30 Aug

The 10 Days series

Filed under: Boardgames No Responses

All four maps from the USA, Europe, Asia and Africa games in the series.

We first played 10 Days in Asia quite some time ago. It’s a short and simple game that acts purely as a filler. After that, we never played it again at CarcaSean but we were always aware of it as Sean uses the wooden card holders from it whenever a game calls for holding cards in hand. Recently, my wife and I bought a copy of 10 Days in Europe (we wanted Asia but it wasn’t in stock), partly because the card holders were handy to have, but also because we thought that it would make for an accessible game for family members.

All of the games in the 10 Days series play in the exact same way, so there’s not much difference between the versions. Each of them come with a decently-sized mounted map of the geographical areas it covers  but quite amusingly, the map is used for reference purposes only and nothing actually gets played onto the board. Instead, the game comes with a large set of tiles depicting either countries or modes of transportation. Each player is given a set of the card holders and the object of the game is to fill the holders with a full set of ten of these tiles connected in a legal fashion as determined according to the map.

The simplest connection is to walk from one country to a neighboring one and to do that you simply play the respective tiles side by side. Some countries are deemed to be neighboring for gameplay purposes on the map, such as France and England in the Europe version as Sean pointed out. Sea transport tiles are named after the specific bodies of water found on the maps and can connect any two countries with coasts for that sea or ocean. So it would legal to play Malaysia-Pacific Ocean-China on the Asia map for example.

We used three draw stacks and six open tiles in the pool for our epic 20-days around the world game.

Naturally, you also have air transport which can take you clear across the map or even the world in an instant. All of the country tiles come in one of five different colors and there are air transport tiles in these five countries as well. To fly, you need to play two country tiles of the same color and have the appropriate flight tile between them. The Africa and USA versions include Car tiles which are another type of land connection as they can be used as a wild card to represent any country (or state in the USA map) between two other tiles.

Finally, the Asia version offers railway tiles. Railway lines are drawn on the Asia map and this tile can be used to connect any two countries that are on the same line. Both the railways and the flight system aren’t very realistic. After all, in real life you can hop onto a flight to almost anywhere in the world and many more countries have railways than shown on the Asia map, but I suppose you need to make some concessions in the interests of balanced gameplay.

At the beginning of the game, each player simultaneously and in real-time draws random face down tiles and decides where to play it on his holder. Once a tile has been placed, it is never possible to change its position directly. Once all ten spots are filled, the remaining tiles are formed into a draw stack and three tiles are uncovered to form an available pool. Then, each player takes turns to either take one of the available tiles in the pool or to draw blindly from the stack. If he choose to replace one of existing tiles with the new one, he must then place the old one back into the pool, putting it on top of another one if necessary while making sure that three tiles are always available at all times. The first player to complete a full ten-day journey wins the game.

I needed two more tiles at the time that Sean completed his route while Shan only needed one tile, making me last in our epic game.

Being such a simple game, obviously you shouldn’t expect too much out of it. From a gameplay perspective, what’s great is that it’s plays fast. A game can be done in less than 15 minutes and the rules are so simple that it can be taught to non-gamers. Even better, travel is a theme that everyone can relate to, so non-geeks are less likely to be weirded out. It’s also one of the rare games with genuine educational values. My wife was delighted recently when she discovered that she had unconsciously learned where to place those small Eastern European countries on the map. I guess if you stare at a map long enough, you’re bound to remember something.

One possible downside is that from what I’ve observed, the victor is basically determined by whoever managed to come closest to making a legal route during the setup phase. I’ve had games in which I was lucky enough to make an almost complete route before the first turn and needed only to switch out two or three tiles. Needless to say, these games were short and extremely frustrating to my wife who was my opponent. Recently, we’ve experimented with forcing players to put each drawn tile into the first available slot. My wife commented that this made the game less strategic as you’re forced to only react to whatever tiles come up in the pool but I think it makes for a more substantial game.

The photos here show an epic game covering a journey of twenty days and using official variant rules. The rules actually call for the recently released Americas version but as Sean doesn’t have that yet, we substituted the USA version instead. It was fun to try but I don’t think it makes for a very balanced game considering how powerful the transport tiles become. I think that the USA and Africa maps are particularly boring to play and adding them to an around the world session doesn’t help their case. Europe and Asia are much more interesting and I suspect that the Americas will be as well. As a final note, I see that neither Australia nor New Zealand are covered by any of the sets, despite being rather prominent countries. Too bad for the Aussies and the Kiwis!

Written on August 30 2010 and is filed under Boardgames. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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