Earlier this week I learned and played AuZtralia. Then played it again. Then again and again and again.
In the solitaire game you try to beat the Old Ones. They will score points if they're still on the board at the end of the game, and double points if they were still hidden. They also get points for destroying your farms. You get points for a personal goal, farms that survived, Old Ones you killed, some precious resources and some bonuses.
Placement of resources and Old Ones on the board is different every time. So first you study the map for a while. Then you make a plan. Where to put your Port (home base), as you'll have to build railways from there. How to lay tracks towards the resources and Old Ones - to fight them or at least get them out of hiding when time runs out. Where to put your farms. You get gold when you place a farm, that you can spend on troops for example. Also, it's nice to have them attract the Old Ones when they're heading towards your Port. So you can try to fight them where you want them.
Every action takes time, which is measured on a time track. You get a headstart on the Old Ones, but once your marker passes theirs, they start messing about. Their actions are easily resolved by a deck of cards. Most of the time you turn over one of their tiles. Then you see what it is, maybe a temple, maybe a Mi-go? Sometimes you're all prepared for a fight and it is just a kangaroo. Then they start moving towards you and you have to calculate when to hit, and which other actions you can still afford until then.
So far I play on the "hard" difficulty setting (there is no "normal"). Combat is great. You pick which of your troops to use (some of them are better against zombies, other against Shoggoth etc.), then you turn a card to see if you inflict damage and if the enemy inflicts damage (physical or sanity) on you. You can withdraw or continue fighting by taking another card. Of course, if you don't finish them off, you'll have to try again later, which will cost time and maybe gold. If you keep fighting however, you can lose some troops and they're expensive. Anyway, good fun. I even managed to beat Cthulhu once. It took me three fights, but it was so satisfying.
It plays very fast, 45 to 60 minutes and it feels like half an hour. I put the game away as I don't want to burn out on it in one week. But there's a harder difficulty, and another side to the board that looks interesting. Lots of replayability, I'd think.
Oh, I almost forgot! There are some cool Personality cards that will give permanent bonuses or one-time effects. Of course none of the characters appearing in this game intentionally resemble any persons living or dead.
I'm off, surfing the internet. As now I wanna catch 'em all!