HOLIDAY AG - Reviewed by Mike

Category/Format: Business/Board Game

The categorisation of this Sid Sackson effort as a Board game is based more upon the fact that FX Schmid produced it in a big box containing a large colourful board rather than its concept. It could easily have been produced as a card game at less expense but maybe the decision was one of marketing. Nevertheless what we have here is a lightweight family game which might appeal to gamers as an end of session game, rather than something to tax the brain too much.

The board referred to above shows 20 holiday destinations serviced by the 5 holiday companies in the game, a total of 100 options. Other components consist of 100 plastic suitcases, a pack of 110 cards, 1 for each of the holiday destinations, 4 special cards, and 6 'Option' cards, one for each player. The only other equipment is a series of plastic counters in the the 5 colours representing the holiday firms.

The object of the game is to build up share holdings in the various holiday companies and then 'sell' holiday destinations offered by the companies to create the longest consecutive chain. The length of this chain will determine the eventual share price of each company. Players will want to promote the companies in which they hold shares and deny this privelege to companies in which they do not own shares.

This is achieved in a series of rounds until the end game condition is met and then share prices are multiplied by share holdings to determine each players score and the one with the most points is the winner. The game caters for 2-6 holidaymakers and plays in under an hour.

At the start of play each player is given an 'Option' card to be used later at their discretion, after which it is discarded. The remaining 104 cards are shuffled and 10 are dealt to each player. Then 8 cards are turned over and a piece of luggage is placed on their location in the board to indicate the starting position. The remaining cards are placed face down as a draw pile from which players will replenish their hands at the end of each turn. The shares are placed by the side of the board within reach of all the players, as are the unused luggage pieces.

THE TURN This consists of 2 parts. Firstly the player takes any 2 shares of their choice from those remaining. They can take 2 shares in the same company or 1 each from 2 different companies to spread their holdings. They then lay down 2 cards from their hand and place a piece of luggage on the appropriate locations indicated, after which they take 2 cards from the draw pile to replenish their hand back up to 10.

Instead of playing a destination card the player may play 1 or 2 of the special cards, if they have them in their hand. These fall into one of 2 categories which enable the player to either A) exchange one of their share tokens for one of another colour or B) increase the value of a particular company share by 1 by placing the card on the company head office.

In addition to the normal turn the player may exercise their 'Option' card once only to take an extra 2 shares this turn.

So you look at your hand and see what destinations are already on the board. Remember that you trying to create the longest consecutive chain in a company. So if, for example, you see that the Red company has already got luggage on destinations 8,9,12 and 15 and you're holding cards for Red 10 and Red 13 they seem to offer a chance of being joined by the Red 11 to form a chain of 6 and maybe a chain of 8 if the Red 14 is also played. So you decide to take 2 Red shares but you don't want to give the game away yet so you lay some other destination cards instead, hoping to pick up the Red 11 yourself. You're really looking for allies to help you build this chain and if another player takes Red as well it looks pretty good for you. However another player may be already holding the Red 11 and doesn't have many other Reds so they decide to block you by NOT playing it ! This is just one of the frustrations of the game.

Chains will only score in the End Game if they are at least 5 in length. Eventually you may have to play some 'blocking' cards as your choices run out and play continues in this way until one chain is at least 10 in length, for which the player completing that link gains a bonus of 10 points. Once that has been achieved all players not having played this turn complete the round by taking their 2 shares and playing 'Option' cards if they still have them but they may not play any more destination cards. The play then enters the Final Round.

FINAL ROUND AND SCORING Players may, but do not have to, play one destination card and place luggage upon it. Then each of the 5 companies are valued according to their longest chain, any modifiers are applied to the share price and points are awarded to each player according to their share holdings. No scoring pads are provided so you will need a sheet of paper to do this. The player with the most points is the winner.

Due to the variable ending it happens that not all the destinations are filled. This means that near the end players holding back cards to disguise their intentions have to be careful not to be caught out and thereby fail to get their chain extended. It's also quite a good tactic to play the 'exchange your shares' card near the end(if you hold one), when you can see which one is likely to pay the better dividend. It's difficult to predict what the best strategy should be. Holding 10 shares in the highest scoring chain will get you lots of points but if you've done that but have only minimal shares in the other companies you might be outscored by someone who has a more balanced portfolio in all the companies.

Once players are familiar with the game the time taken to reach the end speeds up and therefore we often play 2 games and aggregate the scores to determine a winner. This should even out any 'bad distribution' of the cards. As I've said it's a good family game as parents can easily explain it to children and there's not many rules to understand. My copy is dated 1990 so I'm not sure of the availability of the game nowadays.

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