Time to play: 60 minutes (Teaching: 10 minutes)
Best played with: 4 Player (2 – 7 Players)
Time to hit the track and see who can get to the finish line first. This is a frantic and chaotic rush of a racing game to cross the line on various different basic circuits. A base game with a mix of tracks, but plenty more expansions for players who enjoy it. Here’s my take then on this game – luck, player interaction and great theme.
Nascar is perhaps one of the most aggressive racing sports in the world, with thin margins between the winner and the wall. What can you do to be the right side of that line? Very little. You just have to push as hard as you can and hope you fall onto the edge that you prefer.
This game is a great reflection of that violent rush of adrenaline from motor sport, the screech of tyres, and the risk of failure. You will draw random cards, you will manage your hand – selecting which cars will receive which actions and therefore which cars will take which bits of damage.
As you choose cars they might pull other cars with them on the route, push other cars out of the way, or even push other cars forward. This is then the trick of the game. It’s not just the choice of the cards you use, but the choice of the cards of every player. What cards will get drawn from the deck, and what sequence will they be played in, and can you position your vehicle to move with the pack rather than being left at the back. When you move you will pull cars forward, but when others move you will be hoping that you can be pulled forward. These moves are free of cost, these moves are more often the difference between winning and losing.
So then this is a game played in the shadows, in the positioning and timing of your moves. This is a not a game that is played by simply getting better cards or “playing better”. This will require player interaction. Negotiations, betrayals and pushing yourself into the position where your opponent will help you whether they want to or not – perhaps because they are better off helping you than not (the cost of pulling their own cars through the pack).
The game however doesn’t just reward the outright winner. The game is about bringing the team over the line, and not just the lead car. This is interesting because some players are experts at manipulating one car to the front but struggle to hold the rest of the cars with that lead racer. The lead car, and the lap leader will reap rewards but you cannot let those back cars drift too far to the back – otherwise those in the middle, with a tight group of cars, will win the day on points.
However, if you do get a dud hand then you will struggle. A challenging hand cannot be avoided and with only one card carried over it’s hard to manage a hand that are all similar cards. This then is one of the challenges – bad luck can crush a lap, and a car that has fallen behind often stays behind. This will double your work then to move the lead cars forward.
Also, watch out for events. Events can pull cars into the wall. You will need to be careful not to build up too much damage, pit occasionally, and avoid a full crash when the red flag emerges. These are random and challenging to predict – a serious danger and sometimes something that can land against one player time and time again in a race.
However, it’s these moments – the tough hands, the pull away card on the final lap, and then that moment where the event card packs the grid up under a yellow flag and all the early efforts of a lead are reduced to just two spaces before your key rivals cars! This blind fortune is ruthlessly unfair for some players, but in time it becomes fair for all and what’s more it builds the thematic tension of this game. The crashes and the drifting will keep players guessing and give memorable and exciting moments that you will talk about for weeks. Despite the fact that this randomness is also the Achilles heel of the game for other players.
- If you like a quick thematic race – this is a simple and good quality format
- If you hate random card draws, these will effect you badly
- If you win, try again and watch how things change – see who no longer trusts you!