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Rev Those Engines: 3 High-Octane Racing Games Are Roaring into View

I’ve got a need! A need for board games which simulate racing but also include resource gathering, engine building, negotiation, and deep strategy! Hmmm. I feel like that could have been…faster. While I’m rethinking that intro, let’s take a look at some new high-speed racing games.

Monster Mash Grand Prix – Kickstarter (April 2023)

Trademarks and visuals belong to their rightful owners.

Rigorous scientific experiments conducted (imagined) by me have concluded that the phrase “monster mash” is one of the most aurally pleasing word pairings in the English language. If the results of my totally real and valid methods of testing are not proof enough, history also provides a strong body of evidence. Bobby Pickett’s “Monster Mash” song has been a perennial favorite of kids under ten since 1962. Then there’s Milton Bradley’s Monster Mash game from 1987, a children’s game where you’re supposed to slap monsters with a suction cup hand but instead just end up smacking your siblings and friends.

But we’re grown-ups now, and we like grown-up things. While the phrase “Monster Mash” may fill us with a warm, gooey sense of nostalgia, we’re looking for a bit more sophistication. Enter designer Johnathan Huslage and Brainwave Games with a fresh take on this childhood classic.

Race through 1 of 4 spooky towns, or all 4 in the Grand Prix.
Trademarks and visuals belong to their rightful owners.

Monster Mash Grand Prix is a 2-5 player game of monster construction and, more enjoyably, monster destruction as players race their cobbled together monstrosities across 4 different race tracks. The original Monster Mash included a spinner which would construct monsters for players out of 3 different parts: head, torso, legs. Grand Prix builds on that by letting players construct their own monsters, purchasing different body parts from local monster shops like “Helga’s House of Heads”. Each body part modifies your racing monster’s abilities as well as providing them with a rad monster name.

All racers fear the name…Chuckles.
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Once your monster is complete, you’re literally off to the races. But being monsters, the racers will of course be trying to maim and dismember each other along the way. When that happens, don’t worry. There’s no point in crying over spilled monsters. Instead, just cook up another one in the lab and get back in there!

“Oh that’s where the head goes.”
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Train Rush – Gamefound (TBD)

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Looking at the cover of Train Rush, you’d expect a combination of Ticket to Ride and Twisted Metal. In reality though, this game is far more complex and sophisticated than either.

In Train Rush, players are mercenary train captains navigating the tricky politics of 3 nations who, until recently, were at each other’s throats. The situation is an opportunity for cagey conductors to build influence and wealth, ultimately dominating the dusty economic landscape.

Ride the rails.
Trademarks and visuals belong to their rightful owners.

This heavy Euro game from first-time publisher MTE Games uses a slew of mechanics to represent this delicate balance: action selection, action drafting, negotiation, area control, and resource management. All those mechanics require commitment from players. Games typically last an hour per player, and 2-4 players are required per game.

Players must race between 12 cities spread over 3 districts, attempting to build up the most influence, rent out the most warehouses, and fulfill the most contracts. Being confined to tracks, though, means movement is limited. Players may only move clockwise along 3 concentric circles. Cities along the inner track are closer, but cities on the outer tracks have higher ranks and can help players advance more quickly.

A little more intense than building a route to Miami.
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In typical Euro fashion, this game leaves very little to chance. Instead, it’s up to the players to navigate the tangled knot of politics and train tracks.

Fractured Sky – Kickstarter (April 11, 2023)

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IV Games has made a big name for itself in a very short amount of time. Their debut game Moonrakers launched in 2019, and just 3 years later the campaign for the sequel, Moonrakers: Titan, would rake in over $1.8 million dollars.

Since their debut, the hits have never stopped. Now, Moonrakers designers Max Anderson, Zac Dixon, and Austin Harrison are about to drop their newest creation: Fractured Sky.

Fly the fractured skies.
Trademarks and visuals belong to their rightful owners.

In their latest design, players assume the roles of airship captains racing to collect some familiar sounding resources: gold, wood, and ore. There’s also a fourth resource unique to this game, starfall. These pieces of fallen stars are how you score points, so grabbing them is key.

All this resource gathering also comes with a good deal of area control. Each player controls 3 airships and 10 battalions. Each round, players secretly divide up their battalions between their 3 airships and send them to various locations for resource gathering. If two ships end up in the same location, their battalion strengths are revealed and the player with the greatest strength claims the resources, including starfall. With those resources, players can build forts to bolster surrounding locations, and markets to increase resource gathering potential in the area. In addition, players can also spend resources to peek at hidden objectives or starfall locations, both of which will give you a leg up during final scoring. At the end of 5 rounds, add up the points and the player with the most starfall wins. Simple, slick, and full of tension all the way through? I can’t imagine that Fractured Sky won’t be yet another feather in IV Games’ cap.

“Enemy airship off the port bow!”
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