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Subject: This game needs more attention. rss

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Tanner Griffin
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Our bucket of hot wheels was perhaps the most-used toy in the house, behind only (maybe) the box of legos. We had dozens of cars, many of them with their own names and stories. Some of them were loved, others were hated. We played everything we could possibly imagine with them. We had one of those track sets with the loop, and we built some crazy things out of that. We make a track that went down the stairs and ended in a jump, and tried to see how far we could make it go.

Sometimes we'd make up games with them. I remember my brother using a ruler and saying that every turn we could move that far. I remember that being absolutely terrible. I remember trying to flick the cars into each other. I remember trying to argue that my guns could totally hit his car, and him saying that there's no way that'd work (and the other way around there). We'd get frustrated and start crying (or, at least, I would). Parental intervention happened often because we couldn't agree whether or not I could have hit his guy (which, by the way, every time I could have).

Years later, I came across this game. That bucket came out again and all the magic of our gun-powered demolition derbies from our childhood came flowing back, but without the angry arguments over what worked and what didn't.

This game is great and needs to be noticed by more people. I think a lot of people would feel the same way about it that I do.

How to Play

Honestly, it's a one-page rule sheet, so I'm not even going to go into the details because it's super easy to go look at the rules. All you gotta know is that you flick twice and shoot once, after either of your flicks. Shooting is done by rolling two d6's, and measuring inches for how far in front you can shoot.

Now, the trick is playing well. First, make sure your car is a good one. This was also one of the key sources of contention when playing cars with my brother as a kid - I wanted the purple one, because it runs smoother than the others, but he did too etc - so make sure there's a good variety to choose from so people (kids) don't get upset. Pick a good one with a low center of gravity, because although that Hummer looks super legit, it's going to fall over and cost you a few turns.

Second, don't over-flick, but don't under-flick. Sure that sounds simple, but really, it's one of the hardest things to do. And it really levels the field between adults and kids - for some reason, five-year-olds and thirty-five-year-olds often have the exact same Hot Wheels flicking ability.

Who would like this game?

I seriously haven't run into anyone who didn't enjoy playing this game. Everyone to whom I introduce it has a blast, often going home and playing it with others. It comes out about once a month with my parents' family (the one time we're all together in the month) and we play it with 4 kids and 6 grown-ups, usually with really close matches.

I've taken it to game day, where it's well-received. I've taken it to parties, where people love it. Two-player is fun if you're just looking for something really simple (two cars each is usually good), but 10 players is also fun (though there can be a lot of downtime if you're not careful). It's probably best around 6 players.

The people who love it most are those who can just have fun with it. One friend of mine just likes to ram people into other people. The entire point of the game for him is to mess with everyone else - he doesn't care if he wins or loses. My brother runs away, and I tell everyone we need to go after him, and he's got a crazy 3-on-1 battle on his hands.

My percent of wins is less than 10%. I'd say less than 5%. In fact, I think I've only won once, and it was in a four-player game. However, I keep coming back to it because it's so fun to flick cars around in a more-structured environment, not having to fight about whether I could hit you from that far.

Nutshell version:

Pros:


Wide Appeal
Inexpensive (you probably already have all the components)
Very easy to learn
Scales well to many players
Kids can play as good as adults
Very quick gameplay, one of those let's-play-it-again games

Cons:

Downtime if you've got a lot of people
Components can be cheap, ugly, and imbalanced, but that's fixable
You get funny looks playing it if people don't know what's going on (though that may be a pro)

Components: 9/10 (for my cars)
Innovation: 10/10
Fun: 9/10
Depth: 8/10 (not that it's all that deep; it's about the right amount of depth for a game like it)
Overall: 9/10
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Robert Seater
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I want to love this game, but it has a problem I can't get past -- the scoring rules discourage interaction. It's best to let others fight it out and then defeat the survivor. If everyone does that, the game stalls. I really want to flick my car over and start blazing, and I get frustrated when a game discourages me from doing the fun thing.

Some kind of scoring for damage dealt instead of scoring for survival would be a big improvement! It's a small issue, but to me it's the difference between a 4/10 and an 8/10.

Help me out! I want to love this game!

edit: I'm convinced. See suggestions given below!
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Martin Diehl
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Nice review. This game is a blast.

rseater wrote:
Help me out! I want to love this game!

Just house rule a "X number of kills to win" rule with respawns.
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Tanner Griffin
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rseater wrote:
I want to love this game, but it has a problem I can't get past -- the scoring rules discourage interaction. It's best to let others fight it out and then defeat the survivor. If everyone does that, the game stalls. I really want to flick my car over and start blazing, and I get frustrated when a game discourages me from doing the fun thing.

Some kind of scoring for damage dealt instead of scoring for survival would be a big improvement! It's a small issue, but to me it's the difference between a 4/10 and an 8/10.

Help me out! I want to love this game!

Two house rules that help:

One is to cause damage when you fall off the table. It makes for a good sacrifice play to ram into the other guy and try to knock him off the table. That way, if someone is running away, chasing them is a better option.

The other is just to score by hits. Hits minus the amount of times you've been hit, when the first person dies. That also gets rid of player elimination.
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Carlo
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Friff14 wrote:
Our bucket of hot wheels was perhaps the most-used toy in the house, behind only (maybe) the box of legos. We had dozens of cars, many of them with their own names and stories. Some of them were loved, others were hated. We played everything we could possibly imagine with them...

Thanks a lot for the review, I think you captured a lot of what I was aiming for (and find fun) with the game. The joy of seeing adults test flicking cars, arguing over which rolls better and whether it's good to have plastic or rubber wheels, high or low, straight or curvy paths, etc. is hilarious.
I certainly would like to get more people involved and trying the game, since I have yet to meet a family that doesn't have at least two Hot Wheels squirreled away somewhere in the house.

I agree on the downtime in a larger game.
Although it's not in the rules, as a remedy we tend to have two players simultaneously flicking in games larger than 6 or 7 people. Normally two people seated physically across from each other, with a similar countdown to the "how to decide the first turn" flick. The other upside of this is the simultaneous flick makes for a lot more chaos and excitement of who to watch, will they crash, etc. which can keep uninvolved players more interested until it's their turn. Plus it should play twice as fast.
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Carlo
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rseater wrote:
I want to love this game, but it has a problem I can't get past -- the scoring rules discourage interaction. It's best to let others fight it out and then defeat the survivor. If everyone does that, the game stalls. I really want to flick my car over and start blazing, and I get frustrated when a game discourages me from doing the fun thing.

Some kind of scoring for damage dealt instead of scoring for survival would be a big improvement! It's a small issue, but to me it's the difference between a 4/10 and an 8/10.

Help me out! I want to love this game!

I've talked to you about this before, in that I don't want to turn the game into a VP based Eurogame. I'm sorry to hear that your gaming group doesn't get stuck in and decides to skirt the field instead.

There are plenty of houserules you can use to try to force them to fight, as I'm sure you've realized. I just won't be adding them to the core rulebook. My intent is to keep the core rulebook as streamlined as possible, which is why I don't provide any variants (which I initially had in there, like a drinking game version, different ways to determine first turn, etc.) Mainly because there isn't space on the single page, but also because the game is simple enough that most groups should be able to tweak it to fit what interests them most.

Some example house rules to help you:

- Demolition Derby style "hit timer", wherein if you go X turns without shooting an enemy you take a penalty. Simplest implementation would be either if you don't shoot by the end of your turn (due to lack of trying, not lack of skill) take 1 damage, or the opponent nearest your car gets to flick you freely instead, or you "reset" to the middle of the table, or anything else.
- Add a close shot bonus, +1 damage if shooting one car length (normally 3") or less.
- Place playing cards on the table, ideally in the center to force players to drive there. Driving over a card gives a bonus, such as repairing Armor, double damage on next shot, free flick, shoot twice, make opponent re-roll, etc.
- Use a smaller playing area to force confrontations.
- Have a "passive zone" a set distance from the edge of the table (either measured each time, or marked with napkins or something else). Anyone in that "ring" (say 6" from the table edge) takes a penalty, because the imaginary spectators in the stands are bored
- Score by hit instead of by survival, like you were talking about. For your group maybe that's the best approach. 1 point per 1 damage given. First to 6 wins. You could even add a turn limit of 7 (or so) to ensure that people are forced to try to do damage each turn.
- Verbally mock players that avoid combat.

etc.
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Robert Seater
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bosky wrote:
- Demolition Derby style "hit timer", wherein if you go X turns without shooting an enemy you take a penalty. Simplest implementation would be either if you don't shoot by the end of your turn (due to lack of trying, not lack of skill) take 1 damage, or the opponent nearest your car gets to flick you freely instead, or you "reset" to the middle of the table, or anything else.
I like this one, since it requires little bookkeeping if players are doing the 'right' thing. VP based solutions are, as you say, fiddly (even if players are behaving and blasting away at). I think the countdown is just what I needed. Thanks!
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Carlo
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Great, glad it could help. I like that solution because it's based in real life as well, so it feels a bit less arbitrary or forced and fits in quite naturally with cars. After all we're just one or two bad ideas away from guns being strapped onto real life demolition derbies laugh
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Carlo
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rseater wrote:
It's a small issue, but to me it's the difference between a 4/10 and an 8/10.

Help me out! I want to love this game!

edit: I'm convinced. See suggestions given below!

Also I just noticed your revised rating is a few points short whistle laugh
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