by Al Newman


FROM CAPE TO CAIRO (Adlung Spiele; less than $10)


“Vom Kap Bis Kairo” translates as “From Cape to Cairo” and is a card game published by Germany’s Adlung Spiele about traveling by train through various terrains in Africa for 2 to 4 players, Ages 10 and up. The game’s author is Güntar Burkhardt, a German who has designed a number of games of inconsistent quality in the past. However, in the last year, Herr Burkhardt has come through with some very interesting and neat ideas and From Cape to Cairo is certainly amongst the cream of the crop.

The key elements in the game are the 50 track cards depicting five different types of terrain. These terrain cards are placed in front of the player’s trains and the terrains must be crossed as the journey to Cairo progresses. Each terrain has a different requirement; Savannahs can be crossed with 6 “tracks,” Villages require 7 tracks, Deserts require 8, Mountains 9 and finally, Rivers require 10 tracks to cross. When a player has crossed eight terrain cards, he has reached Cairo and won the game.Kap

At the beginning of the game, each player receives a differently colored locomotive card that is placed in the center of the table to denote the beginning of the journey from the Cape. The players also receive the same color tender card that is placed in front of them to show who is who. Then, each player is given a small piece of paper and a pencil (neither is provided) to keep track of their money, which starts out at $100. Two columns are drawn on the paper, one to keep track of bids on each round and one to keep a running total of how much money the player has remaining. Lastly, a terrain guide card showing the requirements in track for each terrain, is placed behind the locomotives as a reference.

The terrain cards show the terrain that must be crossed and also show “tracks” and “coins.” Tracks may number from zero to 3 and coins from 1 to 10. When at least one player has no terrain cards face up in front of his locomotive, a new auction round begins. Since none of the players have any terrain cards in front of their locomotives at the beginning of the game, the game begins with an auction round. The terrain cards are shuffled and one is dealt face up for each player in the game. The players bid for these cards, using their “money.” The players make their bids secretly and all announce their bids at the same time. In order from highest to lowest, each then receives his choice of the terrain cards up for grabs. If there is a tie, the player with the lowest remaining sum of money wins the tie; if there is still a tie, two terrain cards are turned over – one for each player – and the number representing coins is compared. High coin/card wins the tie.

The choice of terrain card can be difficult. A Savannah card only requires 6 tracks and a Mountain requires 9. But if the Mountain displays 3 tracks and has 9 coins, it might be a far more valuable choice than a Savannah that displays zero tracks and only 1 coin. Each player makes his choice and lays the terrain card in front of his locomotive.

Beginning with the player who won the bid and moving clockwise, each player may now receive an action turn. The player may use all tracks shown on the cards of all terrain cards in front of his locomotive to fulfill the requirements of the terrain immediately in front of his locomotive. For example, at one point during the game, Ted has a Desert terrain with 2 tracks depicted on it immediately in front of his locomotive. In front of the Desert card is a Savannah with 2 tracks on it and a Mountain with 1 track. All of these tracks may be used to cross the Desert immediately in front of his locomotive. The track requirement for the Desert is 8 and Ted already has 5 (2+2+1). The top card of the draw deck is turned up and the player may also use whatever tracks are shown on this card as well. For instance, the card that is turned face up shows 1 track. Ted now has a total of 6 tracks he may use to cross the Desert, which requires 8. He can optionally pay $10 per missing track to cross the terrain. So, if Ted now paid $20, he would cross the Desert. But let’s assume that Ted feels $20 is too steep a price to pay, so he now passes. The play would then advance to the next player who will benefit from any tracks on terrain cards in front of his locomotive plus the tracks any other players did not use on their own action turn, such as the card Ted just turned down! Thus, the choice to pay the additional tariff becomes a difficult decision, since the player may be giving up the opportunity for several tracks from cards turned up from the draw deck. Let’s assume the next player benefits from another drawn card that has 3 tracks. That’s 4 tracks now from the drawn cards and the player has 3 on the Savannah card in front of his locomotive. He only needs 6, so he has filled the requirement. The two cards drawn from the draw deck are now discarded to a discard pile and the Savannah is turned over and the locomotive placed on it. The player now receives dollars equivalent to the number on the coin shown on the terrain he turned over and he has completed one-eighth of his journey.

If this player still has face up terrain cards in front of his locomotive, the action round continues. If not, a new auction round begins.

There is one other rule that brings a few more interesting choices into the decision making elements of the game. When a player has a River card directly in front of his locomotive and another player crosses a terrain, the player with the River card may take one of the discards or draw cards and place it face down in front of him to use as a bonus track. A player may have up to 5 bonus tracks and in this manner, the River cards which are normally the worst to have, may prove quite valuable!

All in all, the game is a delight. It plays quickly, about a half-hour, so two or more games may be played if the players are really enjoying themselves. The cards are made of good stock and shuffle well. The artwork is pleasing and most importantly, the game’s mechanics mesh extremely well and typically afford a close and interesting contest. Heartily recommended! – – – – – Al Newman


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