Grand Prix - F1
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Grand Prix - F1 recreates the excitement and events of a real car race. The drama from the track is formed by skilled, tactical overtaking maneuvers, forcing opponents to brake, loss of speed due to the wrong choice of tire, or driving errors like detours into the gravel bed, spins, early braking, missing yellow or blue flags, etc.
Particularly interesting is the challenge of making the right decision of when to go into the pit and how long to stay there for refueling.
The goal is to win the race or at least increase your score by ending among the best. A driver will be forced to leave a race when he runs out of fuel or has a serious crash.
Imagine the scene. It's your last day at Essen. You have some Euros burning a hole in your pocket. You think you've got all the "must haves", but has one slipped through the net? There's always one. This year I was determined for this not to happen. The rumour (positive) from Mik Svellov was that GPF1 was good. The rumour (negative) from Mike Clifford was that it was flawed. Not being renowned for my shyness to try a game unseen, and on the basis of a reasonable showing from their earlier game (Millionary, reviewed by Ben in Counter 18), I bought GPF1.
When I first played this there were only 2 of us, so we took 3 cars each and learnt the rules. The board looks like so many other racing car games - squares to mark movement, narrow sections where only one car can pass, off road areas, a start and finish straight and a pit lane. Familiar territory for Formula One, Speed Circuit, Formule D and MotorChamp fans.
The selling points for GPF1 are that everyone gets a hand of movement cards simulating your petrol usage. All the cards are 4's, 6's and 10's, so you are limited in the choice of squares to move to and your options are fixed to squares that are an even number of spaces ahead of you. The race is over 4 laps, and the shortest route around is 30 squares long, so you need at least 120 points of movement, but you begin with only 90 points worth.
Not only that, but some squares feature diversions that you take to simulate spinning off. If you overtake in some areas the route around is longer than the direct route, and you can also be baulked, so you may be lucky to get 2 laps out of your initial fuel load.
The solution to this is to visit the pits, at least once and get some more fuel. The pitstop lane has some speed limits so that you cannot play high valued cards and get full movement, so you know that the route through the pits will be slow. When you reach the pitstop for your car, you take on fuel, and for up to 3 turns doing this you get a larger set of cards. They are still 4's, 6's and 10's, but you can select the blend of cards.
A further decision must be made at the pitstop. On some squares of the race track you can "earn" points for good driving. I think of this as driving with some fuel conservation in mind, while the the rules say it represents the fastest time through a section of the track. No matter how you think of it, it is a good gaming device. The cards you earn are 1 point cards, either 2 or 3 of them. These can immediately be converted into a movement card of value 2 or 3 or be left as 1 point cards. Their value is in tactical play to hold up other cars or to make your car be on the ideal spaces for playing those even numbered cards that comprise most of your hand.
The extra rule is that once this pile of 20 or so cards is taken, a rain card is revealed. This makes all cars on dry weather tyres go slower, by reducing 10 point cards to 6, and 6 point cards to 4. How do you get wet weather tyres? When you conclude your refilling at your pitstop. This makes the pitstops more (fun) difficult to decide what tyres to take, especially when the 1 pack is getting low.
Of the players who have tried GPF1 in my groups, nearly all have liked it, including me. It has its roots in Ausgebremst from ASS, feels a bit like MotorChamp and plays in a reasonable time. It won't win any awards, but is a game that most motor racing gamers will enjoy.