Off Track, In The Weeds, & Down A Rabbit Hole

Getting lost in the details of tangents and finding new paths.

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KICK the Tires and Get This Race STARTED

JPE Reynolds
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Microbadge: F1 fanMicrobadge: Championship Formula Racing fanMicrobadge: "I'm in love with racing..."Microbadge: Racing Games fanMicrobadge: Ayrton Senna fan
Several racing Kickstarters are nearing the finish line with one about to be "lights out" as it launches on Tuesday (11/30).


1. Megapulse - Backed: Veteran pledge level with both mini expansions.

In the vein of Rush n' Crush, Megapulse looks incredible and sounds fun and easy to play. Reviews and TTS playthroughs are positive. The Kickstarter looks well-designed with reasonable stretch goals and reward levels. Based on the available rules, reviews, and information, the game and its mechanics really seem to capture the look and feel of F-Zero and Mario Kart-style party racers. I love the modular track. Unlike Rallyman: GT, this game has locking track tiles like Moto Grand Prix - a huge plus. Unfortunately, this project has somehow has completely stalled out after taking a week to fund without hitting the first stretch goal. From the comments, there is only one guy, the designer, handling all aspects of the Kickstarter, by himself, after a 9-5 day job. The lack of updates is a tad concerning as a lot of potential backers look to the number of Updates to gauge the strength of the project and its designer team. Many backers are concerned that the much-desired solo expansion is the last, currently unobtainable, stretch goal. The game is, sadly, not being promoted on BGG. The designer mentions not having enough time and money for a proper marketing push - bummer. I wonder why the project wasn't canceled and postponed until better marketing is available. The designer has reassured backers that the solo expansion will be available in PnP - it would be nice to see it and the remaining cards available on Gamecrafter or other PnP site.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/orion-games/megapulse/d...

Board Game: Megapulse

Similar games in my collection: Apocalypse Road, Powerboats, Snow Tails, Rush n' Crush.


2. World Auto Racing - Backed: Kickstarter Limited Edition 5 Deck Box

World Auto Racing did not initially jump out at me. Card only, no minis, no traditional track board, and drifting - all things that are not on my racing game radar. I steered into this one a little more and it gained traction. The project is moving along and hitting stretch goals.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/worldautoracing/world-a...

Board Game: World Auto Racing

Similar games in my collection: Mille Bornes, WAR would be a decent addition to my collection since nothing else I currently own comes close.


3. Speed Paper - Backed: Speed Paper: Deluxe Edition

Speed Paper has no BGG listing, yet. Fun looking little dexterity game for four to six dollars. Reminds me of VektoRace and Papecarz: The Papercraft Racing Board Game. Lose tire wear when you physically twist/turn your car - clever. The Kickstarter is moving along nicely with 20+ days left and all but the last two stretch goals unlocked - the full grid mini-expansion that gives four new teams, and the solo mini-expansion. Can't wait to get this printed and played.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/garzonart/speed-paper-a...

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Similar games in my collection: Nothing.


4. Race! Formula 90: 2nd Edition - Backed: Level 4 - Formula Champion

Race! Formula 90: 2nd Edition is highly rated and recommended game with a dedicated and passionate following that has inspired and guided the changes made to this already solid game, so I could not understand why this project took almost a week to fund and then sputtered along. Only now in the last four days of the race do we see any traction in achieving stretch goals. I hope the campaign hits the turbo and rockets through the stretch goals. The game I could care less about cloth bags and UV coating, preferring additional content and game modes which is why I'm rooting for this project to hit at least the Pro Driver Module stretch goal.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/race-formula-90/race-fo...

Board Game: Race! Formula 90: 2nd Edition

Similar games in my collection: (at least in theme) Formula D, Championship Formula Racing, Formula Dé, Formula-1


5. Formula'21GP - Backed: ...soon. - Backed: Champion Box

Formula'21GP looks incredible. Formula'21GP recently released some gameplay videos that may have soured me on the game as a group experience. I can't tell if it was the accent, the actual gameplay, the way the video was shot, or some combination of the three. At first glance, most of the game's features and descriptions of how it differs from existing F1 board games, read like a collection of BGG fan-made variants from all the best and popular Formula 1 racing board games. The gameplay is an interesting mix of simulation and abstracted randomness. I only got into F1 during the 2019 season, after Drive to Survive hit Netflix, making this project the one I was looking forward to the most with its focus on modern Formula 1 cars, strategy, and tactics.

The gameplay as described in the videos didn't bore me, it confused me to a degree. Even with that, I think I could enjoy the solo game as an enthusiast. Only enjoying the solo experience, possibly, is not too bad if the KS comes in cheap which I don't think it will. The board features magnetic track sections which will most-likely be heavy, meaning it will cost mucho to ship. Neat idea but tabs like in Moto Grand Prix would have been better.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ducksgames/formula21gp?...

Board Game: Formula'21GP

Similar games in my collection: (at least in theme) Formula D, Championship Formula Racing, Formula Dé, Formula-1
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Sun Nov 28, 2021 10:50 pm
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Sorry, Sorry!, But This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things OR How I Got Triggered At WalMart

JPE Reynolds
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Last week, my son and I went to our local Walmart looking for the recently released Masters of the Universe Origins line by Mattel. We found pegs with no product. Both of our Walmarts were completely sold out. I'm not used an entire toyline being sold out - I can still buy Last Jedi figures. This is a good sign for the MOTU IP. On our way out we decided to swing by the board game section. Some the Child (Baby Yoda) caught my eye and I thought, brace for the tidal wave. I grabbed the Mandalorian Operation and showed my son. We looked at the back and I realized that the Mando/Baby Yoda theme was simply "copy/pasted" because money. The game board is a depiction of Baby Yoda its hover bassinet. The 11 (not 12 anymore) random items to be extracted are located on the bassinet and not Baby Yoda itself. I get the Baby Yoda iconography is Disney's new license to print money, but they could have used the sand crawler with Mando's ship parts, the Mandalorian forge with Baby Yoda hanging out, Mando's ship with the same random stuff, or just Baby Yoda since he eats everything. The Brothers Hassenfeld do not equal integrity, but someone there could possibly, maybe pretend to try. I've never owned a copy of Operation, only playing copies at relatives' houses, so I no nostalgic love-loss, but the laziness of the poor execution is disappointing.

From gallery of jetcougar
From gallery of jetcougar

I tell my son to prepare, Disney's gonna put Baby Yoda on everything... then I see Mandalorian Trouble. Flipping the box to the back I see another copy/pasted use of the Mandalorian. After a deep breath I remember that Trouble is the simplest Pachisi-Ludo-Sorry!. It's a racing game and it has a Pop-O-Matic bubble. More games should have a Pop-O-Matic bubble, hell, I would back a KickStarter for a Pop-O-Matic bubble that I could load with any type of polyhedral die. TIL Peyo of Smurfs fame is the credited artist... smurfy. SW Mandalorian Trouble is smurfing approved, next...

From gallery of jetcougar
From gallery of jetcougar

I love Sorry! and Parchisi (yes, in that order) I have three copies of Parchisi, two copies of Sorry! Sliders, and one 80s version of Sorry! by Parker Brothers. I gave away my copy of Sorry! with Fire & Ice Power-ups after one play - the fire and ice mechanic added another layer of take-that making a fun family game a miserable exercise. So seeing Hasbro's latest version of Sorry! bummed me out. Players are pets who have pooped and pee'd all over the house and broke or shredded anything not pooped or pee'd on, the owners are coming home and the winner is the pet that hides first.

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Misbehave, act like a savage, and avoid accountability to win OR Be an irresponsible fool who owns a crap-ton of pets with improper housing, enrichment, and training - it's fun. Why be responsible, be selfish, you're entitled.

From gallery of jetcougar
From gallery of jetcougar

I know I found these at Walmart and I know who this version of Monopoly is meant for but come on, I'm 40mins south of San Francisco. Perpetuating stereotypes is tight. Hey Hasbro, 1998 called, they want their relevance back. Amidst all this toxic cancel-culture, it's good to see there's still one group we can openly mock.

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From gallery of jetcougar

This one has me genuinely confused. How does Hasbro think this game will perform - again, I know I found it at Walmart, I even know several hunters here in metropolitan NorCal. When I saw Deer Pong I thought it was some independent publisher that somehow got product in my local Walmarts... nope, it's Hasbro.

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The mounted trophy buck was not the message that put me off, after all, everybody loved the singing mounted bass, it was the need for early indoctrination pre-teens in drinking games. I know not every game coming out of Europe or Asia is a class act, I mean have we truly ran out of ideas. Shame on us.

From gallery of jetcougar
From gallery of jetcougar

This last one should be an adult collectible. I recently learned that some adult admirers of railway graffiti/street art actually buy model train cars and pay to have them professionally painted with graffiti. Great. This is being sold to and marketed to kids. I realize it's based on the mobile game Subway Surfers and still, I argue it could've been handled with some modicum of responsible restraint. Instead of making graffiti more acceptable, move it to the collectibles section and market it towards a slightly older crowd with the maturity to appreciate the distinction between urban street art and gang-banger tagging. I am split between appreciating/marveling at awesome street art that enriches areas affected by urban blight and occasionally, personally dealing with local inappropriate graffiti that devalues not enriches. There is a balance that could have been struck, after all, graffiti cleanup costs US taxpayers $12 billion annually. I'd have a softer, more positive opinion of this product if the number of smiling penises I've painted over near my neighborhood didn't require multiple limbs to count.

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From gallery of jetcougar
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Wed Sep 2, 2020 5:24 am
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Wrapped & Wrangled Wrasslin - Oooh Yeah!!! Brother!

JPE Reynolds
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I have had a new-in-shrink copy of Wrasslin' for 20 years now. I originally bought it off eBay so a friend of mine could play. My friend is/was a huge professional wrestling fanatic, so I figured this was a lock. WRONG! No games were played and it set for four years buried at the top of my closet, almost forgotten, until I got married and moved. Then it sat on a shelf with all of my collectibles in a different closet for another nine years, unopened, until we moved to our current home, at which point it went into storage in the garage. Two years later I stumbled across Adam Porter's amazing My home-made Deluxe 25 Anniversary Edition! thread. I was knocked out and down for the count. Check it out if you have not seen the thread already. I respect Adam's decision not to post the files and I was not going to spend the time to do it myself since I had never played the game. But the thread did make me locate my copy of Wrasslin', buried deep in the garage. The problem was it was now a 26-year-old game still in the shrink... I couldn't do it, I'd get nervous and put it back in the storage box.
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Flash forward four years to the year 2020 and it's day six of the shelter-in-place lockdown. We had recently received Cage Match!: The MMA Fight Game and were having a blast. I had recently revisited Adam's post and was determined to play this game as part of a BGG Fight Night. Wrasslin', you're goin' down, brother! After pulling it out of storage, it sat on the table unopened for two days. I contemplated buying a used, open copy to play instead of opening my sealed copy that I had before I met my wife, before marriage, kids, and two career changes.

Eventually, I decided to "jump in the cold water" and play this game. After all, it's a game, it wants to be played. I held it in my hand for a moment and after a few deep breathes to psych myself up I nervously tore the shrinkwrap. The sense of "ain't no goin' back now" was palpable. For a brief second, I questioned what I had done. I powered through it and opened the box and was greeted by the smell of 1990.
From gallery of jetcougar
From gallery of jetcougar

The components looked freshly printed with no fading. Even though it is expected with a sealed box, it is still cool to see all of the flyers and adverts a game was released with. A little time-traveling peek into the board game industry and advertising from 30 years ago. Inside you find two, GIANT, stacks of cards and no insert, no way to contain the 192 cards that the game comes with. Shame AH, shame. As I dig deeper, the rigors of age begin to show. The cards have weird damage that I have not seen before in cards. The center of the left edge of 128 of the cards popped open, exposing the layers of the card. It is hard to see in the pictures that I took, but it looked like some tiny little object embedded in the card's edge popped. This necessitated the use of sleeves and also made sleeving a tad difficult.
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From gallery of jetcougar
From gallery of jetcougar

Now let's check out the wrestlers. Uh, oh! they originally had a rubberband binding them. That rubberband has mummified and has, luckily, not destroyed the wrestlers with its mummy's curse. Turns out that the wrestlers are attached two giant, perforated sheets of card stock, one for "good" wrestlers and one for "bad" wrestlers. OH MAN, Mean Gene! I can't believe it. I have come this far and now I have to try to successfully separate 24 cards on 30-year-old card stock with questionable perforation. What followed was the most nerve-racking 15 minutes. I folded the card to-and-fro to make tearing easier, but this was time-consuming and tedious. Fold, fold, tear... *slowly you idiot*, got it - now repeat 23 more times. This is where I make mistakes as I get impatient and start to take shortcuts. Each time I went to take a shortcut on the last 12, 10, or six wrestlers I had to talk myself out of it. Stressful. I wanted it to be over. Hang on "Baby Face", "Mr. Umpire", you're outta here!
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From gallery of jetcougar

From gallery of jetcougar

Done. Everything looks great. I had to order sleeves even though I have bridge size sleeves, I just don't have 192 of the same kind. It's a lot of cards. While I waited on Amazon do deliver the sleeves, I printed out everything from All-Star Replay magazine. Only official stuff for this fake-wrestling fan. The game came with 12 blank cards to customize with new moves and actions. I took Adam's sage advice and made copies of "Boston Crab" and "Bear Hug" to increase their draw frequency. I have 10 blank cards left with no idea how to customize them. Adam did mention two new cards: 1. Fan Support (Unique): Discard 1-3 additional cards and draw back up, and 2. Hail Mary (Unique/Reaction): May play/discard 1 additional card. +1 Skill or +1 Agility this turn only. (NB: This works similarly to Power Surge but doesn't require mobility), but he wasn't sure the quantity. I have contemplated PMing Mr. Porter and asking but always chicken out. We added deck-sleeves, some red dice for the "Bad" wrestler player, and a card tray from some 80s game - did I mention it has a lot of cards? Now everything is wrangled.
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From gallery of jetcougar

From gallery of jetcougar

My youngest son and I played a quick match using the quickstart rules. We had fun. As "The Kimono Lizard", I came out quick punching and kicking "The Cyclops" upside his big, dumb, head. This went back and forth a few rounds with both combatants damaging the other and healing until I fell into a horrific draw-drought. My son continued to draw usable cards every turn. The match ending undramatically with "The Cyclops" stomping the "Lizard" into a pulpy pile. "The Cyclops" was very pleased with this outcome. Wrasslin' was fun. I can see why people love it so much. We have yet to play a match using the full rules. I have struggled with the rulebook - it feels unnecessarily wordy. Like a manager's interference, life has tripped me up in my attempts to get back in the ring with this classic.
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Wed Aug 26, 2020 5:14 am
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Mech Assault!

JPE Reynolds
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In 1990, three high school freshmen walk to a nearby theatre to watch Robot Jox. One of these teenagers would walk out of the theater with a new passion for all things giant robot and a vision of what the future would be. Growing up in rural Nevada offered few opportunities to witness Astro Boy, Mazinger Z, Gundam, Armored Trooper Votoms, Robotech, or Voltron. I saw glimpses of these shows on TV and knew people that owned a few of the toys so it wasn’t lack of exposure that I wasn’t already into giant robos. Maybe it was just the right movie at the right time. The effects are great and hold up pretty well today. Paul Kolso as Alexander has few lines but because of a combination of accent and campy delivery, they are comedy gold.

"You're next! ACHILLEEEEEEES!"
"Achilles! I have already killed you, right here! [points to his head]. Hahahahahahahahaha!"
"I could, you know, squash you both! Like bugs!"

From gallery of jetcougar

I watched Robot Jox with my sons last year. Nostalgically I enjoyed it way more than they did. It had been roughly 20 years since I saw it last. I think my sons enjoyed watching me watch the movie more than the movie itself; maybe it was, me quoting every one of Alexander's lines before Kolso delivers them, or me rewinding and pointing out Anne-Marie Johnson's obvious male stunt-double during a fight scene, not sure, but a good time was had by all.

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Robot Jox unquestionably was the catalyst for a lot of purchases over the last thirty years. BattleTech always caught my eye when I was at my local game and hobby stop as I bounced back-and-forth between Battletech and Palladium's Robotech (original line) and the 2nd edition of Battletech. I still have the version pictured below, minus the box for some reason, still unplayed and buries in my garage. I bought it with the intention of getting my friends to play and the inclusion of Robotech mecha mashed-up with Robot Jox-esque mechs was a bonus. I spent hours designing mechs and attempting to draw them (my mecha skills mucho sucked). Over the years I would stumble across my unplayed set and wonder if now was the time to play or sell. Years passed and still no plays.

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*this is not a picture of my personal copy*

A few years later I stumbled across Heavy Gear Tactical and Ronin: Duels at the same local game and hobby shop. I loved the military aesthetic and squad aspect of the Heavy Gear mechs with their freaking cool names like Jaguar and Black Mamba, and I thought the MAG-HIT system of Ronin could be adapted to Heavy Gear. I liked that the mechs are between 12-20ft tall and the pilot sat in the chest. At the time I had recently watched a couple of Mobile Police: Patlabor anime movies and loved the scale and designs. The Gears felt inspired by the patrol labors of Mobile Police. I bought one squad of minis and realized instantly that I have no desire or skill to assemble and paint minis. My loathing for painting does exceed my love for mechs but with so many other painted options, the mech itch gets scratched. I picked up several books from the core RPG rulebook to the tactical miniatures and sport/arena skirmish (Heavy Gear Blitz!) rulebooks to explore the mechanics and world. Recently, I learned that Heavy Gear Badlands Rally exists and wondered why it has taken me seven years to find out about a giant mech racing game - that's two of my favorite jams rolled into one.

From gallery of jetcougar
From gallery of jetcougar
*if you're gonna put a wench on a mech, I guess the crotch is as good a spot as any - this is when your anime becomes hentai*

Let's not forget the mech related video games. The short-lived Atari Jaguar had the awesome Iron Soldier. Iron Soldier was my first dip into the mech simulator pool offering weapon different weapons, a cockpit view, and fully destructible environments. Then came the original Playstation which offered a huge amount of mech options in a variety of flavors. I was super into Armored Core putting a lot of time into customizing mechs. I pick up its early PS1 sequels Armored Core: Project Phantasma and Armored Core: Master of Arena for more mech action. Stepping away from the first-person-shooters, PS1 also had a couple of solid JRPGs in Xenogears and Front Mission 3. Next up, I chose the Xbox over the PS2 for Halo and its mech offerings. My first online gaming experience started with MechAssault. The sequel MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf was purchased shortly before getting married and starting a family, so it didn't get the same love as Armored Core or Mech Assault. The last giant robo purchase for the Xbox was Capcom's Steel Battalion and its sequel Steel Battalion: Line of Contact. As a first-party specialty controller nerd, the massive cockpit simulator controller is insane. You have to go through a start-up sequence just to turn the actual ignition key. This is the apex of at-home mech piloting. I spent a considerable amount of time and money on Sega's Virtual On: Cyber Troopers, Capcom's Armored Warriors, and in BattleTech Cockpit Simulator Pods at my local Dave & Busters. The sim pods are the closest you will come to piloting a 20+ft mechanized vertical tank with controls to switch weapons systems, deploy countermeasures, reroute coolant to prevent coolant loss, or to tactically cool a weapon for immediate refire. The pods were sold off years ago and went to Cupertino, California, and Houston, Texas. When I got into retro gaming emulation I learned about Cybernator and Metal Warriors for the SNES. Awesome games with cool mech gameplay. In Metal Warriors, you have a laser sword and the ability to pop out and commandeer enemy mechs with different features. With the help of eBay, I was able to secure a couple of used copies for my vintage SNES.

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From gallery of jetcougar
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From gallery of jetcougar
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From gallery of jetcougar
From gallery of jetcougar
From gallery of jetcougar
From gallery of jetcougar

TV and movie-wise, it's been a little leaner. All you had for the longest time was Crash and Burn (1990) and Robot Wars (1993). Then in 2013, we got Pacific Rim with incredible jager designs and even more incredible names: Gipsy Danger, Coyote Tango, Crimson Typhoon, and Striker Eureka. Of course, I had to get the prequel graphic novel and art book.

From gallery of jetcougar

I am not the only one. Carlos Owens of Alaska had a girlfriend... had. What he does have is an 18ft mech that he built in his spare time from working on the Alaska pipeline. Not sure what Carlos is up to now or how the NMX04-1A (Ultra Mega Man) is progressing since his last 2007 blog update. https://www.wired.com/2005/09/my-robot-can-shoot-fire/

In the last few years, I got turned on to Hawken: Real-Time Card Game. We have the Hawken on Xbox One and it looks great but plays mediocre. The card game is fun to play with some fun and thematic mechanics. I enjoyed the game enough to want more mechs, so I crafted over 270 cards for a fan-made expansion bringing the roster from four mechs to thirteen.

From gallery of jetcougar

At the end of January, I pulled the trigger and ordered GKR: Heavy Hitters and BattleTech: Beginner Box. GKR was on super sale and was more of an impulse buy than anything. It currently, sits in the box unplayed. GKR has beautiful, incredibly detailed, and painted mech models with awesome components, but it just seems fiddly to me - I've watched numerous gameplay videos and none have alleviated my concerns. I got Battletech in the hopes of playing with my youngest son. I had read some reviews and watched a few gameplay and review videos. I wasn't sure if BattleTech: A Game of Armored Combat would get played like my original Battletech so after looking into it, I went with the Introductory version at the smaller price point and simpler ruleset. A couple of weeks ago my son and I fulfilled a 30-year quest to get a gosh-darn game of Battletech played. Granted it was the latest version and not the 2nd edition copy I purchased so many years ago, a game of Battletech still got played. Catalyst Games Labs did a good job streamlining the rules and the gameplay. The wet-erase laminated player sheets are amazing. The sheets are paper-thin and do not appear laminated but they are, I hesitated writing on them at first. I would like to incorporate coolant rules and torse movement at some point, but for now, it is cool to get a version of Battletech to the table.

From gallery of jetcougar
From gallery of jetcougar
From gallery of jetcougar

During this quarantine, I realized that I was actually right all those years ago. Robot Jox does indeed show a glimpse of the future.

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Thu May 21, 2020 5:42 am
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Lost in the Amazon

JPE Reynolds
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Much like YouTube, Amazon.com is a spectacularly ridiculous rabbit hole to venture down. Earlier today I received an eBay email notification about a Subbuteo set I had viewed last week, it was still $35 + $25 shipping - too rich for my blood especially if it won't see the table often. Then I remembered the killer deal I scored on Championship Formula Racing through Amazon and I thought it would be a good idea to pop over to the Amazon and see what's doin'. I spent a few hours cruising around looking at expensive classics and unknown-to-me games.

Soccer or Getting My Kicks w/ Flicks
Subbuteo is a game that I think I will love. I get easily frustrated with finger flicking dexterity games and lose patience and interest. But..., I did play for six years when I was younger and coached for six years when I was not young. Who knows? I do love the stadium people build, the tournaments, and the passion that Subbuteo fans have for the game. Tons of clubs, accessories, and teams, including all-female squads. Alas, no Subbuteo available for delivery to me. I'm not even interested in the copy for $35 + $40 shipping. Seventy-five dollars is a bit much for something I've seen thrifted for $6 to $20 here on BGG. I think I am also fearful that if I dive down this rabbit hole I'll end up with half of my garage dedicated to a Subbuteo stadium and the other half dedicated to a 1/32 scale slot cars and a track model of either, Monza, Hockenheimring, or The Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.

From gallery of jetcougar

From gallery of jetcougar

In my cheapness, I considered finger football. The preview video I watched made the game feel potentially more frustrating than fun. There are two versions at two different price points both made in the United States. Finger Football is at $35 while Futbolito is at $65 - the only real difference is, what amounts to, a thirty dollar marble.

From gallery of jetcougar

From gallery of jetcougar

Soccero (Second Edition) seems like a viable option for me. No flicking dexterity option to possibly annoy me and has you controlling the players and not Manager-style managing a team with AI players. Out-of-Print and $200 on Amazon.com. Umm..., no thanks. At that price point, I could get stupid with Subbuteo and add-ons.

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Trying to find a cheaper alternative to Subbuteo I clicked on a thumbnail for a sponsored products related to this item and discovered the "gem". Come on! Those are 20oz soda pop tops. I can't even with this... (if I'm being honest, my mother's mantra, "Put it back, we can make that" was ringing in my ears).

From gallery of jetcougar


Risk-y Business
LEADERS: The Combined Strategy Game grabbed my attention with the first shot. Frak yeah! Look at that cover - it screams. Merica, eff yeah! The visuals make you instantly think of Risk. Comments and reviews claim it fixes RISK which is great, but it's tethered to an app, a device. Spheres of Influence: Struggle for Global Supremacy fixes RISK and does it without an app or a device. SoI's 2nd edition/expansion KS is being held up by the coronavirus pandemic. I have a soft spot for RISK even though I have now come to dislike the core game. I have a lot of variants in the RISK file section, enough that I and the number of variants were recently mentioned in a Geeklist as proof that RISK is a beloved game. For classic RISK I prefer Castle Risk which is why I regret not getting Risk: Europe at Target for $20 when I had the chance. Leaders has some cool features like a tech tree and different units that make the game feel like a mash-up with Axis & Allies. At the end of the day, 2nd Ed. Spheres will offer a "RISK" and "Castle RISK" map, factions, special events (allowing for terrorists, zombies, aliens, nukes... basically everything I made variants for) without an app in half the time. Leaders playtime can range 90 minutes for 2-players to 4-effing-hours for 6-players. I am going to "borrow" the combat mechanic from Leaders. The different units use different colored dice with different success and failure amounts. Infantry is 3/3, tanks 4/2, and aircraft are 3/2 and one double success. This mechanic could be instantly applied to any RISK with infantry, cavalry, and cannon bits.

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I Keep Coming Back
Scrimish Card Game continues to catch my eye for its light gameplay that lets me fight various warriors at a reasonable price. This version is skinned in Pillars of Eternity greatness which is a pro and a con. Pro: I only recently discovered PoE during the Xmas break from school. A great game that checks all the boxes for a Dungeon Siege/Balder's Gate-type adventure not beholden to D&D canon. Con: Because of the quarantine, I brought out Groo: The Game and its expansion Groo: The Game – Expansion Set. I went onto BGG to see if there were any user-made stuff to print out. Nothing. There was mention that Pillars of Eternity: Lords of the Eastern Reach is a straight-up clone of Groo. I watched the Dice Tower review with Tom Vasel, it was not good. They added tokens and gems to the dice to add more fiddly-ness and changed the Groo cards to a Chaos die roll. The Groo cards offered two additional options that allow you to move Groo to any town of your choice or move him to the next town. The Chaos die affects all players not just the one with Groo outside their town. The Groo cards fit the character and give the game fun little take-that moments. The Chaos die just adds randomness for the sake of randomness. The PoE people are putting their IP on anything that sits still long enough, changing somethings to make it seem unique. I am not sure what Scrimish PoE changed if anything.

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Go is considered the oldest continuously played board game. People dedicate their whole lives to playing and improving. The history and passion interest me, the possibility that it will sit next to my many backgammon, multiple chess/checker, Othello/Reversi, and mancala sets and collect dust makes me pass. Amazon.com had so many different sets ranging from 12-200 dollars. The plastic and magnetic sets felt too cheap and trashy. They had one with gaudy knit jars - hard pass. The fancier wood and ceramic sets were very nice but, like Crokinole, the high cost, singular dedication, and footprint keep me from owning either game. The version pictured below has a standard 19x19 mat and "Baby Bear" pieces - not too fancy and not too trashy. A cost of $23 with free shipping helped it crawl into my cart.

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Dead Men Tell No Tales. It's solo-able, collaborative, there's combat, stealth, fog-of-war, and this ship's on fire. A 30% discount is good but not great. I may wait and see if this gets closer to the $20-$25 range. There is so much going on here that it's crazy. We have games that focus on heists, pirates, fire fighting, and dungeon-crawling - throw in the possibility of a sinking ship and drowning, and you've got a helluva game. Current economic uncertainty and recent KickStarters prevent me from getting this at this time.

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The Fight Games
Cage Match!: The MMA Fight Game looks like a knock-out. The box art has an impact - very dynamic. According to reviews, the game plays fast with a match lasting from 5-15 minutes. The fighters/players get to choose their actions unlike Title Bout 2. TB2 uses a deck of cards to randomly determine the outcome of a match. I am indifferent to MMA but this game has me in a chokehold. It is sad really, with all of the boxing, data, and history, Title Bout 2 should be an easy KO for me - it would be if it played like Cage Match!

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Book It!: The Pro Wrestling Promoter Card Game made a big entrance only to get pinned when it entered the ring. It's a manager-style game, bummer. Book It! did remind me that I have an unopened copy of Wrasslin'. Wrasslin' looks fun but I just can't bring myself to open it up. I would love to make my own copy using Adam Porter's My home-made Deluxe 25 Anniversary Edition!. Understandably, since he is a game designer he will not upload the files. He did a great job that I cannot replicate.

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Good From Far but Far From Good
I had never seen not heard of ORIGINZ: The Superpowered Card Game and what's with the "z", was this made in the 90s? Maybe it has xtreme gameplay. The card art looks great and has a lot of homages and references to pop-culture movies and comics. The homages kinda remind me of Zombicide - so many fun character puns. While reading the bulleted features, I got sleepy at "264 cards, 12 dividers..." and moved onto another game. Granted, 264 cards is not a lot by modern board game standards, but it is a lot for me. I finished penny sleeving 420 cards for GKR: Heavy Hitters and its Sweet & Salty expansion - I'm still salty about it.

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I went from finger football to Mighty Pig Tug and started to wonder if I had stumbled onto some adult games by accident. I ain't tuggin' no pig, but le'me see what's goin' on anyway... oh, it's a family game designed by a teacher - well, seems like the shelter-in-place is messin' with my mind. The preview video was adorable with the designers demoing the game. The cute couple (I assume) are super-nice and polite. So nice, that if someone said, "I like to eat nuts", they would not have to clarify "almonds" after all the giggling. Nice component quality but, it ain't no Loopin' Chewie.

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Wed Mar 25, 2020 7:24 am
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The Big Race

JPE Reynolds
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Microbadge: F1 fanMicrobadge: Championship Formula Racing fanMicrobadge: "I'm in love with racing..."Microbadge: Racing Games fanMicrobadge: Ayrton Senna fan
Championship Formula Racing has been in podium position since I received it in late January. The rules were quickly raced through, bits were punched, and then it was lights out for the DIY PnP Grand Prix that concluded earlier this week.

Visually CFR reminds me of the mobile game Motorsport Manager. This comparison is fitting because both games were designed by die-hard F1 fans initially as an independent effort before Ultra PRO (CFR) and SEGA (MM) took over. The original Motorsport Manager is a fun little game that has grown with each release. I have completed the mobile and tablet version of Motorsport Manager, a few hours left before completing MM2, and a few hours into MM3. For the last five years, Motorsport Manager has been a great alternative to playing an F1 racing game with really, real people. Heck, even the look and feel of my weather tokens are a mashup of the weather mechanic in Motorsport Manager and the additional "canon" rules for Speed Circuit.

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CFR looks to offer a complete experience but it does not. The box lists 1-12 players and includes 12 slick-looking plastic cars but only has eight Car Setup & Speed decks. The rules state that the additional drivers beyond eight are meant to be Historical Drivers which would be OK if there were enough Car Setup & Speed decks. I think Backers received 12 decks with 12 cars. I am not sure why the decks were dropped but not the cars - cost maybe. This shortage of decks was not an issue at first. My first priority was to print out the Historical Drivers from the 1st edition and the KickStarter campaign. Fickle Fiend: Elite Gamers Repository has the CFR Historical Drivers Set which includes 19 drivers not included in the 2nd edition release plus the original version(?) of the four drivers that are included in the 2nd edition. I have only raced one lap while trying to learn the Historical Driver (HD) rules. I would really like to come back to them at some point.

I became obsessed with filling the CFR game box with stuff. Why not add four more decks of cards? I mean, I have 12 cars, so I need 12 Car Setup & Speed decks... right? Back to Fickle Fiend to download decks 9-12 for a small donation. I was in a hurry to get the extra decks printed so that I could stuff them in the box and check the weight. Such a hurry that, I had a miscalculation in the printing orientation resulting in poker-sized Car cards and Euro-sized Speed cards. This mental lock-up was serendipitous as it actually allows me to fit everything and then some into the game box.

The goal became to be able to accommodate 12 really, real players with minimal table presence. The car setup and speed cards, skill, wear, pit, damage, and tire tokens collectively take-up a decent amount of space around the track board. For drivers that want a pre-made car setup, I made copies of the minimalistic tarot-sized driver strategies from the instruction manual. For drivers that want to design their own car, I made more compact tarot-sized consoles with 1cm cubes to replace the car setup cards. The consoles work as intended but aesthetically they are lacking. Prior to the consoles, I was going to make square 1in car and driver tiles to replace the cards and decided against the labor. During a CFR race, my gaming buddy asked if I had considered square 1in tiles. I had considered it, but I wasn't looking forward to making 12 double-sided tiles for 12 potential really, real drivers - after reconsidering I made four sets. Ultimately, I would like to order some professionally made square tokens for 12 drivers. The square tiles are nice and compact and allow you to more clearly and easily use the -20 damage token, plus they're not as fiddly as the consoles.

Soon I realized that there was an inadequate amount of tokens to actually accommodate 12 racers. I set out to make additional tokens. Drivers 9-12 needed pit markers, damage, and double-sided soft and hard tire tokens. The games also seemed to have an inadequate amount of 1-Wear and 1-Skill tokens to supply a full grid, so I made more of those. My first race ended with a crud-ton of cleanup and sorting. I used the tarot-sized zip bags to organize all of the bits and pieces. Each car/driver is in a bag with a console, cubes, tokens, and markers. Now you can pick your color, get the bag and matching deck of cards and you're ready to start setting up your car.

I designed the weather tokens just for the look and for possible future inclusion in CFR without any rules or idea how to use them. I was satisfied with CFR as-is without weather. Then I starter watching the second season of Netflix's Formula 1: Drive to Survive and was reminded of the chaos and challenge of rainy races. Drive to Survive made me get back into Motorsport Manager and again the challenge of rain or wet weather made it a necessity for CFR. I read the The Speed Circuit "Canon" posted by Heckmac and loved the simplicity of the weather rule. To get a weather option that matched Motorsport Manager, I included some of the "Advanced" Speed Circuit weather rules I found in the Speed Circuit file section. I wanted the weather to have an intermittent level where rain tires were not critical and a level where they were needed. I made some more weather tokens and put them in a drawstring bag.

I like the dirt tokens and mechanic from Rallyman. I haven't played the oil and debris option for Rallyman: GT but I am sure I'll love it. As I finished with season 2 of Drive to Survive I decided that there need to be some kinds of on the track hazard. Front wings, marbles, kitty litter, really anything to justify a safety car. I made some debris tokens to indicate hazards and a double-sided safety car token. The safety car token has both a "physical" and a virtual safety car side to indicate which safety car rule you are using. To keep it simple the safety car cleans up a hazard and prevents passing. The "physical" car does one full lap, while the virtual car disappears after clearing the hazard.

Now onto the race which was a 4-player solitaire, 4-lap event with weather, pitting, tire changes, and the possibility of a safety car. I used my modified pit stop rules which gave less Wear points at the start of the race and made pit stops faster. The race took 3hrs from setup to takedown. The 3hrs also includes a false start on my part resulting in me starting over after 15mins of racing. I had stupidly blasted off the line at Top Speed and not Start Speed hitting Turn 1 at ridiculous speeds having to brake and perform Chance rolls. I took several pause breaks to try and capture a photo op. With actual players and without the errors and breaks, I could see the same race with setup and takedown taking 2-2.5hrs depending on the amount of jibber-jabber.

From gallery of jetcougar

From gallery of jetcougar

The weather called for a dry first lap, a damp second lap, a soaked third lap, and then clear sunny skies for the final lap. All of the cars raced the first lap on standard soft tires and pushed each corner hard using 1-2 Wear points per corner to gain the advantage. The drivers were also aggressive and pushed start, acceleration, and top speed, using several Skill points each. Each car pitted in anticipation of the rain for lap 2 and swapped tires putting on rain tires and gained new Wear points. One car also repaired damage to its Acceleration Speed. The two middle cars had several overtakes making for an exciting race. The race had two spins but no crashes - no crashes meant no debris and no need for a safety car. The weather and pit stop variants worked well and the race moved smoothly. My only issue was with the Speed cards. Fiddling through four decks each turn took up valuable time.

EDIT: I am considering several different options to track a driver's speed: a speed dial, scoring track, custom dice (2d6's or a big d12). I keep lapping the idea of a Formula D-style peg-board which would bring me full circle since five years ago, after playing FD one time, it was lights out on modern board gaming.
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Sat Mar 14, 2020 10:18 am
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Heavy Racing

JPE Reynolds
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Microbadge: F1 fanMicrobadge: Championship Formula Racing fanMicrobadge: "I'm in love with racing..."Microbadge: Racing Games fanMicrobadge: Ayrton Senna fan
Amazon recently offered Championship Formula Racing (CFR) for $32 with free shipping - my interest was heavily piqued. I started to dig into the CFR forums on BGG and was reminded of the scale issue where the cars were comically larger than the individual track spaces. Back at Amazon... questions and review comments confirmed that the version being offered was, in fact, the 2nd Edition with properly sized track spaces. Even as a cheapskate gamer with an All-In KS copy of Rallyman: GT enigmatically being shipped to me I could not pass up this offer on a game that has always held my interest. What followed was the typical Amazon Prime purchase montage complete with mouse "clicks", quick cuts, whooshing sounds, a doorbell, and an unboxing.

When CFR arrived my kids were blown away by the weight of such a modest box. It was indeed heavy for a modern board game. Once you open the game you could not find any real wasted space - very little "air". After all, bits were punched the full weight of the game came in at 5-3/4 pounds. I wondered how my other racing games stacked up to this new heavy hitter. Before too long I had a series of images of games on a simple digital cooking scale. I thought I might be on to something clever, not sure what it was, but I was hopeful I'd discover it along the way.
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My first modern board game was Formula D which weighs in at a measly, for its size, 4-1/4 pounds. I thought there might be something to the idea of a connection between a game's quality (IMO) and its actual, physical weight. Based on forum posts and the card-driven, more strategic play, CFR feels like a more respected... quality game VS FD and it often criticized, swingy gear dice mechanic. CFRs modest box was significantly heavier than FDs, lending some credibility to the claim that weight equals quality. Formula D and King of Tokyo were the two games that launched me into modern gaming after playing both in a single evening (thanks Hex_Enduction_Hour). I used to frequent a massive hobby shop near my work during the late 90s and 00s to get the latest Scalextric and Fly 1/32 scale slot cars. Formula Dé was stocked in the same area and had always caught my eye as I left. I loved the little cars and the massive amount of available tracks. I love the look and feel of FD but getting it to the table with 6+ drivers and racing 3 laps in under 2hrs, ain't happenin' anytime soon - which is a shame for such a beautiful game with wonderful components. I printed out the two expansion drivers and picked up a 2nd set of dice, drivers, and boards. I never actually printed any scans or User-made tracks. It didn't seem worth it since this game has been played once in the six years I've owned it. I have spent countless hours on calculations, spreadsheets, and researching faster alternatives to FDs current gear dice mechanic. The Holy Grail for me was to find a way to race three laps with 4-8 cars in 1.5-2 hours. It currently sits on my Shelf of Shame.
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From gallery of jetcougar

Rallyman instantly became my all-around favorite racer, after a single play. I based this on versatility, simplicity, and speed. This little titan has a respectful box that I have filled close to capacity. I ordered the Rallyman: Dirt PnP files and printed the additional tracks on old Monopoly boards. I printed WRC 2018 - Tyre and Roadcondition Cards and WRC 2013 Course Cards - English, made custom dice and gear cards to pimp out and expand the game. I also made a foamboard dice tray insert that breaks down for storage. All of these items fit cleanly into the base box minus the original and Dirt dashboards (they're too clumsy and greedy for space IMO). At 4-3/4 pounds this game has a respectable weight when you consider the box size. Yeah, box size... now that'll keep the challenge going forever... forever. There may be a correlation to how efficiently the box is filled (possibly indicating smarter design choices); its volume to weight ratio. After exploring volumetric and freight calculators for half an hour I ended up in the same spot - no clear indicator as to which game was superior.
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Powerboats and its minimalist expansion, Powerboats Expansion 1 weigh only 2-1/2 pounds, and loosely occupy an oversized box. This game and its expansion could fit in a box 1/4 the size. The instruction booklet could easily have been folded or printed a little thicker and half the height. Put the base game and the expansion in a smaller box and you've got the most efficient racing games available. Powerboats is equal to or at least a very, very close 2nd to Rallyman. I mean, Rallyman only nudges past Powerboats slightly because it feels more varied and is an automotive racer (water courses just don't feel as varied as the road tracks). Powerboats should weigh as much as Rallyman but it doesn't. Its weight betrays how good it is and drowns my main idea. Abandoning the forced narrative that actual, physical weight begets actual quality, I started to focus more on the "air" in the boxes. One consolation to this whole exploration is I learned that I have a lot more racing games than I had initially thought.
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Edit: I was using hyperbole trying to describe a game I haven't played in a while, from a photo I took over a week ago. Powerboats will not fit in a box 1/4 its size - I was wrong. The box is still not efficient and the pieces float around loose. With a few cuts on the border pieces and some paper tape, this could fit in a box 2/3rds the size. Not malicious intent, simply a mistake made in haste.
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Snow Tails is a cool game with a fun, thematic movement mechanic. It's a bit mathy but it works. The movement mechanic could work for any animal-drawn cart/chariot racing game as well as Star Wars: Pod Racing. There is not much to be printed or added to this game. I printed some user-made boxes for each player. I made little sled drivers with colored hats for each player's color. Based on some BGG forum posts and file uploads, I had planned to add three more player colors so you could race up to eight. I wasn't able to procure wooden sled tokens that matched the base game sled meeples. The finishing touch was the addition of the promo "Leap" tile. I had printed a scan of the promo tile but found the wavy sides too difficult to replicate when using old Monopoly boards, so it never got made. Luckily, the GeekStore (I think) was selling it for $5 plus shipping. This is a fun, well-produced game that does not get played nearly enough.
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I love the slot car type track that comes with Moto Grand Prix. The little motorcycles are fantastic, a little wobbly, but fantastic. The Flipdice System is kinda clever and under-used. I am trying to work it into some sandbox one-page skirmish rules I am working on. The box is a bit of an ass. It does not respect my shelf space. With some considerate design choices, this game could easily fit in an FD-sized box. There is a lot of wasted space. The slot car-style modular track tiles are fantastic - so many track options. The rules have one or two hang-ups that I and other BGG users have tried to fix with variants and house rules. The rules feel unfinished almost beta, test-like. I really like the road track pieces and think more racing games should use them. I have tried to use them for F1 games but the cars never fit right. FD and Rallyman cars are too small. Hmm..., CFR cars may be just right... to be continued.
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I picked up Leader 1 at a "Going Out of Gaming" sale. The production value is excellent. The tiles are thick and sturdy. The little cyclists are super detailed and most likely the main selling point for most people - myself included. When I unboxed it to get this photo I noticed three riders had an accident. Three seat post that the riders are mounted on broke off in the bum of the rider. I do love a board game repair challenge but this is too much, the posts are maybe 1/2 of a millimeter round. Sorry, guys, the posts are staying until I can plan an invasive paperclip replacement surgery.
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Hurry'Cup! was gifted to me by Hex_Enduction_Hour. It is an Antoine Bauza design. The production value is very good. I have played a few of Bauza's designs and dislike all of them. I gave this one a go since it was gifted by a friend and because, it may not be obvious, but I like racing games. I have played it once.
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I picked up Rush n' Crush because it is a Frédéric Henry design. I have played many of his designs and loved them. At this point, he could crap in a box and I'd buy it. Fred may be my favorite overall designer. R&C looks awesome and should be played. R&C has a minimum player count of three which for some reason makes it difficult to get to the table. I do not have a good excuse for why the game has not been played by me and my sons. This game is definitely on my Shelf of Shame.
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Motocross Unplugged is Candy Land with dirt bikes. My youngest was into dirt bikes a couple of years ago so we picked this "game" up at the discount book store. I have played this game twice with the 2nd time being under duress. I've kept it because I would like to make a Rallyman: Motocross game using a version of Rallyman: GT braking and boost dice, and may need some of the components.
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Mille Bornes is a game that always intimidated me. It looked more complicated than it is. I got this beautiful, pristine 45yo copy for a few bucks at a thrift store. The rules seemed confusing, so I downloaded the mobile version to give it a go. The app version is ridiculous to the point of appearing rigged. Unfortunately, the mobile version has momentarily soured me on the whole game.
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When I first heard about Rallyman: GT I knew I was a Day 1 All-In backer. I received no tracking info except KS Updates that said U.S. copies have been seen in the wild. And then it arrived and at first, I was fearful that my recently acquired and pimped out copy of CFR was about to be bested. The production value is top-notch, simple rules, great art, and tons and tons of replayability - this will be a tough challenge for CFR. I have since played one 4-car solitaire game and I can reasonably say that Rallman GT is good, but does not beat CFR. I followed the instructional video and rule book recommended plan-dice-then-throw-dice-then-lay-them-out-to-verify method that is clunky and fiddly. In the future, I'm going back to my throw-and-place speed-style with some user-made AI driver dashboards. I loved, LOVED, the original Rallyman, then I fell in love with the Speed Cards from CFR, I'm just not as enamored with the dice as before. The side-by-side racing adds a few hiccups in the finished mechanic. BGG users and Jean-Christophe Bouvier are working together to fix this. JC is also busy working on F1 rules and prototype dashboards that could lead to my new favorite game, "Rallyman: Cart".
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Let's start to wrap up this meandering voyage. Championship Formula Racing is a fast and fun F1 racing game which is what I was looking for. I marvel at the amount of time and effort Douglas Schulz put into his final design. The game looks extremely complex with all the statistics and track data littering the entire road coarse. But it's not. All of those numbers are Doug's data used to process his Historical Driver If/Then statements. I thought, hey, the best way to learn the HD is race two cars solitaire and also include four HDs. Who doesn't want to see how they would do in a fantasy race with Aryton Senna, Sebastian Vettel, Michael Schumacher, and Lewis Hamilton. It took 3-1/2 hours to complete 1 lap over two nights. Now, if I was not driving six cars solo AND learning the, not exactly easy to grasp, Historical Driver system at some time I would have been able to complete the lap in an hour and a half. I messed up, not Doug. I skipped karting, F2, and went straight to F1 - I had the same success rate as actually racing Lewis Hamilton. I would like to try the HD dream race again with some weather rules. Inspired by Senna's 1984 Monaco GP run from 13th to first, I would like to make an HD "rain expert" driver skill. This is my go-to F1 racing game until I can compare it to Race! Formula 90 with its cool run-off option.
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This copy of CFR was the inspiration for this whole exploration and the excuse to get my first blog post posted. The quest to find any connection between weight and quality rapidly shifted to, "How much stuff can I get in this box and still have it close?" I kept track of the game's weight as I added 1-1/2 pounds of custom tokens and other printed materials. The weight should go up a little, itty-bitty bit when I redo about 70 custom tokens with a heavier stock glossy paper with laser printing. I could definitely fit 4-6 more 14mm dice to accommodate 8 players and I think I have room for one more printed track, but that's it.
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Wed Mar 4, 2020 1:08 am
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