HOME STRETCH from R&R GAMES is a game designed by Frank DiLorenzo for 2-6 players.
The components are solid for a family game, made for regular use and abuse by 14 year olds and upwards.
The cards are colourful, have clear, clean illustrations and are laminated for strength and flexibility. The
Horses are all the same with the exception of their Lane Number which is printed on the standing base -
anyone with a steady hand and a set of figure paints can turn these miniatures into eye-catching, bright,
3D horse racing images.
The Dice are regular d6s, the players pieces are plastic cubes, one ID colour per player, and the Counters
are heavy duty and clearly identifiable. The Board is a regular oval Race-Track overlaid with spaces to
use for movement and outlined by a Score-Track which also counts as the in-game money; thus players
begin with their markers on the 50 space (VPs and Cash).
There is a lot of random luck plus a smidgeon of strategy required when playing this game. But the main
element required from all of the players is the wish to have some fun, and horse-racing without the pressure
and tenstion of having to win and the possibility of losing your week's wages, is a good way to have fun.
The game starts with the players being dealt a hand of Horse cards of which they keep one and pass the others on
in clockwise fashion. This continues until all cards have been taken - there is no passing allowed (at least not in
this part of the game, it most certainly is when the race is on otherwise it would be a procession not a race).
Once all the Horses have been selected the players have to pay for them using the 50 VPs they begin with for the
You can determine at the start of the game how many races the Race Meet will have; four being the suggested
number. there are 23 Race Track cards (12 Purple and 11 Green) and it is a random selection of these cards that
set the Stakes, one card for each Race.
Race Track cards determine the Prizes for WIN, PLACE (2nd) and SHOW (3rd) which are awarded to the owners
of the horses in those positions at race end; these Race Track cards also determine the Handicap for each Horse in
the Race. Once you understand the way the cards are laid out it is simple to determine the Handicaps, however I do
have to say that it would have been a little easier and quicker to pick up not to have all of the Handicap icons on each
card, especially as they do not always ALL count towards the Race. The Horse (or Lane) numbers under each icon on
the top section of the card are the only Horses/Lanes affected by the Handicap (Handicap is a bit of a misnomer as there
are icons that help instead of hinder).
The Handicap icons are:
A Red circle/White cross:- which cancels the movement of a Horse the first time it's number comes up
A Green circle has +6, a Yellow circle has +4 and a Blue circle has +2 - these numbers being added to the first move of
the affected Horse.
Races are set up the same each time. All the horses are placed on their starting position by number, placed behind the Start
space. The Race Track cards are shuffled and placed face down, then one of them is flipped over to reveal the Handicaps;
the tokens for these then being placed behind each of the affected Horses.
Now it is time to Bet on the horses.
The player with the most money (VPs) bets first, placing ALL of their 5 tokens - only one per spot. Then in clockwise order the
players make their bets but different players CAN place onto previously taken spots, but again only one token (from each player)
Players lay their tokens face down, on the Tote Board - this being the Win, PLACE and SHOW rows in the centre of the Board;
the tokens are placed face down as the Bets are made in secret. The spot on the Tote represents the payout multiplier, thus placing
a token on the first spot in the top row (Win) give you odds of 12-1 (place a 3 token here and a win will return you 36 (you can
value the money as $1000s per point, or $1 per point or the same with €euros or £pounds).
In typical American horse racing we have Win, Place & Show (in the UK my understanding is it is Win or Place with Place being
2nd and 3rd or even 4th and 5th place depending on the number of Horses in the race).
The crux of the game is of course the RACE. This begins when all the bets are in place. Because there are only 9 spaces on the Track
a Race can be over quickly, or at least the winner can be found quickly, the 2nd and 3rd positions may take a little longer.
The race starts with one of the players rolling both dice and then making a decision based on the result of the roll. They may add the
dice results (the score on each die) together and move the horse with that number 2 spaces or move that horse 1 space and reroll, then
moving the horse from the second die roll result 2 spaces. (of course this may be the same horse again). The dice are then passed on.
Players will obviously know that because movement depends on the average scores of rolling 2d6, horses 5, 6, 8 & 9 generally moving
more than horses 4 &10 and 3 & 11. Horses 2 and 12 are logically being the slowest and least likely to move whilst as 7 is the actual
average number of 2d6 the horse wearing that number will generally be favourite. Of course the Handicap tokens have been designed to
balance this out a little, not completely, which adds even more randomness or luck to the equation.
As mentioned earlier, the owners of each horse gain VPs according to the race Track card and then the payout for Win, Place and Show
takes place. The players who have bet on the three horses past the post are deemed to have shares in the ones they have bet on. The total
value of all bets on each horse is calculated and then multiplied by the number in the Win Place and Show position on the Tote (depending
on where the horse finished). This gives a total amount of Prize Money for each position which is then divided between the share holders.
After the set number of races the player with the most money is the winner. There are rules amendments for 2 players and tied winners but
overall it is fairly easy to determine who has won.
In its own way HOMESTRETCH leans more towards Totopoly (without needing to turn the board over) than it does other horse racing games
like The Really Dirty Horse Racing Game and thus is much more of a family fun game than a strategy or gamers board game. As I said earlier
it is all about fun and Home Stretch certainly creates the right sort of atmospshere for all players, winners or losers, to enjoy the event.