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First Play Friday

2011 New Year's resolution: Play games from my collection I haven't yet tried.
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Wave the checkered flag, we have a winner!

The Dave
United States
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The Free-Shipping Vortex. It sucks me in EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I reallllly want to buy one game (or maybe two), but if I bought a third or a fourth I can qualify for free shipping. And hey – that’s like getting that game for $10 off, right? shake

Does that sound like you? Yeah, I thought so.

This time was different though. And much dumber. I pre-ordered Trajan from Games Surplus (thanks Thor!), and noted the shipping would be around $11. With Trajan running at $55, I was looking at spending $66 on one game (not that that’s bad – I’ve seen worse). But $65 is a tough pill to swallow, given the likelihood of Trajan receiving a much wider release in the US approximately 3 minutes after I placed my order for the import. I decided to earn free shipping.

Wait. Games Surplus only offers free shipping with the purchase of specific games?! What?! NOooooooooo! So I start perusing the catalog of games that give you free shipping. Incan Gold is pretty cheap – but wait, it’s a lot cheaper at Amazon, so I’m essentially paying for shipping on top of a game that I didn’t really have much interest in. London? Well, now that’s a bit better, but I already have shelves of euro games that I never get to play. Argh. Wait – what’s “PitchCar”? Holy Shnikes that looks awesome!

So yeah – instead of paying $11 for shipping I paid $65. Man I’m an idiot…zombie

I got the box of gaming goodness, and quickly set about trying out each of the 8 disks, on each of their two sides, to decide which side to sticker with the car. The Wife watched me, dubiously. There were head shakes and eye-rolls and murmurs of someone marrying a child, but dang it figuring out which side to place the car sticker is IMPORTANT!

The very next Friday we had 6 people over and we decided to break in PitchCar, 8-player style.

So is PitchCar the perfect first-play game? Read on to find out.


I will now review PitchCar according to the following criteria. Keep in mind this is a review of the game after only one play.

Accessibility (1): How easy was the game to teach and learn? Is it complex and/or fiddly? Are the rules easy to understand and follow? How long did it take to go over the rules?

Fun (1): Is it fun? Included in this might be a theme-to-mechanics metric, or a player interaction metric.

Length of first play (1): Some games say 60-90 minutes, but the first play might take you 3 hours. Not included is length of rules explanation.

Desire to play again (1): Typically I would rather play a new game than play a game I’ve already played (with some exceptions). I know – I am crazy. This will be a good measure of how much I like the game.



My two year old daughter helped me put the puzzle-like track together. She struggled with getting the rails in, so I had to help her with that. She didn’t quite understand how to keep the car on the track, nor could she read the rules.

Unless you’re planning to play this game correctly with 2 year olds, this game is extremely accessible. You set up the track, you put some stickers on, and you start flicking. There are very few rules, and the rules that are there are intuitive and obvious. For example – if your car flips, you’ve wrecked and you have to go back to where you started from. If you knock someone else’s car off the track, that’s illegal and you have to go back to where you started from. Etc.

The only troublesome part – the one thing that keeps it from being a 1 – is that you have to spend a bit of time leveling the track (I used playing cards). This introduces the tiniest bit of downtime and preparation, but overall it’s totally worth it to have a super-smooth track.

Score: .9



Every single person that has played this game since I got it has laughed, has experienced the joy of the perfect flick, and has experienced the agony of being set up perfectly for a shot only to send the car straight off the track. Every single person has requested to play it again immediately following their first, second, and third games. Every single person has said at the end of a game session “We have to play that next time!”.

If that doesn’t sound like people having “fun”, I don’t know what to tell you.

Score: 1


Length of first play:

This game does not overstay its welcome in any way. Our 8 player games took about 30 minutes each (including qualifying). If you include setting up the track and leveling it out, they each took maybe 40 minutes max, which is just long enough so that you can pick the length of time you play PitchCar. Want a quick filler? Play one game. Want to do a cup-style series? Play 5 games and keep scores for how each player finishes, crowning an overall champion at the end. PitchCar is a very versatile game in terms of length, and that makes it a game worthy of any collection.

Score: 1


Desire to play again:

We did play it again – three more times that night. And then Kevin came over the next night and we played again. We had a different group of people over yesterday and they enjoyed it just as much as the first group.

PitchCar is going to be a game that sees the table frequently.

Score: .9


OVERALL: 3.8/4

I’m not sure what game might be first-play rated higher than PitchCar. Not many games exist (well ones that are fun, anyway) that you could buy, invite people over, unwrap the shrink wrap, and be playing in less than 15 minutes. PitchCar is that game, though. I believe it would appeal to almost anyone, gamer or not, because it’s just obvious what you do. You flick a disk. That’s it. And it is addictively fun.

PitchCar may not be my favorite game, but it is definitely a wonderful game to own. If you are looking for a fun and accessible game, especially if you lack a quality dexterity game in your collection, I cannot recommend PitchCar enough. And if you order it from Games Surplus, you’ll get free shipping, too… gulp
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