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LEAGUES of ADVENTURE
ROCKET RACE
A Steampunk Rocket Building Card Game from TRIPLE ACE GAMES
Game Concept: Paul "Wiggy" Wade-Williams
Game Design: Robin Elliott & Paul "Wiggy" Wade-Williams
Card Art: Kamil Teczynski, Marco Morte, Robin Elliott, Luka Arh, Ryan Sumo & Robot with a Smile.

The Victorian Age has a lot to answer for, especially in game publication and design, as it is the groundbreaking era of Steampunk.

ROCKET RACE is set in 1898 with the 2-6 players attempting to be the first to land a rocket (Jules Verne or H.G.Wells type) on the Moon.
The first player to successfully build and land a rocket on the moon wins. Building the rocket is fun but then there is the luck of a die roll that can cause a nasty, but not completely disastrous, failure.

This is an unusual game in as much as it is a 2-game, game. By this I mean it plays 2-6 players at its basic (Standard) level and it plays also as a 2-4 player game (Advanced). I'm not too sure why TAG labelled it as Standard & Advanced because the "Advanced" version is virtually a different game altogether and really isn't that advanced on the first rule set.

You have to play the "Standard" game with 3 or more players as it has a fun bidding element which obviously wouldn't work with just but 2 players. The player interaction is fun and the game is pretty fast but in the "Advanced" version there is not so much interaction and the game isn't much fun with 2 players - although it is highly enjoyable with 3 or 4 players (4 being preferable).

The components are 42 playing cards (8x Steering Mechanism, Capsule & Propulsion plus 12 Rocket Accessories and 6 Event cards) all of these are used in the Standard game and the Advanced game with the addition of 4 League cards and 4 Workshop cards. The remainder of the components are 60 die-cut Cogs (counters) 2xD6, a Rules booklet and 1 Play Sequence Turn card. Lots of beautifully illustrated and fully coloured glossy cards plus the tokens and rules, in a strong rectangular box for just £10.00, well below the average price for such a well published game. My only mini con (as in Pro's & cons) about the components is that the cards are prone to curve from the longer sides inwards - the lamination doesn't thicken them quite enough for repeated game play. Just being careful by bending them carefully back into shape after each game will make them stay okay, but please do just that, be careful with them, especially if you are playing with players who like to hold their 'hand of cards' actually in their hand rather than putting it down between turns. Oh yes, also the Advanced rules says to check "Page 6" to see the rules about the Rocket Launch when in fact they are on Page 9.

Basic Game: Players begin with a pool of 10 Cogs each which they use to bid for cards flipped off the top of the  main deck. Turns are orderly and quite well organised; Draw (card from deck and flip it over), Bidding (use the Cogs from your Pool), Developmewnt (Players gain Cogs), Launch (optional - and only if you can). Rockets must comprise of one (only) of each Steering, Propulsion and Capsule, but they may also have attached up to three accessories. Components cannot be in development (have Cogs still on them) then roll the Dice for a successful (accessories can boost the possibilities of success) or a failed Launching. Rolling Two 1s is an automatic success and two 6s and the launch automatically fails, otherwise the dice roll result has to be equal to or lower than the Reliability of your 3 Rocket components and any accessories. Multiple players can launch their Rockets at the same time in which case the lowest successful roll wins.

 

I, like many players, have friends who are not keen on bidding games but who will play them just to be sociable, but as there are two different but similar games in ROCKET RACE, it means that they can enjoy this game without having to compromise.

For the Advanced game there are Workshop cards and League cards. Each of the League cards - Aegis of Terra, Daedalus Society, Lunar Exploration Society & Society of Aeronauts - has a different base set Electrics, Mechanics and Chemistry but each set of these adds up 6 points. These are NOT points that can be spent but are a base against which a die roll is compared so that you can, if successful, add points to your Workshop during the Scientific Breakthrough phase.

If there is anything to complain about it's that the two games are for different numbers of players. It would have been nice if there was a way to make both games playable by up to 6 players. That apart it's a fun edition to the Steampunk card game genre and it's a bonus that it's a non-collectable game even though with its superb artwork and card icons and text (game and oft amusing flavour) it could easily become stretched out with expansions and a few rules alterations. The 42 cards alone are worth the price of admission to the world's greatest race of the 19th Century. Enjoyable for games players or families it is a good game to play with folk from about age 10 upwards and the Basic Game is an especially quick paced filler game to precede or close down a game session. The Advanced game takes a little longer, needs a little more concentration and thought and has a somewhat nastier streak with the Events that can halt opponent's building endeavours in their tracks, sometimes just short term but other times these Events can be the difference. 

You can rush build and pray for luck on the dice roll or you can take your time, build a Rocket with all the legal accessories and pray you don't roll a double-six (10's and 11s aren't often very good either). Go for broke or go with commonsense, it's an adventure that ends with a kick or kiss from Lady Luck.

 


 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015