SIX DAY RACE - Reviewed by Mike

Category/Format: Sport/Boardgame

Classic cycling game which provides a much better game than the first impression gives upon opening the box. Minimal contents are a board on which is depicted an oval racing track; a deck of 'cards' in 2 distinct packs; 8 plastic cyclists and a small scoring pad. A race consists of one lap round the track and points are awarded for those finishing in the first 4.

The beauty of this game lies in not what cards you are dealt, because you all get the same distribution, but WHEN you play your cards to achieve the maximum benefit, more of which later. The game is played over an agreed number of races(normally equal to the number of players but less if you require a quicker game) and whilst points scored during a race for sprinting prowess are important in the final analysis it's the numbers of laps that separate the cyclists that is the deciding factor. So your objective in each race is obviously to try and win it but if you don't manage to do that it's crucial not to finish too far behind the leaders(see scoring later).

PREPARATION. At the start of each race the 2 card decks are sorted into their various numeric denominations and placed upon their spaces on the board. From the first deck, which consist of numbers 1-7 but omitting any 6's, each player receives the same distribution which varies dependant upon the number of players in the game. The second deck consists of cards in the range 1-6 and these are shuffled and placed FACE DOWN in 2 piles, 1-3 and 4-6 on the board but they do not come into play until later in the race.

A player's turn consists of simply playing a card from their hand and moving their cyclist that number of spaces. However if they end their move on a space where there is 1 or more other cyclists then 'slipstreaming' comes into effect and they move a number of extra spaces equivalent to the number of the card they just played multiplied by the number of cyclists on the space they landed. An example of play will illustrate this more clearly.

Player A plays a 2 and moves to space 2. Player B plays a 2 also and as he has landed on space 2 with 1 cyclist already occupying it he moves a further 2 x 1 spaces, i.e. to space 4. This means that Player C can play a 4, move alongside player B and then slipstream a further 4 spaces forward, landing on space 8. Player D plays a 4 also and with the same slipstreaming moves alongside player C on space 8. In the next round, because there are no 6's in this deck, player A cannot take advantage of slipstreaming players C & D so he plays a 2 instead to move alongside player B and moves up a further 2 spaces. However player B is only 4 spaces behind the front 2 so plays a 4 card and moves alongside C & D and then slipstreams a further 4 x 2 spaces, i.e. 8 spaces ahead. C & D cannot bridge this gap with the cards in their hand so B has slipped the field (for now) !

Hopefully you can see how important it is to work with the other players to maximise the movement obtained from playing a card. Another consideration is when to make your slipstreaming move, as there are 2 places on the board where Sprint Bonus points are awarded according to your position in the race when passing it. So sometimes you might be tempted to play say a 5 and gain an extra 5 spaces in slipstreaming only to find that you have landed 2 spaces behind the Sprint Bonus and then the other players use slipstreaming to overtake you and gain the points !

Now to the introduction of the second card deck. Towards the end of the back straight there is a space marked "Fahrewechesel" and if a cyclist lands exactly on this space they immediately discard any cards remaining in their hands and select 11 cards only from the deck in the centre of the board, in the distribution of 7 from the 1-3 range and 4 from the 4-6 range, but as these are face down you don't know what combination of cards you are going to get and performing this action counts as your move this time. However the deck does include some 6's and that may be vital in getting some slipstreaming in the final dash to the finishing line. If you've been able to slipstream a lot in the early part of the race and managed to keep some of your higher cards back as a result you may feel that you can last out to the finish without changing your cards.

Just to add a final twist, at the entrance to the final straight there is a square marked "Sturz!" and players landing on this square have to miss their next turn, which is very frustrating when you are moving up to challenge for the lead.

SCORING. As soon as one cyclist passes the finishing line the race ends and points are awarded on a 10,6,4,2 basis to the first 4 in order at that time. Counting back from the finish line there are markers every 4 spaces. Each of these denote a 'lap down' and the first one counts as zero. So if a cyclist finsihes within 4 spaces of the winner he is deemed to be on the same lap; if 5-8 spaces behind he is 1 lap down etc. This fact is recorded on the scoresheet along with the points gained for Sprint Bonus and Finishing position.

For the next and subsequent races the starting order is the reverse of the finishing order for the race just completed. Once the agreed number of races have been completed the winner is the one with the fewest laps down. In the event of a tie the number of bonus points gained is the determining factor. As each race takes about 20 minutes to complete a 6-race programme can be completed in 2 hours and I'm sure you will find it time well spent.

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