Yo, I got a need for speed. Racing games are always fun and tense as you all desparately push for the finish. Well, actually, not always as you will see with a couple of these.
Its an oldy but a goody. Back in the day when there weren’t 300 new games released every day, there were leagues around town that played this game like a Formula 1 season, with 16 races recorded and final standings etc…because this was THE race game. Yes, it is luck ridden, yes the dice can screw you over because you decided to burn it down the straight using a D20, with the only roll that can ruin your race being a 20, which you then rolled, and everyone at the table pissed themselves laughing at your expense…but hey, when your not that guy and the other guy is that guy, its so funny when it happens to them, so don’t get mad. So yes, you roll dice. Starting with a D3, you gear up to a D6, D8 and so on (moving the number of spaces you roll). However, you must slow down to go around the corners, hence the burning tires to brake. It needs to be played fast like any race game to give the feel of actual racing. People should not over-analyse this, especially when playing with 6+ players, which is the best numbers to play with. It has numerous expansions for different maps, with the new edition having crazy alternate rules, like getting shot at when driving through the rough side of Chicago. We have it in the library, its the old version, but it has oodles of extra maps.
My favorite race game and my wife’s favorite race game too. Dog-sleigh racing…YES! No dice this time, just cards. You have a hand of 5 and can play 1, 2 or 3 cards on a turn (the twist being that they must be the same number i.e. you can play one 4, two 4’s or three 4’s). 1 card for each dog and 1 for the brake. You add up the sum of the dogs and subtract the brakes to get your speed. If the left dog is a 5 and the right dog is a 3 though you will drift to the left, which is how you turn. There are all kinds of obstacles including trees, other racers, narrow straights to navigate around and every time you hit something you take a dent card which knocks your hand size down from 5 to less than 5, depending on how badly you smushed up your sleigh. Some people can get a heavy dose of AP (Analysis Paralysis) playing this as you try to figure out exactly how to play those cards, but the designers have dealt with this brilliantly by including this in the game: You give it to someone when they are having a Big Paws….
First around the Island of Jamaica doesn’t win, but does get a butt-tonne of Gold, which you need to win. Along the way you will collect treasures, guns and food to help pay the costs to move (its quite an expensive business moving a Pirate ship) and fight your opponents. The player on turn will roll two dice and place them in the morning and afternoon slots. Every player will then pick a card from their hand and will receive the gold/guns/food/movement depending on what is on that card on its morning/afternoon slots. If ever you land on the same space as another player a battle occurs in which the winner gets to steal a bunch of stuff off of the loser. Again, its best with more players because there is a greater chance of landing on each other and fighting, which is what a Pirate game should be all about. Aaaaaaaaarrrrrrrr…..
Now we are talking! Tonnes of 3-sided dice and speed boats. Now that’s a racing game! Roll one dice to go, then speed up by rolling two, then three…faster you idiot, what can go wrong? Well, everything obviously, cos that would be a rubbish game if all you did was go faster and faster. Wait! A drag racing game, is there a game about that? Maybe it could be a real time game, involving a crap tonne a quick dice rolling…hmmm just braistorming here. Maybe I’ll suggest it to our Wednesday bi-weekly game design crew? Woah, did that get off-topic. So anyway. You can either add one dice, take one away or stay the same, re-rolling or keeping any number of those dice. So it takes a while to slow down, removing one dice at a time and its slow to turn as well (its water dude, a way less brakey/gripy material). There are lots of islands you have to zig-zag around, as well as annoying opponents as well. Similar to Snow Tails, if you crash to much into stuff you sink (well, you don’t sink in snow tails, but don’t be pedantic). This one feels like the most racey of the games I talked about, as people play quick and are trying to find the best lines to navigate around the islands. The dice has some luck, but because they are 3 sided and there are a lot, you can manipulate them cleverly to slow down and speed up by keeping and re-rolling the (hopefully) right dice.
Lewis and Clarke: The Expedition
This is my grey area game, is it a race game…really? Well, kind of, as the first person to get to the Pacific Coast wins, but then again, you could call any ‘first to’ game a race game, at its heart it is a hand management and worker placement game, but a very good one. How efficiently you manage your resources and workers will determine how quickly you move along the path to the Pacific. Your aim is to send your scout as far ahead as possible and then set up camp when you run out of cards to play. However, if you have excess cards, goods or workers in your boats your Scout moves backwards and you set up camp further down river than you hoped. Its a Grade A brain melter in its purest form, that will leave you unabashedly making weird, can’t decide what to do, faces as you try plan out the order in which to play your cards and workers. This is not one for the faint hearted. Its not overly complicated, but you will have some serious ‘I have no idea what to do’ moments, so if you are into that, get it, cos its one of the best. If you like your race games dicey and quick, avoid this like the bubonic plague.