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The 10 Days Series Review by Heidi Shaw

10 Days in Africa
10 Days in the USA
10 Days in Europe
Out of the Box Publishing Games

The publishers of this game series subtitle it "The Unpredictable Game of Making Connections." Our family calls it SERIOUS FUN. I have not been captivated by a game in this way since I fell in love with Scrabble years ago. I was a bit concerned about introducing the games to my family because I have a reputation of trying to combine learning and fun in ways that are not fun, nor learned!

However, with these games you absolutely cannot go wrong. If you are interested in studying a continent and you don't include these games, you most definitely will be missing out, and I am not being enthusiastic enough. We have been playing them for over a month now and the interest hasn't even started to wear off. When we have company over for the evening, without fail someone will ask to play one of the 10 Days games. Each one has a similar base and is played the same way, but each also has its unique differences, and it is like playing a whole new game when you open each box. Our family was invited up to the local ski hill for a few days, and the only games the kids wanted to bring were the 10 Days games. Every age can play, from 10 to 95, but even my 6-year-old daughter loves them and can now play her own game. Designed for two to four players, we have easily stretched that to eight simply by teaming up, which makes a party game out of them as well. Out of the Box Publishing has produced this line of geography games that will liven every area of your study, and your kids will be learning things without even realizing it. Today my daughter told me she needed to find a country next to Zambia to win the game. I asked her where Zambia was, and she identified its location on the map. I didn't even know she could pronounce Zambia, never mind locate it! Just becoming familiar with the layout of the continent of Africa, Europe, or the United States is a benefit in itself. Add to that the fact that it is a whole lot of fun, and you have a winning combination.

How does it work? Well, in each box you get a map of the continent you are "traveling" through, which is mounted on a quality game board. There are also four sets of wooden tile holders (each person needs two holders) and various numbers of tiles depending on which version you are playing. The tiles either have country/state outlines or modes of transportation printed on them. The modes of transportation are generally cars and airplanes, but in the Europe game there are also ship cards. The object is to chart a course across Africa, Europe, or the USA. A player wins by being the first to complete a 10-day journey in which each day connects to the next day. Sounds simple, and it is easy to learn, but actually completing that journey is where the strategy and fun come in. Each player has his wooden tile holders in front of him. The holders are slotted and labeled Day 1 through Day 10. To begin, players all choose 10 cards to fill their slots. Where you place the cards as you choose them is where the strategy begins. As you choose cards, you are trying to line up neighboring countries/states next to each other. You do have the option of inserting cars, planes, or ships in between the cards, which can give you some extra "latitude"! After all players have full tile holders, the swapping begins and the strategy continues. Taking turns, each player may choose from one of three discard piles and replace a card she already holds. The boards are gorgeous and full color and are used as reference points throughout the game to build your journey. It is amazing to watch how quickly kids (and adults) learn where each country is and how they relate to each other's location! There is a quick learning curve, and before you know it the whole family recognizes and can name nations they previously didn't know existed. There are other interesting twists to the game that add to the interest. I don't want to give everything away. The first person to create a "connected" 10-day journey is the winner. Trust me, though, one round is never enough, so there is always a chance for everyone to win. A really GREAT aspect to all three games, particularly for homeschoolers, is that they take only about 20 to 30 minutes per round. 10 Days in the USA is the perfect way to finish off a lesson in US geography. ANY unit study program about Africa would be enhanced by 10 Days in Africa. 10 Days in Europe is fun anytime, especially if you are studying world history or European geography. I honestly am learning more about Europe playing this game than I knew from my own high school studies. Another neat perk is the inclusion of capitals and populations on each country or state card. That fact alone kept my kids interested and inspired lots of talk and discussion, particularly about the populations of many small countries in comparison to ours!

The 10 Days series has won numerous awards, and I think they deserve every one of them. I cannot wait to see what they come up with next in this series. My kids are really hoping for a Canadian supplement to the USA game, but whatever it is, I know it will be good and I won't hesitate to buy it. I HIGHLY recommend these and many other games from Out of the Box Publishing. They are simply the best and most fun we have found in years.

Product Review by Heidi Shaw, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June 2006