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West of Africa
 
 
 
 
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West of Africa


List Price: $44.99
Your Price: $10.99
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(Worth 1,099 Funagain Points!)

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Ages Play Time Players
10+ 60-90 minutes 2-5

Designer(s): Martin Schlegel

Manufacturer(s): ADC Blackfire Entertainment GmbH

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Product Description

In the late Middle Ages, the Canary Islands had faded into obscurity from a European point of view. There was neither gold nor silver, and the islands did not play a role as a trading post because the north-south trade of that time went through the Sahara.

In 1312, the Genoese merchant and seafarer Lancelotto Malocello effectively "rediscovered" the Canary Islands. During the 15th century, the archipelago was conquered by the Spanish. Spanish masters pushed agriculture, cultivating sugar cane, wine and grain, which quickly gave the islands a certain economic value and importance.

In West of Africa, the players cultivate goods, try to sell them profitably, and build settlements. Each player has their own deck of cards. Each turn the players select cards from their decks to conduct successful actions, always keeping the actions of the other players in mind.

West of Africa won the 2015 Hippodice design competition.

Product Information

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Product Reviews

 
 
 
 
 

Average Rating: 4 in 1 review

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West of Africa - enjoyable 1 to 1.5 hour Euro
June 07, 2016

Executive Summary:
This is a game that has morphed over multiple plays. It was first believed there was going to be a certain sequence of actions that you would perform every game that didn't change from game to game. But due to the unexpected player interaction in this game, players must be able to adjust their plans, especially if they are taking their turn later in the round. The mechanics are easy to explain to players, but strategy is necessary and can lead to some analysis paralysis during the card selection phase. The game plays fast and if not careful will be over before you realize it.

Gameplay:
Setup: Guess what, you put the game board game in the middle of the table. Each players receives there color in tokens and deck of cards. Players place one of their cubes on the zero victory point track, two workers on the boat on one side of the board and one on the other side, and then players place their cubes on the 15 gold spot based on some method to determine a random order. Other tokens are placed beside the board or in front of the player depending on how they are used.

Playing the Game:
There are three steps to this game, players select cards to play their turn, take the actions of the cards selected, and then perform turn end actions for all players. Selecting cards from the player's deck to do actions is the meat of this game. First, selecting these cards will determine play order during the take action phase. Second, it will dictate what actions you can take on what islands if the action card requires island cards to go with it. Each card in the deck has an assigned value seen on the corners of the cards, players may pick up to four cards for free from their deck, but the fifth and final card will cost them four gold that is paid during the action phase of the turn. If players tie in these values, then the player with the most gold goes first.

Actions
An action that you can perform is the ability to move your workers, You can move four spaces on the board. You can move one worker four spaces or combo of workers as long as their sum of moves does not exceed four spaces. Moving workers does not require island cards to be associated with them.

Another action is to cultivate/grow crops on those islands that support those types of crops you have available in your supply. You must have an island card as one of the cards in your selection. Now, the same island card can be used for other cards, so you don't have to say that this island card is only used for cultivating and this is used for selling crops. You must pay 3 gold to cultivate a crop, but those workers can reduce the cost one gold per worker on an island. But if you use the workforce, they leave the island and return to a ship on the board that is picked by the player.

If you got crops in the warehouse on an island, as an action you can sell them for the prices in that warehouse by pairing the sell action card with the corresponding island card. You can't sell stuff you just planted, it has to get to the warehouse and that is done at the end of a round.

A player can also ship three goods from one warehouse to another warehouse between islands as long as they are within three sea links. The reason this may need to be done is that the warehouses that give the best profit do not allow crops to be produced on these islands. Crops in warehouses also count toward determining control of the island, so shipping can help with gaining control when it is determined at the end of the round. No associated island card is required for this action.

One last action you can do is form a settlement if you are the Alcalde of that island. You must play the settlement card along with the correct island in order to place a settlement. Cost of the settlement is on the island spot you want to occupy and you can do as many settlements as your money allows and settlements are available in the settlement track. Each settlement you buy is worth three victory points and is granted right then.

Not an action, but the last card you have to choose from has no action, but has a value of -4. If you feel you need to go as early as possible in the round, include this card as part of your chosen cards. But after you use this card, it will be passed to the player to your left. This means you need to carefully decide when you are going to use it.

Turn End
Once everyone has played their selected cards the turn end occurs and this is where a very important thing occurs, we determine who is the Alcalde of the island. But before that is done, the top two in gold get a victory point, crops go from the field to the warehouse. Now we determine the alcalde of the island. This is determined by influence in an island and that is based on goods (1 influence), workers, and ships (2 influence) at the island. So if I had two goods, 2 workers and a ship at an island, I would have 8 influence points for a good is worth 1 point, a worker is worth 2 points and a ship is worth 2 points. And being an alcalde for an island is worth one victory point Game final round occurs when someone hits 25 VPs or all 20 settlements have been used. Person with the most VPs is the winner.

Pros:
This game is easy to setup and teach. Individual bags for each color, lay out the board, place the markers and you are good to go. The simultaneous action gives this the player interaction that makes this game strategic and suspenseful for a worker placement style of game. The tie breaking mechanic of the gold track is a very nice feature for you never have to figure out who has it, because it is very visible on the board. This also adds to the strategic element of the game. Finally, who goes first comes down to the values of the action cards and islands picked which also adds to the balance and suspense of the game.

Cons:
While the simultaneous action and card selection is a pro, it can also be a con. As the game plays out, you can see people going through mental gymnastics as they try and squeeze every point out of each turn. If you don't like player interference in your euros then this may be an issue for you, especially as the player count increases. The game can end very quickly, so it could give players a feeling of a very abrupt ending with no satisfaction. While you must have a multiple plans as you playing, play could be prescriptive at times and may create some concerns with some gamers.

Final Thoughts:
We love my easy to teach 1 to 1.5 hours euros and that's where this game falls. While concerned that the gamey was going to feel samey after a few plays, this was not the case. The player interaction keeps you on your toes to where you will always need a contingency plan in place. As such, it will stay on the gaming shelf and will get multiple plays.

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