Another month finished in 2014 and I am still on target to complete my list. There are a couple of games that I continuously pass over when deciding what to bring to game night. Some are because I know the gaming group will hate them and I can’t bring myself to taking them under any pretext other than “I need to play this so I can cross it off my list”. Others are the longer or more complex games that I want to have an enjoyable experience and complete the game in the ‘allotted’ time (about 2 to 3 hours all told) might be difficult. On a side note, this Saturday (April 5th) is International Tabletop Day! If you haven’t made any plans to play at least a single game, I hope this gets you in the gaming spirit. Check out http://www.tabletopday.com/ for a gaming place in your area. I plan on playing a couple of games for the event.
The first game played is Rallyman – a game dealing with the international rally races. It’s a unique racing game that going more spaces on your turn doesn’t always mean you are going faster. This bears explanation since it takes a bit of time to get your head around the idea. There are five gear dice (gears 1 through 5) and two gas dice (blanks) that you may roll on your turn. These are all d6s – with a “hazard” symbol on some of the sides. Each die rolled moves your car a single space on the track and you may only roll any die once during your turn. At the end of your turn, you take a time card that correlates with the final gear die you rolled. Each type of card has a different amount of time on it (a first gear card is worth 50 seconds where as a 5th gear card is only worth 10 seconds of time). Remember this is a rally race, it doesn’t matter who crosses the finish line first, it all about the time it took you to finish that leg of the race. Confused? I was when I started playing. For example, let say I started the race (so I’m in neutral) and I roll all seven dice: 1-2-3-4-5-G-G (those G are the additional gas dice). I move my car 7 spaces and take a 5th gear card (worth 10 seconds). My following turn, I roll all 7 dice again: 5-4-3-2-1-G-G, move my car 7 spaces and I take a 1st gear card (worth 50 seconds). My opponent does the following over three turns: 1-2-3-4-5-G (5th gear so 10 seconds); 4-5-G-G (5th gear so 10 seconds)and 4-5-G-G (5th gear so 10 seconds) for the same number of spaces (14 in this case) but only 30 seconds worth of time! Add the fact that the corners have gear die speed limits, 3 hazard symbols make you lose control (2 if racing in snow) and you can shave time off time by rolling all the dice at once gambling that you might spin out and you have a great game. To top it all off, the game company has the World Rallyman Championship (WRC) with a very hard race each month with the winner getting bragging rights. If you haven’t tried this one, you’re doing a disservice – it’s a lot of fun.
In keeping with the theme after completing a 6 stage rally over the course of two days (I lost by 27 seconds), I played Snow Tails. This game has players taking control of a dog sled team trying to race down a course. Each player has an identical deck of cards ranging from 1 to 5. On your turn, you may play 1 to 3 cards as the strength of the left or right side of your team of dogs or your break. Each card you play in the turn must be the same numerical value. Once complete, you add the strengths of both dogs subtracting the break and you get the number of spaces you move your dogsled. The difference between the dog’s strength is the amount of lane changes you must take during your move. There is a speed limit before every turn that dictates the number of spaces you may move during the turn you actually cross that line. First over the finish line wins! There is definitely a bit of luck in which order you get your cards, but I have never been able to prove that the luck of the draw is the only thing keeping one from winning.
I enjoy a good racing game, but I want something that has both skill and luck in equal parts. In my youth I use to drive to Detroit, Michigan to play in a monthly Car Wars racing circuit. We would play two races on a Saturday that took pretty much the entire day (and I mean about 10 to 12 hours worth). It was pretty fun and the people I played with were all cool and fun to play with, but the 12 hour round trip drive (and a bad scheduling conflict that kept me from making it two months in a row) killed it for me. A while later, there was a group of people in Indianapolis that would play Formula De (this was before the De was shortened to D) on a regular basis. Most times it would be a single or maybe a two lap race without any car construction so it never came close to a good racing experience in my opinion. Since then, I have been trying to find the perfect racing game. I can’t say that I have found one even though a great many of them have came close. I will continue to try any new racing game that make it to the market (and a couple that haven’t) ever searching for that perfect racing game – although I don’t think one truly exists.
Until next time – Play a racing game!