Alan was in Not Just Stamps in High Wycombe at 5 p.m. wondering what to spend his money on when his eyes fell upon this latest Reiner Knizia offering from Rio Grande. So new was it that as at 18th April 2001 it is not listed on Rio Grande's own web site or on the BGG database! By 7 p.m. he had the game out of its box and along with Keith, Tony, Uwe and James, Alan was sitting down to his first game.
The basic mechanism is simple; move or stay still, then if you haven't moved more than two spaces, turn over an adjacent token and then try to maximise your points.
After only one playing I am cautious about this one, because I suspect there is more to this game than meets the eye. Certainly in the first few turns there appears to be a large element of luck as to what tokens one turns over. I suppose the careful player will try to maximise their points as they present themselves, but with one eye on the final scoring rounds, just to make sure the long term scoring is not neglected. This is the same sort of problem that crops up in CARCASSONE and the lack of game control was something that put James off of that game, but he did not make the same complaint about AFRICA. Why?
The answer seems to be that in Carcassone once the tile is played then that's that, whereas in AFRICA certain pieces, the Herds and Nomads, can be moved around, and trade goods can be exchanged, thus giving the players more choice of action and thus scoring opportunity. Alan commented that the best scoring opportunity each turn seems obvious, therefore if players are of simmilar abilities surely it will just be a matter of luck of the turn over of the tiles?
After one playing I am undecided as to this game's long-term staying power, but would be happy to play again, if only to show the rest of them that I am not a complete duffer.
Scores: Alan 58, Keith 56, Uwe 56, James 53 and Tony 39.