Recommend
64 
 Thumb up
 Hide
9 Posts

Leader 1» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Bicycle Race - A review of "Leader 1" rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Federico Galeotti
Italy
Firenze
flag msg tools
http://www.gruppoludico.it/
badge
I believe you find life such a problem because you think there are the good people and the bad people. You're wrong, of course. There are, always and only, the bad people, but some of them are on opposite sides.
Avatar
mb
Basics

Players: 2-10 (but maybe even up to 12)

Average gaming time: the time for one medium sized race is about 1 hour

Complexity: Low-Medium


Components

21 double-sided hexagons depicting the possible routes, 1 hexagon for general classification (only used in stage races), 15 rider minis, 1 peloton cardboard stand-up, 1 peloton leader token, 36 "feed zone" tiles, 2 twelve-sided dice, 1 notebook for energy, various other tiles and tokens


Overview

Leader 1 is a street bicycle race simulation game which has a very small amount of luck in it, and yet still manages to be interesting and diverse enough to warranty an high replayability.


Gameplay

According to the number of players, each player takes 1, 2 or 3 riders to control. In more than 5 players, every player control a single rider. In 2 to 5 players, each player control a team of three riders (two riders if there are 5 players). A player can also choose that his riders are downhill or sprinter specialists; this gives different kind of bonuses to movement in particular circumstances.

A race route is set-up, with various characteristics according to the route hexagons chosen. There are four main different terrains on the various hexagons: plain, ground rise, mountain and downhill. Each rider is given the same amount of initial energy, also according to the route hexagon chosen. In this way, in the beginning all players have the same resources at their disposal.

At the beginning of a race, all riders are inside the peloton, which moves according to a die roll on a predefined route on the various hexagons. If a rider stays inside the peloton he uses a very small amount of energy, but usually the peloton itself takes the slower route through the various hexagons. A rider can decide to "break away" from the peloton during his turn. In this way, the movement rules change according to which type of rider he is.

There are three different kind of riders from which to choose: climbers (which have an advantage in the mountains, but a disadvantage in the plains), roulers (the exact reverse) and leaders (jack-of-all-trades). If the riders are not inside the peloton, they have a number of fixed free squares of movement (usually 2 when not downhill - roulers have 3 on plains and 1 on mountains, climbers 3 on mountains and 1 on plains). The peloton however can move usually from 3 to 5 squares (more if the player with the "peloton leader" token, which changes hands every turn, decides to pursuit). The riders, however, have some advantages, i.e. they can choose the shortest paths through an hexagon, they can use slipstreaming, and more importantly they can choose to pay energy to have additional movement.

By paying energy, a rider can move some additional squares. More squares in the same turn mean an exponentially larger amount of energy lost, so it is better to advance gradually over time than in a single burst. If a rider is exactly behind another he can use slipstreaming to move one additional free square. This makes it so that when more than one rider is breaking away, they can take turns in the lead (as in real life) to share and reduce the energy loss.

There are also risks during the course of the race. These are resolved by rolling a 12-sided die. If a rider decide to take more than one risk during the same race, the chance of failing increases. Some squares have "fall risks", while in the mountains a rider that moves too quickly (by paying a number of additional squares higher than the mountain category token - 1, 2 or 3) runs the risk of "cracking" (a better term would be exhaustion) and could end up depleting all of his energy reserves.

There is also a rule for punctures that is reminiscent in some ways of the engines break from "Formula Dé".

At the end of the race, the first rider who passes the finish line wins.


Comments

I was not particularly impressed by this game at first sight, but a couple of guys from my gaming group are big fans of cycling and I had fond memories of "Um Reifenbreite", so I decided to buy it anyway. And I am glad I did.

Opening the box, the so-so impression wasn't dispelled immediately. The components themselves are good if not particularly gorgeous, but there are some issues (the peloton die is blank and you have to attack stickers to it - WTF?!?). Another thing that also doesn't help is the fact tha the english rulebook is really not very good. The Italian version is OK and actually pretty clear, so I was able to play without any problems or misunderstandings, but clearly there have been some issues when it has been translated into English.

After a couple of plays, however, the game began to reveal itself as an excellent simulation of bicycle racing and a very good game, after all.

The first thing that springs to mind is that this game was obviously very well playtested - I found no issues of an obvious strategy always winning, or that some riders are clear favourites independently of the type of the race course (obviously, if you set up an all-mountain course or an all-plains one, the riders with the relevant advantage are favourites). Each type of rider has its own strenght and weaknesses; maybe the leaders are the best choice for less experienced players, while roulers and climbers need more care in their handling - I found out that climbers especially perform either exceptionally well or exceptionally poor, depending if the player strategy was well thought out or not.

For example, I thought at first that the climbers ability in the mountains was really underpowered, mostly because the roulers have the same ability (reversed) for the plains. But this does not sit well in real life, where roulers have obviously an harder time in the mountains than climbers do in the plains. However, the way that the various mountain categories are implemented takes care of this, because every time there is a mountain climb, the climbers have 3 free squares of movement and can add up another 1, 2 or 3 without "cracking", while roulers are obviously more limited. They cannot in any case move more than 4 squares on a mountain without risking exhaustion, and the way risks are managed in the game (more risks you take, less possibilities there are that you remain unscathed), means that roulers cannot expect to last long on a mountain, except maybe a 3rd category one. This limitation is not there for climbers on the plains, where they can go as fast as they like (if they have the energy to spare, that is).

Another really nice touch is that the hexagon route tiles can be used to make an incredibly high number of composite boards also adds very much to the replayability. This takes care of the "Formula Dé" additional circuit problem, where you have to buy additional components/boards to guarantee enough replayability to the game.

"Leader 1" is also part of the group of strange games where the more players there are, the less playing time it takes (see also this geeklist). Games with 6 or more players run more smoothly than the ones where the players are managing teams, because the players have to manage only a single rider instead of two or three. These kind of games are also more interesting because the players have to discuss between themselves in order to gain support for a successful break away (a rider breaking away for himself usually does not last for very long).

I did not play a stage race yet, so I cannot comment on the rules for stage races. As a first impression, they seem to be well thought out, too.


Wrap-up

Pros
- Very good racing game with a very small luck factor
- Plays reasonably fast
- High replayability due to composite board

Cons
- Badly translated english rulebook
- The peloton die with the stickers. Wasn't it possible to have a normal one with the different values?
45 
 Thumb up
1.25
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tim K
Australia
Colonel Light Gardens
SA
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Is there a drug cheat variant where you get an extra performance bonus, but if you get caught your entire team gets thrown out?
14 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Daniel Kazaniecki
Poland
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
vetinari7878 wrote:
Basics

Players: 2-10 (but maybe even up to 12)

Average gaming time: the time for one medium sized race is about 1 hour

Complexity: Low-Medium

I'd only add that:
a) indeed the box suggests 2-12 players, but I see no problem playing with 1-15,
b) the complexity is adaptive: throw out a few complex rules to play with your kids, throw in a few (check out the variants forum) for a perfect simulation,
c) the biggest pro of the game is the rare mix of amazingly realistic simulation while being fun for cycling ignorants, if you ask me
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Wulf Corbett
Scotland
Shotts
Lanarkshire
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I'd be so much more interested in this if the English rules were closer to English...shake
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andy Daglish
United Kingdom
Cheadle
Cheshire
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Kerbster76 wrote:
Is there a drug cheat variant where you get an extra performance bonus


yes
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tim Isakson
United States
Richardson
Texas
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Very good review - I've been wondering what this was like after the Essen buzz, and your review did a good job of summing up both the good and the bad.

Appreciate it!

Tim
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Menovich
United States
Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks for the review. I'm a cyclist and a big racing fan so my gaming group has made me responsible for deciding if we will play the game( read if you want to play "Buy it!") I'm going to buy it now. The question I have is can you help with some of the translation issues? I'm hoping most of them can be logiced out but it would be nice to have someone with a good copy of rules to fall back on

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Wulf Corbett
Scotland
Shotts
Lanarkshire
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Meno1074 wrote:
I'm going to buy it now. The question I have is can you help with some of the translation issues?

There's a decent set of English rules in the Files section now.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andrew Schultz
United States
Texas
flag msg tools
mb


I see that they are publishing a Giro De Italia version of this game. What's the best way to get a copy in the states?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.