You have to love how clever modern games have gotten. When I was a kid we’d get a “race driving” coloring book from the store with a page-spanning, black and white boardgame in the center. You used pocket change to represent the cars and you had to cut out/glue your own D6 from the back page. (If you were REALLY lucky, the back cover could become cardboard stand-ups of the cars!) All so you could play a simple “roll the dice and see who wins the race” game.
And we liked it that way!
Ok, so we didn’t actually like it that way. We thought it was pretty cool that we could get a board game to play with our siblings; out of an overpriced coloring book no less! But it was really just a novelty. The books my sisters’ would get (doll themed, of course) had paper fortune tellers instead. Between these books, this stuff would somehow keep us entertained for hours! (Yeah, we were far too easy to please.)
Fast forward… um… more years than I’m going to admit, and modern boardgame ideas have gotten their hooks into race driving. No longer are wins measured merely by luck of the dice roll. (Though don’t fool yourself, luck is still important!) This latest Kickstarter – Dice Drivin’ – brings actual strategy, decision making, and risk into this odd little sub-genre.
Gone are the dodgy coloring books and pocket change. It has all been replaced with high quality cards, player mats, dice, and resource tokens.
One of my favorite features of the Dice Drivin’ game is the use of cards for the track. Rather than having a single, fixed race track, segments are shuffled in a card deck and then revealed as the players move through the race. This evolving information mechanic means that you have to think on your feet. Whatever your plan was a few turns ago might have just gone out the window with the flip of a card!
Even more interesting is that each card requires particular dice rolls to make progress. Gone are the “count the spaces on the die” mechanic. Rather, if you’re on a straightaway you might roll more blue dice to power through as quickly as possible. But if you’re on a curve, you’ll need a balance of steering and power to make it through. And just to make your day, there might be an obstacle in the way that you need to roll green dice to avoid!
Throw in the player mats that keep track of things like damage (did I forget to mention that?), special abilities, number of dice, and other useful stats; and you have yourself a shockingly modern racing game!
In fact, the design of this game reminds me a lot of Tiny Epic Galaxies.The playing area is made of cards, the player mats communicate how many dice each player has in play, and custom dice are used to communicate available actions. It may very well be that TEG informed the design of Dice Drivin’. If a connection does exist, Dice Drivin’ picked an exceptionally good heritage to learn from!
The only missing feature I wish Dice Drivin’ had learned from TEG is the use of numbered tracks to count resources rather than tokens. Tokens may be tactile, but they’re also a mess. They’re hard to pick up, keep track of and maintain. Keeping a single token on a counter track ends up being a lot easier on everyone.
But that’s a minor quibble. As it stands, Dice Drivin’ could have been an entry in the Tiny Epic series (Tiny Epic Racing?) and no one would have batted an eye. I’m really impressed with the quality of this game and highly recommend checking it out.
But don’t take my word for it. Check out Undead Viking’s review to get a feel for the game yourself!