Brian Homan
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O'Fallon
Missouri
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This is part eighteen in a series of reviews that I am writing about the games that my family plays, why we love them and what you should know before making a purchase. I have three unique daughters, ages 12, 10 and 7 who love to play games with me, and a wife who sometimes likes to join in. Finding games that we all enjoy can be a challenge, so I am constantly trying to introduce more games to the family to build a collection that we can all appreciate. Today's review:
Around the World in 80 Days


I received this game as part of a lot of games on EBAY. I wasn't sure what to expect from this one, but we already had some experience with Jamaica, so I figured this would be a little similar, but without the fighting. As it turns out, Around the World in 80 Days is a race game, similar in basic principle to other race games like Jamaica, but instead of racing around an island you're racing around the world. On top of that, you only have 80 days to make it around the world. One day later than that and you lose! No pressure!



Players start off in London and work their way from one location to another by train, boat, balloon or elephant (that's right, I said elephant). There will be one or two connecting routes between your current location and the next one you must get to, with each route having a specific transportation requirement.

Step One: Take a card
Players have a starting hand of travel cards that consist of numbered trains and boats. On their turn, they will take one card from those available for the round (one for each player) and will receive the corresponding benefit. The benefits are as follows:

First Position = A coin (used to re-roll a balloon or elephant die)

Second Position
= May use the balloon this turn to substitute for a boat or train during travel

Third Position
= Take an event card. These are generally good and helpful to the player, but there are two events that negatively effect everyone.

Fourth Position
= Move the detective. If a player ends their turn on the same space as the detective, they lose 2 days of travel time being questioned by him.

Fifth Position = Take the start player token and go first in the next round.

Sixth Position = Player may trade up to three travel cards with the deck.

Step Two: Travel

A player is never required to travel on their turn, and ordinarily may only travel to a single destination on their turn (unless they have the connection event card). To travel, a player must complete the requirements for (one of) the route(s) leading from their current location to their desired destination. If a route requires two trains and a boat (for example), then the player must play the corresponding travel cards from their hand to move on to the next city. The numbers on the cards played correspond to the number of days it takes to reach the destination. The player's scoring marker is moved the number of days indicated, and play moves to the next player. If two of the same type of transportation are required, players can take an express train/submarine by playing two transportation cards (of the required type) that have identical numbers. Instead of adding the numbers on these cards, only one of them counts for travel time.

Additionally, if a player acquired the ability this turn or they have the appropriate event card, they may use a balloon in place of one form of transportation. The player must still pay the required travel cards, but will substitute the value of one of them with the balloon. The value of the balloon is determined by a roll of a six sided die. The number rolled is the number of days it takes for the balloon to reach it's destination. If a player does not like the roll, he may pay a coin to re-roll the die to try to obtain a lower value. The player may do this as many times as he wants until he gets the desired number, or he runs out of coins. The last number rolled stands. Similarly, a player may use an elephant card in the same way on the connection between Calcutta and Bombay.

Regarding traveling, the first player to reach a destination receives a red bonus chip. The last player to reach a destination receives a blue bonus chip. The bonus chips offer one of four abilities:
1. The player gains a coin
2. The player gains a travel card
3. The player gains an event card
4. All other players are penalized a day of travel time
Bonus chips are very useful, but players will need to employ some decent strategy to know when to move forward quickly and when to lag behind a bit.

End of the Game

The first player back to London is not necessarily the winner. In a 3,4 or 5 player game, the game ends when the second to last player reaches London. In a 6 player game, the game ends when the fourth person reaches London. After the first player reaches London, each remaining player gets penalized an additional day at the start of each subsequent round until the set number of players have reached London. Players who have already arrived at London will no longer be penalized in subsequent rounds and are not negatively affected by bad event cards. The winner is the player who reached London in the fewest number of days. If there is a tie, the winner is the player who got there first.


So what's so great about this game?
It plays up to six! If you have a family with three or four children, then this is a great game to introduce your whole gang to. There are very few games that handle six players, but oddly enough, most seem to be racing games.
It's very easy to learn. The game is pretty simple to pick up on, despite the various aspects that need to be explained. Kids as young as 7 or 8 could learn this fairly easily, but will likely need a little help with strategy at first.
meeple The components are of decent quality. The large pawns are easy to pick up and move around. The bonus chits have adequate thickness, but may be a challenge for larger fingers to take from the board. The cards are standard euro size and of sufficient thickness to withstand normal wear and tear.
It plays in about an hour with 4-5 players who know what they're doing. It takes a bit longer with six players, especially if you are all new to the game. Make sure you have a good handle on how this all works before trying to teach it to others. You want a race game to feel like a race.
This is great fun, with the right crowd. If players are constantly asking questions or are subject to AP, then this game will drag. Make sure everyone is in the mood to not take things too seriously and move fairly rapidly through the turn sequence. This will help keep the tension high and will make the game fit the theme a bit better.
coolThe theme shines through pretty well, but only when the game is moving along at a quick pace.
laugh It's unique! Sure, it's a race game like many others, but the method of tracking time spent in a race is different than any other race game that I have played. Additionally, the first player back to London is not necessarily the winner, but the one who got there in the shortest time. This can definitely make for a tense finish, just like a good race game should.
arrrh This puppy can be had for about $25, which is about the ideal price point for what you get.


So what's not so great about this game?
shake A player's AP will kill the theme for everyone. As has been stated numerous times, this is a race. If the pace of the game does not move fairly quickly, then game play dies on the vine.
robot This game is good in small doses. I have never once been inclined to play this twice in a row. I play it, I enjoy it and I move on to something else. It fits a unique position in my collection, but I would probably choose to play it about once or twice a month.
soblue There's no great amount of depth to this game. I like complex games that have meaningful decisions. This game feels a little more mindless to me. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy mindless fun once in a while, but when I'm done with the race, I don't mind not coming back to it for a while.
shake The box is quite a bit bigger than it needs to be, given the size of the components. This may not bother you, but it's a pet peeve of mine. A six-fold board could have achieved the same result in a box about 2/3 the size.


So what do we think about the game?

Beka's (12) Opinion: I like having a racing game. It's different than a lot of the other games that we have, and it's fun to play. It does feel a little long, though. Beka's Rating: 7

Lindsay's (10) Opinion: I like racing around the world. This game is really fun, and we can even play it with our grandma and grandpa! Lindsay's rating: 8

Abby's (7) Opinion: This game is fun, but I have a hard time holding all of the cards. It also feels like a long game for me. Abby's Rating: 6.5

Kristin's Opinion: I like this game okay. It's a little long for my taste when we play it with six, but at least we can all play it at the same time. Kristin's rating: 7

My Opinion: You've already gotten most of my thoughts on this game throughout the review. If I was a simpler gamer, this game would rate higher for me, but as it stands I enjoy racing games like this one once or twice a month. My rating: 6.5

Overall Opinion: We all enjoy a good racing game once in a while, but several of us are not fond of it taking a long time. The fewer the players, the faster it goes, so we rarely play six with this one. It does play fine with four or five, though. If you or your family are fans of racing games, then this might be the game for you. If you're not fans of racing games, or have not played them before, then this is definitely a try it before you buy it ind of game. Overall Rating: 7

Thanks for reading! More to come later. You can find the series of reviews here.


Edits for spelling and claritymodest
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Andy Andersen
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II enjoy seeing the girl's opinions. Thanks.
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Mark Saya
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It appears Abby's no pushover when it comes to rating games. Good for her!
 
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Brian Homan
United States
O'Fallon
Missouri
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No, she's no push over. She'll tell you exactly what she's thinking, which I love. Her sweet spot is a game that takes about 30 minutes. That tends to up her rating by about a point.
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The Soot Sprite
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Maybe a card rack like in the 10 Days series would help her enjoy the game more...
 
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Brian Homan
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You're right, a card rack is a good idea for younger kids. Our dining room table has a groove in it that she sometimes uses to hold cards when we play in there.
 
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Will Plante
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Thanks for a great review focused on playing with your family.
It's too bad this games oop and expensive.
I found a copy for around $50, but it seems high especially after reading you review and finding out how light it is.

Thanks again!
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