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Subject: Review of the Powerboat's online version rss

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Thomas Fredericks
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This is just a short review of the online version of Powerboats.

Powerboats is a game by Cwali. Cwali only publishes games by Corné van Moorsel, an incredible designer who previously offered:
* Factory Fun
* Street Soccer
* O Zoo le Mio
* SeaSim
and a lot more...

Corné van Moorsel has a knack for creating games that are extremely simple yet deliver the theme. In fact, they are so simple, they can easily be brushed off as being abstract, but once you start playing you understand that Corné van Moorsel is a minimalist, and he only includes the rules that count!

Powerboats is his latest creation, currently unreleased in Canada, but since Corné van Moorsel is in love with his games (just check out his profile) and also loves to share them, you can play most of his collection online for free at Mastermoves (a site created and maintained by him).

So this is a review of the online version of Powerboats available at Mastermoves. There are a few differences between the online version and the boardgame as explained in this thread. But the main difference, is that the online version is virtual, hence, I never touched or saw the components and they will not be part of this review. The only important detail is that this game uses 1D3 dice instead of 1D6.



OVERVIEW

The game is very simple. A semi random course is generated around three buoys. The game is played over three short races to concentrate the action and to minimize leader runaway.

On your turn, you determine the speed of your boat in three steps :
1) Decide if you want to get rid of ONE die.
2) Decide if you want to add ONE die (if you do, you must roll it during the next step)
3) Optionally roll ANY of your dice (you must roll the die you just added). This means that you can keep your previous turn's speed if you wish.

Once speed is determined, but before moving, you may change facing one hexside. You must move your boat it's full speed, meaning you can crash into islands or buoys if you are going too fast (but you can't crash into other boats... more on that later).

The dice mechanic is a lot of fun and very tense. It feels like Formula Dé's gear mechanic but better since you decide if you want to keep your dice roll or re-roll it to get a better one.

Sometimes, you might re-roll just to get a better distribution. For example, to transform a 2-2 into a 1-3. The later is better because if you remove one die, you can either brake sharply or keep on coasting at a decent speed.

Another big difference with Formula Dé and most racing games, with the exceptions of Bolide and Mississippi Queen, is that you actually turn in this one (real turning, not lane changing) and your velocity is taken into account! Also, I find there is a lot less space counting in this game than the games previously mentioned. I believe this is because your options are reduced (you only have three direction/hexsides to select from) and because of the element of luck and the pushing of it.

To me, this game really feels like racing. And you will NEVER race on the same track twice! Moto Grand Prix might offer a modular board, but come on, those could just as easily be replaced by straight segments with "difficulty" levels printed on them. Powerboats has a real modular board, without an optimal path. That means, to win a race, you can take multiple paths, and it's up to you to find the optimal one for your situation.

WHAT SOME MAY FIND LACKING

I believe some people will miss weather effects and the customization of their vehicles. I am not one of them, but I think many gamers enjoy allotting points to engines, breaks, tires, etc. Powerboats does not offer any of those. Also, all different wear points are generalized into "damage" tokens. Those could be easily added, but since it's not Corné van Moorsel's style, I guess they will have to be house ruled in.


WHAT I WOULD LIKE

1) Collisions: There are no collisions between boats. Collisions would add even more tension and aggressive play to the game especially if they moved your opponents off course!

2) More Miami Vice action and the addition of scenarios:



When I am playing this game, I feel like I am Crockett from Miami Vice racing my sweet Chris Craft Stinger. With the addition of scenarios, where you must catch smugglers in a fixed amount of turns or before they leave the map, this game could appeal to a whole new crowd. I guess that's my only complaint about this game: it's maybe just a bit too family oriented and needs more fashion, new wave music and cocaine.


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Richard Dewsbery
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mrtof wrote:

Powerboats is a game by Cwali. Cwali only publishes games by Corné van Moorsel, an incredible designer who previously offered:


Factory Fun - I hated it.
O Zoo le Mio - nothing special
SeaSim - I hated it (depite quite liking Visjes, oddly enough)
and a lot more...

Including Titicaca (hated it), Logistico (REALLY hated it), and a game about sun loungers that I hated so much I've forgotten the name.

Morisi was quite good, but the best Cwali game so far is the very simple "Ahoy" (which *really* works as a family game).

Quote:

Powerboats is his latest creation.

The game is very simple. A semi random course is generated around three buoys. The game is played over three short races to concentrate the action and to minimize leader runaway.

The dice mechanic is a lot of fun and very tense. It feels like Formula Dé's gear mechanic but better since you decide if you want to keep your dice roll or re-roll it to get a better one.


For me, it works far, far better than Formula De. Firstly it fits the theme nicely - it models momentum and inertia in a way that fits with what little i know of powerboats. Whereas Formula De's dice *didn't* feel like car racing to me. Added to which, in Formula De on many circuits you could make or break your lap with lucky or unlucky rolls (1-stop curves in the middle of two long straights - hit it just right and you scream round, miss it by a few squares and you stuff your lap up). Although "lucky" rolls can occur in Powerboats, it's usually because you set yourself up for them (or took a gamble because you needed to), and the d3 mechanic makes the luck far less influential.

Quote:

Also, I find there is a lot less space counting in this game than the games previously mentioned. I believe this is because your options are reduced (you only have three direction/hexsides to select from) and because of the element of luck and the pushing of it.

I find that there's just as much space-counting, but you can count the hexes pretty quickly and more easily than in other games (because of the nature of the board, and you're often only counting 3-5 spaces, not 15-20).

Quote:

To me, this game really feels like racing.

yup, for me too. And mostly it feels like *powerboat* racing.


Quote:

WHAT SOME MAY FIND LACKING

I believe some people will miss weather effects and the customization of their vehicles. I am not one of them, but I think many gamers enjoy allotting points to engines, breaks, tires, etc. Powerboats does not offer any of those. Also, all different wear points are generalized into "damage" tokens. Those could be easily added, but since it's not Corné van Moorsel's style, I guess they will have to be house ruled in.

I take a different point of view - one of the things I dislike in many racing games is the way you have to keep track of points, "wear" or whatever. It's a pain, and doesn't help with *my* suspension of disbelief.

What I won't miss at all is the way that you can sometimes be mislead by the computer's "helpful" indicator on Mastermoves that is supposed to show you how and when a buoy counts as passed - it's fooled me a couple of times, and an opponent of mine has fallen for it at least once.

Quote:


WHAT I WOULD LIKE

1) Collisions: There are no collisions between boats. Collisions would add even more tension and aggressive play to the game especially if they moved your opponents off course!

Noooo! Nobody who has played something like Mississippi Queen (which this game looks superficially similar to in a number of ways) could possibly welcome the introduction of "bumping" into this game. Frankly, the blocking can be frustrating enough on the rare occasion when it happens.

Quote:

When I am playing this game, I feel like I am Crockett from Miami Vice racing my sweet Chris Craft Stinger. With the addition of scenarios, where you must catch smugglers in a fixed amount of turns or before they leave the map, this game could appeal to a whole new crowd. I guess that's my only complaint about this game: it's maybe just a bit too family oriented and needs more fashion, new wave music and cocaine.


Nah. What it needs is a spy, a hick-town sherrif from the deep South, and the opportunity to propel your boat across land hexes if - and only if - there's a wedding going on at the time.

I *love* racing games. Unfortunately, there are very few that are worth
the time it takes to play them - Motor Champ is my favourite at the moment, but I recognize that it has many, many flaws (not least of which is length). Powerboats manages to feel like racing, plays really quickly (as far as I can tell; certainly it only takes a few seconds to make a move in the online version), has plenty of options and decisions, more skill than luck (I think), and has left a very good impression on me so far.
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Corné van Moorsel
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mrtof wrote:

> 3) Optionally roll ANY of your dice (you must roll the die you just added). This means that you can keep your previous turn's speed if you wish.

Yes, all dice at once. Only one dice-roll maximum per turn. I hope that will not get misunderstood in the rulebook.

mrtof wrote:

> collisions ... more Miami Vice ... scenarios ... catch smugglers ... fashion ... new wave music ... cocaine.

There is space for house rules and extensions. Though don't start with that too quick. Some players do think at the start about adding more interaction. But the interaction is actually very high. Once you play with skilled players there will often get spaces occupied while an other boat was planned to go there. With more players that can become very interesting. And you will remember that long.

Thanks for expressing your ideas. Some directions I didn't consider yet. Like cocaine. I did think about streams in the lake, and jumps.
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