Thursday, May 18, 2017

Around the World in 80 Days (IELLO Games)

I consider myself a book snob when it comes to reading fiction. With the exception of J.K. Rowling, I won't read anything recently published and generally read the classics, J.R.R. Tolkien, or C.S. Lewis. Some of my favorite classics authors growing up were H.G. Wells and Jules Verne. Who am I kidding? They still are two of my favorites. When I heard that IELLO Games was producing a game called Around the World in 80 Days, I was intrigued. Around the World in 80 Days is a game for 2-6 players, ages 10+. It takes approximately 45 minutes to play and retails for $40.

Setup
1. Place the Gameboard and the two Bag miniboards in the center of the table.
2. Sort the Pound cards by their value (1, 3, 5, 10, 15, and 30) and place them in their respective spots on the Bag miniboards.
3. Shuffle the Passepartout cards and put them face-down on their space on the Gameboard.
4. Give each player a Travel Journal, Hat Pawn, and three Rumor cards which are placed on the right side of their Travel Journal. Each player also receives a total of 80 Pound cards.
Game Play
On your turn, you either move your pawn forward or backward to an unoccupied space, unless the space you are on says otherwise. When you move forward, you pay the bank the cost in Pounds, which corresponds to the the number of spaces you are moving. (For example, it costs 1 Pound to move 1 space, but 136 Pounds to move 16 spaces.) When you move backward, you move back to the most recent Layover space, if it is empty. This move is free and you receive 10 Pounds for each space backwards you travel. The game ends when a player lands on Space 80 (London), has no rumor cards left, and has fewer than 10 Pounds in their possession.

Review
The first thing that stood out to me the most in this game was the presentation of the box. The box is not your typical box, but is presented like a hardcover book with a cardboard sleeve. This is an unusual design, but one that fits the theme well. The color is a vibrant red with the iconic hot air balloon on it. What I like about this is that the red color very closely resembles the first edition printing of this book. I'm convinced this was deliberate, and I applaud them for the attention to detail. The components are simple, but sturdy. You have a tri-fold board that looks like a felted table, with some hot tea, a pocket watch, and some other travel documents. The game relies heavily on cards, which most are mini in nature (not a favorite of mine) but understand the logistics behind it and instead of generic pawns, you get top hats instead.

As for the game play, it is very solid and intuitive, which is exactly what I would expect since the creator reinvented his classic game -  Hare and Tortoise (the first Spiel des Jahres winner in 1979). The biggest differences between this game and the original is essentially that the game board is 80 spaces instead of 64 and theme of course! What I really like about the nature of this game is the mathiness (I know that is not a word!) involved in the decision making. "I have this much money, how many spaces do I want to go forward, and what space do I want to land on?" or "Is this a good time to move backward and gain some money?" The game has a nice ebb and flow to it, which is unusual for a racing game. Usually, you want to just try and blow by your opponents as quickly as possible, but if you try that in this game, you'll run out of money quickly, and have to go backward a lot. Instead, timing is everything, and you'll have to decide when to discard rumors for optimal effect, how quickly to move, and how to time out the end game, so you have less than 10 Pounds in the end. I really loved this game and would highly recommend it!

This game was provided to me for free by IELLO Games in exchange for an honest review.