Thursday, January 27, 2005

Stupid Shempezuelans

On this very cold Wednesday night, us Wagsters ventured into the wonderful world of racing board games with the help of "Formula De" and "Formula- Motor Racing".

First up was Formula De. There are three possible tracks on two boards (one is a short training track). The boards are large, nicely illustrated bird's eye views of the race. Players each get two cars (first and last, 2nd + 2nd last, etc), and the goal is to be the first across the finish line without getting all blowed up. The main mechanic in the game is gear shifting... each gear has a special die associated with it, each with a different range of values representing how many spaces your car would move. On your turn, you can start by shifting up 1 gear (allowing you to move more spaces)or shifting down up to 4 gears (allowing you to move fewer spaces). The main challenge in the game are the bends in the track. Each bend requires the player to end his turn a certain number of times within the "bend zone" indicated on the board. If the car overshoots the area without stopping the required amount of times, they are forced to either wear out their brakes or ruin their tires (represented by boxes which are checked of as they are used). Oh yeah, and if you end your turn too close to another car you might cause some damage, and even possibly blow your car!All in all, the whole thing simulates the ups and downs of racing fairly well with a simple and fun (if somewhat random) system. You can push your car to the limit and see if it holds toghether long enough to cross the line, or you can play it safe and hope to outlast the more reckless players. If you are lucky, you can time a turn perfectly and stay in a high gear on a turn and blow past your opponents unscathed. In fact, the aspect of the game which most impresses me is that things can change pretty dramatically over the course of the race... pole position (or a lead half way through the game) is no garantee of a win.

Our first game saw me in the lead up to the first bend and then I faded pretty quickly after that. Kozure and Tili were neck and neck for most of the race, but Kozure's fortunes were better and he edged out the win.

The second was almost a smash up derby as car after car was wiped out from the race. Personally, I was doing very well in this one. I pushed my cars early (taking quite a bit of wear on my tires and break pads) giving me good positions for both cars. However, on one turn I just wasn't thinking clearly and didn't get into the proper gear for both my cars... overshooting the mark very badly on both occasions. In one case, it cost me the car, in the other, it cost me every bit of leeway I had (all gas, break pads and tire markers gone). Still, we were close to the end, with two turns left, so I held some hope. I gunned it again, knowing that unless I rolled very high, I would be safe and be in a great position for the end run. Unfortunately for me, I did roll very high and blew up the car. Others weren't having much better luck, with a collision knocking out one of Kozure's cars, and Shemp spinning out on the second last turn. Kozure DID finish first, but good ol' Luch, drawing the rear for the entire race, drove past Shemp's spun out car, his wrecked car, Kozure's wrecked car and my two crashes to finish second and third. Sadly for Kozure, the ultimate winner is calculated by the sum of the TEAM's points and 2nd+3rd added up to more than 1st. Luch won.

Lastly, we tried Reiner Knizia's Formula-Motor racing. This one is more abstract (no surprise), and simpler (actual surprise). All cars in the race form a line. On a player's turn, he/ she plays a card from their hand, and then draws. Cards affect the order of the cars ("overtake +3" allows a car to move ahead 3 spots in the line, for ex.) There are crashes which take cars out of the game, there are tailwinds which allow cars to follow others as they zip to the front, etc. Essentially, this goes on until the deck runs out and points are assigned for the best 6 showings. Three rounds are played, and the team total determines the winner. This one is pretty light, paticular for the creator of Tigris and Euphrates. There's more luck than strategy, but it's fun enough and pretty fast. It was during this game that the long simmering hatred between the Shempezuelans and the Easylanders flared up again, with both of us taking a few actions whcih were clearly aimed at screwing the other more than helping ourselves. I got to play the last card and had one which had a 2/3 chance of putting a car in first place (and a 1/3 chance of putting that same car last). I went for screwage. It would have been more entertaining, and dramatic, for the stupid Shempezuelans to have plummeted from first to last than for me to move up a space, so played the card on Shemp. Sadly, it didn't work out and he kept the lead. It also cost me the game! Luch came in third, and Kozure had cars eliminated from many of the three races... and therefore came a distant last.

Stupid Shempezuelans.

Formula De: 7.5
Formula-Motor Racing: 6.5


  1. The title of this entry is CLEARLY nothing but sour grapes. CLEARLY. I will not dignify that with anything further.

    I was impressed with both of these games, and I sure wasn't expecting to be, as I have difficulty in thinking of a more boring form of "entertainment" than auto racing.

    Formula DE was indeed well put together, and I second Easy's thumbs up on how quickly things can shift for any individual car. On the downside, it really is a luck game more than anything, as with a lot of dice fests - I will like this one as a change of pace, but don't think it would ever be a favourite, personally. I also need to get out my design critic hat to complain about MARKERS THAT DO NOT FIT IN THE SPACES THEY ARE MEANT TO MARK! Ususally, that wouldn't be such a big deal, but considering the close proximity to each other that cars end up in, it's a major detriment to this game. Says who? Says me.

    The Formula Motor Racing game, I liked a lot. I consider this to be a nearly perfect back-up/filler type of game - plays quick, has a luck element, but also has some low-level strategy, and lets your brain cool off a bit. I don't think it would work very well with less than 4 players, unless each player ran two teams. (Actually, that would work out OK, now that I think about it). A basic knowledge of probabilities is useful in this - if they were aware of probabilities in Easyland, I never would have won the round played this session. Luckily, the Easylanders, they are thick.


    Formula DE: 6
    Formula Motor Racing: 7

  2. The Easylanders wanted to post a formal apology to the Shempezuelans regarding the above post...

    We are sorry that Shempezuelans are stupid.

  3. Sorry. I can't help it. It turns out that taunting is fun. It's not sour grapes... I think it's simply accepted that making fun of the current superpower is ok. It helps us bolster our fragile egos.

  4. Sorry. For real this time. While I'm sure you weren't actually bothered by the original post, I'm afraid that making any comparison between you and the U.S. might ACTUALLY make you upset. I retract my previous (uneditable) statement.

  5. The Shempezuelans are sorry that the Easylanders are sorry. (So, so sorry are the Easylanders. A sorry lot indeed.)

    The Shempezuelans are sorry that they are being percieved as the current "Superpower". It is truly too soon to tell.

    The Shempezuelans are especially sorry that they did not arrive at this board sometime between 10:05 AM and 10:08 AM, and therefore missed the opportunity to be truly angered by the Easylanders and their loose tongues. Although the comparison in question is not nearly heinous enough to anger the unusually magnaminous Shempezuelans, and you should know that, Easy, you dumb-dumb.

  6. Sorry about that last part.

  7. Official Statistics:

    Game 1: Formula De

    1st: Kozure
    2nd: Tili
    3rd: Hapi
    4th: Shemp
    5th: Easy

    Game 2: Formula De

    1st: Hapi
    2nd: Kozure
    3rd: Shemp
    4th: Easy

    Game 3: Formula Motor Car Racing

    1st: Shemp
    2nd: Easy
    3rd: Hapi
    4th: Kozure

    I like Formula De. It's fast paced and has enough strategy to prevent it from being a complete dice-fest. My only criticism is that it is ever so slightly overlong. I think it is ideally suited for 3-4 players - 5 is almost too many, I think.

    I liked Formula Motor Car Racing quite a bit better this second time - the first time out it went poorly. I think the strategies are much more apparent after three or four plays. Still a bit random -especially the spin-outs and crashes - but that keeps it light and fast.

    I'm sorry that the Shempezuelans are sorry that the Easylanders are sorry. :)