Christmas Games

While waiting for the gifts, I played some games with my girlfriend Johanna. Because we were spending the Christmas at her parent’s home, we had her old game collection to use: Afrikan tähti (Star of Africa, named after the huge diamond) and Pekingin mysteerit (aka Mysteries of Peking).

Afrikan tähti is the best-selling Finnish game ever. Designed by Kari Mannerla in 1951, it’s still the most-loved boardgame in Finland and available everywhere where board games are sold. It was nice to refresh my memory of the game, unfortunately the memories were better than the game was. I was mostly shocked by the poor quality of the components. The board was almost paper thin when compared to the heavy, mounted boards of German games and the tokens were really flimsy.

The game was ok. Of course, it was a luck-filled dice race, but for children’s game (and for a game of it’s age), it’s still fairly good. I’m happy the board has gone unchanged in the maelstroms of political correctness, the happy African tribesmen are still dancing in the heart of Africa.

Mysteries of Peking was one of my favourites when I was younger. It’s still an ok game, but it’s definitely not a deduction game — it’s more of a race game, in which players try to race around the board gathering evidence and then to find the guilty person. It all comes down to the luck of dice and card. Still, for children, it’s an excellent game because the components are well done. I’d definitely play it with my children, if I had any and they’d enjoy it.

Anyway, it was a fun way to pass some time (the games were over surprisingly fast), especially as Johanna won both games. Mysteries of Peking were close — we both knew who the criminal was and where he was. I was two steps from the right dragon and it was Johanna’s turn. She didn’t reach the dragon (she had no chance), but she got a “move a dragon”-card from the fortune cookie and moved to dragon to her and won. I do claim moral victory in Afrikan tähti, as I was one step from Cairo with the Africa Star when I decided to go to Tangiers instead…

So, great fun even with these more simple games. All it takes is some good company and some time to waste…

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6 thoughts on “Christmas Games”

  1. I am SURE there was an English version of this, but I cannot find it on the Boardgamegeek. Is it the one where you travel around African locations uncovering gems like emeralds, topazes, sapphires etc? A huge diamond is hidden somewhere. I am not sure what the aim of the game was, other than to gather gems. Do you know what the English name is?

  2. Afrikan Tähti has been published in ten languages, so I’m quite sure English is one of them. I haven’t found it anywhere either, I should probably ask Peliko, the publisher. Yes, you’re definitely talking about the same game. The objective of the game is to find out the huge diamond and then take it back to Cairo or Tangier. I’ll try to find out what it is called in other languages, I should also add an entry to the ‘Geek for it. It’s the only real Finnish boardgame classic, after all.

  3. Amazing. I’ve played a game that isn’t even on the Geek and a Finnish one too! Thinking about it more carefully, I think it was called African Star.
    I remember it being quite fun, but it didn’t blow me away at the time. I wonder how I would enjoy it now that I’m an adult?

  4. African Star sounds logical. It’s a classic — after all, if it were really bad, it wouldn’t be in print after 50 years. But as an adult — no, not really, especially after being spoilt by the new German games. It’s basically roll-and-move, and that’s it. Good game for kids, but not much to offer for adults. Africa captures the same feeling, but is much better.

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