Theme and What is it?
It is time to return the wildlife of Australia back to their original habitats. Your job is to load your jump full of these unique critters and take them home. Transport kangaroos, koalas, emus and other exotic creatures back to their place in the outback. Make sure they are close to others of their kind so they can start to repopulate this one-of-a-kind environment.
Outback is a family-friendly set collection and tile laying game for 2-4 players.
Outback has five different Aussie critters that players must introduce back into their natural environments. These critters are represented by tiles which are placed in a black bag. Each player is given an outback player board that has numbers on the right-hand side of it. These numbers represent the number of dice that must have the same animal type to place that animal in the corresponding roll.
The Jeep is placed in the middle of all players. Someone draws five animal tiles from the bag and places them on the Jeep. These are the animals that players can try to move from the Jeep to the player board depending on how the dice rolls turn out.
On a players’ turn, they roll six dice. Each animal has a face of the dice and then a wild face which can be used to represent any other animal face that has been rolled. Players can roll up to three times. Depending on what the dice are showing on the last roll, a player can take any animals on the Jeep that will fit on their player board.
Points are scored as animal tiles are placed on the board and extra points are received if the animal type is placed next to an existing animal tile of the same type. There are two-point tracks on the board. At the end of the game, the final score is made up of the lowest three animals on the left score track and then any animals that moved from the left track to the track on top of the player board. It seems difficult trying to explain it, but it is very simple. The player with the most points wins!
I played my first game with my kids. Outback seemed like a game they would enjoy. I was right about that. They really loved it and picked it up really fast. Of course, the Jeep was the highlight of the game. It is a great addition. The publisher could have used a board to accomplish what it needed to create a tile pool, but the Jeep is a nice touch that shows that the publisher knew who would be playing this game.
Outback is made to be enjoyed by families and young players. It has mechanics that work well with these demographics. It played very fast and there was not too much downtime, which is key when playing games with kids.
Game Build Quality
The components for Outback were all well done. The player boards are heavy duty and they are double sided so you can play a more advanced game. The tiles will hold up well. The dice are fun. Like I mentioned above, the Jeep is not necessary but totally welcomed. The kids wanted to play with it after the game was over. I said no way. The components are nice, but not nice enough to let my two boys have at them unsupervised.
Since this game is made for kids, it has some great cartoon art that allows kids to become invested in the game. My seven-year-old was really worried about the animals and wanted to help them. The art allowed him to suspend his disbelief and fully engage with the theme and play of the game. It is alright that the artwork doesn’t do much for me. It is not supposed to. I have the opportunity to hang out with my kids and see them have fun.
At its core, Outback is a pretty solid tile laying, set collection game. It is designed for younger minds. It kept my kids involved the whole game. That does not always happen. I think that the quick turns and the short game length helped with this. The scoring system was different than what you would expect and that was very refreshing. My seven-year-old even picked up on it and was making strategies to maximize his score.
Age Range & Weight
Outback is recommended for 8+. I played with my seven and almost four-year-old. We coached the four-year-old the whole game. Most of it was beyond his comprehension and that was totally expected. My seven-year-old picked it right up, loved it and has asked to play it the past few nights. He ended up winning our first game, by a lot. He was able to get into the game and fully enjoy it.
Outback is a family game and is built to allow parents and kids to enjoy quality time together. As a parent the game felt flat, but I know it was not built for me. It was built to spend time with my kids. It provides that great opportunity. I didn’t hate the game and would be willing to play it when one of the kids asks for it. That is how most family games are for us. It is super rare that Ally and I, as parents, love the games that our kids love (when we find games like that, they are treasures!). We play games like Outback to help our kids develop skills to one day play the games we love. We started out the same way they did. I guarantee that my parents didn’t like most of the kids’ games that my brother and I liked to play, but they took time out of their busy schedules to hang out with us and show that they were interested in the things we liked. Outback let’s me do the same for my kids.