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Subject: Table Tour - a little gem from the sixties rss

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ron van 't veer
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TABLE TOUR - REVIEW




GENERAL

Table Tour, also known as Tafel Tour, is one of the first cycling games produced in Holland which give you the real feeling to be a participant of the famous Tour de France. It was produced between 1960 and 1972 (may be even some years later also), by the private trading company "Es-es-es", who resides at Voorburg (near The Hague, Zuid-Holland).
The game was popular by cycling enthousiast, but not well known by the common public. At 1968 it was absolutely a brilliant game, but it was never sold in most of the regular toy-shops. As a consequence, the game was little known outside cycle-enthousisast and wasn't noticed internationally. You could order this game by sending a coupon from an advertisment in one of the weekly TV-guides. It was at least advertised in the Avrobode and the Televizier, and also in the weekly Dutch magazine "Revu".

My father bought this little gem for around 10 dutch guilders in 1966, which was a lot of money these days. So, in conclusion, it was a hard to get and expensive boardgame, but if you ever played it you got addicted every summer when the Tour de France was daily aired on the TV.
When we played it with other kids, they all got excited, and want to play it again and again (remenber: in the sixties there weren't much games with a speed mechanism governed by cards, and a turn mechanism governed by earned points and the position on the board).


DEVELOPER
The developer of this little gem is unknown, but since the game was patented and the adress of "Es-es-es" is knowN, it may be possible that we will learn in het future the true name of the designer (still working on it).


TURNS
The game is played in turns and each player has a team of 2 or 3 cyclists. The number of cyclist you have in your team depends on the number of players, who will participate in the game.
At the first turn, the starting player is decided by luck, e.q. drawing a speed card and the player with the highest card starts first. But after the first playing round, when all the players have moved their 2 or 3 cyclist (in consecutive turns), the starting player is decided by the cyclist who is in front. If two or three players have the same pole position, the player in the inner curve of the cycling-parcours goes first.


SPEED IS GOVERNED BY CARDS, NOT BY DICE
The game is not played by dice, but by speed cards. These cards, with speeds numbered 1 to 8, are played like playing cards in a card game. The number of speed cards is not evenly distributed, but show a resemblance to the dice scores when throwing 2 dices. E.g. the deck of speedcards contains 100 cards, but there are only 4 cards of the highest speed (8). The commonest card is the speed = 3 card (24 cards), followed by the speed = 4 card (20 cards) and the speed = 5 card (16 cards). So, in general, most speedcards that will be played will have the speed 3, 4 or 5.


NUMBER OF CYCLIST PER PLAYER
The number of cyclist you will steer around the gameboard can be 2 (2-4 players) or 3 (5-6 players). One cyclist is the leader ("kopman"), and should be marked with a colored sticker around the chest. The leader is very important to score individual and group points. As a consequence, the leader will get almost all of the highest numbered cards.


STAGES (etappes)
The gameboard was cleverly designed, and contained several different starting positions for each kind of stage (etappe). E.g. there is a starting position for a long stage, a short stage, the mountain-stage and for the time-trials. The finish position on the mapboard was the same for avery stage you played. Due to this cleverly designed mapboard, the game was never dull and could be played in 1 hour (2 stages) or 3 hours (6 to 8 stages). In the sixties and seventies we played a stage every cycling-day of the Tour de France, like a simulation of the real Tour. Of course, the stages we played were in conjunction with the stages of the real tour.


CHANCE AND BAD LUCK CARDS
The game has 25 chance and 25 bad luck cards. In the first edition these cards had there own stock and where seperated by color. In the later editions the text of both chance and bad luck was printed on the same card.
You may draw a good luck card ("premie" card) by ending your turn on a starred field on the game board. Although the premium card seems beneficial, this field is always on the outer rim of the parcours; which means that you cannot start first when there are other cyclist to the right of you. But, the bonuses of the good luck card are so promising, that many players don't mind that minor setback. Remember: not all premium cards give you the luck you desires...
In the mountains you can descent faster by choosing a shortcut. However, for each shortcut, you must draw a bad luck ("pech") card. You can be lucky, since there are 9 bad-luck cards with "no effect" (so there is a 1 out of 3 chance to avoid the bad luck). But other cards can be disastrous, like skipping 1 turn or going at half speed during the next turn.


BOOKKEEPING
One very interesting aspect of the game was the book-keeping element of the game. Although some people don't lile bookkeeping, for real cycle enthousiast this was the heart of the game. After each stage (etappe) was ended, you calculated the points for the leader (kopman), the group and the green jersey.
The point calculation starts with the cyclist which have the last position on the gameboard. That cyclist will get 0 points. The other cyclists will get 1 point for each field-position (1 circle on the game board) before the last cylist(s). For example, a cyclist who has advanced 3 places beyond the last cyclist, will get three points. The cyclist who was the first to pass the finishline, will get 1 point extra (bonification points). All the points of the cyclist of 1 team are added, and the total is the score of the team. The points of leader cyclist (e.g. the cyclist who is marked seperately by a sticker), are also noted seperately and counts for the yellow jersey.
There are also points to be obtained for the green jersey and the standings in the mountains classification. The green jersey is a point classification. When played with 12 cyclists (4 teams of 3), the foremost cyclist will get 12 points, the 2nd 11, the 3rd 10, and so on. As is common in the game, the cyclist who is positioned in the inner curve of the parcours, is placed first before thte middele and outer position.


MOUNTAINS CLASSIFICATION
The point calculation for the mountains classification was as follows: the cyclist which passed the first peak will get 1 point, the cyclists which passed also the 2nd peak will get 2 points, and when passing the last peak you will get 3 points.


PRIZES
As in the real Tour de France, there are also money prizes to be gained. For each stage you can get money for winning the stage, leader in the group classification or leader of the yellow jersey (individual classification for the leader cyclist), green jersey (point classification) or the mountains classification. The money prizes introduce a very interesting concept of the game, especially about the question; "who is the real winner after the final stage?".

After finishing the last stage, the winner of the game is - of course - the player who earns the yellow jersey, e.g. the leader cyclist with the most points. But ... there is also a winner of the group classification, the green jersey and the mountains classification. Or .... maybe the real winner is the player who earned the most money after the final end of the game, since money governs today the professional cycling teams.

HOUSERULES
The bad luck cards which you MUST draw during a fast descend, introduce some rule ambiguties. Also, the rules for the point rewards system for the mountains-stage and the last position (sweeper/bezemwagen) can be improved. I have developed some houserules and rule clarifications for this, which you can find in the "rules" section.

CONCLUSION
Table Tour is an interesting game and probably even the first serious cycling game that simulates the individual and group classification of the Tour de France. Although it has not the pro-feeling of "Homas Tours" it is still the best of the cycling games in the period from 1900 to 1970. It is a pity that this game didn't got the attention it should have and that the rules and chance cards are never translated into English (I will do that soon!).

Give this game a try, since it is not overcomplicated and can be played from the age of 8 with the whole family. Moreover, I started to play this game when I was the age of 10, and after 4 decades I still like playing it!

Ron van 't Veer
Got addicted to boardgames for life because of playing Table Tour during the summer holidays at the age of 10....





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