|This article needs additional citations for verification. (December 2008)|
|Age range||5 and above|
|Setup time||1–5 minutes|
|Playing time||16–60 minutes|
|Random chance||High (dice rolling, luck)|
Afrikan tähti (Finnish) or Afrikas stjärna (Swedish), meaning "the star of Africa", is a Finnish board game designed by Kari Mannerla originally in 1951. It has been one of the most popular board games in both Finland and Sweden for decades. The game was first published in 1951, with a revision to the rules made in 2005 concerning sea-travel within game. The publishing rights are held by the Peliko company.
Afrikan tähti is a race between several players. The minimum is two players, and the maximum is theoretically unlimited, although with more than five or six players the game starts to become unplayable, due to too long gaming turns and insufficient resources.
The board covers the continent of Africa, with famous cities marked as big red circles, and with routes consisting of small black circles connecting them. Players can start from either Cairo, Egypt or from Tangiers, Morocco, whichever they want.
Also included is a series of circular tokens, one token for each city. The tokens are not matched with specific cities, only their number is the same. Tokens include:
- Blank tokens.
- Gemstones. There are three different gems, rubies, emeralds and topazes.
- The star of Africa itself. This is the only unique token in the game.
At the start of the game, all tokens are turned face down and shuffled, then distributed randomly at the cities, with one token at each city. At this point, no player knows which token is in which city.
Each player is given £300 as starting money and their character is placed in Cairo or Tangiers according to their preference.
On their turn, each player throws the die, and moves the given number of steps along the routes. If they reach a city with its token still present, they have three options:
- Continue as normal.
- Buy the token. This costs £100.
- Stay in the city. On the following turns, the player may try to win the token by throwing the die, instead of moving normally. On a 4, 5 or 6, the token is won.
Stopping short at a city is allowed.
If the player buys or wins the token, it is flipped over, the player acts according to the revealed token as follows:
- Blank token: Nothing happens.
- Gemstone: The gemstone is immediately sold for cash. Rubies are worth £1000, emeralds £500 and topazes £300.
- Robber: The player immediately loses all their money.
- Horseshoe: Acts as a substitute for the star of Africa, but only after the star has been found.
- Star of Africa: Finding this is the goal of the game. Taking it back to either Cairo or Tangiers wins the game.
Before the star of Africa has been found, horseshoes are useless and are discarded. After the famous diamond has been found, however, they become effective substitutes for it. Taking a horseshoe to Cairo or Tangiers when another player has the star of Africa wins the game.
There are three different forms of travel available:
- On foot. This moves on the regular routes and is free of charge.
- By aeroplane. Aeroplane routes connect some of the cities directly with each other. Travelling by aeroplane costs £300 and takes the player directly to the adjacent city.
- By ship. Ship routes are effectively similar to foot routes, but they are on the sea. Boarding a ship costs £100, after which the player may throw the die to determine how many steps they can take on the sea-route. According to the 2005 rule revision players with no money can also travel by sea but only a maximum of two steps at a time.
Some cities or other places on the board have special rules.
- In Slave Coast, getting a blank token causes the player to be enslaved and sold at the slave market. They may only proceed after three turns have passed without their participation.
- In Gold Coast, the value of gemstones is doubled.
- The first player to reach Cape Town is awarded £500.
- There is one step in Sahara where the player is ambushed by beduins and can only proceed after rolling 1 or 2.
- There are two steps in the sea near the island of St. Helena where the player's ship will be raided by pirates and the player can only proceed after rolling 1 or 2.
In other countries
The game was launched in Sweden in the 1970s by Alga Ab, under the name "Den försvunna diamanten" ("The lost diamond"). In Denmark a variant of the game with slightly different rules is marketed by Brio.
A quirk in the rules can cause the game to become unwinnable. The islands of Madagascar, St. Helena and Canary Islands contain cities, and it is possible that the star of Africa ends up being there. In such a case, if no player has £200 left (to get to the island and back again), the star of Africa can not be transported to Cairo or Tangiers, and the game can not be won. To resolve this quirk, the rules were recently amended:
- If a player has no money left, they can travel on sea for free, but only up to two spaces per turn.
Despite this amendment, some players still play by the old rules.