A game by Jean du Poël, published by Gold Sieber, Germany
These comments copyright 1998 by Steffan O'Sullivan
This page last updated November 27, 1998

Carabande is an unusual game for me - it's an action game that doesn't require too much thought, but lots of manual dexterity. Manual dexterity isn't my strong point, so I don't win Carabande very often. Nonetheless, I enjoy it immensely on those occasions which call for it, and pull it out at least monthly.

Carabande is a racing game. If you've ever played caroms you'll have a rough idea of what the game is about. The "cars" are little wooden disks that you move by flicking with your finger. Where Carabande differs most significantly from caroms is in the board layout: caroms roughly resembles a square pool table, while Carabande is a race track.

And what a track, especially if you buy the expansion Action Set! The main set includes straights and curves which can be assembled in many different ways. Each piece has a railing on one side - you can remove an occasional railing for a harder track. The Action Set includes two more curves, two "chicanes", or tricky sections where the railings impinge into the track area, and a jump. Definitely get the Action Set if you're going to buy Carabande at all. You won't regret it.

So you set up the track, have people randomly draw cars (which are numbered from 1-8), and take turns flicking your car around the track. First one to complete three laps wins. The rules are simple: if you go off the track, go back to where you started the turn. If you knock someone else's car, but everyone stays on the track, that's fine. If you knock them off the track, both cars go back to where they were at the start of your turn. On the jump, if you land on the track you're supposed to be jumping over, you have to redo the bit before the jump again. You can play with the included obstacle, which, if you hit it, cancels your turn - go back to where you started the turn, but the obstacle, if still on the track, stays in its new location. That's about it.

What that rule summary doesn't convey is the high level of fun, high-fiving, shouting, cheering, and groaning that goes on during a game. Granted, the mood has to be right - this is a mood game. I've found it works best in the following situations:

  • at parties, especially where non-gamers mix with gamers, and you want the non-gamers to join in the gaming fun;
  • at game conventions - you'll draw a crowd;
  • at other conventions where games are only a minor draw - I ran a game at the World Science Fiction Convention in 1998 that was enormously popular;
  • I bring it into work on a Friday about once a month for a lunch-hour game - it goes over great, though Dan is awful hard to beat;
  • when people are brain-fried from some deep-thought game, and need something light to return to sanity;
  • when people are brain-fried through other reasons, not that I'm advocating any of those reasons ...
At any rate, though it's not in the same league as a Reiner Knizia game, it nonetheless has its place. It's especially useful in getting non-gamers to see why you enjoy the social aspect of gaming so much. Anything which can do that so quickly and easily is well worth the money.

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