Bang! The wound, in which would an ordinary car suspension burst, caused only a little shake to this vehicle. Luckily Daniel’s vehicle chassis has adequate reinforcements installed. The car shuddered from its wounds very quickly, moved forward through the follow-up jumping platform and rushed headlong into the next turn. Everything worked perfectly. Navigator read the route, which they passed together yesterday in training. Everything was going almost ideally, they had a great time according to the team radio.
But then the wheel collapsed. The same thing, that resisted recent impact, could not resist high jump. Collected damage resulted into broken axles. The car stopped at the nearest tree and its engine, a while ago still full of life and energy, trailed away. Rallye has ended for both competitors.
Perhaps similar feelings and experiences await you, if you buy a new racing game originally designed in France. Its author’s name is Jean-Christophe Bouvier the name is Rallyman. Our editorial staff received the reviews game from the Polish company LocWorks and we would like to thank them for that.
In snow-white box with a picture of rally racing, you will find something special, as is the case with most racing games. Future home for all competitors will be four doublesided interlocking boards covered with lots of roads, that promise a large variability at first glance. Along with them, there are chips of time with a value of one, five and ten seconds, a few chips of mud and tiny black dots to indicate damage hiding inside the sheets.
Below you will find four racing specials buried under, that are as tiny as those in Formula D (review in Czech). All are the same and differ only in color. Their movement will need a total of seven dice – five black with numbers and two white seemingly with empty sides. There is of course also a pile of cards inside the box, cardboard indicators of damage for each player and notebook for notations of times in several special stages.
Deck of cards is split into six major piles – one for each of five gears and one for shortcuts. The rest of the cards are just a few pieces for special rules. One card, however, is extra – there are red and green targets drawn on it. This card must be carefully cut out and it provides you with start and end symbol of the rally route.
Each race consists of three stages and players must identify a few key things at the beginning. The first is the name of the rally, which you will write on the top of the sheet. Central part is place for rally description and columns in the lower part is for players and their names and also for their recorded times in stages.
Building of a rally is designed quite well. Each of the gaming board has several roads and you can connect them freely. Every road exit from the board has its own sign, which uniquely identifies it. Only the contestants themselves, determine the length and intensity of their routes, as well as the fact, if they will or will not encounter snow during their race. You will write all the transition points along with start and finish into the table and prepare the first trial.
Players choose their cars, put them near the start sign and each take board to count damage. Cards of gears will lie separated into decks next to the race map, as well as will dice and tokens of time bonuses. This game is ready to start.
Cars start at intervals, as in a real rally so every racer has enough space in front and behind him, so he can pay attention only to the track. In the first round only the first runner moves and the other add to him gradually during next turns. That makes the starting pattern look like this: 1-1-2-1-2-3-1-2 -3-4. Once all the cars are on the track, players alternate until the first of them reaches the finish line.
Except building tracks and starting, another unique system present in Rallyman is moving. Dice are here, but their only purpose is to determine the risk of your driving. Each of the black dice represents one gear printed on most of its sides (four to five sides) – each of these sides has a same number, but the last one (or two). The rest contains an exclamation meaning danger, that has suddenly appeared and you have to deal with it.
Players roll each dice sequentially and put them in a chain, that has to go smoothly in a row up or down. In doing so, each dice may be used only once and only when it is appropriate (shifting lower or higher). If you roll the number, everything is fine and your car moves one square forward (for each dice roll, car moves one place regardless of actuall gear). But in situation, when you roll an exclamation mark, you must become cautious. The third exclamation point in the dice chain in one round, means loss of control and crash.
Because you have to maintain a sequence of gears, you can usually just add up or reduce down. Fortunately, the rules allow you to start each round with one gear below or above the one, you finished the previous round with. But how do you actually remember it and how to measure the entire time line of the race?
You simply pick up card corresponding to the gear, at which you last moved, at the end of your turn. You add this card to your chronopile, which counts the time needed for you to drive through the whole trial. Each gear card corresponds to some segment of time, and so while first gear will give you fifty seconds, with fifth you can reduce it to ten. And that is the main difference. When placing it in chronopile in front of you, you also note your gear for the next move.
Besides the black cubes, there are also two white ones, which lets you stay in one gear for a longer time. These are called an acceleration dice. You can use them anytime during your turn. Even those have printed an exclamation mark on their sides, so they also increase the risk of driving. In one round, you can throw all seven dice at best, but sometimes you have to be content with less, because of bad luck (exclamation) or technology (inability to shift more).
We have not mention any restrictions, which should force you to slow down. Of course, there are corners on the track, which you must pass in a clearly specified speed (gear). There are two ways a corner can be crossed – either at a higher speed, but with costs of three cubes (movements) or in the lower inside track for just one movement (dice). Sometimes it is worth to take the first option, sometimes the other, depending on the situation and section of your turn. You must follow these speed limits, otherwise you end up with car off the road.
Even accidents have their own rules. When you crash, you take the top card of your current gear, but this time you look at its back. There is a picture, that determines one of three things, which could happen to you – a 360 turn, exit to the right or left. The damage differs according to the terrain, in which you are at the moment and is indicated on each board separately. When your car gets a scar, you lose some of the dice and then you get ultimately slower, than your rivals, because you have less strategic options. Acceleration dice is first to lose and you will notice it very soon.
At the end of the race, each player adds up times from his chronopile cards. The one, who gets the lowest total for all three stages is the winner of the rally.
Rallyman is an excellent simulation of rally races. In the game, everything really depends on strategic decisions and luck is the only accessory, that is also true to racing. But it will not affect directly your movement and speed. You have full control over all these parameters, as a driver.
It is this race-based system using dice chaining, that we find absolutely great. It requires very careful planning as the rally races do. Everything is thought out to the smallest detail, and any risk will get usually back to you. But there is also a reasonable degree of risk. And this is, where Rallyman has more and more gadgets to write about.
You can cut some corners through muddy paths. In addition to straights, this is the only way to get ahead of the slower opponent. However, if you catch up with someone in the corner that has no shortcut, you have to slow down obediently and wait for his turn to clear your way. But back to the abbreviation of mud – although it is fun to pass under the opponent, you risk tire failure. Who knows, what lies in that mud, hidden from your eyes. Defect you get you waiting for one minute of precious time.
If the players are fighting for first place or are just more competitive, they can really go on the edge of their capabilities and senses. Push pedal to the metal, no constraints. To simulate this situation, you can throw the dice not one by one, but all (or some) of them at the same time. It is a risky way to race, because of exclamation points, which can come out of nowhere in numbers. But for each used dice, you get one second time bonus, which you will deduct from the sum in the end.
In addition, there are also possibilities of repairing in Rallyman, that happen between rally stages. Their occurence will be determined by all players at the beginning of the game and marked properly on the record sheet. If there is no repairing possible, then you have to go through next stages with a damaged car. Likewise, the performance of your car depends also on the tires. You can choose between summer and winter tires – only two two exclamation marks will get you spinning on snow, while the winter tires on asphalt will take one dice away.
It is essential to know, what stages await you, and what is the distribution of snow and open road across the tracks. Ultimately, with the distribution and service centers, you can plan car tires, so that it feels the most advantageous to you.
As you can see, tactic has a major impact on the outcome of the race. And that is, what makes you feel really great, when playing the game. You almost think, that you are driving that race car and you have control over it. And so it happens, that you can have a bit of bad luck or enjoy the beautiful and impressive passing and running off the corners with proper horse power.
It is the strategy, that also relates to the apparent slowness of the game. Rivals are thinking their moves much more through and each move takes longer, than you are used to in racing games. Only rolling the dice happens, but players must constantly rethink tactics and adapt, whenever some exclamation mark occurs. And others sometimes wait a little longer, than necessary.
It may be uncomfortable to wait on the slowest racer to finish the stage. The others have no option, but to wait for him and can only add up their times on the cards and write down results. Fortunately, this waiting does not happen often, although the slowest players start as last and with damaged cars, it can drag a little for them to reach finish.
Handling is excellent. The very idea of boards, that can be combined arbitrarily is great and the players really have many options in connecting them. This means, that no stage will be the same for a very long time. If we add nice dice, tiny cars and well-made cards, we get a really good game regarding the production value.
Rallyman did not disappoint us at all. It offers real adrenaline, as if you were on the racetrack. Rally is a dangerous sport and this game simulates it really well. There is indeed much room for tactics and luck has influence as always in racing, but only sometimes it has the power to decide the race. This board game is an absolute obligation for all rally fans and racing gamers in general.
+ perfect rally simulation
+ car miniatures
+ huge variability of speed trials
+ winner is not clear until the end
+ three speed trials
+ you can puncture your tire
+ crash results vary with terrain
+ great structure of movement and dice usage
+ large influence of stratégy
+ possibility to push the car to the limit