AFRICANA is a game designed by Michael Schacht and published by Abacusspiele. It is for 2 - 4 players of age 8 and over.
The game features a map of Africa with many of the major Cities depicted by either White or Brown circles and joined by brown wiggly lines
(aka roads). There is an Equator line (red) cutting the map in half, breaking it into a Brown half and a White half - I wonder if the political
situation required that the southern end of the country is the White half.
In each half of Africa there is a "book" which holds Adventure cards that can be bought for 5 Silver Coins (1 Gold) each (pages can be turned for
1 Silver coin after an initial free turn in case you don't want the card (or cards) currently on view. Not surprisingly you can buy Brown Adventure
cards in the South and White Adventure cards in the North (ie the opposite half to which the associated cities are located). This "book" system is
one that has been employed on at least two other games (my memory isn't good enough atm to remember which ones, but I would hazard a guess
that they were both designed by Michael Schacht) over the past few years and is one that works very well.
Players move their pawns along the roads from city to city. Each City has two coloured symbols next to it, symbols that are matched in visual context
and colour to the Travel cards. To travel from the city you are in to the next one you need to play a Travel card of one of the colours of the destination
city. You can travel as far as your cards allow in one turn and you can cash in Adventures and Expeditions en route. Every player has a Joker card, a
Travel card that counts as any single colour. When you play a Joker you get it back at the end of your turn. From the Adventure cards you can get two
types of useful things, Artifacts which score you VPs at the game's end or Assistants who will help you Travel around quicker and more efficiently but
who may cost you VPs at the game end - Assistant cards are like Jokers in as much as you get them back each turn but they only count for the colour
that they are.
Along the bottom of the map board are the spaces on which five Exhibition cards are placed. The players gain these by landing on one, or more, of the
cities shown on the current Exhibition cards. By landing on the city the player can put one of their three ID markers on the card, it is possible to land on
more than one of the cities in a turn. The Exhibition cards show their starting city and their completion city, all a player need do is start the Exhibition
and be the first to finish it - any number of players may have their pieces on the Exhibition card but only one player can complete it. Adventures are
completed the same way except that only one player can complete each Adventure - they buy the Adventure card from one of the "books" and keep it in
front of themselves until they have completed it at which time they place it under their country flag card (company ID card).
As stated previously, Adventure cards either give you Assistants or Artifacts. You need to collect 2 or 3 Artifacts that are the same for 6 (2) or 12 (3) VPs
or 2 or 4 different Artifacts gaining you 2 (2) or 10 (4) VPs - VPs are added up at the end of the game - noting that you get the value of the cards as well as
any Bonus from collecting similar or different cards.
You may only hold 5 cards in your hand at the end of your turn - you may have more throughout your turn. Your Joker and any Assistants you have count
towards this 5 limit. Once you buy an Assistant there is no way to discard it. If you buy just one you will suffer no VP loss. If you have 2 Assistants you will
forfeit 5 VPs. If you have more than 1 Assistant (ie 2, 3 or 4) you forfeit 10 VPs, so if you can afford it costs you the same loss in VPs if you have 4 Assistants
or you have 2 Assistants. 10 silver coins or 2 gold coins are also worth a VP, as do non-Jokers and non-Assistant cards; 2 Travel cards also score you 1 VP.
AFRICANA is a neat and tidy game with a free and easy mechanic with players turns consisting of doing one of three actions: Taking 2 Travel cards, Buying an
Adventure card or Moving your pawn. It is well made, has good quality components, play is okay with 2, 3 and 4 players and takes 45 minutes to an hour. The
only thing missing is any sort of player interaction - there is no trading or Artifact swapping even if players are in the same city - which makes it like playing a
mechanic rather than against other players. This is not such a bad thing though as it allows you to concentrate on your own game and to an extent plan your moves
while you are waiting your turn. Of course it is possible that someone may complete an Exhibition ahead of you and there is the random of the card draw but that's
really just an acceptable part of the challenge.