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10 Days in Africa
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You have 10 days in Africa -- touring by plane, car, and on foot. Chart your course from start to finish using destination and transportation tiles. With a little luck and clever planning, you just might outwit your fellow travelers. The first traveler to make connections for a ten day journey wins the game.
- 45 Destination Cards
- 15 Transportation Cards
- 8 Card Holders
- 1 Game Board Map
- Quick Play Rules
Average Rating: 3.5 in 4 reviews
I first heard about 10 Days in Africa and 10 Days in the USA (Out of the Box Publishing, 2003 - Alan Moon and Aaron Weissblum) when looking through one of the company’s catalogs. When I read how educational the game was, I immediately had negative thoughts; as educational often equals boring when it comes to board games. Still, the duo of Moon and Weissblum have produced some wonderful games, and Out of the Box had a good reputation, so I was interested in trying them out. If the “educational” part of the game was true, I’d have even more fodder for my “games are educational” campaign I wage at my school.
My initial play was a two-player USA game with my wife. As soon as the game ended, we immediately played another, then switched to the Africa version. The next day, I played the game in a multiplayer situation - several times. Again, a few days later, my wife eagerly requested the game one more time. Not since Lost Cities has a game so intrigued my wife and the others I introduced it to. I have to admit, the educational value is certainly there (especially in the Africa version), and the game is excellent. I prefer the two-player version, but even with four, downtime is fairly low, decisions are gut-wrenching, but the game is fun, leaving one with a “just one more time!” feeling.
The game board is placed in the middle of the table, depicting the USA with its fifty states or the continent of Africa with forty of its countries. Each player takes two sets of racks - each numbered from one to ten, with slots to place ten tiles. A stack of tiles is shuffled and placed near the board. Starting with one player, players draw one tile, placing it in any open slot in their racks. This continues in a clockwise method, until all players have filled their racks. The rest of the tiles form a draw pile, with the top three being turned over face up next to the stacks, forming three discard piles. One player is chosen to go first, with play going clockwise.
On a player’s turn, they may draw either one of the face-up tiles of the top card from the draw pile. They then can either place the tile they took in the rack, replacing the tile there (which then goes to one of the discard piles), or discard the tile they drew. Players are attempting to complete a 10-day journey, connecting all their tiles together. Tiles are either a country (or state), an automobile, or an airplane. There are several rules concerning the tile’s order.
- The first and last tile must be a country (state) tile.
- Country (state) tiles may be connected to each other if they are adjacent on the map.
- An automobile may act as a “wild” tile, substituting for another state (country) as long as the country it represents is adjacent to the countries in both adjacent tiles.
- Two automobiles cannot be adjacent.
- An airplane tile is one of five colors (red, yellow, orange, green, or blue) matching the country tiles, which are one of the five colors. An airplane tile can connect to country tiles, as long as both countries are the same color as the airplane tile.
- On the USA map, Alaska and Hawaii may be connected by any color airplane, but that’s the only way to get to them.
Some comments on the game...
1.) Components: Both games look fantastic with clear, easy to read maps. The colors mesh well, and the borders are drawn well. The names of the countries and states are clearly marked, with arrows drawn to help easily identify the small countries and states. The tiles are thick, glossy tiles - a little bit less than half the size of a cassette tape. They shuffle fairly well, and look clean and neat against the backdrop of the racks. The racks are excellent, although I liked the wood burned effect of the Africa racks better. In fact, I enjoyed all the components of the Africa map better - OOTB obviously polished up a little after the USA game, the one published first. Nicest of all are four boxes on the African board, showing certain key rules of the game. All of the components fit in or around a small plastic insert in the small, flat sturdy box. The graphic design of both games includes the work of John Kovalic (who is tremendously talented) and they both look extremely sharp. These are games that one can be proud of when they hit the table.
2.) Rules: The rules are simple, explained on four pages of full-color laminated pages. The Africa map rules are slightly simpler, since you don’t have to deal with Alaska or Hawaii, but both games are very easy to teach and learn. The game can be taught in less than a minute or so (don’t I always say that about Out of the Box games?) and it doesn’t take too long to get the strategies down.
3.) Strategy: There really isn’t a lot of strategy in the game, per say - more like tactics. You deal with the cards you initially draw, and try to plan around them. Trying to get countries or states in your rack that have a lot of bordering countries and states is helpful, and some folk (including me) ditch Maine the minute they get it, since it only connects to one other state. The cars and airplanes sound like they are tremendously powerful cards, but with their restrictions they are useful but not game breaking. I’ve seen several games where the winner used only country/state cards, but I’ve seen others with four airplanes, connecting countries all over.
4.) Tension: One thing I really enjoy about the game is the tension involved. It reminds me of two other games, Transamerica and Rack-O. Now, I dislike both of those games, but the concepts work better here. It seems that just before I pull that last tile to connect all my tiles, winning me the game - someone else does - just like in Transamerica. Unlike Transamerica, when I win this game, I feel that it’s because of something I did. The game also reminds me slightly of Rack-O, as players shuffle their tiles, trying to get them in the proper order. However, the choices of tiles to draw (the face-up card mechanic is one of my favorite, a Moon classic) put the choice in my hands. Re-arranging tiles is possible, by discarding a tile, and hoping it’s still there when your turn arrives again. I’ve tried this in several games, but often the tile is taken by someone else or covered by another tile. This is annoying, but it’s a risk player’s should realize they are taking. I’ve just gotten to the point where I never bank on getting one of my tiles back.
5.) Fun Factor: The game is a lot of fun but is a silent affair, usually - except the cries of anguish when another player has announced their victory. Players are usually staring hard at the board, puzzling how to best get their tiles in the order they want. This is a quiet sort of fun and may not appeal to everyone, but the game is so absorbing that everyone I’ve played with doesn’t mind.
6.) Africa or USA?: If you can only get one of the two games, I would recommend Africa. The rules are easier, the components are better, and the countries are less known, making it more interesting. The USA version, however, is more difficult. There are multiple cards for some of the African countries, but only one of each US state. Still, both games are excellent; and if one is enjoyable, I would recommend picking up both, as they can be a nice change of pace. I’m hoping that other maps are released - possibly with small variants.
Whenever I type a review, I lay all the components of a game out in front of me to better reference the game. When my wife passed by, she stated that just seeing the game out made her want to play it again. That, my friends, is a rare occurrence, and is solidifying my opinion that this is one of the best two-player games on the market right now. It runs in a short amount of time and is simple yet engrossing. It really does help one learn geography in both continents and looks really good when set up on the table. If there is a game that will help us introduce this great hobby into schools, then these two are that game. If you get a chance, pick this one up. It’s not a rip-roaring party game, but a quiet, quick one full of fun.
“Real men play board games.”
10 Days in Africa is a simple little game that challenges players to complete a 'trip' on the continent using 10 cards. Don't look for a deep strategy game here. This is a simple game designed for lite fun, but with educational value as well.
The components are of excellent quality. A folding map of Africa is set on the table for reference, but all the game play is in the cards. Each country is color-coded.
Like Scrabble, each player has wooden holders to display his/her 10 cards without opponents seeing their identities.
There is a corresponding card for each country (several central countries have two cards), each with the color-coded map of the country, plus information on its capital and population.
Additionally, there are transportation cards representing automobiles and airplanes.
Players begin with 10 randomly selected cards from the face-down deck, displayed in the order of their selection (like Bohnanza, this is important). Three more cards are turned over next to the draw pile, creating 3 separate discard piles.
Oh his/her turn, a player draws a card from the draw pile, or one of the three discard piles, and substitutes it for a card on their display. One cannot rearrange the location of the cards on the display at any time. The substituted card goes to one of the 3 discard piles.
To complete a trip, the 10 cards must sequentially connect from Day 1 to Day 10. Country cards can be connected in one of three ways:
1. Adjacent countries are always connected to each other. (e.g Libya and Egypt).
2. An automobile card connects two countries separated from each other by just one country. (e.g. A vehicle card connects Algeria to Egypt)
3. An airplane card connects any two countries that are of the same color as the airplane. For example, two blue-colored countries anywhere on the map are connected by a blue airplane. A blue country and a yellow country cannot be connected by any airplane.
This is really more of a family game than a strategy game, but it does work well as a quick filler for serious gamers, similar to, say, TransAmerica or Formula Motor Racing. Families will probably find it quick and more challenging than games like Sorry or even another educational game -- Game of the States.
As an educational tool, this game is wonderful. Players can't help but learn African geography just by playing it several times. The rules are challenging enough to keep children engaged long enough to learn, and that's a plus. Rank it at 5-stars for educational and family-fun value.
All in all, 10 Days in Africa is an excellent game for what it was designed to be.
There is a sister game titled 10 Days in the US.
In early 2003, Schmidt Spiele released Europa Tour, a game designed by Alan Moon and Aaron Weissblum. In my review, I described it as “Rack-O with a geography lesson”. Although the game was short on strategy – as is Rack-O – I still found it to be quite enjoyable, particularly in a family setting or as a light filler between meatier games.
Shortly after the game’s release, Out of the Box announced that it would be releasing two new versions of the game, both set in different geographical locations: Africa and the United States. Now, nearly two years after their release, Out of the Box has introduced a third installment in the series: 10 Days in Europe.
Since all three games utilize essentially identical mechanisms, I thought it would be wise to discuss the entire series in this review. I’ll mention the differences between the versions where appropriate. You may also notice that much of the description of the games’ mechanisms is similar to that used in my review of Europa Tour; no sense reinventing the wheel! Well, unless, of course, you happen to be Goodyear!
The comparisons to Rack-O are inescapable. However, instead of attempting to get numbers in the correct sequence, players must plan a cohesive and logical vacation through the countries of Africa / Europe / U.S.A. This vacation will be planned by each player on their private rack, into which they will place the country and transportation cards in attempts to form a logical path for their whirlwind tour.
The racks in the Out of the Box versions are constructed of sturdy wood. This gives the game quite a bit of weight. They are linear as opposed to the curved plastic racks in Europa Tour, so they do occupy a bit more table space. Still, the feel of those hefty racks is quite nice!
The tiles, too, are very thick and nicely illustrated. The tiles in the Europe version were initially stuck together, and took a bit of work to separate. Fortunately, they were not marred. Each tile contains a snippet of information about the country or state, including its capital, population and geographical size.
Unlike the board in Europa Tour, which was so small that it made it difficult to distinguish the various countries, the maps in the Out of the Box versions are large and colorful. The various countries are easily distinguishable, with the colors used being bright and very distinct. Not all of the countries in Africa or Europe are depicted on the map, with several of the geographically smaller nations being deliberately omitted to better facilitate game play. None of the 50 states in the U.S.A. version were omitted, although future expansions may delete California and Louisiana, as they are both likely to slide into the sea sometime in the near future!
On all three maps, the countries and states are divided into various groups by easy-to-distinguish colors. Missing is the delightful cartoon artwork that was endemic to each of the countries in the Europa Tour version. Granted, that likely would have cluttered the boards a bit, but it was amusing trying to figure out the meaning of each of those drawings.
Countries (or states) can be connected in one of three ways:
Land: If countries / states are geographically adjacent and share a common land border, then they are considered adjacent. In the Europe version, there are lines connecting a few countries that are separated by a narrow sea. For example, England and France are connected in this fashion, apparently in recognition of the “chunnel”.
Air: If two countries / states have the same color, they can be connected by an air route, provided a player places an airplane card of the same color between the two countries on their rack.
Car: Any two countries / states can be connected by car, provided there is one intervening country or state that shares a common border with both of those countries or states. For instance, a player can travel from Texas to Kansas by car, since Oklahoma shares a border with both of those states. Of course, a player must place a car tile in their rack between the Texas and Kansas tiles.
Ship: The new Europe version does not contain cars. Rather, it contains ships that can traverse one of three seas: Atlantic, Mediterranean or Baltic. Any two countries that border the same sea can be linked by the appropriate ship.
The game begins with each player randomly drawing tiles one-at- a-time from the face-down stacks until their racks are filled to the ten tile capacity. As in Rack-O, a player may not move tiles around within his rack. Once they are placed, they will remain in that position unless discarded on a future turn. The challenge, then – and the frustration – is to get them into the proper sequence.
From the remaining tiles, three are revealed and form the “draw” piles. On a turn, a player may select one of the three face-up tiles, or take the top card from the face-down draw pile. He must then discard a tile from his rack and replace it with the newly drawn tile. Or, if he so chooses, he may simply discard the tile he just drew.
The idea is to form a connected network of countries / states. Countries (or states) that share a land boundary need no intervening form of transportation between them. However, if a player wishes to travel by air between two countries, these countries must be of the same color and a player must play a plane card of the same color in his rack between those two tiles. There are only two plains of each color in the mix, so this can be tricky. If a player wishes to travel by car between two countries or states, the player must place a car tile between those two countries or states. Remember, there must be an intervening country or state between these two which shares a common border. Car tiles are not color-sensitive. Since many countries and states share common borders, it is possible to reach numerous other countries or states via the use of an automobile. Thus, these tiles are very valuable and should be scooped at every opportunity. They rarely go to waste. Ship tiles work in a similar fashion, but the ships are limited to specific seas as listed on the tiles.
The first player to complete his vacation by logically connecting all ten tiles on his rack is victorious and enjoys the fruits of a will- planned vacation.
My summary of these three games is the same as that of Europa Tour. These new versions are not rocket science. There are no deep levels of strategy or numerous tactics to be employed. That doesn’t mean, however, that they are completely bereft of strategy. One should place tiles so as to keep as many options available as possible. For instance, in the Africa game, placing Chad of the Democratic Republic of Congo near the center of your rack is usually a wise move since these are connected by land to numerous other countries. Madagascar, on the other hand, is much more restrictive, with only two land connections. So, spot the countries that give you the most options and try to utilize these in your rack.
Further, when discarding a tile from your rack, you are usually free to discard it atop any of the three revealed stacks of tiles. Try to cover tiles that you don’t wish to use, but which may be beneficial to your opponents. This will thwart their plans and often force them to completely rearrange their itinerary.
As in Europe Tour, there is certainly a degree of frustration involved. It can be quite maddening to never have the tile or tiles you need surface, or to have them scooped by an opponent before you have the opportunity to grab them. Often, you find yourself being forced to re-plan your itinerary, which is time consuming and fraught with its own perils. And, there is always this nagging feeling that your opponents are one step ahead of you in the rust to complete their vacation plans. These elements are what makes the game “click”, however, and help make the game quite enjoyable and moderately tense.
The game can be played with 2 – 4 players and is quite enjoyable with any number. With two players, however, it is a bit more strategic, as you can plan your discards and control your tile choices with a bit more certainty. Maneuvers can be made wherein you discard a tile, only to pick it up on your next turn in order to position it in your rack more advantageously. With 4 players, this tactic is much more difficult as the likelihood that the discarded tile will be taken or covered by an opponent before your next turn arrives is far greater.
However, there is no escaping the fact that, like Europa Tour, these versions are primarily light, family games. Don’t enter it expecting it to rise to the same level as meatier games such as Age of Steam or Puerto Rico. Rather, these games are much more appropriate in family gaming situation or as light fillers. Further, there is a healthy dose of luck involved, and some folks might find this aspect not to their tastes. I’ve always enjoyed Rack-O, however, so I can enjoy any of the ”10 Days” games for what they are: Rack-O with a geography lesson.