Thursday, November 20, 2014

African Vacation

Thanks to my good friend Greg and my other good friend Jay, my kids and I were introduced to the fantastic family game called 10 Days in Africa. This game - and all of its other iterations, including 10 Days in Europe, 10 Days in Asia, 10 Days in the Americas, 10 Days in the USA - is a fantastic geography lesson on top of a strategy game deep enough for adults to enjoy but functionally simple enough for even my 6-year-olds to not only grasp, but beat me at!

Each player has 10 days in which to fulfill a trip across Africa by foot, by car, and by plane. Seems easy enough. But the complexity is this: you first fill each of your 10 slots with a random draw of countries and vehicles for travel. Then, in turns, you try to make sense of your jumble, organize the travel correctly, and draw new cards as-needed to make your trip work, all in-secret with your tiles facing away from your opponent. The first one to complete 10 days is the winner.

Players travel by foot to contiguous countries. A car tile allows the player to skip 1 country in between, and a plane tile allows a player to travel from one color of country to the same-colored country using that color of plane (a blue plane allows a player to travel from one blue country to another one anywhere on the continent, red for red, yellow for yellow). 

In Which Isaac and Dominic Conspire
The concept is so simple, but it really makes players think tactically, given your introductory jumble of tiles, about how to quickly put things in order. How does one know if one should start with one of or even any of the tiles they currently have, given what one could draw? 

Endlessly complex and engaging, this game also has given my kids a sense of geography. Each tile includes not only the name and shape (and color for game purposes) of each country in the massive continent, but population and capital as well! 

Tangentially: I tend to listen to NPR in the mornings as I prepare breakfast for the boys before school. With all of the news around ebola, we have played this game, and my kids were able to identify the countries threatened by the disease. They also got a sense of just how vast a continent Africa is, and just how far away other countries are from the threat. 

This is one of those games you can play as a family or even as a date-night couples game (2-4 players). 

One of these days, we'd love to get the other games and find a way to link each of them into one uber-game: 10 days around the world!

1 comment:

  1. Greg first introduced the game to me, and now we have Africa, Europe, Asia, and the USA. I really enjoy Europe for some reason (I think it's the sea travel), but they are all fun. And we have played 30 days across Africa/Europe/Asia, which is pretty maddening.

    One warning about this as a "date night" game though: it can be challenging to carry on a conversation while playing the game. The first time I played it, the usual talking/banter/barnyard-animal-noises that accompanies gaming at Greg's house was going on. But as we started to look at our tiles, the table fell silent for several minutes as we tried to get our minds around how to organize the 10-day route. As Noah suggested: while the rules are simple enough that anyone can grasp them in a matter of minutes, the tactics can be pretty mind-bending.