Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Saturday, 15 June 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Spring Rally

Game: Spring Rally

Publisher: Mandoo Games

Designer:  H.J. Kook

Year: 2018



Recently, we seem to be reviewing racing games. If you want betting with your racing game, then maybe check out our review of Downforce, but if you want trick taking with your racing game then you're in the right place with our review of Spring Rally.

In Spring Rally, each player has a wind-up car and your spring can store energy to propel your car forward, unless you overwind, in which case you'll be progressing more slowly. With super tactile components and stunningly bright coloured art design - could tick-taking be the wind-up key to a family weight racing game?



Gameplay

The aim in a game of Spring Rally is to be the first to complete 2 laps of the circuit, or to be the furthest round the circuit at the end of the third round. Each round will consist of a series of card tricks. In Spring Rally's case there are 3 different colours and like most trick taking game you must follow the colour of the leader if you have it. If you don't have a card of that colour you may play either of the other colours instead. The winner of the trick is the players who played the highest number in the last-placed colour, so if a trick only involved blue cards then the highest blue would win it, but if the 3rd and 4th players played red and green respectively then the winner would be the player with the highest (and only) green card.



The reward for winning a trick is movement around the course. You can move a number of spaces around the track equal to the lowest numbered card played this round. You way also spend any spring points you have to enhance your speed (more on those soon). There are a couple of spaces on the board which are downhill which give you a speed boost if you stop on them, and an area which is uphill, which rolls you back to the bottom if you stop on it.

Losing a trick comes with it's own rewards though. Every trick you lose you get to wind up the engine of your car. When you finally win a trick, or at the end of the round, you can discharge the spring motor to move yourself around the board. The first couple of loses won't give you much movement, but the more you push your luck the more speed you gain. However there is a limit, go too long without spending your spring power and it starts going down in value instead!


Amy’s Final Thoughts

What happens when you combine racing, trick taking, and an active desire to lose? If nothing else Spring Rally is a unique game. Most trick taking games have some kind of trump colour that always wins, or even a complex list of trumps that can get unnecessarily confusing. Spring Rally has none of this, it has 3 colours, some bare-bones trick-taking mechanics and the ability to 'poison the well' by playing low. But as simple as this is, it does work rather well. Doing badly doesn't even penalize you that much as the speed you get from charging up your spring engine is enough o keep you reasonably competitive.


Of course, reasonably competitive isn't enough to win a race, being able to win the right trick at the right time is the secret to winning this race. Here we meet the traditional issue with trick-taking games. Sometimes you just have a bad hand. If you don't have many high numbers, you are unlikely to win. and if you don't win you don't have control over the trick. And if you don't have control over the tricks then you may find that your always have cards of the colour chosen for the trick so you can't win that way either. All of a sudden through no-fault of your own you are losing, the only tool left to you is deciding who to poison with your low-numbered cards.

Fortunately then Spring Rally is a quick game. With only 3 rounds you'll be finishing in no-time, a 4-player game will have just 21 tricks, perhaps less if someone manages to finish the second lap early. While I do enjoy the fact that Spring Rally is trick taking with a purpose, for me it's a little too punishing to bad hands with no special cards of any kind to spice things up. The trick taking is just a little too simple. But there is still a lot of fun to be gotten from playing the game and there is an undeniable charm with the theme and components.


Fi’s Final Thoughts

Spring Rally has been on our shelf for quite some time. Firstly because it only plays 3-5 players, but secondly because it really does scream kids game with the cover so it's harder to get a gamer audience to take notice. We found the opportunity to play some light games with non-gamer friends and Spring Rally was a big hit. We played it back-to-back because it was just fast, enjoyable and chaotic.

For us the tick taking was the simplest I've ever encountered and there wasn't a great deal of control at most times during the game. However, there are moments where you get to have an impact. If you play first in the first round with the highest value in one colour, it's likely that the colour will stcik, but it's also likely that one player will have a 2 or a 3 movement card that they'll use to poison your turn. In later rounds, it's often best to be last to play a card because you'll change the colour by neccessity and become the player who moves when everyone's used up their poisonous low movement card. If you're not having a whole lot of luck with the cards, then the spring dial provides a great catch-up mechanism and you can get pretty far by saving up those points or playing them at opportune moments to skip a queue of cards or get a boost to a downhill zone.


The inclusion of uphill and downhill segment of the track sort of promises some strategy that really isn't there. It's as if you could control your movement distance whilst really you're just doing the best you can with every card play. Sometimes you can use them with you spring points, but generally they add hilarity rather than tactics. So long as you're not looking for a game of strategy where you want to be clever to try and win, then this shouldn't disappoint you. Spring Rally is certainly a very light racing game and a super light trick taking game, but for an audience with kids or some friends who are up for a silly time or new to gaming then Spring rally is very enticing and a lot of fun to play.


You Might Like...
  • The components are really imaginative and thematic.
  • Spring Rally tries a combination of game mechanisms that we've never seen combined before and it does work.
  • It's one of those games where you'll want to set up and go again straight away.
You Might Not Like...
  • As far as trick taking goes, Spring Rally is very basic.
  • Luck has no small part to play in whether you have an awful round.

The Verdict
6.5/10 We loved how the tick taking and racing combined in Spring Rally. Whilst it was a very light game and probably not enough for fans of trick taking games, Spring Rally is a great family weight game, that's also fun for a party.



Spring Rally was a review copy kindly provided to us by Mandoo Games.

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