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Store:  Family Games
Theme:  African
Format:  Board Games


English language edition

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Product Awards:  
Games Magazine Awards
Best Family Game, 2002

Ages Play Time Players
10+ 50-60 minutes 2-5

Designer(s): Reiner Knizia

Manufacturer(s): Rio Grande Games, Goldsieber

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Product Description

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!

Product Awards

Games Magazine Awards
Best Family Game, 2002

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Reiner Knizia

  • Manufacturer(s): Rio Grande Games, Goldsieber

  • Artist(s): Franz Vohwinkel

  • Year: 2001

  • Players: 2 - 5

  • Time: 50 - 60 minutes

  • Ages: 10 and up

  • Weight: 1,235 grams

  • Language Requirements: This is an international edition or domestic edition of an imported item.


  • 10 explorers
  • 20 base camps
  • 96 exploring tokens
  • 5 summary cards
  • 5 scoring tokens
  • 1 bonus token
  • 1 overview sheet
  • 1 rule booklet

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 3.5 in 13 reviews

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A Brilliant Design
July 07, 2004

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.

Light, fun game that is trickier than it first seems
November 11, 2002

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.'

Quick & Kid-Friendly
April 17, 2002

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.

If ever a game begged for a qualification
April 01, 2002

One of the best things about the FunAgain website is that one can usually get a decent feel for a game before they drop their thirty dollars. This information has almost always served me well when I pick which games to purchase. Africa is an outstanding example of a game that definitely should be reviewed by the potential buyer before the purchase. I give it four stars because it fills a certain niche very, very well, but this niche will not apply to a great many gamers.

So what defines the niche? Africa can be characterized using three adjectives - fast, simple, and engaging. A typical game takes anywhere from 30-45 minutes, with each players turn taking perhaps 30-45 seconds. The strategy is fairly basic, perhaps a bit more involved if one takes the time to move existing counters when the opportunity arises (which is often overlooked) and there is no doubt a large degree of luck involved. Because of the constant flipping of tiles one cannot help but be glued to the board while the game is in motion, something that most other games cannot boast. So what's the niche then? I would say that anyone with children in the 6-12 range that enjoys playing family games will definitely get their money's worth from Africa. Children seem to respond best to advanced games if they are fast, simple, and engaging, which makes this such an excellent fit for those blessed with bright kids. Africa is not a good fit for the typical gamer who expects something meatier and more invloved, but what it does, it does very well. Games 100 definitely got it right giving Africa the Best Family Game award. So do yourself a favor and ask yourself what aspects you are looking for in your next game when you consider Africa, because you will either play this often or not at all.

Africa--a mellow journey
January 02, 2002

Kevin Maroney's Buyer's Guide description provides an accurate summary of this game. The challenge in play is more like completing a puzzle than engaging in a battle of wits. Africa is a 'low impact' sort of game that is unlikely to bruise even the most fragile egos. Seeing the Dark Continent gradually unfold is fun in a low-adrenaline sort of way. Also, the bits are all superb. The gamebord is sturdy and very attractive. The game pieces are thick and easily removed from the gameboard by even small hands. Probably not a game for the Mensa crowd, but enjoyable for the rest of us who can still find fun in simple things.

Fun for the Family; Don't expect Deep Strategy
September 24, 2001

I agree with the other reviewers about it being a light game, so don't compare apples and oranges. My wife (not a 'heavy' game lover) and my 6-year-old played and enjoyed it. Use it to move your kids up from Sorry! (which I still love as a family game), enjoy the artwork, and let the kids have fun flipping counters. Squeeze a little strategy in along the way, but figure on the lucky ones winning quite often.

Too little depth and too much luck
August 02, 2003

Compared to for instance Tikal, this game doesn't come close. I guess my expectations were too high; Reiner Knizia, Goldsieber and a lot of positive information floating around.

There's no real strategy to figure out, and the core of the game is luck-driven. Exploit the possibilities each tile gives you.

Although I recognize this as a light family-strategy-game, it fails to trigger the adults.

Too simple for advanced players
January 02, 2002

The play action for each player is very simple -- just walk and open the chips and get into their hand or get the mark immediately, and nearly no strategy is needed in this game.

My friend told me that this game is not for advanced gamers, but sice all of us don't play this game before, so he bring this game and played once. After I had played this game, I thought it is too simple for advanced gamers.

If you have some younger gamers, or you have some elementary gamers, you can suggest this introductory game to him as very little strategy is used in this game.

Take the family to explore the dark continent!
October 29, 2001

Grab the family and come explore Africa! Take your explorer to the African coast and begin flipping chips adjacent to the explorer. You may uncover gems, animals, or even ancient artifacts! Artifacts can be collected in large sets for lots of points, animals are herded together to score points. Setting up a base camp to collect the gems and diamonds may yield points, but that strategy may not pay off as only first and second score points for gems. And you're never quite sure exactly when the game will end--who knows when that 12th camp will get flipped?

This game is a good one for families--even younger kids could play. (I could see a 6-year old being able to play with a bit of help.) There is a lot of luck, but it comes in the way of exploring Africa, which makes it less of a stretch for me. After all, did any explorer know what he'd uncover as he searched foreign lands? And there is some room for strategy, mostly in beating your opponents to valuable point areas, or in blocking off a herd so that no more herds can be added.

I should warn you that although the game says it can be played by 2 players, I found the 2 player game to be quite underwhelming. There's just too much space and therefore very little interaction, so it really is just a matter of who flips the best tiles. Once you add in more players, though, trading for artifacts becomes a lot more interesting, and so does the potential to steal points.

Some games come along and blow you away with a combination of interaction, nice artwork, and high replayability. Some games are rather understated but tend to fit some sort of niche in the game closet. This game probably won't garner a lot of awards, but it is a great game to teach to younger kids who are just starting to learn some 'bigger' games. Not a must-have, but not a bad game.

Venture Into Darkest Africa For A Light "Opener" Game
May 26, 2001

Reiner Knizia's latest release to be brought to the states by Rio Grande, 'Africa', is light and uncomplex, but has nice bits, and an appealing (if, again, a bit 'tacked-on'-feeling) theme.

Players start in one of five starting 'port' cities, and then venture off into the continent proper, which is split into 96 token-covered hexes. As each explorer hacks and slashes deeper into the jungle, they turn over these tokens and use them for scoring opportunities. Players can move nomad and animal grounds around the continent to score, as well as discover artifacts (to be traded later), uncover monuments, and build base camps to collect gold and riches.

Player interaction isn't particularly high, at first glance, but I disagree with a previous reviewer's mention of a lack of the 'screw factor'. Yes, you can screw over your opponents somewhat thoroughly in Africa. For example, since unconvering a token doesn't directly denote 'ownership' of the token (except with trade goods), you can build base camps and score off of tokens uncovered by other people before they get an opportunity to. You can also take note of an opponent making his way one-space-at-a-time to an obvious destination for scoring, and you can use the 'move explorer to anywhere in Africa' option to beat him to the punch, and steal his scoring opportunity.

There is also a nice 'screw-over' opportunity in the trading mechanism of the game. When a player uncovers a trade good token from the continent, he claims it, and can immediately exchange it with another player for another trade good. However, there's a catch: if you have a trade good and want to trade, the person that you want to trade with CANNOT refuse the trade. You get to take ALL of his trade goods of a specific type, and he gains all of your trade goods of the type you just uncovered. While that may seem like a pointless trade, it actually can be used as a jumping point to trade with other players, in a series of trades that gradually leads up to your gaining domination of certain types of trade goods.

(The trading system isn't nearly as complicated as I made it sound. The rules explain it much better, and I just didn't want to plagiarize.)

All-in-all, Africa is a nice, quick game. It works well as an opener game for a gaming night when your group isn't in the mood to play a 'goofy' opener (or something TOO light... think Cheapass Games here), or a card-game opener. The last time I played, in particular, was a great, quick, three-player game where we allowed 'open trading' (i.e. negotiate at any time with other players for trades (without any restrictions), a la 'loose trading' like the trade of deeds in Monopoly). Africa's fun, the exploration theme is always nice, the components are top-notch, and it opens well for game nights. Oh, and it also passes the 'girlfriend/significant other' test, in my experience. :)

"I miss the rains down in Africa..."
May 17, 2001

While the song 'Africa' won a grammy for the group Toto, I don't see an award for Reiner Knizia with his 'Africa'. It's not a bad game, but like RK's Rheinlander, I just felt... there's something missing.

Africa plays very much like an advanced Ravenburger's Goldgrber but with no dice. Players explore the continent, turning over discs containing gold, diamonds, animals, nomads, monuments and trade goods. Each item has certain scoring opportunities associated with it. Some are worth points immediately (Animals, Nomads), some worth points at the end (Trade goods) and some both (gold, diamonds). Players may also set up base camps throughout the continent to set up additional scoring opportunities. After the 11th monument has been discovered, the game ends. Final scoring takes place, high score wins.

Africa is a good looking game, straight forward play, but lacks what my fellow gamers call, The 'screw' factor. Everyone goes about collecting stuff with relatively little interplay. You really can't mess (screw) your opponents that much. The game works best as a family game (my 9 year old loves it!) and perhaps that's what Knizia wanted all along; A fun, light, non-threatening game. Personally, I would, like the lion, like some more 'bite' in my 'game'!

Fun, light game; replayable due to ramdom board.
May 08, 2001

Africa is fun and light. I won't bother with a summary since the previous reviewer did such a good job. I'll jump straight into opinion.

Africa's strength or weakness--depending upon your likes and dislikes--centers around the fact that the counters occupying the hexes around the board are randomly placed at the beginning of each game. So, in effect you have a new board each game. However, there is a rather large element of luck involved depending upon the counter you flip over. Unlike Lord of the Rings or Ra, this game seems to like subtle decision points that you find in other Knizia games.

My fiance and I played 4 games in under two hours and had a lot of fun. However, after 3 games, we found that your choices on your turn weren't so difficult to make due to scoring structure. I suspect the game will be very interesting with more than two players, but to its credit it's one of the few board games that serves 2 very nicely.

Strangely enough, the game felt a bit like Kosmos's Tally Ho with all the counter-flipping. However, except for the occasional movement of an animal or nomad under another explorer to screw up their building a base camp, the game lacked some of the movement strategy that makes Tally Ho so fun.

All in all, this is a great game for introducing non-gamers to something other than Sorry, and it's bound to be fun for serious gamers that want a quick, no-stress filler while resting between harder games.

April 27, 2001

Exploring deepest darkest Africa uses Knizia's tried and tested game mechanics of pursuing various playing options and multiple scoring systems, to produce a quick light game.

The board depicting Africa, split into 101 hexagons is at start of play, covered in face down counters. From a city space, each player can move one Researcher, a nice plastic bold figure, to explore the denizens. On a turn, a player may turn over a counter to reveal gold, diamonds, animals, nomads or locally made goods.

Gold and diamonds will be immediately taken by the player and count towards a later score of 'who has most, gains most points.'

Animals score if they happen to be alongside other creatures of the same species, and a player has the option to move his newly discovered animal to join a larger herd so gaining points.

Nomads, liking the free open spaces to roam around in, can also be moved, again gaining points for every empty space against which they are placed.

Goods, when found are taken by the player and can be swopped with another player. 'Swopped' is an euphamism for 'here is my kettle - give me your statue!' The more goods of the same type that a player has at game end the more points he/she receives.

The game continues, the continent slowly being discovered both by design and by luck.

The capacity to acquire points may depend too much on turning over the right counter. I need my fifth kettle--let us see what is under this counter--oh, a kettle!' The scenario could be the opposite leading to a nice 'tit for tat' player interaction where you make sure you get the goods you want by forcefully trading and taking them from another player.

Moving nomads and animals also leads to some brain burning but throughout the game a lack of empty spaces in certain areas can lead to a stagnation as animals cannot be moved (they have to move to bigger herds of the same species than the herd they moved from) and nomads remain thoughtful but immovable. This no doubt leads to the strategist who attempts to create empty spaces. Erecting a base camp alongside gold and diamonds yields such treasures into the hand of the player. Empty spaces now remain which might take nomads and animals. But then an opponent on their next move utilises the empty space without a thankyou for all my hard work.

Discovering Africa takes approx an hour or less and is a light 'filler' for the long game evening. A perfect introductory game for a person new to the gaming hobby, or a family with children.

I played with two 11 year olds who loved it, though I am sure adults and gamers would more readily utilise the Knizia strategies and mechanics we either love or hate so well. If you expect the card play and depth of Tadsch Mahal then you have the wrong continent--otherwise a nice light nicely themed game.

I enjoyed it!

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