Thursday, February 27, 2014

Recent Acquisition: Detroit - Cleveland Grand Prix

Detroit - Cleveland Grand Prix - (c) 1996

I have a bi-weekly gaming night with some friends. We alternate between board games and RPG's. (I am currently running 13th Age.) On our previous board game night we played a game called: Detroit - Cleveland Grand Prix. This is a game by Mayfair games and is no longer being produced which is a shame.

I am not really a board game aficionado. I do enjoy playing all manner of games and when going to friends I am up for anything. I did for example really enjoy playing the new Firefly board game at a friends, but it doesn't seem likely that I will buy a copy. In order for me to pull out a game to play at home it needs to be something that is quick to set up and tear down with a manageable number of components. My hat off to gamers who can juggle all the little bits and pieces in the more involved board games, but I don't have the patience for that.

Detroit - Cleveland Grand Prix hit that sweet spot for me as a game with a good amount of strategy and involvement without being difficult to learn or component heavy. There's a board (with both sides usable), some play cars (pawns), some play money, and a deck of cards. Set up and tear down are a breeze, so instant check in the plus column for me.

18 years old and never been played. That's just wrong.

The game works like this: a bunch of cards are dealt to each player. On the cards are numbers of different colors. The different colors correspond to the six different colored cars. There can also be a white number (there isn't a white car) and this counts as a "wild" card, usable to move any car. The interesting bit is that there is usually more than one car on each card. Often 4 cars or all 6 cars are moved by a single card.

The idea is to play cards that help your car more than others, and thanks to a clever board design that can bottleneck cars making it impossible for them to move, there is a fair amount of strategy to card play as you try to move your car ahead while leaving your competitors stuck in a turn.

I loved this card mechanic. Because of it all the cars are constantly moving and the game feels very dynamic and exciting, like watching an actual race where you are both participant and spectator, rooting for your car even when it's not your turn.

As I mentioned earlier, cards are dealt out randomly. But don't worry, you don't pick which car is "yours" until after you are dealt your cards. This is another cool mechanic in the game. You bid money against the other players based on your hand to try to get the car you want. The bidding wars can be tricky. Do you bid high to get just the right car to win the race? Or save some of your money and make the most out of your second or third choice?

Each race awards money based on where your car placed, and at the end of three races you add up all your cash to find out who wins, so there is equal incentive to bid conservatively to save money versus bidding higher to get the best car in an attempt to win more money.

This is a great game! I want more!

Bottom line: I loved playing this game. It's fun, fast, easy to learn, with some strategy thrown in. Easy to set up and tear down is a plus for me as I mentioned, so I hopped on eBay and bought a copy of the game. I managed to get one that had never been played for less than $40 including shipping costs, so I was pretty happy with that. The pictures here are of my copy of the game.

If I had any complaints it would be that the plastic tray for holding everything in the box isn't very well designed. In fact, I get a sense that it was made for a different game and transplanted to this one. Also, a game is comprised of three races, but we have only 2 tracks. I'd love to have a deluxe edition of the game that had something like 6 tracks to choose from. That would be epic!



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