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Motor-racing fascinates many fans around the world. But simply sharing in the excitement through a television is nothing compared to experiencing it yourself.
MotorChamp--a car-racing game for 2-8 players. Each player is both team manager and driver. As manager he must decide which driver in the team will go for victory and which will have the job of supporting him. As driver he must master the dangers of the racetrack and never let the opponents out of his sight. A feel for driving at the limit, the right strategy concerning pit-stops, clever use of the second car and the necessary bit of luck will guarantee a successful race.
The game is designed so that 12 different racetracks can be constructed from the board. In this way you can organise entire series of races and championships.
MotorChamp is a race in the truest sense of the word. Every player has their own set of dice, so there is little time to calculate each move. After a certain amount of practice time, the characteristically hectic atmosphere of a real car race will develop, in which even a small error can prove to be a players undoing.
The players must plan their moves according to track conditions and the behaviour of the other players. You can choose whether to run risks in order to be in the lead, or to play it safe in order to avoid risking a breakdown. If you always play it safe you will have little chance of winning, and if you always take risks you will quickly suffer a breakdown. Therefore it is necessary to strike the right balance between the two, and this will depend on experience and on the personal racing style of the individual. After a bit of practice you will find out when it is worth running a risk and when it is more sensible to hold back. It is important first of all that players acquaint themselves with the principals of the game. For this reason we recommend that you first play a few games without pit-stops and over only four laps until you have developed a feel for the board.
Number of Players and Race Teams
2-8 players can participate in the race. Each player has 2 normal and one special dice.
The long distance races with three board sections are designed for 12-16 cars, the short distance races for 8-12. There should not be less cars than this participating in the race. In some practices it is possible for short distance races to have up to 14 cars, and long distance ones up to 18.
- 3 board sections with 12 different possible combinations (8 long distance with three sections each, and 4 short distance with 2 sections)
- 16 AZA race cars (2 cars per team)
- 16 normal 6-sided dice
- 8 special dice
- 80 lap pins in 5 different colors to signify how many laps have been run
- 4 board section fasteners
- 16 yellow pit flaps to signify a completed pit stop
- 8 red handicap flaps to signify a reduced driving capability
- 1 plastic box
Average Rating: 5 in 1 review
I have to admit, I was a bit reserved when purchasing this game. I read a lot of pro and con reviews on bulletin boards but I have to say that this one is a hit! Is it a game of luck?... yes, somewhat--but there is also quite a bit of thinking involved in the die rolls. The basic premise of the game is to roll one to three dice (depending on track position) to advance your car. There are two normal six-sided dice and one six-sided die that has a max of 3 on any one side. When you roll the regular six-siders, you can use the values that are rolled or the values on the opposite side. For example, a roll of five would have a two on the opposite side. The thinking of what numbers to use are very important in avoiding collisions or setting up to pit. Each race lasts six laps and takes about 45 minutes to play. The rules are easy to grasp and the inclusion of dice for each 2 car team makes the game quick. When we play, we use a 30 second timer for each move. It keeps the game flowing and adds quite a bit of excitement. The 3 piece gameboard can design 12 tracks total. Two boards are used for short races and 3 boards for long. Although the tracks are not big due to the scale (cars are much bigger than those in Formula De), the game still lasts long enough! Bottom line is that I really enjoy this game and plan to buy the expansions to it to be able to field a 22 car race! If you enjoy racing games, you will enjoy this one. Its a bit pricey, but when you see the components and try a game, you will see that it is well worth the investment!
This is AZA's second game and like the first one, TurfMaster, it is a game that the designer had been playing with his friends for many years before its emergence on to the public stage. In this case the design goes back over twenty years. The game is also like TurfMaster in that its genesis lay in his love for the real life subject matter rather than in the simple wish to create a boardgame. At the back of the rule book are photographs taken at the German Grand Prix in 1963, together with one of the autographed programme the young schoolboy acquired back then.
On the surface--and I'll admit now that it is a surface that some do not see beyond--is a simple "throw the dice and move" mechanism. The board is made up of three double-sided panels which come together to form several racing circuits, each two lanes wide. The lanes are divided into spaces, each of which is in one of three shades of grey--dark grey in the corners, medium in most of the spaces between and light on the long start/finish straight. The shades determine what dice you are allowed to throw. Many of the squares also contain a number, this being the maximum safe speed for a move starting on that square. For dark grey these are in the range 3-5; for medium grey 9-11 and for light grey 12-14. Exceeding these limits results in either a spin-off or a crash out of the race and the crux of the whole game is the balancing of speed against risk.
You have three dice: two standard d6 and one special, which is numbered 1,2,2,2,3,3. On the dark grey squares you may throw one die, but normally have a choice of whether to use the standard or the special; on the medium grey it is either one or both of the standard dice; on the light grey you have the option of combining all three. The rule is that if there is no risk--either caused by a number on your start square or by cars on the track up ahead--you must take the most powerful of the dice combinations open to you; but that if there is danger, then you may use something slower so as to eliminate it.
To give you an idea of the sort of decisions that this involves you in, suppose that your car is on a '9' square. If you throw the two dice to which you are entitled, the chance of staying on the track is 5 in 6 and if you succeed, your average forward movement is 6.3. Disaster comes with throws of 10, 11 and 12. With 11 and 12 you are two over the safety limit and crash out of the race. With a 10 you are just one over and spin off. You then have to wait until two cars have come past and before rejoining the race. This is a significant time penalty and also tends to mean that when you do get back on to the track, it will be with cars immediately in front of you to present future problems. The alternative option that you have is just to throw one die. Now you are completely safe, but your average forward movement is only 3.5. Should you take the risk? It depends on the track position. With clear track behind you, the answer is almost certainly no; but if engaged in a close tussle, you might have to chance it. It is your decision and typical of the ones that you will be making throughout the game.
The same "one over and you spin off; two over and you crash" also applies when you can't move the full dice roll because of traffic up ahead.
These rules for spin-offs and crashes would be over harsh in the crowded situation at the start of the race. (In real life races, early exits are a commonplace, but in a game it would be unsatisfactory). To deal with this there is a special start phase in which cars only roll one die and simply move as far as they can. This continues until you pass a certain point on the track, by which time the mechanism means that the cars will have started to spread out. The other place where they don't apply is in the pit lane and that brings me to the other thing that you need to plan for and manage.
The race lasts for 6 laps and during that time each car must make a pit stop. This must be no earlier than the end of lap two and, if you are not to incur a movement penalty, no later than the end of lap four. The problems that you have to deal with are a speed restriction on cars entering the pit lane; the fact that the entrance to the pits is tight (just one square) and this one square might be occupied by another car, forcing you to stay out for another lap; and the fact that you will be running more than one car and have to arrange pit stops for both of them--a potential problem as your pit can only hold one car at a time. Pit stops can be fast or slow. A neat dice roll mechanism determines which. (Throw two dice. If the throw is at least four, the pit-work has been completed and you can leave next move. If one of the two dice shows 4 or better, you have made a very fast stop and can use the other die to move out straight away.)
For the game to work, the track needs to be fairly crowded. This means at least 8-12 cars if you are using just two of the board panels and at least 12 cars if you are using all three. You also need to be running more than one car each. Part of the idea behind the game is that, just as in real F1, it is likely that by the one-third point of the race the cars at the back will be being lapped and providing traffic problems for the leaders. For this to work in game terms, these "backmarker duties" need to be shared out and, because the start procedure deliberately discriminates against the cars at the back of the grid, that means that at the start each player needs one car near the front of the starting line-up and one down the field.
Two (or more) cars apiece mean that each player is running a team and it is as a team race that the game is scored. The scoring is one point per position: so in a 12-car race it goes 12-11-10-9 and so on. You could use Grand Prix scoring if you wished, but the method suggested has been found to work better. Its effect is to make every position important, giving the backmarkers, as well as the leaders, the incentive to race. In a real motor race the drivers in the middle and rear of the pack continue to scrap for places as a matter of pride; here you do it for points.
I haven't given a playing time, because it is heavily dependent on the number of cars, the length of the track and how familiar players are with the system. For your first game you should use one of the short tracks and should try to deal with the familiarity problem by counting the distances to key squares when it is not your turn, rather than after you have thrown the dice. Take this advice and the game will take about an hour; ignore it and it will be quite a bit longer.
So much for the description. However, I can't end there because readers of reviews expect some sort of recommendation and here it gets hard, because opinion is very sharply divided. Alan and I both like the game, feeling that it gives races which are both exciting and fun. However, while we were having a great time playing it on the Friday night in Essen, back in Mlheim a group containing Mike Clifford, Mike Ruffhead and Dave Farquhar were also trying it. And they hated it, abandoning the game after two laps. Out on the net, Alan and I are joined by Richard Dewsbery, for whom the game was one of the Show's highlights; while the Mlheim party can recruit Paul Evans, who played the game at MidCon and could see no merit in at all. Finally, there is the influential figure of Mike Siggins. Alan took the game round to Mike's for a post-Essen games session and Mike too is strongly with the antis.
This type of split would be a problem at any time, but it is especially so here because of the game's price. The production values are superb--beautifully printed tracks and cars which are 5cm long models with proper wheels and attractive liveries--and that means that the cost of the game is inevitably high. Fifty quid for a beautiful game that you also enjoy playing is acceptable; fifty quid for one you don't enjoy is not, no matter how pretty it is. I am delighted with my purchase, but the call is not one I can make for you, not even by pointing you at another game as a reference point. The one that springs to mind as a possible is Formule D. That too is a beautifully presented game with dice-generated movement and consequent large slices of luck. My view of it is that it is fun but over-rated--over-rated because the races look nothing like F1 races. I much prefer MotorChamp. However, Paul (Evans) is a fan of Formule D and can't see the point of this one, so even this doesn't give you a litmus test. The only good way out of this type of impasse is to suggest that you try the game before you buy it, but if that isn't possible (and I know that for many of you it isn't) my best advice is to read through the description I have given and to measure your own tastes against it.