All present this session and Steve chose to go exploring in the Heart of Africa. I think he was the only one to have played before and that was only once I think. Knowing we were going to be playing this game I looked it up on the Geek. There seemed to be a difference in playing time, 60 minutes on the Geek and 120 on West Bank Gamers. Also there was quite a discussion about rules queries. As it was the rules explanation took about 20 minutes and in the end the game lasted around 150 minutes. Well, what is the game about? Predictably it's about placing your traders in areas of Africa and trying to secure the areas with the richest resources in them. Neutral traders are seeded on the board at the start and they can be fought to drive them out, as can other players. Four pairs of tiles are revealed at the start and the first pair are auctioned. Each tile has a action point value and most times a special action symbol on it. Each player starts with 12 influence blocks, these can also be used to purchase actions. The winning bidder puts his blocks into a common pool and then either uses the tiles he just won or keeps the special action on them for later. The tiles let you do various things, moving neutral traders around, adding traders of your own etc. After that you add up the points you have from your traders on the board and move your dobber on the scoring track. The influence blocks in the common pool are then divided up among the other players, rounded down, any left remain until next turn.
Personally I found the game a little dry, and some reviewers on the Geek commented the game could lead to analysis paralysis, we didn't find this but I could see it happening. Steve stormed into an impressive early lead with the the rest of us lanquishing well behind. I must say that Steve said the victory condition was the first to 42 points, which he thought the game would end too soon and suggested we play to 50 points, which we did. As the game progressed the scores closed up and Garry then Richard took the lead for a while, in the end Steve was only 12 points away from winning and was able to amass 14 points in his turn to take him over the 50.Final Scores
Steve 54, Richard 47, Garry 41, Colin 34