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Average Rating: 5 in 3 reviews
Speed Circuit is, in my opinion, the best board game about Formula One racing ever designed. Unfortunately, it has been out of print for more than twenty years. But that should not stop you for trying it: original rules , optional rules and tracks are available easily on the Internet (mainly at Board Game Geek).
In Speed Circuit, your car advance one space for each 20 MPH of speed, per turn. Like the real thing, it's very hard to win if you're starting from the back of the grid, but a lot of surprises can happen. That's the reason the game works better if the players run a championship season.
Just some advice: when looking for tracks, always prefer the ones three- lane wide. The two-laners can make your experience extremely frustrating (if you're playing with more than, say, six cars).
Better than any of the chariot racing games I've played, this one keeps up the pace and excitement level through 5 lap, 10 lap - even 20 lap! races. I killed many Saturday afternoons at the games club I used to attend playing this - wish I could find a copy!
Speed Circuit will forever hold a place high up on my list of all-time greatest games. However, it is an acquired taste that doesn't necessarily appeal to everyone. In fact, most gamers I know either don't get it and can't understand what's so special, or they do, in which case they speak almost reverently about the game.
In case you don't know, Speed Circuit is an auto racing game based on Formula One Grand Prix racing, just like the very popular [page scan/se=0217/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]Formula Dé game.
Formula De is outstanding in its own right, and its freewheeling style of play makes for a very entertaining romp around the racetrack.
Speed Circuit, on the other hand, is for when you want to get seriously competitive. Chance plays a minimal role, so when someone passes you and snatches the lead out of your hands, it's usually because they outsmarted and outmaneuvered you. It can get very personal at times.
The core of Speed Circuit's gameplay is that during each turn all players simultaneously plan and declare their cars' speeds. This involves assessing the usual factors: current speed, upcoming road, position, etc. But most importantly, you must assess what your opponents are likely to do next. This is the key ingredient that's missing from games like Formula De.
Speed Circuit rewards smart maneuvering decisions by simulating the 'racing line' (optimal high-speed path) through corners. Maintaining and blocking other cars from this line is a critical component of real auto racing, and is an equally vital part of Speed Circuit strategy.
The intensity never lets up. If you're in the lead, you've got to watch your back and not give your opponent any openings. If you're trailing, you've got to apply constant pressure, always looking for the right moment to make your move and zip ahead.
Speed Circuit really doesn't shine until you get 4 or more players involved. I've never found it satisfying when players run two-car teams, so you really need to get some live bodies around the table to fill the slots.
Since Speed Circuit has been out of print for many years, Formula De will have to do these days. You can find variant rules to Formula De on BoardgameGeek which start to bring it a little closer to Speed Circuit, but there's nothing quite like the original.