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Subject: On your mark...get set... rss

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briefest review:
Eurotrash vs. Ameritrash: heavily Eurotrash
materials: plain & simple yet heavy grade
strategy: impressive yet simple
game mechanics: simple
time to play: 30-45 minutes
triage: good filler game
replay value: good impulse game ("there's time left - how about a game of Stockers.""Great.")

Stockers is not what you would expect. First of all, the box is too big for its contents. The contents are rather plain with single color printing and simple designs (but it DOES include a cool plastic mini of a car to designate the first rebel...sorry, player) What it lacks in sophistication it makes up for in heavy stock materials. No need to worry about tearing or damaging these components. It just doesn't stand up to what we've come to expect from top game manufacturers these days.

This turns out to be mostly a betting strategy game more then a racing game. There is essentially NO random factor in this game besides the initial deal of the cards - no die role, no toss of the coin, no rochambeau - just an initial shuffle of the deck. The game starts with a larger card with 4 sections for card piles (only 3 are used for 3 player games and 4 with 4+ players) called the race track. Each player is dealt a hand of cards (15 cards for 3 player game) and the rest of the cards are placed to one side without being seen and do not enter play. The cards show a picture of one of the 6 cars involved in the race and a number between 1-4 or a "Slam" card. The players take turns playing a single card onto one of the 3(or 4) card piles on the track card. Rules allow for overriding prior players card play or removing one entire card pile with a "slam" card.

Once all the players have played a card, the track (of 3 or 4 card piles) is reviewed and the corresponding cars (for which there are separate cards placed on the board below the track) are moved in relation to the other car cards. There is no actual race course/field. In other words, if the card piles show the skeleton car moves then the werewolf car moves then the batman car moves you manually move those car cards in relation to the other car cards. (Yes, the racing cars are "fantasy cars" with several exotic cars including the above mentioned variants - however there is no variability in each of the cars abilities - the pictures are for color commentary only.)

Then the really interesting thing happens. Players take turns placing a colored plastic disc onto the betting track (a separate larger card) which shows spots for bets of varying values for each car. You don't get to choose exactly how much you want to bet just certain set values between 4-16. After everyone gets a single bet you restart the cycle after switching the starting player: play a card, move the car cards, make a bet. You only get 6 bets. After all the cards are played the race is over and the players earn their winnings from their bets. The first place car gets full value for the bets placed on it and the second placed car gets 1/2 value for the bets placed on it.

That's all there is to it. The game designer recommends playing 3 races to determine the winner with the highest bet totals. Simple, right!?

Yeah, but...not quite so simple. There is no pulling cars back. The only way to reel in a car which is far ahead is to make sure that noone plays a card with its picture and making sure there is no card for that car left on the track from a previous turn. Also, you can only play a card on top of another card if it is a higher number (1 -> 4) after which you can only play a "1" card on top of a "4" card or "slam" that pile to start over. So here's the jam. You start the game with all the cards you will ever get for the entire race and you need to play ever card. You need to determine whether you want to start a car for whom you have more cards for right off the bat in order to try to get it ahead early (and make it harder to reel back in) or do you want to wait until the end and make a run at the finish line. You also need to consider the numbers on the cards which will restrict when you can play them. Then the obvious mind-bender - the bet. You may want to play a bet on the car you DON'T have a lot of cards for figuring your opponents will have the cards and need to play them at some point during the game (just remember the pile of extra cards that were set aside at the beginning of the game).

Yep, a lot of thoughts for a "fantasy car racing game." This is not what the cover art seem to offer: flashy hotrods going neck-in-neck to the finish line with impending collision and mayhem in spades. Nope, this is more like being the pit chief and hedging your bets with your bookie on the cell phone.

Yep, this is a Eurotrash game to the core. Strategy tragedy rules!! Yet...you Ameritrash gluttons will enjoy it too - it's got betting!!! Everyone knows that betting is pure luck - right?! RIGHT?!!

This game gets a strong recommendation from me and my gaming group. We will gladly pull out this gem after a good hardcore gaming session when there is just enough time left for dessert!
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Yoki Erdtman
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I'm a huge fan of the game as well. Nice review.
 
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Nice review, devil
Surprised you enjoyed the experience so much since you were defeated so soundly...by me!

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