Luck in games, in measured doses, is the catalyst which enables shocking game-changers that you'll remember and talk about forever.
Let the Lord of Chaos rule.
My Quick Takes serve to remedy a shortage of concise reviews here. I often read the reviews to want to know briefly what the game is about and if it's worth my time learning or buying, not to read huge paragraphs explaining the rules, strategy and other things I would have no clue about having not played the game (not saying that's bad, just might not be what somebody's looking for; I've actually learned how to play games with deficient rules by reading the reviews here). I hope the Quick Takes will help people who have heard of a game and want to see what it's about, or people who saw a cool-looking game at the FLGS, and need to know what they're buying.
What is the objective/theme of 10 Days in Asia?
Players play the role of travelers trying to create a 10-day itinerary within Asia. The first player to create a legal
itinerary (all the countries he visits in Asia are properly connected) wins the game. Things are made easier through the use
of airplanes, railroads and ships to connect between countries.
What's a sample turn like?
At the start of the game, players draw 10 initial tiles. Every turn, a player draws a tile from the deck or from the discard piles, replaces one of the tiles on his/her rack, and discards the old tile.
What forms of player interaction are there?
Solely through the discard pile. You'll want to discard tiles your opponent doesn't want, and cover up tiles your opponent wants with your discarded tile, so that your opponent can't draw it on his/her turn.
What skills are needed to do well in this game?
- Permutation: You need to quickly calculate how many ways you can connect between different countries, with transportation options accounted for, in order to make the best decision on what to discard. Permutation is important during initial setup, which is a large determinant of who wins.
Example: You draw Russia, which is connected to many countries. You'll want to put it near the middle of your itinerary, so it's easy to go to and from Russia, instead of putting it at the start or at the end, where it is only connected once.
- Tailoring strategy on the fly/Hand management: Things rarely go the way you want in this game, and the loser is often the one who stubbornly sticks to a difficult itinerary.
Example: You need only the Qatar tile to win, but there's only 1 Saudi Arabia tile in the whole deck. You might have to consider modifying the part where you need Qatar.
- Memory: Remembering what tiles were discarded. It'd be useless to wait for a tile that was discarded long ago, and you forgot. Expert players can also, through observing other players' discards and the position they discarded from, infer roughly what tiles other players need.
What game(s) is 10 Days in Asia similar to?
- Mahjong. 10 Days in Asia is almost completely the same as Mahjong, with the only big difference being that you can rearrange your hand however you want in Mahjong.
This game is good as a filler (5-20 minutes), or to learn Asian geography. Play is very easy and straightforward, involving simply drawing and discarding a tile every turn. In fact, most of the game time comes from players trying to find where on the map each country is. In my game group, we ameliorate this by requiring that the player, after discarding a tile, points out where on the map the discarded country is, and plays goes much faster.
Regarding the components, I am disappointed with the game board, as it is just a plain (emphasis on plain) color-coded map of Asia. The game maps in Pandemic, Ticket to Ride etc are all vivid and better designed. True, color is important in this game (it determines which countries can be flown to and from), but even the globe on my desk has nicer colors than this. The tiles are great though. They feel sturdy, and they provide basic geographical information on each country (capital, population, size) which you can peruse if other players take a long time deciding what to do.
This is a good game for non-gamers (hook them with "hey, you get to learn Asian geography!"). It does feel like themed Mahjong to me though, and I'm not sure if I'll play this over Mahjong if I have 4 players. The theme does help, and I'd teach this before Mahjong to new players, just because of it. I'm sure all of us have had numerous headaches planning real-life vacations to foreign countries, and this really helps one relate to the tough decisions and tradeoffs that often come up in
10 Days in Asia.