Thrash-Car is a humorous racing game, designed by Dave Killingsworth and Bryan Ledford, that is about to go live on Kickstarter. Players take on the role of a comedic racing team from one of the highly competitive circuits. The pre-production test copy of the game that I received included one team from each of the four circuits including: The RILFS (Racers I’d Like to Fully Sponsor), The Incontinentals (Old Folks), The Recyclers (Hippies), and The Speedbillies (Rednecks) and try use their thematic abilities to win the big race! When you combine these teams with a bunch of thematically over the top action cards and a “rubbing is racing” mentality Thrash-Car turns into hilarious wild ride to see who wins the race!
One quick point… All of the pictures of components and art are from the preproduction copy and I have been assured by the designer that should the Kickstarter campaign succeed these be vastly upgraded. Do not judge the final product from my photos.
In preparation for the game players will decide which track (Sprint or Derby) they wish to race on and how many laps (3-5) they want to run. The Sprint Track only has four spaces and no pits where as the Derby Track has six space and a pits. The durability of the cars is based on the number cars in the race as well as which track you are using up to a maximum of 50 points.
Next players will roll a die to determine order and then draft a race team from one of the circuits: All ‘Merican Redneck Racing, Suburban Diva Soccer Mom Circuit, Silver Sundowner Old Folks Tour, and the Holistic Hippie Eco Rally. Each team is possessed of different ranks for the common attributes: Suspension, Handling, Acceleration, and Trading Paint and various abilities that may be used once per race. It is these differences that make each team unique and affect the strategy that the owner will employ during the race. Each player draws two enhancement cards and places them on the once per lap spaces on their placard. These represent the additional abilities that your car will have for this race.
Once the track and teams have been chosen, draw one card from the track deck for every space on the track and place it in one of the spaces. These cards show the requirements to get through this portion of the track and the damage one’s car will incur from failure to do so.
Each player then draws a hand of 7 action cards and play begins with the player who rolled highest earlier and will proceed in a clockwise order for the remainder of the game.
On a player’s turn, he begins with four actions which may be used to attempt to move forward on the track, trade paint, or if racing on the large track take an action related to the pits. A player may pass before using all of his actions, but must have at least attempted to move forward one space on the track before doing so. Whatever action a player takes he moves his action marker one forward on the gear shifter which is creatively used to keep account of a player’s remaining actions.
When attempting to move forward, a player places the top card from the action deck face down in front of him. Each other player may play one action card from their hand face down to affect the situation. The player may then place up to two of his action cards face down to try to positively affect the outcome. The cards are then flipped over and any cards showing a zero are resolved first. Next, the remaining cards resolve by either adding or subtracting from the die roll needed to successfully move on to the next space on the track. After all modifiers are resolved and the car’s appropriate attribute is added the resulting modifier is combined with a roll of a 10 sided dice to see if the needed roll has been achieved. If it has, the car is moved forward to the next track space. If it is not high enough, the car fails to move forward and takes damage to its durability as per the card. A roll of 10 is an automatic success and a roll of one is an automatic failure. Regardless of whether or not the attempt was successful it uses one of the player’s actions for the turn.
If a player’s car is in the same space as another car, he may choose to trade paint instead of advancing. For those uninitiated in the ways of racing, trading paint is a polite way of saying “Slamming your car into another car with the hopes of gaining an advantage!” Depending on the form of racing, this practice has wildly varying degrees of acceptance. In Thrash-Car, not only is trading paint accepted, it is strongly encouraged as being the only car left running is an alternative way to win in addition to being the first car to complete the required number of laps.
The other option that is available if the large track is being used are pit actions. If the player’s car is in the space next to the pits he may spend one action to enter the pits. Once in the pits he must expend at least one action there regaining durability at a rate of ten points per action. After doing so, he may then pay one action, if he still has any, to move on to the track space at the exit of the pits. The pits are useful for repairs and for avoiding rolls if the track cards near them are not well suited to your car’s attributes. Normally players must make to the pits to repair their vehicle, but there is an optional rule to allow cars to be towed to the pits at a cost of two action points per track space moved in this manner.
When a player is out of action points or chooses to pass, his turn ends and play progresses to the player on his left. That player then draws back up to hand of seven cards and begins his turn. This process is repeated until one player crosses the start/finish line after completing the required laps or is the last car still running. The player to achieve either one of those goal is immediately declared the winner.
At its core Thrash-Car is a humorous party/family game that encourages a “take that” mentality while offering plenty of opportunities to give some back! Fun is the goal here, not inventing multi-player Chess for robots of the future to play in complete silence. If you are looking for is a goofy good time playing a racing themed game where you can smash into friends and family all the while cackling with glee then Thrash-Car is right up your gasoline alley…so to speak.
I enjoyed playing Thrash-Car with the kiddos, and they definitely had a blast wreaking havoc on each other as well as me. Although themes are completely unrelated, the game that Thrash-Car most reminded me of was Trailer Park Wars from Gut Bust’in Games. If you are already a fan of Trailer Park Wars I think that you would likely enjoy Thrash-Car. While both games are crammed full of randomness there are certainly opportunities to make decisions that improve of worsen your chances of winning. I believe a longer race and using the larger track increases the effect that skill has on the game by giving one’s good decisions more time to add up over the course of the game. Certainly there is still a great deal of luck and one must accept this going in, or be disappointed.
While Thrash-Car is not normally the type of game that I would play with my crew of stone-killers, it is most definitely the kind of game that I do play with that only slightly less nasty group of gamers known as my family. I was raised on games like Uno, Water Works, Miles Borne, and countless others that involved direct attacks on the other players. As such, I have a pretty thick skin when it comes to that sort of conflict and even enjoy it on some nostalgic level. If you on the other hand want to cry every time someone puts the bandit on you in Settlers of Catan you should probably avoid Thrash-Car. After all, everyone knows it is only appropriate cry in Settlers if you think it might result in the bandit being placed on someone else. Under those circumstance it is perfectly acceptable.
On another positive note, Thrash-Car allows for a massive amount of re-playability as there are tons of potential configurations between cars, enhancements, track cards, tracks, and amount of laps from which to choose. If Thrash-Car turns out to be to your liking you will get to play vastly different versions of the game for many years to come!
The only issues that I had with the game over all was the huge amount of luck involved. Whenever you add dice and a card set that varies greatly in power you are bound have some situations that occur where you feel like the fates are against you. This is certainly a possibility in Thrash-Car as my step-son found out in one game. The track cards fell in such a manner that the attribute being tested was almost always the worst for his car. This did not make things impossible, and he did manage a second place finish, but it did make his race extra difficult. However, this did not seem to dampen the mood of the kids as games with a significant amount of luck tend to bother them less.
It is also worth noting that one must perform a large number of basic arithmetic calculations on each turn as modifiers are added and subtracted. This does not bother me in any way, but some people do not enjoy games with this many computations. To be honest though, I consider this a positive as Thrash-Car is a game that you will likely play with the family and or kids and this can be an excellent way to sharpen their basic math skills without them realizing. I have found this to be especially true for many boys as their competitive drive overcomes their hatred of learning if it means they have a better chance of winning!
If you are only interested in playing hardcore “gamer” games Thrash-Car is not for you. However, if you are a less serious game player, or you are like me and enjoy a wide array of games ranging from the hardest of the hardcore to the goofy and fun I think that Thrash-Car will be a winner for you. If fun and laughter are your primary requirements for a game, I believe that you will thoroughly enjoy Thrash-Car as it provides countless opportunities for the entire family to experience both, and that is a game that everyone wins!
Remember, this game is an active Kickstarter project right now. If you are interested in backing it or simply wish to learn more about Thrash-Car just click on the Kickstarter widget below.
Let it be known to all readers and government officials alike, that Life in Games received a free copy of this game for the purpose of providing an objective review. No further compensation of any sort changed hands between myself and the publisher.