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Subject: Leader 1 - Review from WBC 2010 rss

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Chris Brandt
United States
Springfield
Virginia
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I played Leader 1 with some of the players who normally play Speed Circuit at WBC. The players were knowledgeable and fun, so I had no complaints there. However the game left me disappointed.

As we started, the components showed themselves to be beautiful! The terrain tiles are detailed, yet clear and well marked, so there is no argument over which space connects to which other space. The cyclists are realistic, slender figures in three different positions of riding. Unfortunately, nearly every team (there are three riders per colored team) suffered a broken cyclist. (NOTE: We were advised that sturdier cyclists are available aftermarket.)

It took a LONG time to decipher the rules. We theorized that the rules were originally written in another language and translated to English. We thought the original rules might be in Italian, but we actually HAD SOMEOME FROM ITALY in the game and, while I didn't understand what he was reading, it didn't appear to be much clearer.

Each team (color) has three riders: 1 rouleur (sprinter) – indicated by a green base, 1 climber – indicated by a red base and 1 leader (generalist) – indicated by a yellow base. They each excel in different terrain. In addition, you may designate two of your riders as experts in downhill or final sprint in addition to their intrinsic specialties. Each team has a shirt color. I found the colors odd. The "red" was more like pink. The "Green" was some sort of pastel lime. Each team has a single shirt color, but the cyclist types are differentiated by their pose on their bikes (somewhat hard to differentiate, especially after the riders started snapping off the bikes!) or their base colors. So, be careful to refer to the "climber", not the "red cyclist" as the colors have two different meanings.

By this time, we had spent a significant amount of time trying to figure out how to play and enthusiasm started waning. But, we started playing and I DID enjoy the game play. The concept of the Peloton (the big group of cyclists) being the default move for everyone was brilliant. It speeds game play and only riders who have broken way from the Peloton or fallen behind it must plot individual moves. Some of us tried breaking away early and, like real cycling; it is difficult to continue to outpace the Peloton as a lone rider.

Later in the game, just about every rider broke from the Peloton, at various distances from the finish. This is a critical part of the race. Break at the wrong place (up a hill) or with the wrong rider (a climber on a level straight) and you are soon gobbled up by the pack.

Drafting is important, and it enables teams to work together. Some planning is needed, though, as occasionally an opponent will slip in and take advantage of YOUR draft! The speeds pick up on the downhill and the spaces fly by, but then you reach the next hill and you go back to the hard burn.

This caused some confusion and discussion in our group. The rules appear to state that your entire move is dictated by the terrain on which you start. However, if you start on the last space of a downhill, which leads to a flat, or even an uphill sector, you effectively get the benefit of the downhill terrain through the next sector. There is a lot of strategy in positioning one's rider in this last space but some at the table felt that this was a circumvention of the intent of the terrain and, to some extent, even the laws of gravity. Well, nobody mentioned gravity specifically, but that was the vibe I got.

Nonetheless, that's how we played it and as a huge group blasted to the finish line, quite a few riders still had a chance. Some racers were on their "last legs", others still had some energy. Some were specialists in the final sprint and would have an advantage there. Ultimately, a generalist won, which surprised me, thinking that a sprinter would have a big advantage in the final push. However, the generalist is able to withstand all types of terrain and expending energy is a key being able to put on a burst when needed.

Overall, once we started playing the game, I kind of liked it. With experienced players it would be fun. It might also be fun to run an entire season or huge race with multiple segments. The game play is (once you've figured it out) fairly simple and it accommodates most any number of players as each three rider team could be split between 1-3 players.

There was one arbitrary negative. Occasionally, the "red" side of the 10 sided die would come up. This indicated a "puncture check" for every rider. While this may be "realistic" as a component of real cycle racing, it was disappointing to see some riders suffering multiple flat tires while others avoided it entirely. For game play considerations, I would eliminate this rule. We are gamers, not cyclists, and this random element detracted from the game.

Lastly, cycling is a fast paced sport. In any game that tries to recreate quick decisions and actions, it is more enjoyable and easier to establish a pleasant rhythm when it is played quickly. This is sometimes difficult to do when more than one player controls a team, as analysis paralysis can set it in, as it did in our game more than once.

Would I play it again? I don't know. Maybe I would, now that I know the rules. It's actually pretty simple. But, there are other racing games I enjoy just as much and are more popular, for which it is easier to find opponents.

One of the reasons I go to WBC is to try new games. Many thanks to the guys who brought it, introduced me to it, and taught it to me!
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Fabio Pellegrino
Italy
Palermo
Sicilia
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Good Review Chris !!!
Only a note, we played with only the 65% of the energy suggested from the rules, and the energy was still too much. The game need of tuning and of some house rules to be really a good game. The same appen to our favourite speed circuit, a good game that now is a fantastic game with extended rules.

Fabio
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George Leach
United Kingdom
Godalming
Surrey
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Chris, what are these other racing games that are much better than Leader 1? I'm still yet to find a satisfying racing game that exceeds Das Motorsportspiel, I wondered if you had more suggestions.
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Fabio Pellegrino
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Racing games I think very good :

Braking Away "Ciclist"
Speed circuit "cars F1"
Turfmaster "horses"

Obviously for my taste of play, these are games well tuned (also with house rules) with about no luck, strategic.

Fabio
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