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AUZTRALIA

Reviewed by Chris Kovac

AUZTRALIA (Stronghold Games, 1 to 4 players, ages 13 and up, 30-120 minutes;  $69.95)

 

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To start, each player will get a generic player board, a set of farm markers (Cows, Corn and, of course, Sheep), a wooden port marker, a set of action cubes, 3 discs (one used to keep time on the time track, the two others for points of damage on Cthulhu monsters), three sanity markers and a set of railway tracks in their player color.  Also, each player starts with two steel, two coal and four gold resources.  You place the resources in your warehouse, the action markers in the HQ space and your three sanity on the sanity space on your player board. 

To set up the game board, you separate the Old One monster tiles into face down stacks of level ones, two and threes (monster tiles with the xx on them are used for an expansion).  Next, you shuffle all the survey tiles face down and put one on each survey space on the board.  You then turn over each of these tiles to show which resources and face down monster tiles are placed on them and any of the surrounding spaces.  The strength of the monsters is determined by the circled number in the hex.   You cannot place monsters in non-numbered hexes or resources in any but inland hexes (not hill or coastal hexes).  You do this for each survey tile and if two monster tiles are placed in the same hex, replace them with one monster of the next highest level (i.e. two one level monsters put into a hex become a single level two monster). 

The revelation deck is built by separating the revelations into piles of one, twos and threes. Each deck is shuffled and five cards randomly chosen from each pile, placing the threes on the bottom, then the twos on top of it and the ones on top of the twos.  The Old One cards are placed face down next to the board along with the purple Old One damage cubes. Resource cubes, sorted by type, are put next to the board.  The personality card deck is shuffled and five personality cards are drawn and placed face up next to the board.  All military units begin on the appropriate places on the board.  One of each player’s disc is placed in a random order on the appropriate starting space (based on the number of players) on the time track and the Old One player disc on the 22 time space.  Starting with the player on the bottom of the stack on the time track, each player puts their port marker on a port space.  You can now begin the game.

The player furthest behind and at the bottom of a stack on the time track is the active player.  During an active player’s turn, he/she can perform one of eight actions.  Each time you take an action, you mark it with one of your action cubes from your HQ.  If you wish to do the action again on a later turn, you have to pay one gold marker for each action cube in the action space.  Each action costs the amount of time points shown on the action space; you move your time marker on the time track by that many spaces forward.  The actions are:

  1. Build up to two railway sections on the hex edges between hexes (cannot build into hexes with Old One markers) by paying the appropriate set of resources (coal and steel).  You can only build tracks into hexes of the type shown on the railway build action spaces and all tracks must start on your port and/or extend from your existing rail network.
  1. Mine resources by taking all the resources of one type from a hex which connects to your rail network.
  1. Recruit a help character card from one of the five shown (two if you pay one gold resource). Each character gives the player either additional resources, special abilities to be used mainly during combat or additional ways to score points at the end of the game
  1. Buy a single Military unit (except for infantry which you can buy up to two) paying between one to three gold resources per unit. You place these units on your barrack spaces on your player board.
  1. Import/Export – You receive one coal or steel resource from the reserves to your warehouse or you can sell a coal or steel for a gold resource from your warehouse back to the reserves. You can do this twice per action.
  1. Farm – You can build up to one farm of each type (corn, cattle and sheep) on the appropriate marked hex which is connected by your rail network. You cannot build a farm on a hex which already has other things in it like other farms, Old Ones or resources.
  1. Retrieve all your cubes from the action spaces back to your HQ. This usually happens when you can no longer afford to do an action.
  1. Attack – You declare an attack on a face down/face up Old One tile. You choose which military units will be used in the attack and pay the appropriate time cost per type of unit you use (marked on your game board).  You place these units on your task force spaces on your game board.  Each military unit has a range from which it can move off the rail network to attack an Old One and a defense value.  Combat is resolved by turning over one card at a time from the Old One deck and looking at the appropriate monster icon on the card.  If you have any military units in your task force which are shown opposite the appropriate icon on one of the two spaces to the left of the monster icon, you have inflicted one point of damage to the monster.   You mark the damage by putting one of your action cubes on the monster.  Any icons on the two spaces to right side of the monster icon are the damage the monster does to you which can be loss of a sanity marker, a damage to you forces or damage to an airship (the only way they can be damaged).  When you have damage cubes on a unit’s stack which equals its defense, you must remove a unit of that type. You keep turning over cards until you defeat the old one (equal its defense), run out of sanity markers (involuntary withdrawal) or voluntary withdraw.  If you do not eliminate an Old One during an attack, any action cube marking you had on the Old One remains until it is killed by you or another player.  When an Old One is killed by more than one player, the point value is divided evenly between the two players.

Once every player has moved passed, the Old One-time marker the following occurs:

  1. The Old One time marker is moved forward one space on the time track
  2. Two Old One cards are drawn to see if any face up old one tiles move. If an Old One icon on the Old One card has a circle around it any face up Old One tiles of that type move one space in the direction of the closest farm/port. If two farm/ports are equal distance from the monster tile you look at the top of the card for a direction number and the monster will move in the direction closest to the number.  The direction icon also tells you whether to read the number clockwise or counter clockwise based on the arrow surrounding the direction number.
  3. If the time marker moves onto a gold colored space (every other space) you draw over the top card of the revelation deck and follow the instructions on the card. Most of these cards tell you to turn over the Cthulhu tile (make monster active) based on the lowest numbered hex though it could also be a non-event or having you eliminate two of the active help cards.

An Old One tile on a space connected by a player’s rail network is cut-off from the rest of the network connecting to the port until eliminated.  Also, if an old one tile is in the same space as a farm marker, the marker is turned over to its devastated side which count for points for the Cthulhu side as the end of the game. 

The game ends when either the Old One defeats a player in combat on his port or if every player token on the time track including the Cthulhu player reaches 53.  Players score Victory Points for “unblighted” farms (2 VP per farm), any phosphate resource tokens (3 VP per farm), defeated Old Ones (worth there VP value), any VP tokens they have and any personality card bonuses.  The Old Ones score points for every active and inactive Cthulhu tile still on the board (inactive ones score double) equal to their VP value.  The Cthulhu player also score 1 VP per devastated farm.  The person with the highest score wins with ties going to the Cthulhu player.

To win at Auztralia, you have to extend you rail network to get to resources yet at the same time buy the most diverse military force possible to fight the old one tiles (preferably before they start waking up).  Once the Old Ones are active, the game becomes semi-cooperative as you try and fight off the various old ones to survive to the end of the game.

Auztralia is is a good, solid, medium complexity game, a worthy addition to any collection especially to fans of Martin Wallace designs.  The game is well produced, has a fairly well written rule book (although there are some ambiguous rules) and, for some reason, comes with two sets of resources cubes (one set plain and the other “fancy” resource cubes) which can be confusing. There are also some special card decks and rules to be used when playing with one or two players.  Overall, I would give this game a solid 7.5 (8.0 if you are a Martin Wallace fan). – – – – – Chris Kovac


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