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Snow Tails» Forums » Variants

Subject: Racing Season, or, Grand Prix mode rss

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Philip Eve
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A group of friends I occasionally play games with tried out Snow Tails for the first time yesterday, playing a couple of games. Afterwards, I got to thinking that the game could be ideal for playing linked series of races, with the players trying to do the best they could across the whole series. The games could then be played across a number of gaming sessions, with either one or two races per session. For added fun, you could get money for winning races, which you could use if you wanted to upgrade your sled. Here's what I thought up as a starting idea:

(When we played, we had the maximum 5 players. I haven't played it with fewer, so I haven't given any thought to how it would best be modified for fewer players.)

Basic Rules

The Racing Season consists of ten races. Each player starts off with funds of $10, and a basic sled that has no dents. After any race in which his sled crosses the finish line, a player receives winnings of $10, $8, $6, $4 or $2 according as his position in that race was 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th. (So, the player who comes 5th in a race will usually be allowed to attempt to complete the course even after all other players have crossed the finish line, as it will affect his winnings; with the possible exception of the final race in the season.)

In the first race, choose a random ordering of the players and have them place their sleds on the starting grid in that order. In subsequent races, the players place their sleds on the starting grid in reverse order of finishing in their previous race. (So, the player who finished last in the previous race places his sled first; the player who finished second-last places his sled second; and so on. If a player didn't finish the previous race, then obviously he came last. If more than one player didn't finish, judge which came last by which was incapacitated earlier in the course.)

At the end of the Racing Season, the player with the greatest winnings is the winner. If there is a tie, then the player who came first in the greatest number of races is the winner. Further ties are not broken (except in the case of the Fancy Paint Job, see below). Note that winnings are not the same thing as remaining funds.

Dents in a player's sled persist across the season. So if your sled finished one race with 3 dents, it starts the next race with 3 dents. In order to remove the dents, you may pay (between races, obviously - not during a race!) to have dents repaired. Each dent costs you $1 to repair. (To make the Racing Season more difficult, you might decide to schedule price increases for repairs; say, to $2 after the 3rd race and $3 after the 7th.)

Sled Upgrades

In addition to repairing dents in your sled, you may use your funds to buy upgrades for your sled between races. More than one person may buy each upgrade. Here are some I thought up (feel free to contribute your own, but the prices should reflect how good they are, and they should in any case not be so good as to "break" the game).

(If a player's sled is incapacitated during a race, it merely counts as having taken the number of dents needed to incapacitate it - i.e. 6 if it is a Super-Toughened Sled, and 5 otherwise - which will obviously need repairing; it does not count as having been destroyed and hence losing its upgrades.)

Doggie Vitamin Supplements - $12

Select one card in your Dog Deck. You may either increase the value on that card by one, or decrease it by one. (You may not decrease the value of a 1 card, nor increase the value of a 5 card.) This change affects only the single card you chose, not all cards of that value. You may buy this upgrade more than one time to obtain a cumulative effect. If you do, then each time you buy it you may choose to affect a new card or a card you'd previously affected. You cannot vary between races which cards are affected, nor which direction they are changed in, and the effect is permanent.

In order to use this upgrade, you will probably want to sleeve your Dog Deck, and slip a piece of paper in with the affected cards, rather than writing on the cards themselves.

Fireworks in the Back - $12

Affects the next race only. Once during the race, you may choose to launch the fireworks to give a speed boost of 1. However, you have to light the fuse first. Declare during your turn that you are lighting the fuse; the fireworks take effect the next turn (and obviously the effect is not optional; you are affected whether you like it or not). In addition, if you are not on a bend, any sled that is directly behind yours at a distance of at most 5 squares (and is not itself on a bend, or is on the last square of a bend piece) is distracted by the fireworks going on ahead, and can only play one card that turn, not 2 or 3.

Fancy Paint Job - $15

Your sled becomes the most popular sled on the racing circuit. Also, if at the end of the season you have the same winnings as another player and you have come first in the same number of races as him, but he does not have a Fancy Paint Job, you win, because the fans just love you so much. (You may not buy this upgrade after the final race! The fans have to see you in action in order to support you.)

Smooth Braking System - $16

At the start of each race, your Brake is set to 2, not 3.

Really Smooth Braking System - $16

You may only buy this upgrade if you already have the Smooth Braking System. At the start of each race, your Brake is set to 1, not 2 or 3.

Doggie Motivational Counselling - $20

When you are in 3rd, 4th or 5th position in the race, your bonus for having a Balanced Sled is increased by 1. (So if you are in 3rd, your Balanced Sled bonus is 4, if you are in 4th it is 5, and if you are in 5th it is 6.)

Doggie Steroids - $20

If you start a race in positions 3, 4 or 5, your starting hand contains one more card than it normally would for that position. (So if you start in position 3 you have 6 cards, if you start in position 4 you have 7 cards, and if you start in position 5 you have 8 cards.)

Toughened Back - $30

When a player goes into the back of your sled, instead of merely being unable to draw up to his hand limit, he takes a dent just as though he had gone into the side of the track. (However, he does get to draw up to his (new) hand limit.)

Super-Toughened Sled - $40

Your sled is incapacitated after taking 6 dents, not 5. Moreover, whenever your sled has at least one dent, your hand limit is 6 cards instead of 5 (and if you start the game with at least one dent, your starting hand is 6 cards plus cards for undesirable position as appropriate, not 5 cards plus). The effect of this is that your first dent card does not reduce your number of cards in hand, though subsequent ones do. You may not buy this upgrade multiple times to obtain a cumulative effect.

Toughened Underside - $45

When your sled crosses a speed check line (one of the red lines with a number beside it), you count the speed limit as being one greater than it is. So, if you crossed a red line marked as a 3 while travelling at speed 5, you would take only one dent instead of the usual 2. You may not buy this upgrade multiple times to obtain a cumulative effect.

Doggie Massage Therapist - $15 for the next race, $26 for the next two races, $33 for the next 3 races, $40 for the next 4 races (only employed for the races thus affected - must be re-employed after that if you want the Therapist's services to continue)

Once during the race, when it is time to draw up to your hand limit, you may search through your discard pile, your draw deck, and the piles of cards under your two dog cards to find one card that you want, and place it into your hand. After doing this, you must shuffle your draw deck if you looked through it. If you were due to draw more than one card, you have to use this ability first, and randomly draw the remaining cards afterwards. You may not employ more than one Doggie Massage Therapist at once for a cumulative effect.

EDIT: Decided that Super-Toughened Sled should be slightly cheaper than Toughened Underside.
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Philip Eve
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Megaphone - $22

Whenever, at the start of a round, you are precisely level with another player and that player will be taking his turn before you because he's closer to the inside than you are, you may choose to use your Megaphone to trash talk him and take your turn first. The decision whether or not to do this is taken before the first player takes his turn this round.

You may not use the Megaphone to force another player, who is further from the inside than you, to go before you. You may only use the Megaphone on the nearest race opponent to your inside (i.e. if two or more other players are precisely level with you and closer to the inside than you, you can only talk trash to the one closest to you). If more than one player in a line of level players has a Megaphone then it is quite permissible for a chain of Megaphone effects to mean, for example, that 3 players take their turns in the reverse of the order they normally would. If more than one player has a Megaphone then they decide whether to use their Megaphones in the unmodified race order, from first to last. You are permitted to talk trash on the start line, i.e. to use your Megaphone in the first turn. If you use the Megaphone, then you count as having swapped race positions with your target for the purposes of the Balanced Sled bonus (i.e. if he would be 2nd and you 3rd, but you chose to trash talk him, then you are 2nd in the race and he is 3rd; your Balanced Sled bonus is 2 and his is 3). The Megaphone has no effect on race finishing positions (i.e. if you and another player finish the race in the same round and you are exactly level past the finish line but your opponent is winning, the Megaphone does not allow you to claim that you won instead).
 
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Philip Eve
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It occurred to me that there are some things that are (to me) implicit, but are not stated, in the above rules, so I will state them here:

- If you start a race with dents in your sled, your starting hand consists of the appropriate number of dent cards, as well as Dog cards, up to a total of 5, 6, 7, 8 or 9 cards depending on what lane you start in and whether you have the Doggie Steroids and whether you have a Super-Toughened Sled. At the end of the first turn, you discard down to 5 cards total, or 6 if you have a Super-Toughened Sled.

- If you have dents in your sled when you buy the Super-Toughened Sled, then your Sled has the same number of dents after the purchase as it did before. This has the effect, then, of increasing by one the number of Dog cards you can hold in your hand at the start of the next race, even though you have not repaired any dents.
 
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