Review: AuZtralia (Stronghold Games) – English

What do train tracks, soldiers, Australia, Sherlock Holmes and Cthulhu have in common? Together they form the game AuZtralia designed by Martin Wallace and published by Stronghold Games! Lay tracks, build armies, hire famous people, fight Eldritch creatures in the Outback and liberate the world from the last bastion of Cthulhu. Do you drive the tentacle man insane, or is this your final destination?

AuZtralia is a spiritual successor to Martin Wallace’s ‘A Study in Emerald’ based on a story by the same name written by Neil Gaiman. A pastiche of different genres wherein Sherlock Holmes most solve mysteries involving cosmic horrors. AuZtralia takes place in the Outback, where the old gods have not yet been expelled. In this 4X strategy game, you win by collecting goods through exploration and building farms, exchanging these goods for actions and armies and going to battle against Cthulhu’s men. How do you reach this fella? By building railways and deploying your armies through them. Afterwards you go to battle by  tactical deployment of your army units and the luck of the dice. Do you need that extra push? Then enlist the help of ‘famous people’, each with their own bonus.

During the game you perform various actions such as building tracks, mining for resources, buying vehicles and weapons and building farms. Each action is represented on your player board and each action costs resources and/or action points and time. Action points are represented by wooden chits and when it is your turn, you place a chit on the corresponding action on your board. If you then want to perform this action again, it costs extra money to perform the action.

But beware: the game is a race against time! Actions are not performed in a specific order, but take time. The game board contains a time track over which players move and the order of play therefore resembles games such as Patchwork. At some point, Cthulhu’s armies will also spring into action, slowly rampaging through your armies and bases! Are the monsters arriving at your harbor (starting point)? Then your battle derails and it is game over for you!

Just like the story it is based on, AuZtralia is a mix of familiar themes and gameplay elements – so well executed you’ll definitely want to play again. You can even change the difficulty tot spice things up!

AuZtralia is a mind-bending trip down-under and great fun for the strategy enthusiast!