Saturday, October 18, 2008

#42: Gumball Rally

Gumball Rally
  • designer: Ted Cheatham
  • publisher: Z-Man Games
  • date: 2007
  • BoardGameGeek rank/rating: 2900/6.02
  • age: 6+
  • # of players: 3-8
  • print status: in print
  • cost: $9.60 (Boards & Bits)
I need to start out this entry with a disclaimer: the designer of Gumball Rally, Ted Cheatham, is a personal friend. He was one of the founders of Gulf Games... and it's because of his friendship that I got invited to attend.

But that just explains why I was willing to try Gumball Rally... and not why I like it as much as I do. The reasons I like it are as follows:
  • it plays well with 5-8 players... there aren't a lot of games (kid games or otherwise) that fall into that category
  • it plays quickly & cleanly
  • it works really well with mixed audiences of kids & adults... or with all kids if you have an adult to "run" the game
  • there are opportunities for clever play... but no real way to target another player
This is a race game (go-carts, evidently) which uses relative position in the pack rather than a track/board to "simulate" the race environment. Players are working to be in the front of the pack when they reach the checkpoints (there are two of them) and the finish line.

The game comes with chunky cardboard "car" pieces - which is good, since you set cards on them & slide them about. In fact, that's pretty much how the game works:
  • play one of four suits of cards on your car
  • pass every car that has a lower number on their card OR has the same suit you played
At the end of the round (everyone plays in race order), a special event card is drawn. Most of them send the player with the highest card in a particular suit to the back of the pack... though some send all the players who played a particular suit to the back. Tucked into this deck is the checkpoint/finish line cards as well - when one of them is drawn, you score for 1st/2nd/3rd place... and 4th place at the finish.

Based on the points accrued for each checkpoint/finish, the player with the most points is the winner.

I know it doesn't sound like much... but the game just works like a charm with larger groups.

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