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Game of the Year: Australia
(Rio Grande Games; designers: Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kiesling)

Best New Abstract Strategy Game: Project Kells 
(Tailten Games/Funagain; designer: Murray Heasman)

Best New Advanced Strategy Game: Louis XIV
(Rio Grande Games; designer: Rüdiger Dorn)

Best New Family Game: Der Untergang von Pompeji (Escape from Pompeii) 
(Amigo/Funagain; designer: Klaus Jürgen-Wrede)

Best New Family Card Game: Die Weinhändler (The Wine Merchants) 
(Amigo/Funagain; designer: Roman Pelek and Claudia Hely

Best New Family Strategy Game: Primordial Soup (a.k.a. Ursuppe) 
(Z-Man Games; designers: Doris Matthäus and Frank Nestel) 

Best New Two-Player Game: Jambo 
(Rio Grande Games; designer: Rüdiger Dorn)

Best New Party Game: Snorta! 
(Out of the Box Games; designers: Chris Childs and Tony Richardson)

Best New Puzzle: Tipover 
(ThinkFun; designer: James W. Stephens)

Best New Historical Simulation Game: Friedrich 
(Simmons Games; designer: Richard Sivél)

Rio Grande Games, 2-5P, $39.95
Designers: Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kiesling
We have not had a German Game of the Year since Torres in 1999, by...Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kiesling!A booming Australia invites players to its 24 regions, each of which has a Conservation tile and a random facedown Industrialization tile (valued from 4 to 9). Exploration camps border two or more regions. You begin with two cards and an airplane and Explorers in your color. Faceup are four decks of cards, each showing a provincial color and a combination of gold and Explorers.Each turn, choose two of three possible actions, in any order: (a) Fly your airplane to a region and reveal its Industrialization tile. (b) Discard a card matching the color of your airplane's region, or pay three gold to discard any color. Earn the card's gold. Place Explorers (up to the maximum the card permits) on one vacant adjacent camp or on one already containing your Explorers; alternatively, gain two points. End turns by replenishing cards. (c) Return to supply up to four Explorers adjacent to your airplane's region.Gain three points by occupying the last vacant camp bordering a region, and discard its Conservation tile. Everyone earns one or two points for each Explorer in the region's camps. Industrialization tiles similarly score when the number of Explorers on adjacent camps equals the Industrialization value-even if some camps are still vacant. Remember that Industrialization can also be triggered by the action of removing explorers!Beyond the usual Actions, you can spend four gold any number of times to move one Explorer to another camp. Using this ploy to occupy a vital camp often results in lucrative scoring in several regions simultaneously. Play ends when the cards are depleted and someone plays his last. Add a point for each remaining gold. Highest score triumphs.An Advanced Variant features a traveling Windmill, whose value increases as it moves. Discarding a card in the Windmill's region lets you allocate Explorers to a track where, several times during play, whoever has the most Explorers earns the Windmill's current value in points.

With volatile scoring leading to frequent changes of leadership, and its appeal to all levels of players, Down Under has deservedly soared to the top. (originally reviewed 9/05)—John J. McCallion 

Board Games, Role Playing Games, Miniature Games, Trading Card Games
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