Thoughts From The Gameroom

The ramblings of a Euro-gamer from South Dakota

Archive for September, 2011

Bolide

Posted by sodaklady on September 27, 2011

Ever since caveman days, when he discovered that being faster meant that he not only had a better chance of catching dinner but more likely not to become dinner, we have been obsessed with speed so it’s no surprise that race games are a popular genre– car races, horse races, bicycle races, tortoise vs. hare races, lemming against lemming races– you name it, we’ll race it.

Bolide is a car racing game originally produced by Ghenos Games in 2005. They advertised it as a “revolutionary” car racing game and were immediately pounced upon by many who had played it as Racetrack using a pen and graph paper. I say if you want to play it with a boring piece of paper and a pen, go for it, but I’d rather play on a big, picturesque board (roughly 27 X 38 1/2 inches) with nice little plastic cars in eight colors with matching pawns.

Bolide board

The board is two-sided. This is the French track, the opposite side has a British track.

The “revolutionary” part of the game is in the physics-driven mechanism for moving your car which simulates the inertial effects of speed and turning. The faster your car is going, the wider the turning radius it will need so you are forced to slow down or run off the track. This is done using a pawn that exactly copies the movement your car just made to mark a target location for your next move.

Bolide pieces

The eight cars with their corresponding movement pawns.

Bolide movement

An example of movement: any space with the coin is a valid point for the car's next move. His current speed is 5, counting from the car to the marker.

Your movement can be to the point occupied by the marker or any point that is within two spots of the marker. In this way you can speed up or slow down by two on your turn. The two-spot limit prevents you from zooming around a corner at speed seven which would place your marker for the next move out in the middle of a field, and make you some sabertooth tiger’s dinner.

This has been a “wow” game for me and everyone I’ve shown it to. It may not be revolutionary to some but it was a new and clever mechanism for us. It is also fun if you have the right people. You can not, I emphasize “not”, spend five minutes planning out this move, the next move and the one after that. Fly by the seat of your pants, rely on experience and/or intuition, and have a good time.

Bolide in-game shot

A shot from our last game. That's my blue car in the back of the pack with only two spots on the track available for my next movement.

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Game Day — Sept. 11, 2011

Posted by sodaklady on September 12, 2011

Mike arrived around noon but, unfortunately, Dave was sick so it was just the three of us. That didn’t stop us from having a great day. Especially me since I won all of the non-cooperative games we played. Unbelievable. As penance, Mike said I didn’t get to choose any of the games we play next time. 😉

We started with Mike’s new game. Is that a surprise, that Mike has a new game? No, not even a little bit.

Gears of War is a cooperative game based on a video game on the Xbox. Not having a ‘box, I can’t comment on how well it integrates the video game into a board game but as a board game, we had a blast with it. We started with the first scenario, slowly breaking us in to the rules and game play, and we managed to beat it without too much trouble. Since it was fun and all set up, I suggested we try the next scenario which Mike said sounded tough. Know what? He was right. About half way through, the Berserker babe laid two of us down and her cohorts gathered around the final member of our party for the kill. One thing I especially liked about the game play is that taking a wound means you discard a card from you hand. This hand management aspect neatly represents a lack of choices and control. The more wounded you are, the less you’re able to do. I won’t run out to add this game to my collection, but I’d be happy to play again.

Gears of War

Gears of War towards the end of the first scenario.

Next was a serious change of pace from the co-ops and deck-building games we’ve been playing recently:  Formula D. Mike introduced us to Formula De years ago when we first started gaming together and I enjoyed the push-your-luck style of this racing game enough to buy my own copy when it was reprinted. I love the personal cards that keep track of a player’s Wear Points and the gear they’re in, but I really, really wish the cars were of better quality like the original.

Formula D1

Mike's lead after making it through the street of potholes.

I wanted to try the city side of the map which adds some new features to the original. There’s a stretch of street that is badly in need of repair, possibly causing damage to cars racing over the rough spots; there’s an area with grumpy citizens who may shoot at the loud cars racing through their neighborhood; and there’s a police station where the racer with the fastest time past it is rewarded with Wear Points. The final touch to the street racing is the personalization of your car and driver, each with a special ability that may help them through the race.

We ran a one-lap race, Mike taking the pole position and Richard at the back of the pack. Mike started off with a substantial lead which lasted until he blew through a corner half way through the race and spun out, causing him to restart in first gear. The crowd went wild… well, at least I did. I caught up to him and passed him in the final corner. It was only after the hand-shaking and award ceremony were over that Richard mentioned that Mike could have thrown his radio at me as I passed him. That was his character’s special ability. Depending on the roll, that might have done me enough damage to take me out of the race!

Formula D-2

And the little red car is across the finish line! Richard's blue car crashed in the foreground.

Power Grid has become one of our staple games so I didn’t think anyone would complain when I suggested it, this time with the central Europe map. As we become more comfortable with this game, we also become more aggressive. Well, maybe that’s just me.

Richard became cornered early in the game which slowed him down and made Mike my main competition. When a power plant came up that used 3 garbage to power 6 cities, that fit me perfectly because I was already using garbage. With my fistful of money I fought Mike for it until it was mine– for a measly $85 when it started at 30. Towards the end of the game with the possibility for anyone to win, one of the last power plants to come up was another one that powered 6 cities. If I won it, I would be able to power 18 cities and keep Mike from being able to power 17. If Mike won it, he’d be able to power 17 and so would I but he had more money to build to the requisite cities. I kept upping his bid until we were around 80 again, Richard also in the bidding because he needed another big plant as well. Mike pointed out that he had over $200 and I told he he better bring it. Ooooo, scary, huh? And tense. Mike finally dropped out after Richard bid $110. And evil person that I am, I let him have it and kept my money for building to cities. This cut Richard too short of money to buy enough materials, giving me the win. It was glorious!

Power Grid

Final positions: I'm blue, Richard is red and Mike is black.

After a break for supper, veggie chili and banana cake, I wanted to see how a trick-taking game I’ve had for ages plays and said it would only take 5 minutes. Bargain Hunter, like many trick-taking games these days, has a theme to try to explain the twists in traditional card games. In this game there are 6 colors in numbers 1-9, and you are collecting bargains (a particular number card) which everyone knows. After taking a trick, you set aside any bargain card you took onto your Bargain pile and the rest go into your Junk pile. The Junk pile is sorted through at the end of the hand (Spring Cleaning) to look for possible new bargains which will be your new target for the next hand. I had a hard time even explaining this game since it feels so weird to me to paste a theme onto a traditional card game but we finally made it through a couple of hands with only a couple clarifications. We played a whole game, 6 hands, which took us a little more than the five minutes I’d asked for. We each had a fair pile of Junk to cancel out our Bargains sure that not a one of us had a positive score so we were surprised when Mike had a point and I had two! It’s an interesting game but it needs more play time to become comfortable with it. Richard remarked that he’d like to play it again so I know he liked it even though he came in last with -1.

The final game of the day was Eurorails, one of the crayon rail games. Richard and I have played our 3 versions more than any other game I own but we’ve never been able to play it with more than 2 people so this was a little different for us. And great fun. There’s just something about the planning and logistics of these games that touches some part of your brain that no other game can touch. Our game lasted about 2 hours which is pretty good for 3 players but we helped Mike find cities and goods on the map, and when visiting a city to pick up goods, you just say, “pick up such-and-such” and another player got the chip for you while you keep on counting your movement.  At a point when my train was next to Mike’s, Richard told Mike to throw his radio at me! I can see that this is going to be a running joke around here, throwing your radio to slow down your competition. I like it. 😉

It was a very good day of very good games. I’m only sad that Dave couldn’t join us.

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