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Bumper Car Arena» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Bumper Car Arena: Lots of fun and oozing with theme! rss

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Mike Schuller
United States
Hillsborough
New Jersey
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I ran across Bumper Car Arena at Dexcon 9. The designer had a demo table set up, and he easily attracted my kids, who sat down to play. Obviously the game was fun because it was less than an hour later that I got the "Dad, you have to buy this..." plea from the kids! As I couldn't find a good reason to refuse, it now has a place in the closet! Since it was coming home anyway, I played the designer at the convention and have the "I beat the designer" button to prove it.

We have already pulled out the game to try out the normal bits. The demo copy was put together large scale and very attractive. The game held up well and the following are my thoughts.

Theme: On theme, which generally is not all that important to me personally, really fits and adds to the game. Everyone has ridden bumber cars, and quickly scanning the floor to find who to ram, is a shared experience. The game captures spirit very well. While this may be a light game, it is fun!

Board and bits : The board is certainly functional. Very colorful, good thickness, large enough to read. It is illustrated with tie ins to other games by the designer. The bits I'll give a minor disappointment. While each car in the game is represented by both a number and color, the number on them is hard to read and there is not that much color on some of them. Thus they are difficult to distinguish. If you look carefully it isn't a problem, but since the game handles up to 8 players it is easy to see this board centered in a large table making it easy to get the cars confused. Why is this important? Because in the game play, moves are sequenced according to speed. If you confuse cars and players, and are trying to set up a good bump, you may not move at the time you thought and simply miss! or worse leave yourself open to be slammed and pressed against a wall.

The Play : Each player is dealt 5 movement cars and is given a randomaly placed car on the board. The object is simply score points by crossing the 'yellow' line and bumping other cars. On each turn a card is selected by each player and placed face down. They are simultaneously revealed and the highest card (fastest movement) plays first. In the case of a tie, movement is sequenced based upon the number of the hex the car is in. Each movement card illustrates the move the car can make, indicating rotation of facing and direction of movement. Points are awarded immediately during ones turn. After each player has moved, there is a card drafting phase. Up to 8 cards are turned face up (number of players plus one unless there are 8 players). Starting with the last place player, each player selects a card to add to his/her hand. With less than 8 players there will be one card undrafted...and this goes to Jimmy Fudge.
Jimmy Fudge is the game's renegade. Jimmy enjoys the privilege of ignoring the rules! What rule? The one that I neglected to mention so far. I referenced the 'yellow' line that players may cross to score points. However, players must cross the line in the direction that corresponds to the flow of traffic. If the line is crossed going the wrong way, players lose 3 points. Not Jimmy Fudge though. His mission in life is to ram other cars. He also balances the game because every turn Jimmy Fudge is 'owned' by the last place player. So after card drafting, the remaining card is given to the last place player to use to move Jimmy Fudge. There are special rules for his movement, and I dont want to transcribe the rulebook here, suffice it to say any points scored by Jimmy Fudge are awarded to the player controlling him for the turn.
After Jimmy's move, players start another round of simultaneous card selection for movement...

End Game - when one or more players reach the 'red zone' on the scoring track (which starts at 21 points) your ride on the bumper cars is soon to end. However exactly when is unknown. It seems the ride operator has lost his keys. At this phase of the game a roll of dice is made by the last place player if it is lower than a specific number the players will have one last move (which is required to be the lowest card in their hand) and the game ends. The target number starts at two and increases every turn until rolling below the target is accomplished.

Thoughts and Impressions : The game seems to generally stay pretty close as the last place player scores via Jimmy Fudge. Getting caught up in mixing it up with bumps and rams and return rams can easily be more fun than racing around the track. Interpreting the cards and understanding movement can take a little bit of getting used to.

My bottom line impression though is this game is FUN. It is different from other games that I enjoy, but something about this is really just drawing. I want to play again. Each game will be different, from starting position to cards in hand...that replay value is great. There is no serious screwage going on as points are awarded for bumping, not deducted from the bumped player. Their 'penalty' is that thay may have been pushed which means their movement card may not get them where they wanted to go...but hey! Thats bumper cars! There is negative scoring in that one can be pushed across that 'Yellow' line in the wrong direction causing a player to lose 3 points. However they are earned right back when they can get turned around and progress in the right direction.

Since I want to play this game so much...I am going to give it a rating of 9. I highly recommend this game
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Shawn Low
Australia
Footscray
Victoria
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Curious about actual production version:

Is the board mounted? What sort of quality are the components?

The bumper cars look like the wooden bits from Sumo Arena.

I want to get this game but need to see more pics!
 
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Mike Schuller
United States
Hillsborough
New Jersey
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IF I had a digital camera, I would upload some pics for you! This one is pretty good to see the bits.



The board is a solid enough cardboard that folds in quarters. I played again last night, the board opens well and lies flat no seam problem.

As for the quality of the other bits. When I saw the designer at Dexcon, he referenced a similarity to Sumo, but as I have never played the game I really didnt pay much attention. The cars themselves are wooden hexes with the cars on one side. They have pretty good weight to them.

The score markers are small plastic colored cubes. One pair of opposing sides contain a small pip, and recess. This allows the cubes to stack and attach.

With all of the reaching to move the cars during the game, one does have to be careful not to bump the scoring markers, as the score track circles the entire board.

Hope that helps a little.
 
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Ronald Estes
United States
La Vergne
Tennessee
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Sounds like a fun hour of play. Would you happen to know the price?
 
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Marc Houde
United States
Front Royal
Virginia
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As Mike has indicated the board is indeed mounted, the pieces are actually ceramic tiles as opposed to wooden, and the plastic cubes are sometimes reffered to as unifix cubes and are available from most educational supply companies. The picture he has chosen to display was taken during a playtest on a paper mat version of the board.
 
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Marc Houde
United States
Front Royal
Virginia
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Mandrake wrote:
Would you happen to know the price?

$28 at www.ogp.com
 
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