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- 1-4 Players
- 90 minutes
What is Auztralia?
Auztralia is a strange beast to nail down. It is a semi co-op exploration, mining, farming, resource collection & exchange, Fighting Zombies, Cthulhu and all sorts of crazies game. Set in the South Eastern corner of Australia. There that makes it so much clearer doesn’t it?
This latest release from Martin Wallace released by ShilMil Games is set in the period following ‘A Study in Emerald’ and while not a sequel as such it is inspired by that game. Sherlock Holmes has led the victorious uprising against the Great Old Ones. Mankind has thrown of the shackles and is now starting to venture forth into the world (something previously banned). A new world is discovered and you as one of up to four players lead the race to explore and harness the valuable resources available. But you have stumbled upon the last retreat of the Old Ones on this plane. They along with their minions and loyal followers are not going to be happy when they find out your there.
What is in my Box?
The copy I originally received was an earlier prototype and as such all components were upgraded following the successful Kickstarter. Inside you will find,
- Game board (now double sided with western Australia map as well),
- Player boards, Cubes, Disks, Farm and Railway tiles, Character cards,
- Survey tiles, Old One tiles, Military units, Personalities,
- Old One cards (for movement and combat), Event cards,
- Solo and Two player Variant cards, Realistic Resources,
- Old One sanity, VP, damage and time markers (all purple)
How does it work?
Players start a game of Auztralia by setting up their ports. Laying out survey tiles which allocate the resources and Old Ones to the board. As there are more survey tiles than required you have a large variety of set up possibilities giving lots of potential for replayability. For each action a player wishes to take it will cost them ‘Time’ from laying track to mining to recruiting military units all of it takes varying amounts of ‘Time’ this is measured using an outer ‘Time’ track on the board. The player at the back always goes next. This means it is entirely possible to find yourself taking two or three turns in a row. Once all players have passed a certain point on the Time track the Old Ones awake and start to take actions as well. This is done through the use of Dual-purpose cards and an events deck. As you vie with the other players for resources and gold. You will all need to work together to stop the advance of the Old Ones.
Ha-ha sounds simple?
At first glance Auztralia might feel very complex. But once you have played 3-4 rounds you and your fellow players will have it all down pat. Do not be fooled into thinking you can just load your port with military units and hope to win though. Should one player lose their port the game ends immediately and you all lose. Should you and the board all reach the end point of 53 on the Time track The unrevealed Old Ones will score double points. It will also score for each blighted farm and several other ways (do not want to spoil all your fun now) making it very difficult to beat. This effectively forces you to move forward and to face the Old Ones in an attempt to not only claim Victory points for beating them but also to stop them from gaining points.
There is a lot of scope for strategic play within Auztralia. From the placement of your port to the direction of your laying tracks, building farms, which resources to collect and which military to build. Each military unit is better suited against different types of Old One being strong against some and weaker against others. Balancing the use of your Time is also important. Will you use two or three cheaper actions in a row or will you use a larger action using all your Time? There is a constant juggle over which action to take.
Who is it for?
I think Auztralia sits firmly into the Game Group category. I feel the complexity is a little too high for general family play. While the play length is potentially on the long side for a meetup evening. Definitely suited for those that enjoy having to think about their actions a little more but could be prone to those susceptible to AP. With the Dual purpose cards being used for combat in place of dice rolling, those who dislike luck based battle outcomes might be put off. That being said battles are not always fought to the end and the option to retreat and attack again later is always there.
I really liked Auztralia a lot. I say this even with the fact that I had an earlier prototype copy of the game. I enjoyed the complexity but felt it was still easy enough to learn and teach. The Solo option in the prototype was refreshingly brutal (no hand holding there). All of the Kickstarter improvements and design tweaks that were made after I received my copy have only served to make the game even better. This is no easy win game you need to be prepared to lose hard on your first few plays. This is only going to serve you well as you try different strategies to beat the game (and each other). Trust me when I say the first time you beat the game you will just be glad of that even if you do not personally win overall.
- For my Shelf – YES
- Recommend a friend – YES
- Play again – YES
I Was provided a copy of Auztralia for review through the Board Game Exposure Group. This game has now been passed on to other reviewers. I have tried to make this review as impartial as possible.