Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Kid Games Review: At Full Throttle

At Full Throttle
  • designer: Robert Fraga
  • publisher: Haba
  • date: 2009
  • BoardGameGeek rank/rating: not ranked/6.43
  • age: 5+
  • # of players: 2-4
  • print status: in print
  • cost: $8.99 (
Robert Fraga, the designer of At Full Throttle, is the Genius of Real-Time Gaming. He's the mad scientist behind Treasure, Ready, Go!, Dancing Eggs, Squad Seven & Trotofant. (For the non-gamers in the audience, "real time" games are those in which players are racing against each other simaltaneously. A common real-time game that a lot of non-gamers know is Double Solitaire, also known as Dutch Blitz or Ligretto.)

This time around, Mr. Fraga manages to wring an excellent little game from 14 cards, a color die & six tiny wooden cars. (There are actually 2 different fourteen card decks in the game - but you only use one at at time.) The colors on the die match the color of the six cars... and the pictures of the cars on each of the cards. Every card has 3 pairs of cars attached by squiggly lines that cross each other.

For each round, three cards (or more, if you're playing with the difficulty ramped up) are turned face up, then the color die is rolled. Starting on the leftmost card, players find the car that matches the color die & trace the line (mentally!) to the next car. Once they've found that car, they jump to the next card & trace the path from that car to the next car. Repeat that one more time... but when a player finds to the final car, he grabs the corresponding wooden car from the middle of the table.

The player who is correct gets one of the track cards to show that he has won a round... then you deal three new cards, roll the die & you're off to the races again. The first player to win three rounds wins the game.

Following a dashed line isn't difficult... or at least it shouldn't be difficult. But the time pressure & the competition conspire against my brain and I jump lines or mistake colors or just basically have a couple of synapses blow out, thus giving my son the opening he needs to beat me.

Once you've mastered the basic skills needed to play the game, you can move up to the second deck of cards, where the lines are MUCH more twisty. You can also play with longer races (more cards in the tableau).

The age recommendation (5+) seems spot on - my 4 year old thinks the cars look cool but otherwise doesn't enjoy this, while my 8 year old enjoys beating his old man and chortling about it. I especially like how portable it is - it's in a smaller box to start with & could easily be transferred to a baggie to make a great "waiting somewhere" game.

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