I DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHY THIS GAME IS NOT MORE POPULAR. The game I am talking about is AuZtralia: The Great Designers Series #11 (Stronghold Games, 2018). First off, it’s designed by Martin Wallace who is one of the star Eurogame designers out there.
A Eurogame? I can hear you asking now, “Hey, RockyMountainNavy, has that quarantine thing sent you batty? I thought you were a wargamer?”
Yes, I am still a grognard, but I always look for new and innovative games. That’s why AuZtralia ended up in my collection. According to the ad copy:
AuZtralia is an adventure/exploration game for 1-4 players set in an alternate reality 1930s. The theme is inspired by Martin Wallace’s A Study in Emerald. Following the Restorationist war, the northern hemisphere lands lay poisoned and starvation was the norm. Intrepid adventurers set out to explore and settle new lands. Little did they know, after the war, the surviving Old Ones and their remaining loyal human armies made their way to the outback of Australia to lick their wounds.
Build a port, construct railways, mine and farm for food. You’ll need to prepare for the awakening. You’ll need to fight.
Everything you do in the game costs time, which is one of AuZtralia’s most valued resources.
At a point in time, the Old Ones will wake up and become an active player. They begin to reveal themselves and move, with potentially devastating outcomes.
You’ll need to prepare wisely for the awakening and may have to co-operate with others to defeat the most dangerous Old Ones.
Military units will help you to locate, fight and defend against the nightmarish beings that may be lurking on your doorstep. As well as hardware, you’ll need to recruit some Personalities who have the skills and resources to help you.
Well, that pretty much sums up the entire game. The first part of the game is almost a pure Eurogame; build railroads, farms, mine resources, and recruit Personalities with special powers. The key mechanic is Time. Everything you do takes Time.
Then the Old Ones start to awake. They stalk you. They Blight your farms. You have to defend yourself before they destroy everything, especially your Port.
This is when the “conflict” game starts. For those squeamish Eurogamers out there you can breathe easy because you don’t fight another player – you fight the Old Ones driven by their own deck of cards. There are even no dice in this game; everything is resolved by another special deck of cards. Players will need to cooperate to defeat the Old Ones. To use designer Brian Train’s description of another crossover game, it’s a “militarized Eurogame.” I prefer the term Waro.
AuZtralia is designed for 1-4 players. I played the Solo Mode. My randomly drawn Solo Objective was Frenetic Farmer – Reward: 20 VP, Place at least TWO of each type of Farm and end with at least FOUR non blighted Farms. Uh…alot easier said then done!
I lost, but I had a good deal of fun. Playtime was a little bit under an hour. As always the real stressor is finding the balance in time and resources between building your infrastructure and preparing – then fighting with – your military. This is not a serious game by any stretch of the imagination but nor is it cheesy. Strategy choices are real and supported by the game mechanics and play.
Looking at the BGG Stats on AuZtralia, I guess the boardgame community embraces the game far more than grognards. At the time of this writing, AuZtralia is ranked #682 Overall and the #362 Strategy Game. This makes it the #47 BGG Overall ranked game and the #10 BGG Strategy Game in my collection.*
That’s too bad. I know grognards often like to focus on “the fight” and don’t always want to be involved in the “why” or “how” of the situation. Especially if the “how” involves logistics (resources). AuZtralia challenges those notions by combining elements of a Eurogame with a wargame. The resulting Adventure game is both fun and interesting – even for this grognard.
*My Top 10 BGG Ranked Strategy Games in collection
- Terraforming Mars (BGG #5)
- Scythe (BGG #11)
- Root (BGG #29)
- Raiders of the North Sea (BGG #71)
- Pandemic (BGG #98)
- Tiny Epic Galaxies (BGG #202)
- Pandemic: Fall of Rome (BGG #219)
- Trains (BGG #296)
- Settlers of Catan (BGG #344)
- AuZtralia (BGG #362)