Vom Kap bis Kairo
Your Price: $12.00
(Worth 1,200 Funagain Points!)
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In 1850, most countries in the world already had several hundred kilometers of railway tracks in use. 20 years later, the railway tracks covered the American continent; and in 1902, with the opening of the Trans-Siberian Express, Asia was also covered. But a railway connection through the African continent from Cape to Cairo was still missing.
Each player must try to build a railway network through 8 landscapes of Africa first. To do this, the players must bid for the optimal route at an auction. Thus the route can be built with the least possible track and the train can reach its destination quicker.
I got Vom Kap Bis Cairo as a gift for buying recently a lot of games in Paris boardgames caf/shop OYA, which I thank from here once again. It was my first cardgame aside the traditional cards, of course and it took me some time to decide to play it with my wife.
Once the rules translated to Portuguese (my language), with the helpfull tips of the reviews above about a decent version in english (the original one is, no doubt, horrible) I began to play.
Of course it is not a game which can be confronted with the standart games, namely the awardness boardgames like Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne, Torres, etc., but it gives good fun and pushes the players another, and another and another try (until you win).
Its a light and pleasant game to play as an intruduction to a serious gamming night, or to play quickly (but calmness) after dinner during the week (at least for my way of living).
It takes 15 to 20 minutes, it makes your brain work (a little), it forces you to manage capital and cards and take decisions, its fun, the game itself tells a story you can feel while you play (the construction of a railway in Africa), you relax and, better, you forget your television.
What more can we ask from a 9/10 USD (10 Euros) game ? It worthes every dollar (or every euro) it costs. A must have to complete that light part of your games collection and to play with your friends, family and kids. It works also very good with people which doesnt like games very much.
Adlung Spiele is a company that specializes in publishing card games. Many of these are just lame variations on games that everyone already knows, but there are occasional flashes of genius in its releases. Perhaps the most famous of these are Verrater and Meuterer, both of which are essentially board games packed into a deck of cards. Vom Kap bis Kairo is very much of this same caliber, being deep and fun to play while still remaining relatively easy to learn.
There is a very strong element of bluff to this game. There is blind bidding on terrains, which make it either easier or harder for a player to advance. There is also a 'chicken' element to the game when players determine whether to pay for additional track or to let the next player take his chances with a card draw that could give that player between 0 and 3 track sections more to work with.
The tension level of this game is pretty high, as money becomes more and more scarce, with the cash influx being minor compared to the constant outlay for terrain and track.
While not for all tastes, this is a meaty little game and well worth mention to fans of auction and bluffing games. Recommended.
Boardgamegeek has a link to a much improved set of translations that clear up all the difficulties. The game is never going to be played as the only game in an evening (not in our group anyway!) but will, I'm sure, hit the table after 10pm on a regular basis!
That boardgamegeek file can be found at:
Cape to Cairo on $100? Here's how: Reveal terrain cards equal to the number of players. Players secretly bid Bids are deducted from a player's money. Crossing terrains requires five to 10 pieces of rail. Beginning with the highest bidder, players in turn draw a communal terrain card, until someone can cross his next faceup terrain. If the number of rails (from zero to three) depicted on the communal cards plus the rails on all your uncrossed terrains equals or exceeds what you need, cross your terrain by turning the card facedown. If the number isn't high enough, you may still cross by paying $10 for each additional track. Keep auctioning and crossing until one cunning track-layer wins by crossing eight terrains. Be careful with cash--it's shockingly easy to go broke. We cannot imagine more tense decision-making squeezed into 20 minutes of play.
Gnter Burkhardt is not a name that sells boxes among English speaking gamers. Over the last five years he has succeeded in getting quite a number of his designs published and some of them, such as Manitou and Volltreffer, have been highly regarded in Germany, but among anglophones he has been seen as the prime example of the other good reason for putting the author's name on the box. It is, therefore, pleasing to be able to report that this could be about to change, because this little card game was one of the hits at this year's Essen and not just among the Germans.
The idea is that each player has to build a railway line across some typical African landscape. Both the terrain across which the players have to build and the means for doing the building are provided by cards, cards which the players acquire by bidding.
Each card has three components: a picture of a landscape, some track symbols and a number. The landscapes are of five types: rivers, mountains, deserts, villages and savannah. Associated with each is a building cost: 10, 9, 8, 7 and 6, respectively. The track symbols -- 0-3 on each card -- are the "building points", which the players will use to build across the various cards. The number, which is in the range 1-10, is the reward they get when they have successfully completed that section.
Each player begins with a credit balance of 100 and the first thing that happens is that cards, equal in number to the number of players, are turned face up from the deck. Everybody will get one of these cards and the right to choose first is decided by bidding. You all write down your bids secretly, these bids are then revealed and players make their choice in descending bid order. The card you have bought is placed in front of and becomes the first piece of terrain that you have to cross. By the end of the game it will have been joined by seven more, placed in a line and making up the route for your railway.
The winner of the auction now turns over a card from the deck. The number of track symbols on this card, together with the number on the face-up card in front of him, determines how many free building points they have available. Further ones can be bought, but at a cost of 10 per point. If the player chooses to build, they advance their train and turn over the terrain card on which they have just built. They also collect the payout for this card and add it to their capital. If they decide not to build, the next player turns over a second card. The track symbols on this card are added to those on the first and to the ones on this player's face-up terrain card to make up the new player's build allowance. The choices are the same as for the first player: build or pass. And so it continues. Eventually someone will build. When they do, they will no longer have a face-up terrain card in front of them and that is the trigger for the end of the first round. A second set of terrain cards are then turned up and a new auction takes place.
In the second and subsequent rounds most players will have more than one face-up terrain card in their row and there is likely to be more than one piece of building. Your building allowance when your turn comes round is the total number of symbols on the communal cards that have been turned up in the middle of the table, plus the total number on your face-up terrain cards, plus any bonus points you may have accumulated, plus any that you are willing to pay for. (Bonus points are things that you accumulate when someone else builds and when the card immediately in front of your train is a river.). When someone chooses to build, they advance their train, turn over the terrain card that they have just crossed and discard all the communal cards from the centre. So the pattern is one where the number of points in the common store accumulates until someone decides to take what is on offer and then a new collection is started. The second and subsequent rounds, like the first, end when one player reaches the end of their current row of terrain cards. The game ends as soon as one player completes their eighth section of track. That player is the winner. Money left in players' accounts is of no importance.
This is a clever, neat and original piece of design and the game plays very well. Deciding how much to bid, when to spend money on building and even which card you want will give you plenty to think about over the half hour that the game takes. You are also likely to find that the nicely unobtrusive 'catch up' mechanisms that are part of the building rules make for pleasingly. close finishes. Whether we are likely to be as excited about the game in a year's time as we are now is something I'm not sure about. Three years ago there was a similar buzz about Verrter and that then faded a bit. But this doesn't really matter. What does is how much entertainment you will get for your money and on that basis this one is a definite buy.