There are two ways to play ACROSS AFRICA. One is as a cooperative game and the other is to play it competitively. The rules are set out for the cooperative game with a 4 bulletin point list of alterations to turn it into the competitive version.
For many of my early years I played the “English” style boardgames where the players roll a die, move around a board or race track and take the actions printed on the space landed on. Then I began playing “European” games and discovered that there were so many different ways that boardgames could be enjoyed.
ACROSS AFRICA takes the bold step of revising the “English” style game play and has the players rolling the die, moving their adventurer along the path, and taking the action appropriate to the space alighted upon.
There are eight types of space on the track. The first is just plain and therefore no action to be undertaken; then there are a Camera (take a photo of an animal and hope to get a clear shot which has a 5 VP value); a Thicket of Bushes – next time you roll the die you go backwards instead of forwards; an Adventure – Perform the Action of the top adventure card; and the Camp, where you may collect a Diamond and also place onto the Crocodile any photographs you have in your possession. The Hippo means a Muddy Road which slows your next movement by 2; the Off-Road Vehicle moves you 3 spaces forward immediately and the Snake means you Miss a Turn if your next roll isn’t 4, 5 or 6. A nice touch is that both Muddy Road and Snake are only applicable for one round.
When you place photos on the Croc you can put one or two in each position as long as their combined value is not above 5 points. This means that you can put one 5 point card, 1 x 2pt and 1 x 3pt together or 2 x 2pt photos on the Croc rack. However, if you do put 2 x 2pt Photos in one slot then you cannot win as there are only 8 slots and you need to score 40 points of photos and 5 diamonds to win - 8 slots x 5 points = 40pts. As you can see there is no manoeuvre room.
The photograph cards are typical holiday-maker pictures taken on an escorted safari. Instead of thumbs covering the camera lens we have inquisitive Giraffes and cocky Lemurs sticking their faces in front of the targets. The Adventure cards are in three decks, language reliant, English, Polish and German, whereas there is only one deck of Photograph cards.
Cooperative play has all players loading the crocodile with the diamonds and cards they collect and the game ends immediately when the players score the appropriate number of points and have filled all the slots on the crocodile (40 + 5 diamonds) or when any one of the Adventurers crosses the finish line. In the first instance the players win, in the second they lose.
In the competitive game the crocodile is not used, players collect cards and diamonds in front of themselves and the game ends when one player’s Adventurer reaches the finish line. The player with the most points (diamonds count as 5pts each) is the Winner.
There are several opportunities for the players to win as it would take about 18 Turns of one player continually rolling sixes to move round the track from start to end. The only way the players cannot win is by erroneously placing two 2-point photographs on the crocodile or by not landing on the Camps to collect the diamonds, not finding Diamond Mines amongst the Adventure cards and not taking enough photographs.
The game is weighted towards the Adventurers in the cooperative game which makes the competitive version a game of a completely different flavour.
ACROSS AFRICA is a true family game based on luck of the dice. It has no strategies or tactics, only requiring players to roll, move, and act. The competitive version is also great fun but makes no bones to being aimed at core board gamers, although core board gamers with young families should consider putting their strategy brains on hold for a while and simply enjoy playing this game for just what it is, fun!