English language edition
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Daring explorers travel deeper and deeper into darkest Africa searching to discover isolated tribes and interesting animals. Of course, they also hope for rich trade goods, gold and gems. At each turn, the explorers must decide whether to go deeper into the unknown or to search known areas more carefully. The right combination of lust for adventure and tactical play will bring an explorer victory in Africa!
Africa is a game that was not recieved by gamers as it should have. They were expecting a game like T&E, RA, Taj Mahal etc... and of course they were dissapointed because Africa is a different game. Its a lighter game for gamers and non gamers to enjoy.
Africa has luck, maybe even more then your regular game but it goes along with the theme (as few german games do)since the game is about exploration. Luck is one of the ingredients that makes this game thematically work, fun and different each time it is played.
As you explore and go deeper into the African continent the more points youll usually score. Those point could represent unknow animal to the europeans, tribes, gold, diamonds, trade goods, monuments etc...
The theme is excellent. An example would be early in the game it would be difficult to discover a 2+ point tribe but as you go deeper into africa it will be easier discovering a tribe that will give you 3,4 even 5 or 6 points. IMO a 5 point tribe could be thematically a very large tribe, a 6 point tribe could be a kingdom etc...
Even though the game is for 2 to 5 players I would suggest playing with 3 or more players.
If you are looking for a nice family game with a brilliant design thats fun to play then take a look at Africa by Mr. Knizia. Its one of the most underrated games ever.
I am very glad that I played Africa more than once.
After the first game, I was utterly unimpressed, and bewildered that my friends had recommended it so highly. It seemed utterly random who would end up with the most points (a feeling not helped by finishing in dead last, I must admit). But it was amusing, and quick, and so I was talked into playing again. The second game, I realized that there is indeed some strategy lurking under the surface of this game, and enjoyed it far more.
The main trick, I think, is to remember that points can be scored with revealed pieces as well as hidden ones. So for each move, you can weigh the best possible gain with revealed pieces, with the potential best gain of hidden pieces. And since your reference card tells you how many of each thing exists in total, it helps you play the odds. What can often make the difference in a game is which player is most alert to finding good scoring with the face-up tokens (such as a healthy gold and/or diamond haul), while being aware of the likelihood of finding something even more valuable, and whether that value is high enough to justify the odds.
Choosing your exploration path is not without cause for planning either. You may not always control where empty spots appear, but you can determine where it would be most advantageous for those spaces to be, and go look for them there. And as the game progresses, the players will begin to divide into those who want the game to end sooner (i.e those in the lead who will then search frantically for monuments) and those who want to prolong it (those that are behind, and want to squeeze every last point out of the revealed tokens). So far I have not seen anyone use the 'teleportation' option, but I can imagine scenarios where it could be useful.
I'm not trying to say that Africa is some horrendously intricate, brain-bursting labyrinth of a game, because it isn't. It's primarily an amusing, fast-moving, and quick-finishing game to be played amicably and without stress amongst family and friends that could be described as 'casual gamers'. It is a fine example of this type.
As my friend says, 'The best strategy in Africa, is to remember that it's not without any strategy.'
My wife and I played it with our two daughters, aged 12 and 5. Everyone had a good time. That indicates it's pretty light on strategy, but entertaining enough to keep everyone interested.
Just for the record, the 5 year old did come in last. She also was somewhat disappointed that she had to be a human explorer instead of playing one of the lions.
Since last year's Games 100, we have spent 12 leisurely months exploring Africa's teeming riches in last year's Best Family Game, a light, fast-moving adventure. Your Explorer wanders at whim to reveal facedown tiles representing: (a) treasures, tribal artifacts, and ancient monuments removed and held to score points at the end; or (b) animals and nomads. You gain immediate points for lucky discoveries, but the potential for scoring increases as the board opens up. Shrewd observers will earn points for cleverly relocating nomads and animals to hospitable areas, constructing tourist camps, and exploiting minerals. Dr. Knizia, we presume, has every right to brag about this gentle adventure.
This relaxing exploration of Africa from Cairo to Cape Town begs to be played by families. Explorers wander at leisure and investigate the exotic interior's riches by uncovering randomly placed facedown tiles. These tiles reveal animal herds, nomadic tribes, gold, jewels, tribal artifacts, or ancient monuments. Some points are gained for immediate discoveries, but greater scoring opportunities emerge as the board opens up. You're rewarded handsomely for relocating animals and nomads to more hospitable areas, building safari camps for tourists, and exploiting mineral deposits. There are opportunities for satisfying tactical play, but an element of luck keeps the game light and fast-moving. You'll enjoy it to the last tile, and brag about your adventures when you get home.
The theme is the 19th century exploration of Africa by Europeans and the board shows a map of the continent, overlaid with a grid of 101 hexagons. Five of these are 'starting cities' and each of the others begins the game containing a face-down marker, the obverse sides of which depict gold, gems, nomads, monuments and a variety of animals and artefacts. Each player is represented on the map by an explorer who moves around turning over tokens. This is the exploring part. The tokens bring in points in various simple ways and the player with the most points at the end is the winner.
On your turn you may either relocate your explorer to another part of the continent or do two "move and take an action" combinations. Your almost invariable choice will be the second of these. Explorers may move only to spaces that are either empty or already explored, with the latter meaning that they contain either a base camp or a token that has been turned face up. In each part of a normal turn an explorer may move up to two spaces.
The actions that accompany movement are taken from a menu of five. The first option is to turn over a marker. What happens next depends on the type of marker it happens to be. If it is an artefact, you remove it from the board and it will score points for you at the end of the game. How many will depend on how many matching items you manage to accumulate. A "forced exchange" mechanism enables you to build up sets. If it is a 'mineral resources' marker (gold or precious stones), you leave it where it is and score points immediately (1 or 2, depending on how many symbols are shown on the marker). If it is a monument, you also leave it where it is, but this time you don't score any points. Instead, you are given an extra 'base camp'. This is actually quite good, as base camps have important scoring potential, which I'll come back to later.
That leaves animals and nomads. These score instant points and stay on the map, but not necessarily in the space where they were discovered. Animals like to be with others of the same species: so the scoring is 1 for the animal itself plus 1 for each adjacent animal of the same type. You can either leave the marker where it was or, if there is an empty space elsewhere on the board where it would be worth more points, you can place it there instead. The options with nomads are similar, except that they score for adjacent empty spaces rather than other nomads.
Items 2 and 3 on the menu are "move an animal" and "move a nomad". In both cases, if you are adjacent to an animal or nomad and if there is an empty space elsewhere on the board where it would be worth more, you may move it there and take the difference in points.
The last two alternatives involve the establishment of a base camp. Everyone begins with two of these and, as already noted, you gain more through the discovery of monuments. An explorer can establish a base camp in the space where he stands, provided he is the only piece or marker there and provided the player has a spare base camp available in their store. The establishment can be either for mining or for viewing the sights. If the former, the player picks up all face-up gold or precious stone markers that are adjacent to the site of the camp. At the end of the game there are bonuses for the players lying first and second in the 'most gold' and 'most gems' stakes. The other base camps, the touristy ones, score their points immediately -- 1 for each animal, nomad or monument adjacent to the camp.
The game ends when all the monuments have been discovered.
The things that distinguish a gamers' game from a family one are the amount of meaningful decision making that is required of players and the scope for competitive behaviour. This game is almost, not quite but almost, devoid of both. The exploration part is pretty random, which is fair enough in terms of the theme. Part of the appeal of exploration is that you don't know what you are going to discover. However, that is real exploration; this is just turning over tokens, an activity with much less of a "Gosh!" factor. Deciding where to place animal and nomad tokens in order to score most points is trivial and so too is how to deal with your artefact tokens in order to build sets. This last also comes under the heading of 'non-competitive', since, like the corresponding subsystem in Tikal, the exchanges, though ones that your trading partners can't refuse, are also ones that don't damage their scores. They boost yours but don't penalise theirs. That just leaves base camps to provide scope for anything remotely 'gamerish'. Deciding where best to put these calls for a small amount of judgement and sometimes there will be an opportunity to spike an opponent's plans in this regard by moving an animal or nomad to a space which they hoped to use as a site.
Africa is enticingly themed, attractively presented and a pleasant enough way of passing the time. As a game, it is suitable for playing with the kids or with non-gamer friends and relatives. However, if you are looking for a new strategy game to play with fellow gamers, this isn't it.