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Shin Yoo
United Kingdom
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The most famous car racing game in Korea would be Formula De; which is kinda weird, because it's not an easy game and not that many people actually play that one. The advanced rules deal with all the details like damages and even weathers, so eventually you will roll a LOT of dice, although I don't mean that rolling dice, especially in a racing game, has nothing exciting about it. Still, it's a complex game for the rest of us who just want the "feel" of the race.

Detroit-Cleveland Grand Prix is one of the many racing games series that Wolfgang Kramer created. The other games in the same series are games like Top Race, Daytona 500. They have some different details, but all share the basic, clear system. It's the auction of car ownership combined with card play. What? An auction in a racing game? I'll explain it further.

The core of the game lies in the about 50 cards. In each cards, one or more cars are drawn. Each cars, painted with different colors, also have their movement points. Whenever a player plays this card, he must move all the cars on the cards from top to bottom, as many spaces as the movement points. As a result, one card can make many cars move. So the tactical goal of this game is to find out the use of your cards which benefits your car most.

Then where is the auction? It's in the part where you get your car. The final goal of the game is to win the most price money, just like Royal Turf. After players are dealt with movement cards and examine them, they make bid in order to get the control of the car which they think they can control best before the race begins. You auction off each cars in random order, and the first one sold will be start at the first position, etc. Now, players must try to finish the race in higher position so that they can take their money back.

As I've explained, movement is determined by the card a player plays. While the game is pretty abstract in its nature, some details give you a nice feeling of real car races. First, there are some "choking" points on the track where only one car can pass. You must stop when you are blocked, so you must use these choking points well in order to change the positions. Second, cars can advance in diagonal directions, which again shows the furious fighting for the position in the real races.

Added to this are the special cards, which give the game new flavor. First, there are 5 and 10 spaces sprint cards for each color. The 10 pointers are given out to the owners of each cars. But the 5 pointers are dealt to randomly, so you never know who has it. If someone intentionally uses your sprint card when you're blocked, the result will not be pretty.

One more thing : there are switch cards, which switches a pair of colors. If someone plays this card, the corresponding two colors will be switched until it becomes that player's next turn, for one round. Only the most skillful bluffing, calculation of probability and right timing will make the use of switch cards successful.

Once every car finishes the track, prize money is given out to players according to their positions. Repeat this race 3 times, and the player with the most money wins.

Game play is very simple but interesting. Especially the movement card play. But I do have some complaints. First, this card system is just crying out loud for kingmaker problems; it's so obvious. Second, it's really hard to estimate the right price in the auction(the price estimation in an auction must not be neither too easy nor too hard - it's a hard to use system). Also, the auction can be just "you-take-that-I'll-take-this" kind of peaceful thing.

But still, I will gladly declare that this is a good, solid game. The hidden bidding in Royal Turf gives you the excitement of horse race and the betting. Sprint/switch cards and movement system in Detroit-Cleveland Grand Prix succeeds in describing the sheer speed and exciting competitions for the positions really well. It's from Mayfair and 1996, so the aesthetics of the game(especially the board) leaves something to be desired by today's standards; but it will never affect game play, and you actually get two different boards on each sides of the board(Detroit & Cleveland). The rules are written in clear style too(btw, Jay Tummelson was still working in Mayfair; he got the credit for the rules). Overall, I will highly recommend this game to the gamers out there in the world where Royal Turf and Formula De are the only famous racing games.
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