Reviewed by Roger Seaman
The first offering from Lionel Games (aka Mike Clifford and Mike Siggins) concentrates on a solo replay of the 1991 Tour de France. The game arrives in an A4 platic bag with five pages of rules, various charts and result sheets and a sheet of coloured rider counters. Although these have to be stuck on card before they can be used, they are the business - each rider is depicted in his team's jersey and, bearing in mind the overall cost of the game is £4.95, are just about worth the price of admission on their own. Four d6 are required to play the game which are not supplied.
The game centres around the twenty major contenders for the Tour although an optional rule does allow any personal favourite to be included at the game player's discretion. All twenty contenders are rated for sprint, climbing and time trial. A list of other top sprinters and climbers is also included as they may be in the frame in their specialist fields. Inexplicably, the few top time triallists outside the top twenty do not receive the same treatment. However, as mentioned above the resolute gamer can overcome this omission.
A list of the various stages is provided and these are broken down into flat (long and short), mountain and time trial (long and short). Each stage, except the time trials, is completed by using the Race Display. The RD has 36 boxes arranged 6x6 with the central four boxes being track 1, those immediately surrounding them track 2 and the outside boxes track 3. At the start of each stage the rider cards are placed on the display randomly (more on this later). 4d6 are thrown, two of which are used to identify the rider on the display and the other two to check whether a breakaway by that rider has been successful. If there is no breakaway, the above procedure is repeated - there are six chances on each stage and each one gets progressively easier.
If a breakaway is successful, that rider is deemed to have won the stage. Any riders directly horizontally or verically adjacent to the winner on the display finish in a group just behind. Riders on the same track finish in a further group ahead of the peloton.
As well as rider cards, the following cards are also placed on the race display at the start of each stage: two each of red, green and team counters plus one peloton and one maillot jaune card. The peloton card is used for two main purposes - if the peloton card is identified as the breakaway card a bunch sprint ends the stage. Rider's sprint finish ratings are used to determine the winner. Also, if the peloton card turns up when determining the finishing groups the process stops and any rider not so far identified finishes with the main field.
If the team counters are identified in a successful breakaway on a flat stage, riders from that team have broken away and won. In a mountain stage, the climbers from one team can fight out the finish. If a green card is indicated (no you do not get an automatic work permit) an additional group is featured in the finish, a simple chart shows how to calculate the time differences of each finishing group. A red counter indicates that one of the riders has been involved in an incident. The maillot jaune counter comes into play after stage 10 and indicates a threat to the race leader. Time trials are simply dealt with by a die roll for each individual rated rider, again a simple system shows the time difference.
And that gentlemen is basically it. A simple, easy to play game that should give a couple of evenings pleasure for each tour. The Tour is not without a few gremlins but the discerning gamer can sort these out. For example, the time differences in the prologue for non-time trial specialists is probably too much but a different chart can be used to cut down the loss suffered. Breakaways on the final stage are normally few and far between, this can be overcome by cutting the number of potential breaks to say, one or two. I would also suggest that non-climbers on mountain stages be ignored for breakaway purposes but all these are personal whims that you can adopt or ignore at your leisure.
Finally, to add to the fun, I suggest that from the 10th stage onwards you hold back the leader's card from the race display until only five cards are left to be displayed. The card can then be placed anywhere the gamer feels is best to cover any breaks. The remaining five cards are 'wild' and are then placed at random. The beauty of the game system is that wherever the leader's card is placed not every break, even by the second placed rider, can be covered.
At £4.95 this is a little gem you shouldn't miss.
On to the review of The Tour or back to the review of Asterix - The Card Game.
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