You all should know I am a race game Junkie. I have this unexplainable attraction to any racing game. From Speed Circuit to Mississippi Queen from Win place & Show to Daytona 500 (one of the best out there), I will pretty much buy any racing game I can get my hands on. Sure these are not your mainstream Ameritrash Fare, but they sure are fun and the good ones do have a lot of player interaction, a ton of trash talking, most have some dice tossing and even the rare combat phase if you look hard enough. (Circus Maximus anyone?) In fact there are few racing games I have played that I didn't enjoy, the only one I can think of is Ave Caesar, that thats really a euro with a racing theme.
So anyway, I have been working with the group to try and run a race season over the next year, and have been looking for a game to do it with. I looked at Formula De, obvious choice in that there are tons of tracks, the game looks great on the table and most folks like it. I however find it a bit the same all the time, a little too easy to be an idiot and wreck someone else and way to much depended on the dice. Speed Circuit was another choice, not as popular with my group as Formula De, and we would have to print out the tracks, turning the members attracted to the bling off, but to me its a much better game than Formula De, using the modified AH rules currently deployed at the WBC. However I do not think I can rally the boys on this one so maybe I keep it in the back pocket for the 2nd season.
The last game that I own and one of my favorite race games is McGartin Motorsport Design's Stock Car Championship Racing Card game. This sometimes hard to find game (it ebays for a ton, but is available most years at the WBC from the designer) is one of the most unusual racing simulations you will find. Instead of a printed track that you move mini cars around. The game attempts to simulate NASCAR races, where the track is almost an afterthought and the action is based around how the lead pack of cars bump and grind for position. SCC, or "that card game" as it has become known in these parts, is far more abstract than a normal racing game. Each player is represented by a car (we use 1/64 or 1/24 die cast mini's) placed on the table in a line. Something like this:
Players have a deck of cards that they draw a hand from (7 to 9 cards depending on the type track). These cards contain a number of different bits of information. Each has a Lap count, a Speed Rating, a Pit Time and an event (Action or Response). there is also a Track Deck that contains cards with events and lap counts on them.
Each turn has 3 phases:
The Track Phase - The top card of the Track Deck is flipped and players must play cards out of their hand so that the added value of these cards meets or exceeds the lap count. Each card played will use up one of the players actions (more later on these) and players can use as many cards as they have actions to fill this, however the more cards played here they less that player can do on his/her turn. Additionally a player may play a draft card here regardless of the lap count on the draft card. This counts as the player making the lap count for the turn but the player will get to take no actions during the turn. Any player unable to make a lap count runs out of gas and fetches beer until the race ends.
Also in the Track deck are events. Like a crash ahead, slow traffic, or engine trouble. Players may have to play a card from their hand or top-deck a random card to see if they get nailed by the event.
The Action Phase - This is where all the fun stuff happens. Players compare the speed ratings on the card(s) played to make the lap count. (if more than on card is used players pick the speed rating they want to use and place it on top of the other cards before seeing other players speed ratings)
Players now can play action cards out of their hand, assuming they didn't use up all their actions making the lap count. (Actions for the games are either 3, 4, or 5 per turn depending on the type of track)
These are usually cards that allow you to pass the guy in front of you, or maybe pull away or even have you pull next to some slower traffic to prevent being passed. This doesn't just happen, that driver in front of you gets the chance to play any response card in their hand. This is usually either a block, or a challenge to your pass. Also there are times when players can choose to draft you while passing, or draft the car being passed, this adds a bonus to the card being drafted for challenges and can cause a lot of heated discussion about potential future support. Anyway this is when race position changes, gaps form etc. etc.
The Refill Phase - This is where player refill their hands (again 3, 4 or 5 cards depending on the track type) Players have a max hand size and can not draw more than the refill limit. Spend too many response cards trying to stay in 1st and you will be playing the next hand a bit short!
Thats a fair description of the basic game. There are advanced rules that limit the size of your draw pile until you pit to refill it, allow you to take damage or use tire points until you pit to fix/replace them.
For a fairly simple card game SCC does a great job at simulating the lead draft in a stock car race. Knowing when to pit under green conditions, timing the drive to the front of the pack, and sometimes getting a lucky caution just when you need to catch up is all a part of the game.
For the season you can score each player using the normal NASCAR points system for finishing and laps on the lead. There is even a driver experience system that can be used to increase hand size, speed modifiers on passing or the drivers skill rating for avoiding random events.
I hope to nail down the rules we will use for our season this week and present it to the group in 2 weeks (I will be in Atlanta next week for some gaming with my F:AT buddies! So look for some crazy session reports soon!)
Thats all for now, and remember "If you ain't first, your last!"