Players: 2 -8 Ages: 14+ Game Time: 60 minutes
It is a race game for 2-8 players where you will taking on the personas of notable historic characters in a wacky contest to build and race your fabulous contractions around either the marvelous ruins of Machu Picchu or the red sands of Mars.
So by now it's clear this is a race game and the object of the game is to win the race which is done by getting your contraption the furthest beyond the finish line at the end of the race.
Each of your contraptions starts off with two basic cards which are determined by your character and then built upon through the game to make them more efficient.
The game is played in five phases which are summarised below:
Draft - Choose a card from those you have received to get components or resources then pass the rest to the next player. This phase ends when all cards have been attached to your contraptions stashed or sold for resources (dice)
Vent - During the vent phases players may spend cogs to reduce the value of dice used in your machine, once the number of pips is reduced to zero the die discarded back to the main pool or 'vented'.
Race - The race phase is where the bulk of the action happens, you roll all of your energy dice and assign them to components in order to gain race effects, you can also use your light bulk to activate special components including one of your inventor specific cards. Cogs can also be used in this phase to manipulate the dice for more favourable results.
Damage - As you go around the race track there are various obstacles that may cause damage to your contraption, in this phase you remove damaged components to make your machine viable again. If you are ever forced into a position where your machine ahs no parts remaining then it explodes and you are immediately placed in the space behind the player currently in last place.
Upkeep - Store dice for future rounds if able, reactivate abilities and generally prepare for the the next round.
Once the first player crosses the finish line it triggers the end game where you will play one more full round to try and get the furthest past the finish line. So getting there first isn't the ultimate victory condition it's doing it best.
If you made the appropriate sacrifice to our plastic overlords the dice gods then it's possible to build machines that can run forever, just don't expect this to happen very often though and btw you can probably expect your opponents to have won in the meantime too... but there is an interesting balancing act in keeping your contraption efficient and easy to use without sacrificing too much time or speed.
There are also other way to spice up your game including boost cards and events. These are fairly straight forward and do what they say on the tin. Event are effects that change the game for this turn while boosts are one -off unlockable bonuses that can provide powerful extra effects.
The quality of the components is fairly standard and i think you would want to sleeve the cards if this game was going to see regular use so as not to damage the cards too much (not that the box really gives you room to do this mind). With the deluxe atomic version That we received for review you get lots of additional fancy metal tokens which are very nice and weighty and feel great in the hand and certainly have some good table presence.
The rules are easy to follow and have good examples making it an easy game to pick up and teach.
My biggest disappointment with the game was the lack of diversity with so many of the characters using the same component rather than leaning into the design more and creating a full set of asymmetric player characters.
I was very excited to test this out as I liked the concept of building these fantastical machines and reliving my childhood of watching Wacky Races. It's a shame I've found myself disappointed.
The game is fine but I was expecting it to be well... more.
The tracks while they have some replayability and randomisation felt a little contrived and boring with very little room for strategy in how you raced, again the components for your machines were largely similar and it became apparent after only a few play throughs that there were certain cards which were just better.
Overall, it's a reasonable game just not one I would recommend when there are better race games out there.
Your friendly DoaLG rules Lawyer
George E Ohh