Friday, April 25, 2008

Where the Heck is Azerbaijan?

Boardgame Review: 10 Days in Asia

A couple of weeks ago I had the chance to pick up one of the recent releases in Out of the Box's "10 Days" series of travel-themed boardgames, 10 Days in Asia. At the time, I thought -- "At last! A game I can actually get my girlfriend to play!" The game appeared to have all the right ingredients... nice non-threatening game pieces (no ogre or demon miniatures to be seen), a recognizable real-world gameboard (a map of Asia, in case you hadn't guessed), and a choice of subject matter anyone can get behind -- after all, who doesn't like to travel? Yet, little did I know, I had fallen for OOTB's slow-pitch marketing style and purchased a deceptively challenging little game.

The game starts like Scrabble, with players being issued 10 random tiles and little racks to keep them all in order. The tiles offer both destinations (colour-coded to match the map on the board) and means of travel (trains, planes, and boats, which are also colour-coded according to which countries they service). Once you place a tile on your rack, it's stuck there -- swapping them around is not allowed. You can, however, replace one of your tiles with one from the draw deck, or with one of the tiles off the top of the discard pile. The challenge is to complete a 10-tile chain -- connected by rail, plane, ship or foot -- before any of your opponents do... which is a lot harder than it sounds!

The game turned out to be really challenging in the first half -- while the players are just trying to make sense of the frustratingly garbled mess of tiles in front of them -- and fast-paced in the last half, as players scramble for the last tile or two that will complete their journey. I wound up liking the game a lot more than I thought I would (and certainly more than my girlfriend did), and am already looking at the other tie-in "10 Days" games... I mean, who wouldn't want to throw in Africa or Europe and try for, say, 20 Days in the Eastern Hemisphere?

The "10 Days" game series has already earned buckets of awards, including a gold star from the brainiacs at Mensa. Give it a shot... at the very least, 10 Days in Asia will help you brush up on your geography... and then maybe you'll know where Azerbaijan is, too. ;)


w. eric martin said...

If anyone wants to see 10 Days in Asia in action, Ted Cheatham published a video review of the game on Boardgame News:


atomicker said...

Thanks for the link! :)

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