it is now the next player’s turn. The game continues until the draw deck is empty and one player has run out of cards. The person with the most cards in their score pile wins the game.

Kariba Components


Kariba is a light, fast-playing little card game that is pleasant, easy going and doesn’t overstay its welcome. Over in about ten to fifteen minutes, the game is great for when you have only a few minutes or wish to play a filler. There’s just enough strategy blended in with the luck of the cards to keep the game interesting and engaging, and there’s plenty of player interaction sprinkled throughout.

You have to balance what moves you could potentially be setting up your opponents for with setting yourself up for future opportunities. This back-and-forth leads to some great game moments and tactical decisions. Since animals can score any lower numbered animal, always scoring the one closest to them, there is also the opportunity to block players with the cards you play, and force them to make moves worth fewer points.

The cards are roughly palm sized, and the box is small, perfect for slipping into a pocket or bag. This makes it highly portable and great for travel or playing at restaurants. The waterhole game piece is a little flims,y but the cards themselves are a nice quality and the artwork adorable.

Kariba is a lovely little card game that’s family friendly, accessible, and engaging. Its design is neat, takes up little space either in the box or on the table, and takes barely a minute to teach. The winner can be surprisingly unpredictable, and there are plenty of opportunities to outwit your opponents.

Pros: Small box and table space, nice blend of strategy and luck, plays fast, cute artwork

Cons: The waterhole game piece is flimsy

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.