Around the World in Eighty Days

Ravensburger, about £10
Designed by Wolfgang Kramer
2-6 Players, 60 minutes
Reviewed by Dave Farquhar

Around the World in Eighty Days is a Ravensburger race game for two to six players, aged ten to adult. Play of this 1987 Wolfgang Kramer design is quite straightforward, and takes about an hour. The players travel around an attractive board, trying to be the first to return to London (having circumnavigated the globe). Movement takes place using transport cards, with the 'wind compass' showing the type of transport which may currently be used.

Movement cards depict boats, trains, elephants or carriages, and indicate the distance that can be moved. The players try to enhance this movement by making best use of spaces on the board. These have differing qualities, allowing the compass to be changed, chance cards or additional turns to be taken. Others block players progress by forcing them to move backwards. In their turn a player may either pick up additional cards, or move by playing cards of the type currently indicated by the compass. In addition there are cards allowing players to change the compass, move others back, or buy themselves out of trouble. When a player runs out of cards a bonus of five spaces is moved, and the hand refilled.

Players therefore attempt to maximise their turn by using the first form of transport, landing on spaces which allow the move to continue, and changing the wind compass to suit their hand. A balance must be struck between having a strong set of cards to enable a long move to be taken, and gaining the five space bonus by using all the cards. In theory the game could be won in one turn. This allows for a nice degree of planning, but without it ever becoming too taxing.

Turns tend to come round fairly rapidly, but fluctuate between short moves and long journeys involving the play of perhaps ten cards. This means that the lead tends to change frequently, and a player need not despair when trailing.

The race is won when a traveller arrives in London with no cards left. This makes the end-game difficult and tense (ish) where a player may be sat waiting for the right transport type to be selected on the compass. In my most recent game though, while the rest of us were pinned approaching a series of 'go back' spaces, a player moved from last to first with an extended run of card play, arriving in London by utilising the bonus movement gained by using her last cards.

Overall I like 80 Days, finding it reminiscent of Hare and Tortoise. It uses an interesting system, keeping most players in with a chance, and allows for a reasonable degree of planning without becoming too taxing. I think that 'gamers' would probably only play it a couple of times, giving it limited appeal to readers of Sumo. I would recommend it though to people looking for a good quality family game.

I am unsure of availability, but have seen one scruffy copy in Esdevium, and understand from Mike that the game can be found in many toyshops.

Dave Farquhar

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