D'r Af means "off" in Dutch, I've been told. If so, it's
an appropriate name for this wacky little game. It's a racing game with
little tiles, about 1" by 0.5" (~25 cm x 13 cm), which start only four
tiles long, but are laid across a table a few at a time, extending the
track until it reaches across the table. The first one to drive their
car off the table wins the game!
The components are not spiffy quality, but are adequate. The tiles
are somewhat crudely cut and of slightly varying sizes so the game has
a homemade feel to it. (But this is a trial version, I'm told, and if
they make a final version, it'll look nicer, I'm sure.) The blue-gray
background color of the tiles is a bit drab. The cards are bright
colors and on thick cardstock, but don't have a professional finish -
but the little cars are nice. Nonetheless, it's a cute game (you can
see pictures on their web site) that's a lot of fun - if your table
is the right length. I've found you need at least a yard (meter), but
twice that distance might be a bit too much. Maybe four-and-a-half to
five feet (~135-150 cm) would be close to perfect.
The game consists of 150 tiles (though my set only came with 125, it's
fine - each counter sheet of 25 tiles is the same, so I have the correct
ratio of tile types), 45 cards (nine each of five different colors),
five little cars, a first player marker, and rules in Dutch, German
and English. All this is packed into a video cassette box, and it's a
To begin the game, you lay out a few blank tiles at one edge of the table:
four tiles long and as many tiles wide as you have cars in the race.
Each player takes his nine "Cruise Control" cards, eight randomly chosen
tiles (tiles are kept either face down or in a bag, etc.), the first
player is decided, and cars are placed in the first row.
At this point, the first player chooses one of his cards to play,
face up. The next player may choose any of his cards except
one already chosen, and so on until all players have a different card
face up in front of them.
A Cruise Control card has four bits of information:
Once all players have chosen their tiles, they take their turns in order
from lowest speed to highest speed. Once the turn is over, everyone
takes the Cruise Control cards they played that turn back into their
hands, the first-player token is passed to the next player, and the game
continues until someone drives off the end of the table.
- Number of tiles you must lay this turn;
- Speed for this turn: number of tiles you must move your car;
- Number of lane changes you may make this turn; and
- Number of Cruise Control cards you lose if you're in a collision.
Your turn begins by playing tiles. There are eight different types of tiles:
Blanks are normal track, and you can simply move onto it for one point
of speed. You can change lanes directly sideways for one point of speed,
but must move forward with your next movement point, regardless of how
many lane changes you can make in a given turn.
- Blank tiles,
Caltrops cost you one Cruise Control card - pick one and put it in the
box. Puddles mean you skid out one space sideways - unfortunately, the
person to your right picks which direction you go. A Truck is an obstacle
- if you hit it, lose the number of Cruise Control cards indicated on your
current speed card, cover the truck with a blank tile, and keep going.
Police slow you down: lose two points of speed immediately.
Moving onto a ramp means you immediately jump over whatever is in front
of you, at no extra cost in movement points. A Switch allows you to swap
any two tiles on the board (except other Switches or occupied tiles),
and a Wrench allows you to regain one Cruise Control card from the box.
So the game is not hard in principle: lay the number of tiles indicated
on your Cruise Control card (ranging from two to eight), move the number
of spaces shown, try not to hit a truck or other players' cars, and try
to retain at least one Cruise Control card, because if you're out of
them, you don't move the rest of the game ... Oh, you also can't play
too cautiously: if there's ever a gap of six or more spaces between you
and the nearest car in front of you, you're out of the race.
The game is usually harder than that in practice, however! Not only
might you not have good tiles to lay in front of your own car, another
player might have beaten you to it by placing bad tiles in front of you.
(Yes, Virginia, there really are players like that.) The faster you
go, the better chance you have of being in first place, but collisions
become outrageously expensive and lane changes are scarce. But if you
drive slowly to avoid taking major collision damage, you'll probably
have to drop out by being too far behind the pack. An interesting,
fun and sometimes frustrating choice!
So you have to expect to lose some Cruise Control cards. It's okay, you
have nine of them, ranging in speed from 2 to 10 inclusive. If you lose
too many, however, it's possible (especially when you're last to play your
card) that the other players might pick their cards with the intent of
keeping you from moving. For example, if you only have four cards left,
the 4-5-6-7, and your four opponents each choose one of those numbers, you
can't move that turn. So don't lose too many Cruise Control cards.
(Though I admit I once won the game with one card left!)
You can now probably see how the table length becomes crucial. It doesn't
matter as far as the number of actual tiles you have - since a car never
moves backwards, once the last place car has passed a row of tiles,
remove all tiles in that row and earlier and put them back in the bag.
But Cruise Control cards are the issue. If the course is too short,
there's no real penalty for reckless driving - go ahead and lose five
cards, you'll still have plenty to finish the race. But if the race
is too long, it creates driving that is necessarily tame - too tame to
be fun, actually. You can't afford to lose a Cruise Control card even
every other turn if you have to go three yards or meters! And Wrenches
are the rarest tiles ...
There are other rules, good common sense rules. Colliding with other
cars or the guard railing at the edge of the outer lanes is covered in
detail - it's lots of fun (at least for the players not involved in the
collision). If you drive off the existing tile-layout, simply draw tiles
from the bag one at a time and resolve each one before drawing the next.
That's the only way to place tiles more than seven rows ahead of the
least developed row, however. And if a car is eliminated, one of the
lanes is removed ...
All in all, this is a very fun light game, worth some laughs, yet that
still rewards thinking and lucky draws. Recommended.
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