Review – Automobiles
A Deck Building, Racing game.
Year Published: 2016
Designer: David Short
Game Time: ~45-75 mins (Depending on the number of Laps played)
Set-up Time: ~5 mins
Mechanic: Deck Building, Racing
How to win: Win the race!
Drivers, start your engines! Will you cross the finish line first? Now is your chance to find out!
Setup is fairly simple, randomly select one card of each type to place next to its colour cubes. There is a suggested setup for your first game and a few themed examples to try after in the rule book somewhere near the back of the book.
Players put 2 4th Gear (Light Grey), 5 3rd Gear (White) and 5 Garage (Yellow) cubes in their bag. Each player also takes a car, sheet and a lap marker which is placed on the Lap track.
It’s suggested you play 3 laps but you can play more or less once you get the idea of how the game works.
Pick a Random start player and put cars on the track in turn order on their starting spaces which also have a dollar value.
Then, each player spends that money to buy cubes to get their ‘deck’ started. The newly purchased cubes, and the starting ones are placed in your bag. Everyone gives their bag a little shake and draws 7 cubes to place in their active pile.
On your turn you have 2 options: either take a Standard turn to use cubes to take actions and move your car; or take an Alternative turn to Pit and remove wear.
Let’s look at a Standard (Driving) turn first. These are divided into 5 phases…
The Action phase lets you move cubes from the active pile to the used pile one at a time and activate their effects which must be applied in full, from top to bottom as it is printed on the relevant coloured card…
Gear cubes are placed on the track in their matching colour spaces and must provide a trail. A single space on the track is separated by bold lines but can also be divided up into smaller spaces that hold multiple vehicles. Diagonal spaces (either fully ahead or overlapping) are adjacent but you can’t move through cars so look out for that.
Any wear cubes gained by non-gear movement cubes should be added next to the action cube as a reminder to collect them at the end of your turn.
In the Buy phase, you can use any cubes remaining in your active pile as their money value, shown in dollar symbols on the bottom of the card, to buy more cubes for their cost shown in the upper right corner.
Then you move your Car to the end of its movement path you made with Gear cubes and if you pass the chequered line, move your lap counter.
Now you Decline your car so you gain wear according to the highest colour track space you moved on according to the table on the board.
You can draft by ending your turn in a space or segment behind an opponent’s vehicle, avoiding receiving wear cubes in this way.
In the End phase remove cubes from the track and your active pile to the discard pile and draw 7 more out of your bag. If your bag is empty put the cubes in your discard pile back into the bag and continue drawing. You then move up to fill spaces on the board so you should always end your turn behind a bold line or another car. You move all cars at the end of everyone’s turn.
Instead of all that you can Pit Stop to remove all wear cubes from your active pile back to the supply. Discard the rest of the cubes in your Active pile and draw back up to 7, your turn is over.
If a player crosses the line on their last lap this triggers the final round of the game.
Play continues until each player has taken even turns. If multiple players have crossed the line in the last turn of the game the player who is furthest ahead is the winner. In the case of a tie, the player furthest on the inside wins the race.
So this is pretty fun and a good way of getting around the issue I have with deck building games being about streamlining.
I like Deck Building games in general with 1000’s of combinations available but generally if you want to win you have to make your deck as efficient as possible. If you try something unique or different usually the game will end before you get going…
This is a race, it’s all about streaming a literal engine in your deck. (Yes deck, I still refuse to use the term ‘Bag Builder’ :))
There are plenty of options for cards to use in the game. You have 5 different coloured cubes but several cards representing each and they’re all quite different. The themed options in the book are good, some give you a lot of ways to get rid of wear, others don’t give you any so you have to Pit every now and then.
It’s very well done.
A decent take on a deck building game.
I give it 7/10