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Demo Derby Smash-Down!» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Demo Derby Smash-Down: Car-smashing fun! rss

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Mike Sagliano
United States
Hawaii
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Demo Derby Smash-Down! (DDSD) is PLAAY.com’s tribute to that unusual fringe sport – demolition derby. This is an enjoyable dice and card game that sports gamers, demo derby fans, and anyone interested in a solo or multiplayer game that combines luck, some strategy, a few minutes of time, and a lot of atmosphere will enjoy.

DDSD mechanics (no pun intended) are simple to learn and simpler to use. I’ll give you the summary of the solo mechanics. Multiplayer ones are similar. Before the mayhem begins, the demolition derby cars on individual cards are shuffled and set up on your table top in columns of usually three cars from left to right–no special board needed although you could design one if you wanted! Set up the same number of driver cards that correspond to each of the cars. Driver cards have six columns, each with six results on them.

Starting with the car on the most left column on top, the “driver “ throws two dice. The first colored die refers you to a driver’s “move,” a specific column on the driver’s card, and the white one, the actual result of impact. Results can be X (external damage caused to one of the cars in the column), O (external damage caused to the driven car), and other symbols for internal damage. A combination of symbols and multiple ones can result too. The target car can be the one with the most damage, the least damage or sometimes one of your choice. Mark the damage on the cards , Xs and Os etc. on one or both cars involved in the smash-up.

Continue with the next car below in the column and then the other columns from left to right. When all cars have had a turn, reshuffle and lay out the cards as before. Continue wrecking each other until a single car remains and is declared the winner. A heat involving 12 cars might take 20 minutes maximum.

Usually a single 2d6 throw is all that is needed. If SKID or CAR is rolled, sometimes (one in three) a second roll (1d6) is needed . And a third (2d6) is for unusual results, and a fourth (2d6) for very rare events.

Now how can results of Xs and Os really provide the gamer with excitement and a sense of what is happening in a demo derby field? This game has essential elements of narrative and a car-load of drama and atmosphere. The car “moves” (maneuvers) do have distinctive and descriptive names like “Reverse Slam,” “T-bone,” or Trunk Popper.” There are unusual and rare events that happen, and these are described in more detail. That helps. The drivers are named as well as their place of birth, and there are 12 different illustrated car brands and models (i.e., sedans and station wagons) to choose from. Marking damage directly on the cards is a plus especially as the damage mounts. All this builds images in the gamer’s mind and creates a storyline. Here’s what I imagined when I pitted 16 cars against one another at the beginning of one heat of DDSD:

“Gentlemen, start your collisions!
“1:00 Claxton was battered by Haggerty, then Butcher as the green flag dropped. While Turpin kept his distance from the action, Trueblood and Wulf dented each other mercilessly. Purdy stalled his Bluebolt immediately. Lattimore and Diggins traded metallic blows. B.J Newton, one of two lady drivers, in her violet painted, Bliss Hurricane, didn’t need to see that her engine light was on as smoke poured from her hood. A plume like that was like blood in an ocean filled with sharks. Gabriel, Kerwin and Perrin in her jet black Roadsmobile Panther rapped each other in turn.

2:00 Purdy couldn’t get his car started and his face was twisted in frustration (STALL). Turpin saw an opening and blasted Diggins. Tyree crunched Diggins’ rear fender. Transmssion failure (Rare result) descended on Kerwin’s Slade Crescendo and severely limited his moves. Mechanical gremlins stalked the field – Butcher stalled and Newton’s car gasped its last exhaust; she was out of the event.”

There’s drama in DDSD too! A driver stalls at an inopportune moment. Will his car be able to restart, or will it be meet its end at the hands of another one? The engine light flashes. Will the car die at any moment or will it be able to finish the event? A rare event is rolled. Will it be the key to victory, or will it be its doom? It always comes down to two cars in the end, both of whom are nearly crippled. Which one will put out a victory? These are the dramatic events that gamers have come to expect from games by Keith Avallone like in his Second Season Football and Face to the Mat Pro Wrestling games. They’re in DDSD too.

Also included are flags, restarts, payback (revenge), sandbagging (hiding), ND (no damage due to evading contact), and strategy cards in multi-player games. There are suggestions by the designer for running team demo derbies and using different vehicles like school buses. Repairs are possible between heats.

Now being hard core gamers like me you may be satisfied with a single heat or even a single event sometimes, but what we really want is a full season of demo derby action with scoring points for “kills” and keeping stats on individual drivers. The designer gives some suggestions in this direction.

For even more ideas in that direction, you can go online to the PLAAY.com Board Game Forum in Delphi Forums to read posts by fanatical gamers who have created fictional solo DDSD leagues, such as one sponsored by Las Vegas casinos, or a nation-wide professional one, and even a NASCAR-like demo derby league set in an alternate universe that I’ve been running the past few weeks called REDD. Gamers give suggestions for new in-house rules like using strategy cards in solo play.

Support for DDSD is top-notch! There is Delphi Forums plaay.com site where you can get answers to your questions directly from the designer, Keith Avallone. Have a question? Post game-related questions online there and the designer and other game owners reply (often within 24 hours or less), or you can email the game designer directly.

The price is $34 for the rulebook, dice, plastic makers, and card sheets for charts, drivers and cars. That includes one of the driver sets; two are available now. The price may seem a bit steep, but considering the cost of gaming materials these days and the quality of the product and game play, it is still worth every penny. Also I’ve found PLAAY.com’s mail service to be fast.

On a scale of 1-10 (10 being highest) …

Game Play: 9
Components: 8
Organization of Rules: 9
Replay Value: 10
Complexity: 6
Price: 7
Recommendation: Buy it now!

“Gentlemen, start your collisions!
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Aaron Silverman
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The website mentions "Driver Strategy Cards." How do those work? I'm not too interested in sports sims that revolve around card-drawing and die-rolling with no real decision-making.
 
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Mike Sagliano
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I'm a solo gamer, but in multi-player DDSD games, each "live" gamer is given three strategy cards in a heat which can be used in lieu of a dice throw. They are kept secret and used when appropriate, necessary or desperately. Strategy cards allow the driver to do such things as hitting two cars instead of one, moving to another column, causing damage until a particular dice result occurs, etc. Deciding when to use them is important as the situation changes quickly.At times you can be too late.

Who to hit is of strategic importance too.

By the way,besides the strategy cards, there is choice of target in some dice results as well. Whether to repair external or internal damage is another concern.

This is a chaotic game that I think reflects the limited strategies of a chaotic sport. Imagine 12 or more cars striking out at each other from many different directions at the same time. Your options may be limited to say the least.
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