Back in the good ol’ days, when we were bored we would go to a movie or meet up with friends to play games. We might head to the mall or any random store to go shopping. Of course, visiting friends or family was also an option. Travel was even a possibility. To sum it up… do anything to get out of the house. But those things either aren’t an option or aren’t the same experience they used to be. So we mostly stay home and enjoy shows like Ted Lasso or The Mandalorian via online streaming services and immerse ourselves in all kinds of videos on YouTube. Some of my favorites to watch with Scott are treasure-hunting videos such as mudlarking, scuba divers with metal detectors and even gem hunters. It’s so exciting to see when they dig up something long lost to nature. Naturally, I cannot resist a game like Costa Ruana from R&R Games that gives me the chance to gather treasure chests filled with gold and gems.
Costa Ruana is a card game for 2-7 people and consists of five rounds of card play. To set up a game, the first thing you need to do is determine the number of players. Which cards you use is dependent on this so it’s the best place to start. Shuffle the designated cards then deal five to each player. The rest are placed within reach of all players and will be used as a draw pile. The two condition cards are set in the center of the table with the islands (quantity as determined by player count) surrounding those. Four treasures are placed on two islands and five on the remaining. Each player takes natives and the associated hut (to hide their loot). Determine a starting player and give that person the Shaman figure. Beginning with the person holding the Shaman, players take turns placing one native on an island until there are three natives from each tribe dispersed.
The two condition cards in the center of the play area represent four phases in time. The double-sided card with yellow and blue represents low tide and high tide respectively. Night and Day are depicted in the form of purple and green. Only one side from each of these can be active at any time so keep that in mind as we walk through how to play the game.
Each round consists of three steps by each player followed by a Shaman action, revealing and resolving cards then finally collecting treasures. The Shaman will place a card face-up either in front of themselves or another player. Proceeding clockwise, all other players do the same. Next, each player does the same but the card is placed face-down. Finally, each player may optionally place one of their natives on any card to double its effects.
There are four different types of cards available to play, each represented by a different symbol: 1) Move treasures and 2) Place, 3) return and 4) move natives. In addition, there are four colors of cards available. Just because you have cards in front of you doesn’t mean they’ll be active this round.
Remember what I said about Night/Day and High/Low tide? After all cards have been played and natives (optionally) placed, the Shaman determines which cards will be active by flipping one of the condition cards over. With that in mind, it’s time to start revealing cards! All face-down cards are flipped and any cards that do not match the active colors are removed from play. If they happened to have natives on them, those are returned to the owner.
Beginning with the Shaman, each player resolves their cards. This is where you get to start your treasure hunting adventure by moving chests from one island to another or placing, returning or moving natives between the islands. After all cards have been resolved, the Shaman determines who deserves to take the one treasure up for grabs on each island for that round.
First priority goes to the player with the most natives on an island. In the event of a tie, they argue and neither receives it. Instead. a player who isn’t involved in the dispute is able to snatch the treasure out from under their noses while they are preoccupied. Of course, if there are no treasures left on an island, then there is nothing to claim!
The player with the fewest treasures during the current round becomes the Shaman for the next round. Treasures are hidden under the hut then players draw two cards from the draw pile. The game is over after five full rounds and the player with the most treasure is the victor.
With such simple rules, Costa Ruana is an excellent option to introduce younger players to concept of area control in board games. It doesn’t take treasure hunting skills to track down a copy of Costa Ruana. R&R Games sells direct from their website, you can check in with your local game store or purchase a copy on Amazon. Of course, we’re always happy to have our own treasure hunts here on the site! Can you find the treasure we’ve buried? Hint: It’s a giveaway for Costa Ruana and it’s right below this!