Racing Games

I obviously love board games. Some games have amazing mechanics, others are just plain fun. I am a terrible reviewer, because I often don’t know why exactly a game fascinates me. Sometimes it’s a specific mechanic that I enjoy, another time it’s just watching everyone at the table use a different strategy and yet have a close game, once in a while it’s how much it makes my 4 year old laugh.

One style of game that I almost always enjoy is racing games. I’ve always been a fan of racing in general, be it track, cars, bikes, or pretty much anything. I am hard pressed to find a racing game I disliked, although I’ll try to think of some examples to mention below and why.

I own several racing games, and have sold/traded several more. The sell/trades often had nothing to do with how much I enjoyed the game, but often is just because I have another game that does it a little better, or I can only justify keeping a few race games, and it’s just not quite as fun as another game.

I want to highlight a few games, some very well known, others not as much. I am a racing game enthusiast, and occasional evangelist, but by no means have I tried all of them.

Let’s start by defining what a racing game is to me. It’s mostly games themed as racing. I mean, you could probably call Blue Moon City a racing game, it’s a race to build the most pieces of the tower first, but it’s not what I consider a racing game. Race for the Galaxy is not a racing game either, even though it’s in the title. Clank! is a bit more of a grey area, but I’m going to say no for this article purposes.

Formula D: Let’s start with what I am guessing is the most well known, maybe Formula De if you have an older edition. It’s purely a racing themed game. Be the first person to cross the finish line. It’s very simple, and easy to explain to new gamers. Roll this die to go. Roll this die to go faster. Be careful you don’t go too fast, you need to stop twice in that corner or you’ll take damage. There are some other ways to take damage, but they aren’t really avoidable, just part of racing close to other racers, or going as fast as possible. It has a neat push-your-luck element to it that creates some decisions to be made, although they aren’t difficult decisions, just nerve wracking sometimes. Another plus is variety. There are dozens of different tracks, although many are difficult to get and are long out of print.

It has been one of my most fun gaming experiences over the years. And this is my most memorable game. We had a 12 player game going at Con of the North (I forget which track it was sadly.). 3 of us are well out in front, but are slowing down for the final corner, while others are coming up from behind in higher gears. The player in the lead spins out. The player in second pulls up alongside him, but also spins out. There is one lane to pass them, it will take me on the longest route around the corner, but I can upshift and will win, as long as I don’t roll the highest roll on the 3rd gear die. Which of course was literally what I rolled. I spun out also. Now we have the whole track blocked. All of the cars behind us start downshifting to avoid crashing into us. The cars in the back on the other hand, do not need to brake, they actually maneuver around all the slower traffic and are in significantly higher gears now. I believe the person who was in 10th place with 2 corners to go, won the race, the person in 11th finished 2nd. I ended up in 5th or 6th, but had a fun story to tell. 

Pitchcar: Well known, and much more available for the past 15 years than it was early on. Pitchcar is a flicking dexterity racing game. You each get a disk, and flick the cars around the slot-car style track. There are walls around some of the track, so sometimes you can pass people with amazing ricochet shots, but sometimes you also shoot your car right off the track and have to go back to where you started. SIlly fun. We have the  miniature version that we don’t play nearly often enough. The game looks incredible laid out on a table, although the full game looks more impressive. You rarely hear people not laughing and creating a general ruckus when playing this game.


Pitchcar Mini

Powerboats: This one is a bit lesser known than most on this list, but is a ton of fun. It uses 3 sided dice for movement, and you can lock dice and move different numbers of spaces. The hex board means going in a straight line isn’t always the best way, but it can also mean multiple ways to get to your goal. You race around buoys placed on the board, so the race also isn’t a set track. Speeding up and slowing down involved adding or removing a die from your locked dice. You can re-roll the locked dice too if wanted, but you always roll an added die. People get into trouble by having too many dice locked and not being able to slow down enough to either make a turn or avoid hitting an island. Chaotic, but simple, it usually only takes people a couple of turns to figure out what they are doing, and it’s designed to have a series of three races, so one bad race doesn’t mean you can’t win.


Powerboats in progress. Notice the different ways the boats are pointed while still trying to go and the same course.

I could go on and on. A few other favorites summed up with a short comment:

Detroit/Cleveland Grand Prix : This uses the  same system as Daytona 500, Top Race, and Downforce. I’ve always enjoyed it, and am planning to pick up Downforce soon. The card play, with the bidding mechanics make it an interesting game.

Hare & Tortoise: An oldie but a goodie. Nice and mathy, but I’ve always enjoyed it.

Automobiles: Uses deck building mechanics. I’ve only played it once, but it was really neat, and I need to get it out again soon.

Igel Ärgern: Apparently per BGG it translates to “Annoy the Hedgehogs,” this is a bit of a cute and simple game, with a ton of blocking and messing with the other players, although it never seems to get annoying that way. A fun game that seems like it’s been forgotten over the years, it’s fun and has a TON of variants.

Monza: My First Racing Game would be an appropriate name for this one too. It’s great for kids, and Aleksia has been able to play it with a little help since she was 3. It’s set for ages 5+, and that’s not too far off. I’ll likely do a review for this one down the road.

Ok, I’ll stop there, but know I could have added cycling, motorcycles, horses, and robots to this list and barely broken a sweat.

On to a game that I was a little disappointed by. It was even more of a bummer because it was a BGG Secret Santa Gift (although it was part of a large number of games that they sent me, this was the only in shrink game.).


Bolide is a really cool idea. Vector based movement. But it was extremely slow to play with more than a couple of players. I believe we played with 4 or 5, which isn’t a large group for a racing game, and it took us several hours to finish. It’s been 11 years since that game, so I don’t remember too many details.

Another one, this one was a BGG classic and was out of print for a long time, Ave Caesar. It had been hyped for years, people raved about it, so I was excited about the reprint. I was lucky enough to play a friend’s copy, and I was really disappointed. My BGG notes say that 4 races was too many, it felt too repetitive and samey. I’d probably try it again, maybe my expectations were too high.

I’ll end my post here. I count over 20 more games that I didn’t bring up, some well known, others not as much, but the lowest rating I have given any of these was a 5 using the BGG rating scale. So even the games I didn’t like as much, I didn’t hate. I’m a racing game junkie.

Any racing games I should be checking out? Any rare gems I should be seeking out, or even something that BGG ratings hate but you love? Feel free to leave comments below.

My Year in Gaming: 6 Month Edition

I’ve been slowly playing less and less games over the past few years. My wife’s shooting helped contribute to this, because she couldn’t sit for very long. Our 4 year old helped contribute to it, taking up a lot of our free time (Not in a bad way of course.). Some of it was that I stopped counting app plays against real people, and then burned out on the apps themselves (I’m looking at you Ascension & Star Realms. Still great apps though.)

But I decided to change that this year. I decided to commit to playing more. It wasn’t just a New Year’s Resolution, because the last 3 months of 2017 were my busiest months of last year, but I was going to put in an effort.

I downloaded a new app to help track plays. I’ve been using BG Stats. This app is excellent. It makes it very easy to track, and I even decided to try to track game lengths too, and it has a timer built in. My only complaint is that while it will automatically post to BGG, it won’t automatically add the plays to Twitter like adding a game directly on BGG will do. I’ve adjusted to that by taking pics of everything I play and posting in Instagram so people know what I’ve been playing (Although I’ve never actually gotten any proof of if anyone actually cares about this info.).

What this app is the best at is giving me data. I LOVE useless data. I use apps to track what beers I try, what books I read, what TV shows I watch, and all of my disc golf scores. I love useless data.

Ok, so I decided to be very aggressive on what I wanted to do this year. I made a 10×10 list (10 plays of 10 games this year, see my current status here.), I made a challenge with myself to play 10 games that were unplayed as of January 1st, and I made a challenge to play 5 games that I love and hadn’t played in years (I have since bumped this up to 10 games.). The app also helps make these lists simple to make and track.

I’ve been killing at these challenges. To be honest, the 10×10 is always in a state of flux. I did not stick with my original 10 games, mainly because I get new games and some of those get played more as time goes by. As of this moment, I have played 73 out of 100 plays for this, and have played 3 games 10 times already: Friday, Charterstone, and Ganz schön clever. I’ve already finished all 10 unplayed games, and have played 9 of the It’s Been Too Long list.

I’m not going to bore you with all the numbers of monthly plays, but I have played 90 games a total of 227 times already. That’s probably more than 5 of the last 6 years, or at least close. The family has helped immensely, especially Aleksia, kid games play quick and are easy to get to the table, but my friends and I have been trying to play more often, even if it isn’t in big groups.

A couple of my more memorable plays/games this year:

Charterstone: A legacy game, so it should be an experience. 12 plays and it came down to only a few points between the winner and second place (Although I suspect I messed up a big thing and Joe probably won.). Changing the board, having twists change the rules, adding things to make game play vary from game to game, we had a lot of laughs and surprises. It was a fantastic 12 plays, and we enjoyed it so much that my friend Eric, who joined Dina, Joe, and me in our plays, bought a recharge pack so we can do it all again, although hopefully with the full 6 players.

Eldritch Horror: A game I acquired in a trade for Trajan late last year. My first play went terribly, but blew me away. It’s great fun, and I am now wondering why I took so long to play it. Joe and I literally had the game won unless we lost 2 doom points on our last turn in our second play, and of course that happened and we very narrowly lost.

Of course I have many other good memories of games this year. The amazing Ganz schön clever, the silly fun of The Mind (Sadly I seem to enjoy it more than my friends & family.), I won a solo play of Elder Sign, playing Runebound for the first time in 8 years (It’s still is one of my favorite games to play.), and after getting a great deal, playing Stuffed Fables with Joe and Aleksia, which is amazing, but sadly Aleksia is too young for it.

And of course my friends and family. I’m playing more games solitaire this year, but it’s only to keep myself on course and play things, it has no bearing on any of you, who have been helping me play so much this year. I know my 6 months aren’t quite done, and more games will get played this week. That’s not something I could have said often over the last few years

That’s it. I’m stopping now before more stuff flows out of my active and apparently sentimental brain. Have fun gaming!

Review: My First Stone Age


My First Stone Age (2016)
Marco Teubner
Z-Man Games
2-4 Players
Ages 5+
15 minutes

Let’s face it, it was hard living in the Stone Age. It wasn’t all dinosaur garbage disposals or wooly mammoth vacuum cleaners.

It required scavenging for food and supplies, building shelters, and having pets.

Ok, so I’m not going to pretend that My FIrst Stone Age is historically accurate, but it is a pretty good kids game, combining memory and set collection.

Components: Nice thick cardboard huts & forest circles. The wood pieces are great, both the player pieces and the resources. My only complaint is the settlements, which are for putting finished huts on and storing your resources under. It is a little too low to get some of the pieces underneath. I also have a minor quibble about why the dog tokens are cardboard instead of wood. They are the only resource made of cardboard.

Huts, forest tiles, berries, and the dog tiles (blurry bits by the hand in the back).

Game Play:  You flip a forest circle that is set up around the outer edge of the board. You then move either the number of die pips shown, or to the indicated spot on the board. Wherever you end up, you take a resource from that space, unless you end up on the construction space. If there is nothing available in the spot, you don’t get anything, except the dog space, then you steal from the person on your left who has a dog tile.

The board all set up.

Note: We have been playing the trading post space wrong, treating it more like a general store. It is supposed to be a 1 for 1 trade, not just take what you want. Probably didn’t change much in our games, although it might have attributed to my concern about the game mentioned below.

If you land on the construction space, 2 things can happen. The thing that will always happen is that you flip the revealed forest tiles back over, and you must swap two of the tiles around. The optional thing is that you can pay the resources indicated on one of the face up hut tiles (Dog tiles count as a wild piece.), and then take that hut and place it on your base.

That’s it. The first person to build 3 huts wins.

The fantastic wood bits.

Final Thoughts: This is a neat little kids game. The memory bits aren’t particularly difficult, and to be honest, the only thing I really focus on its location is the hut. You can just collect things until a hut shows up that you can buy. Aleksia (My 4 yr old.) hasn’t really focused much on the location of the hut tile, yet has won 2 of our 4 games.

It’s mostly lucked based early on, but teaches some set collection mechanics and how to use them to buy other things. The suggested ages feel pretty accurate, but a smart 4 year old can understand. Aleksia had no trouble with the mechanics in any way, in fact she won our first game.

It looks nice on the table. I do wonder if resources might get scarce in a 4 player game, we ran out of many of them in our one three player game. We never had any issues when playing two player.

Special thanks to Drew for letting us borrow this game.

Aleksia planning her next move.

Gaming with a 4 Year Old

As I mentioned in my first post, we have 3 kids. My oldest is an adult (He turns 20 on Sunday.), and our middle child is 16.

Then we get to, as I often describe her, our little surprise. Don’t get me wrong, we are extremely happy having Aleksia join our family, but we were not expecting another child when she came along. She brings an incredible amount of joy to my life daily, but there are challenges being a 40+ year old with a preschooler, especially 12 years after your last child.

The one great thing we get to do is share my hobby with her. She can’t read a book (Although we read to her.), she can’t throw a disc golf disc (Although we let her try, and even have a small one for her to play with.), and she gets frustrated quickly when playing video games (Although again, she tries really hard. They don’t make a lot of small kid video games that aren’t mobile.). But we can play board games.

Do I break out Power Grid? Of course not, but we have a good group of games that she can play, and beats us frequently at.

We’ve never played games to just let the kids win. Will we always put our full effort out there? No. Do we stop them from making an obviously bad move? Yes. But we also don’t try to lose.

We might help her optimize her move in Monza. We do help her out some in Ticket to Ride: First Journey (The game is 7+, so she needs help, but loves the game.). We help her make some of her moves in a co-op game, but most of the time, we show her what would happen if she tried THIS move instead, although if she insists, she’ll probably get her way.

Part of the joy of playing this way is when you notice that she is making the best moves on her own. I’m never sure if it’s just her getting older and understanding better or just learning from how we helped her previously. Probably a little of both.

It’s amazing to see her outgrow a game she was playing only a year ago. The games get too easy very quickly at these ages. She might still want to play Go Away Monster, but she won’t want to play it 4 times in a row. She remembers it being fun, but realizes it’s not as much fun as it was before she could play more complicated games..

Although I will warn you, expect to play some games a lot. And I mean A LOT. They are still young kids, who will obsess about something. And don’t worry about picking up something in a thrift store used, especially if it’s really cheap. We’ve had some terrible games we’ve bought this way that she loved. They still had a little educational value, and we’d let her play those on her own if she liked. There wasn’t any need to worry about the pieces getting lost. And you can use them to teach how to properly pick up games.

We definitely play the games we enjoy more often, but sometimes you just have to bite your tongue and play whatever, because she’s 4, and she really wants to play this game, no matter how much you suggest we could play this other game.

The good news is there are a lot of good kids games. The bad news is, some of them still don’t get a US release, but thanks to & BoardGameGeek, they are easy to get and there are often rules translations. Although it seems like the majority of the best ones are either already being made by US companies, or are imported by someone else.

Haba Games are kind of the gold standard of kids games. They often make clever games with fantastic pieces. They do make quite a few games, and not all are winners, but even the worst of them have some value to teaching gaming and game mechanics to kids. Did I mention the pieces are usually amazing? The one issue is that some of them can be quite expensive.

Drachenturm from Haba. The Dragon pulls the string and the tower comes crashing down. You push the Princess token out of the tower, down the scaffold, and to the carriage, racing the dragon pulling.

GameWright here in the US is also a pretty good kids game maker. Haba might have better bits, but GameWright makes smaller, easier to afford games. I’m more likely to pay the $15 for Outfoxed, which is an fun young kids deduction game, than $50 for Drachenturm, which is a Haba game we picked up recently, but only paid half price. Beautiful, and a neat idea, but also a huge box, and a tad expensive. Had it not been 50% off, we probably wouldn’t have picked it up, knowing very little about it.

Outfoxed from Gamewright Games.

You’ll even notice some of the department stores are starting to carry more games, especially for kids. I’ve seen Magic Labyrinth at Target. Target also has an exclusive on the US map for Ticket to Ride: First Journey. So some of the bigger chains are realizing that there is more than just Candyland or Chutes & Ladders, although they are still there too.

I have been exploring some kids based RPG’s too, although we haven’t tried anything yet. She has a vivid imagination, and i think she’d like them. I have a couple of really good ones I have played, but they require writing. I’ll try to get into a couple and try them this summer maybe.

I think I’m going to cut this off now, I’ve rambled on long enough. I’ll re-address this eventually, maybe once she’s 5. I’ll be posting some kid game reviews, maybe every other review at first, but maybe more often, kids games are often easier to review.

Aleksia and I playing My First Stone Age, which I plan on reviewing next week.


Hello! A Not so Brief Introduction

Hello readers. Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Ryan, Yollege on BGG.

A quick summary of me. I’m 44, a father of 3, and an avid reader (Mostly sci-fi and fantasy.), disc golfer, and gamer (Both board & video.). I also really enjoy craft beer and have recently been fermenting foods.

Now I’m going to tell my gaming history, so it will be a little long, and a little personal at times.

I’ve always loved games, but I grew up in a really small town where there weren’t others to play with. Most of my gaming memories as a kid were on my own. I could be impulsive with my purchases, I know I had Fireball Island and Conquest of the Empire, and played them on my own.

I looked into games when I was in college, but again I was buying and not playing. I also had some social anxiety about meeting people. I collected RPG books and CCG’s (I still have my original Netrunner cards.), but again was rarely playing. Dina and I got married in 1997. We had our first child Joseph in 1998.

Things changed once we moved to the Minneapolis/St Paul area after Dina got a job up there. I had some friends that lived in the area and we were looking for excuses to hang out. We started by playing the Wizards of the Coast Star Wars RPG, but we screwed around too much to get anywhere in a night, so we moved onto Heroclix.

Heroclix gave me a reason to go to the game store. I found Blokus. That led me to BGG. I’ve had an obsession ever since. This was probably around 2000-2001. We added a daughter, Katlyn, in 2002. We started getting a regular weekly group together, several people that are still close friends today. I was buying a lot of games, but the others were bringing some too. Most of us had kids or had to be to work early, so we tried to be done playing by 9-9:30 (Typically Thursday nights.). We had Saturday game days occasionally to get longer games played. We started going to the Con of the North, and were making friends there too.

But in 2009 that all changed. Dina’s job was leaving Minnesota. We were suddenly moving our family to Kansas. We found out the weekend of Con of the North, so we had a fun time there, knowing we were leaving soon (We had about a month/month and a half to get moved.). We had a final game day with our friends, and left for Topeka.

Gaming has been on and off since moving. We found a good group of friends here, but none of us have been able to make a weekly gaming night stick, but we were getting together often. We even threw our own single day Con to help raise money for a friend who had a heart attack.

Then in September of 2011 everything changed for us. A mentally ill neighbor shot Dina in front of the older kids and me. She only spent a few days in hospital initially, but had to have spinal surgery due to bullet fragments lodging in her spine. Needless to say, gaming took a back seat, and I auctioned off a significant chunk of our games to local gamers and friends in MN. The Con this time was for Dina.

We never stopped gaming, but it slowed quite a bit. We gradually got it going again, although most of my plays were with the family, but we still saw our friends to play occasionally. The collection started growing again. In 2014, our family grew. We added another daughter, Aleksia. A bit of a surprise, but a wonderful surprise.

Dina lost her job in 2016. Again we sold off a chunk of the collection. This time as more of a panic sale.

But now, in 2018, I am gaming a lot again. The majority is with the family, but we try to get together with our friends when we can. Joe is absolutely a gamer. Katlyn has lost interest, although if that was due to the shooting, or just being a teenager, I’ll never be sure. Aleksia loves games, which means we have acquired a big bunch of small kids games again (For obvious reasons, we had passed on the games we had to friends when the other two outgrew them.). Dina tries to play with us when she’s feeling up to it, she still has a lot of pain due to the shooting. I have also started playing games solo on occasion, which was something I never did.

Our game group down here have become our friends and family. When we get together, we are just as likely to sit and chat than we are to play games. They helped us a lot after the shooting, and have helped us move twice. And we have helped them when we could with things. We try to get together at least once a month, but scheduling occasionally gets difficult.

Ok, I am sure I could have cut half of this, but I was on a roll and didn’t want to stop once I got going. Future posts should be shorter, but I’m not making any promises.

Here are a couple of pic, one of the family and the other being our current collection, except the kids games, which are mostly off camera to the left: