Kevin Nieman
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Simi Valley
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I had purchased this game off eBay, but had not played it until this past Sunday. This coincided with the final race of the 2006 Formula One World Championship in Brazil. With Renault driver, Fernando Alonso, winning his second consecutive World Drivers Championship, it seemed fitting to try out the Williams Renault Grand Prix Championship for the first time.

The game is divided into two boards: The first is a kind of Monopoly-style board where you move pieces around the edge to make money from sponsors and build your team. The second is the track board. It is made up of six, double-sided puzzle pieces that, when put in a particular order, form one of the circuits of the F1 season in the game.

The two players were myself, and my brother, Chris. Chris is not a boardgamer, and he is, admittedly, a very sore-loser. That is why I carefully asked him if he wanted to play the game. He seemed interested, so I packed the game and made my way to his house.

The first challenge was finding a table at his place that could accomodate the two gameboards. We cobbled together some tables and began setting up. We agreed to race three tracks, as the full championship would have taken too long.

Right off the bat, I realized that two players are not enough to play this game. Why? As we moved around the first board, we accumulated enough money to buy the BEST drivers, the BEST engineers, and the BEST of EVERYTHING! For the first race, Chris and I had almost identical teams, both with the best performance.

The ONLY aspect of the game that loses the random feel is the points you must allocate prior to each race for your CAR and ENGINE in eight categories, such as "BENDS," "STRAIGHTS," etc. This makes the racing more interesting than it would be if it were simply a die throwing exercise.

Each track configuration has a unique quality. You must allocate the points according to the track you are about to drive. If the track has more curves, you must allocate more points to "BENDS." If there are more straights, more must be spent on "STRAIGHTS."

On the first race, it was back-and-forth the whole way until Chris waited for the last second to attempt an overtaking maneuver. We compared points, and he overtook me to win the race.

Now, we went back to the first board to accumulate more money and possibly get another car. I failed to get one of the three requirements to start a 2nd car in the second race, but Chris did. So, in the second race, it was two of Chris' cars to my one. In that race, Chris won 1st Place, I won second, and Chris won 3rd.

Then, we went back to the first board, made more money, I finally got my second car, and we started the last race of the game. It was overtaking mania as there was more passing in this game than in a real Formula One race. By the end, I won the race, and I tabulated the points for each race, and I snuck away with the game win with a ONE POINT advantage.

Chris' face sunk and he was very quiet. I asked him how he felt, and he said, "I'm not happy." Thus began a twenty minute long discussion of how he approaches playing games. He always wants to win. ALWAYS. If he doesn't win, he isn't having fun. Somehow, he only associates having a good time with winning the game. Anything else and he's not having any fun.

I have read many a GeekList on games that have ended friendships and people who just aren't "boardgamers" that this conversation was not new to me. My only concern, I told him, was that if he wasn't having a good time, then *I* wasn't having a good time because it was my goal to have fun. If he wasn't having fun, I felt that I should have done something to make it more fun.

When Chris heard this, he backed off saying that he did not want his own limitations ruining my good time. He said he *was* having a good time up until the point where he lost, but that he'll get over it.

At any rate, hopefully I can play this game with someone who sees it as something fun to play and who enjoys it whether they win or lose. These people make playing games fun. I just have to accept that my brother has limitations in that area and I should not expect him to be something he is not.

Overall, I had fun. The points-allocations for the racing were interesting, but I'd like to try it with a larger group sometime.
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Darrell Hanning
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Not really on the subject of the game, but is your brother someone who has spent a lot of time playing video games by himself? It seems people with this in their background expect to always be able to win, because they'll just keep playing a video game until they do, or quit playing it if they think they won't be able to beat it.
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Hunter Shelburne
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DarrellKH wrote:
Not really on the subject of the game, but is your brother someone who has spent a lot of time playing video games by himself? It seems people with this in their background expect to always be able to win, because they'll just keep playing a video game until they do, or quit playing it if they think they won't be able to beat it.


Wow, what an EXTREMELY biased view of video gamers. Alot of people are just really highly competitive. 2 of my friends in particular, one video game player, one not, have the exact same acharacteristics when it comes to games. If they don't win, they are mad. And alot of video gamers have stepped into games with higher technology than the year 2000, with online play allowing actual competition. Saying just because they play video games they expect to win is not a good generalization.

People that are competitive, and expect to win, have that opinion Being a gamer or not has nothing to do with it, or if it does, it would have to be an absurd amount of games, taking over more than 3/4th of someones natural day, in which case, they wouldn't be playing a board game.
 
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Darrell Hanning
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Hunter, don't dance with your toes sticking out so far, and they won't get stepped on so often.

Contary to what you've obviously already mistakenly concluded about my "biases", I play a lot of video games, too. But I started gaming face-to-face, playing chess with my father, and had to learn early on about losing.

A lot of younger people these days learn about gaming playing video games, and a lot of them learn playing primarily solitaire. Nothing and nobody in that situation, to teach you about how to handle losing.

Being "highly competitive" is all fine and well, but not being able to handle losing with grace and dignity is just poor sportsmanship - it's not commendable from any perspective.
 
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Kevin Nieman
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DarrellKH wrote:
Not really on the subject of the game, but is your brother someone who has spent a lot of time playing video games by himself? It seems people with this in their background expect to always be able to win, because they'll just keep playing a video game until they do, or quit playing it if they think they won't be able to beat it.


You aren't off-base at all. My brother is an aficianado of the "Grand Prix Legends" online community. It's a Formula One computer driving-simulation that he enjoys because he doesn't have to compete against anyone "live." Instead, he plays endlessly so he can beat the times that other computer-users upload. He knows that the face-to-face game play is often frustrating to him, so he avoids it as much as he can.


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Big Fat Tony
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In my limited experience with this game playing with 3 and 4 persons I've found that the players can not improve their teams after 5-6 sessions at the Equipment Board. After that point you just make races until one team runs away with the Championship. I'm experimenting with a system for reversing the pole order so as to prevent a run away winner. I'm thinking about a point spread threashold between first and last to trigger the reverse pole position.

I'm convinced the Publisher never playtested this game for more than 2-4 races let alone an entire 16 race championship. If they had they certainly would have addressed the reduced effectiveness of the Equipment board.
 
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