Session Report: Race to Adventure from Evil Hat
A little while ago, backers of the recent Evil Hat Productions board game Kickstarter for Race to Adventure received a print-and-play copy of the game to tide them over until the full game can be produced and sent out. I did the cheapest print-and-play version of Race to Adventure ever to give the game a try, which is to say that I printed the game on regular paper in a black-and-white laser jet printer. Truly no expense was spared in creating this luxurious copy ofRace to Adventure.
Still, production values are nice, but they don’t effect game play. I recruited my wife to give Race to Adventure a try with me. The game’s rules (at least in the basic game, which is what we were playing) are pretty simple: each turn everyone chooses from one of six items that give you a specific action. You have to move around a modular map created from shuffling and dealing out nine location cards and go to each location to collect a ‘stamp.’ The first person to collect all of the stamps and get back to one of the base cards is the winner. Cassandra (my wife) played as Sally Slick and I used the erudite ape, Professor Khan. We placed our pieces on the starting spaces, placed two stamps on each location (except for Atlantis, which gets prisoner tokens) and off we went.
I went first and immediately selected the bi-plane (which allows you to move two spaces orthagonally and all other players to move one space, although in the two player game each player gets to move at least one space or the game would likely involve too many turns just selecting a movement item without getting a stamp). I also got a stamp, since the US stamp requires nothing but showing up. Cassandra took her free move to Atlantis and picked up a prisoner, which she must get back to the Century Club within two turns. Turn two of our Race to Adventure had Cassandra taking the Ray Gun and moving to Antartica using her free move to pick up a stamp by using the Ray Gun. I take the magnifying glass and get four clues (which are used as a tie breaker at the end and are necessary for some stamps), since the magnifying glass is only worth one clue if you are anywhere else.
Race to Adventure turn three has me taking the Map, which allows me to go to Brasil to pick up another stamp by spending two clues. Cassandra uses the jet pack to move diagonally into the Century Club to drop off her prisoner, garnering her a stamp for Atlantis, and immediately gets a refuel, allowing her to use the jet pack again. Cassandra immediately reselects the jet pack and moved to Nepal and picked up the stamp, but now does not have any fuel, so she can’t use the jet pack again until she refuels at the Century Club. Professor Khan decides to go back to the U.S. to do some more research, picking up four more clues. I felt really good at this point and thought that my clue amassing would give me a pretty easy win. I had a good route plotted around the rest of the map.
Khan gets the ray gun next, going to Great Britain to pick up a stamp without expending any clues. Sally Slick gets a lift in the biplane and goes to Switzerland, where they just give stamps out for no reason. She then immediately hops on a zeppelin to go back to the Century Club and refuel her jet pack. I pick up the map and take my free move to go to Antartica, spend a couple of clues, and grab a stamp. On the next turn, I select the jet pack, but move using the free move, since the jet pack can only move diagonally, and spend my fuel to grab the stamp at Nepal. I’m feeling awesome about my odds at this point. Everything is going as planned in my Race to Adventure, which is a beautiful thing. Sally Slick gets a map and explores Antartica, spending three clues to get another stamp. She then immediately goes to the U.S. with the magnifying glass and picks up four clues and another free stamp. Professor Khan, the erudite ape, gets a ray gun and rescues the prisoner from Atlantis, and immediately selects the ray gun again to grab the stamp from Antartica. Cassandra then takes the map, moves to Brasil and grabs another stamp. Sadly, at this point, I still have no fuel for the jet pack, which is the move I want to take. If Cassandra had selected the biplane here, I would have lost my prisoner and, likely, the whole game at this point. Thankfully, it is getting late and she misses that little move, leading to her taking the ray gun to go to Egypt, grabbing the stamp, and getting cursed, which means she can’t complete any missions until she gets back to the Century Club. I take the biplane back home and drop my prisoner off, with a great deal of relief. I really thought the people of Atlantis were going to get me for a minute.
Professor Khan continues on his Race to Adventure by hopping on a biplane to Great Britain. Nothing to be gained here, just trying to move across the board. Cassandra moves to Great Britain as well, taking the magnifying glass to grab an extra clue. I start to get the sense that this is tighter than I thought it was. I still have no fuel for the jet pack, meaning I can’t move diagonally which, again, is what I want to do. Cassandra takes the biplane to the Century Club, getting a step closer to freeing herself from the Mummy’s Curse and I take the magnifying glass to take an extra clue and move to Egypt. I decided to not take the ray gun this turn in favor of the extra stamp, in fear that this was going to be a close game so that I would come out ahead in the tie break.
However, on the next turn, Professor Khan grabbing the stamp from Egypt and suffering the mummy’s curse. I immediately take my free move to Switzerland. Cassandra gets a clue from the magnifying glass and moves a space to get rid of her curse. She then immediately takes the zeppelin, denying me the move that I had intended to take, which results in a whole ton of swearing, and moves to Nepal. I take a bi-plane to Nepal, since I have to get back to the Century Club ASAP. I take the Map, denying Cassandra the item that she wants, take a free move to the Century Club and I am cured of the curse, no real loss. Cassandra uses the magnifying glass to grab an extra clue and moves to Mexico. She then immediately picks the map, spends a clue, and gets another stamp. Professor Khan takes the biplane out to Mexico and then gets the Ray gun, in hopes that Cassandra doesn’t have the five clues she needs and move to Switzerland to get a stamp. Regrettably, she does have enough clues and spends five after selecting the map to get the stamp from Atlantis.
The final turn, Cassandra takes the magnifying glass to grab an extra clue for tie breaking and moves home to the Century Club. Thankfully, she did not take the zeppelin, which would have resulted in a complete loss for me, as I would not have been able to make it home that turn. Instead, Professor Khan hops on the zeppelin home to the Century Club and declares his victory, having five clues left over to Sally Slick’s one.
We had a lot of fun playing Race to Adventure. It was a tight, tense game all the way down with a little ‘take that’ gameplay, but not enough to engender any ill feelings. With two players, Race to Adventure is very much about trying to optimize your path while taking small jabs at your opponent when you have an opening that still allows you to do what you want to do. Cassandra immediately said she’d like to play again in the future and the whole thing, from set up to finish (including rules explanation) took somewhere right around thirty minutes. We haven’t checked out the Race to Adventure advanced rules yet although, I suspect for two players, we will likely stick with the basic game for a good while, since it provides a good balance of ‘light, fun’ gaming and enough strategy to feel like your victor is your own. If you are interested in more information, you should check out the official Race to Adventure web page, the Race to Adventure rules, and Evil Hat Productions. Thanks for checking out my Race to Adventure session report!
I really appreciate the idea of print and play games and wish more big manufacturers would consider it. Any one else have that feeling? I’d pay a decent chunk for a print and play copy of some games, production values be darned. What’s everyone else playing? Talk about it below!