Dave LeCompte (really) (tsmaster) wrote,
Dave LeCompte (really)

Which Car? PitchCar!

In this post, I diverge from rambling about computer or console games and ramble about boardgames! Or, a game that doesn't have a board, but it takes up your dining room table, or maybe your living room floor. Still, no CPU involved. No network connection, no batteries required.

Years ago, I bought a copy of Carabande. Something about that makes me want to insert festive punctuation to make it ¡Carabande! (which might show up as I intended, which would be a minor typographical miracle).

The game's pretty straightforward - you get a bunch of track pieces and some wooden disks (think pucks or tiddly winks) in the box. Setup is to assemble the track pieces into a loop of track, and then play is to race the disks around the track, by flicking the disks with your fingers. There are rules about leaving the track and other small details, but it's a pretty straightforward game. And pretty fun. Also, not exactly easy, since it requires dexterity. So, you can actually get good at it, as opposed to games that are approachable, but just random.

There was some expansion to that edition, which I never picked up, and then the game and expansion went out of print.

But lo! (¡lo!) Another publisher made the same game, but slightly different dimensions. (Why? To be cheaper? To make sure people bought their base set, and not just expansions?) The new edition is called "PitchCar". And they've been publishing expansions beyond the original edition, so I've finally caved and got a PitchCar set. There was a deal at an online game store I was looking at, and I couldn't resist, so I got the base set and two "Stunt Expansion" sets.

And now that I've provided the context, here's my litany of complaints - having not played the game yet, just unpacked it.

  • colored pucks - ¡Carabande! came with 8 pucks, 2 each of 4 colors. You got to apply stickers to these pucks, which had numbers on them. PitchCar comes with 8 pucks, 1 each of 8 colors. Still stickers, no numbers, but the stickers come 2 each in 4 colors. So, I get to choose if I want to put a red sticker on a pink disk or a blue disk. Both seem like bad decisions. Also, the stickers provided have no numbers, so you have to remember that you go after the red player, and you have to hope that he remembers to go after the light blue player.
  • instructions fail - the instructions in the PitchCar box are titled "PitchCar Mini", which doesn't pose a problem. I get that there's another edition of the game that's smaller, and the rules are the same, but packing the wrong instructions in the box seems shoddy.
  • cut the rails to length - the first thing I noticed when I opened the Stunt Expansion box was that the instructions included cutting the plastic rails to the correct length. I suppose I can do that without too much difficulty, but then again, one might expect the manufacturer to have provided the pieces cut to the correct length already. You might think they'd do a professional job of it.
  • rail slots on right hand side - some of the track pieces have a left side and a right side. Some of them don't. The ones that do have a specific orientation all have the rails on the same side. I find this baffling, and would have expected half to have rails on the left, half on the right. I might not ever use rails on these particular pieces (especially if I have to get around to cutting the rails myself, see above), so maybe it doesn't matter.
  • supports - the stunt expansion is all about building an overpass. Crazy, and probably dangerous. But hey, 3 dimensions are better than 2. You could have a ramp going up, a little bit of an overpass, and a ramp going down. OR, you could put a bunch of supports under your track and have an extended length of layer-2 gameplay. If you want. Except that the supports that come in the box are made out of polystyrene foam and look like packing material. Super shoddy. I'm embarrassed to ask my friends to play a game with packing material supports. Also, the supports are awkwardly sized so that the box doesn't quite close. Very nice.

So, yay, a racing game that should be fun, but filled me with regret as I had opened the boxes.

Perhaps I'll make some custom pieces - some supports that don't look like afterthoughts, some rails that are the correct length. Maybe some disks that are not pastel colors, and have numbers on them. If I'm getting really ambitious, maybe some track pieces made out of laser-cut plastic.

In my copious free time.
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