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Rallyman - Boardgame Review

I really like racing games, but there are just not enough of them that are awesome. There are some that are very smart games, but they feel about as action-packed as a geriatric bowel movement. Then there are fast-paced romps where you have less control than a horse on roller skates. It's hard to find one that hits that sweet spot of being intellectually stimulating and high-octane kick-ass. So far, I've found exactly two.

Rallyman is not one of those two, but it sure is good-looking. It's actually a pretty smart racing game, but if you ask me, it fails in one fundamental aspect - it's not all that exciting. If Rallyman were a woman, she would be a sexy MIT grad student who just lays there and wonders what color to paint the ceiling.

Rallyman recreates the thrilling world of rally racing, which is apparently done without having other drivers on the track. You'll race, but the starts are staggered so that you rarely have to worry about running into the other racers. In the end, you'll compare your time to determine who won the race, which means that you won't be blocking the passing lane, slipping past your opponents on the inside, or gunning it to ram the leader into a ditch. You'll just drive smart and shoot for the best possible time.

It's kind of sad, really, because the basic mechanics of Rallyman are pretty damned sweet. You have a handful of dice, each representing a different gear, and you roll them to move. Every die you roll lets you move forward one space, but if three dice come up with the danger symbol, you wipe out. That part is pretty cool, combining elements of pushing your luck and planning for optimal positioning.

There are even some really clever mechanics for going around corners and hitting ramps and driving in the snow. Rallyman actually has tons of really groovy features that make me want to play it again, even as I sit here writing about a game that I know I don't much want to play again. If they had just tweaked it a little, I would have been drooling at the chance to race my friends just one more time.

Really, there are two things that would have made Rallyman awesome. One, they need to get rid of the staggered starts and let us all mix it up right out of the gate. Plus they need some rules for banging into each other and drafting and stuff. Less smart driving and more aggressive driving - that's what I need.

And two, the boards needs some fixing. They're really cool, and you can set up the four different boards to make hundreds of different tracks, from short jaunts to lengthy endurance hauls. But if you let us all take off at the same time, we need more room for cars to share space. Of course, without the first change, the second isn't needed at all, but I maintain that if you had fixed these two things, Rallyman would have been di-no-mite.

OK, now, I concede that rally racing is generally a race against the clock, not a street-racing bump-and-grind, and so in that way, the game does a good job of simulating that particular sport. Maybe I'm just the kind of adrenaline junkie who watches NASCAR to see crashes (though I do not watch NASCAR), but I think I would be horrifyingly bored by rally racing in real life, which explains why I'm not a fan of it in a board game.

Rallyman is undoubtedly a decent racing game, especially if you want to play it solo. Because really, even if you are playing against other people, you're still playing it by yourself, it just takes longer between your turns. While I can definitely appreciate the technical brilliance of Rallyman and its intriguing dice-based speed mechanic, it just comes roaring out of the box and falls flat on its face. Because when I race against other people, I want to be a speed demon in a killing machine. I don't want to be a hot science chick who is boring in the sack.

Summary

1-4 players

Pros:
Cool, innovative speed rules using lots of dice
Seriously easy on the eyes, with neat components
Four boards that can be used to make an enormous variety of race tracks
Lots of replay, if you like playing alone

Cons:
A racing game with no outright competition


Matt Drake is a regular contributer to Fortress: Ameritrash and the author of the Drake's Flames blog, where you can read more of his crassly opinionated reviews.

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Comments (32)
  • avatarrepoman

    So which are the two that you do like?

  • avatarSagrilarus

    Ok, so staggered start means you're all on the same track. Is the staggering so big that cars can't catch up to each other? Is that specifically built into the game? And if two cars do meet, are you saying the track simply won't allow one to pass?

    S.

  • avatarSuperflyTNT

    Send it to me, Matt. I love the game.

  • avatarstormseeker75

    Sigh. I had hopes for this game but apparently it's the Dominion of racing games.

  • avatarSuperflyTNT

    I'd also point out that the cars are cool, the box is cool, and the dirt track sides of the boards are cool. The snow side.......they look like shit.

  • avatarNotahandle

    Forget that - I want to see a horses on roller skates game!

  • JJJJS
    Quote:
    OK, now, I concede that rally racing is generally a race against the clock, not a street-racing bump-and-grind, and so in that way, the game does a good job of simulating that particular sport.


    And that completely negates your suggested improvements. A game made about Rally Racing is not going to have paint-trading action. I've never played the game, but reading a review where the chief complaints about the game boil down to "I don't like the theme" doesn't help me decide if it's a game I want to check out.

    Quote:
    Maybe I'm just the kind of adrenaline junkie who watches NASCAR to see crashes


    All I have to say is:
    This.

    That said, someone (good at designing race games) does need to take the video game 'Off-Road' and turn it into a racing game.

  • avatarSuperflyTNT

    The car didn't explode. It doesn't count.

    To paraphrase my truly dear friend Matt, "Real men play games where people die"

  • JJJJS

    I'm not about to post a video where a dude dies. Plenty of drivers bite it in Rally Racing. Spectators too. It's almost more dangerous to watch because there are no stands and protective fences.

  • avatarKen B.

    I like this game, but it is mathy to be sure. It's nicely produced and is the only racing game I own that is good with low numbers--even two. In fact, it only races two-four players.

    here

  • avatarSuperflyTNT

    JJJS, I was kidding. I've seen people die IRL, and I don't need to see it on TV.

    You know, I recall a time back when I was a kid when videos of people dying were totally taboo "snuff flicks". Now people glamorize it. You can watch a cop get shot and run over on YouTube like it was nothing. Or a suicide or 10.

    What a fucked up world.

  • JJJJS

    I kinda thought you were. I thought a video where a guy's car is hurled off a mountain was pretty scary. However, it's hard for me to tell sarcasm on the internet.

  • ldsdbomber

    Matt Drake you are a charlatan, name the 2 games or we're coming for you!

  • avatarSuperflyTNT

    Oh, and let me answer Sag for Matt: It's not a game where you're racing one another, per se, with the first person across the line winning. The game is TIMED. So the person with the best TIME wins. Players are generally NOT going to lap one another, or end up even close to one another. IT's not that kind of racing game.

    It is TRULY multiplayer solitaire, but the tension comes from the fact that you know where your opponent is in relation to you, timewise, so you're always pushing your luck to get a faster time.

    It's a neat concept. Like I said, I really like the game a whole lot. Cards run the game, really.

    Here's a Tom video that explains gameplay pretty well. And it shows how fucking hideous the snow side is (IMO)
    http://boardgamegeek.com/video/7408/rallyman/dice-tower-reviews-rallyman

  • avatarstormseeker75  - re:
    ldsdbomber wrote:
    Matt Drake you are a charlatan, name the 2 games or we're coming for you!

    We've got the pitchforks and torches ready. Give us names, dammit!

  • avatarInfinityMax  - re:

    I was laid up sick for two days. I didn't even know this review had posted over here.

    I like Formula D because it feels the most like a race - when you're in 5th gear and throw the d20 and it comes up moving you 17 spaces when you needed 11 and you go flying off the track and into the bay, you can almost hear your driver saying, 'Help me Baby Jesus!'

    And Rush N Crush is very similar to Formula D in the racing aspect, but it has the added bonus of blowing the shit out of your friends with rockets.

    I haven't played Road Kill Rally. I totally want to. I hear it's wicked awesome.

    JJJJS wrote:
    Quote:
    OK, now, I concede that rally racing is generally a race against the clock, not a street-racing bump-and-grind, and so in that way, the game does a good job of simulating that particular sport.

    And that completely negates your suggested improvements. A game made about Rally Racing is not going to have paint-trading action. I've never played the game, but reading a review where the chief complaints about the game boil down to "I don't like the theme" doesn't help me decide if it's a game I want to check out.

    OK, let me clear it up for you:

    Your friends are discussing playing a racing game that doesn't feel like you're competing with anyone. Do you want to play?
    YES: Turn to page 127 and play the game.
    NO: Turn to page 43 and don't play the game.
    SHUT THE HELL UP: Turn to page SNARKY DOUCHE and discover that I don't much care either way.

  • JJJJS
    Quote:
    OK, let me clear it up for you:

    Your friends are discussing playing a racing game that doesn't feel like you're competing with anyone. Do you want to play?
    YES: Turn to page 127 and play the game.
    NO: Turn to page 43 and don't play the game.
    SHUT THE HELL UP: Turn to page SNARKY DOUCHE and discover that I don't much care either way.


    Touchy touchy. For someone who claims to "not much care" you sure seem to be taking criticism badly.

    In order to live up to my title as SNARKY DOUCHE, I present my own scenario:
    You get a game called Rallyman. The box cover features a drifting rally car and stamped on the box is a little yellow stamp stating "110% Rallye". Do you:

    Expect a game about rally racing? Congratulations, you can read and discern meaning from pictures and symbols.
    Expect a game about head to head racing? Why? The box clearly conveys the game is about rally racing.

  • avatarSuperflyTNT

    JJJS, I'm going to have to stop you there.

    To quote a friend, "You don't know me, and you don't want to. I don't care where you've been, because I've been everywhere. I don't care what you've done, because I've done it all. Now turn around and walk away, because I'm going to fuck you up if you don't."

    Matt is the virtual version of Mickey Gibson, the baddest motherfucker I've ever met, and the author of the above line.

    *(This was said just before Mickey latched onto his throat, one handed, and choked him until he was blue, screaming in his face: "You think you're tough cuz you're a convict? Motherfucker, if this was prison I'd be FUCKING YOU RIGHT NOW, because you're ALL PUSSY")

  • JJJJS

    Puhlease. I offer some constructive criticism, he treats it like a throwdown. If you and him think you can pull some kind of clout and intimidate me into silence, you're crazy. If he can't take a little criticism about his reviews, and you can't offer up your own words and instead rely on someone else to speak for you in quotations, then y'all are clown shoes and not worthy of my time or respect. I suggest you both get out of the writing business because neither one of you have the thick skin or the balls to stay in the game.

  • avatarInfinityMax

    Ha ha! Man, are you twisted off. That is awesome. Tell me again about having thick skin. That part was my favorite. I love irony.

  • avatarSuperflyTNT

    I'm telling you, sarcasm just doesn't work on the internet. That shit was funny. (All 100% true, but funny).

    Yeah, Matt's gonna fuck you up on the internet, JJJS. What's he gonna do, CAPS LOCK your ass to death? Give me a break.

    IT WAS A JOKE, MAN. A JOKE.*

    Matt, rest easy knowing that you and I aren't cut out for writing because we have very thin scrotums (scroti??) that are, in fact, so thin that our balls fell right out. You'd have thought we'd have noticed!

    Thanks, JJJS...totally made my night.


    *(And for the record, there are few people LESS needy of MY feeble verbal defenses on the internet than Drake. Not because he's such a wordsmithing bad ass, but because he really doesn't care.)

  • ldsdbomber

    alright, well back to the main point, WHAT 2 GAMES DID YOU MEAN DRAKEY damnit

  • avatardragonstout

    He named them already both here and also a million times elsewhere: Formula D and Rush N Crush.

  • avatarNotahandle

    Formula D sounds like a cream Matt and Pete should be using for their thinly skinned scrotums.

  • avatarSuperflyTNT

    You asshole. I just spit coffee!!

    "DragonWarriorParser" wrote:

    Adrian casts "Searing Wit" at the Troll!

    Troll suffers spit damage!

    Troll has been defeated!

    We tried the Formula D; we put it on too fast and it hurt a lot. #RushNCrush

  • ldsdbomber

    I had not realised InfinityMax was Matt Drake. I mean, is it obvious?

    Formula D is terrible. Rush and Crush sounds a bit more interesting

  • avatardragonstout  - re:
    ldsdbomber wrote:
    I had not realised InfinityMax was Matt Drake. I mean, is it obvious?

    Look directly underneath the words "Rallyman - Boardgame Review" at the top of this page.

  • avatarSuperflyTNT

    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Z1OAWQv3ces/Tkk2sT3NWPI/AAAAAAAAASg/qT9RnKtV4wk/s1600/Chef-Gordon-Ramsay.jpg

    Quote:
    Look directly underneath the words "Rallyman - Boardgame Review" at the top of this page....you wanker!

    I know you didn't say it, but THAT is what I saw. :)

    But, to be honest, you'd have to read that line at the top, and this line at the bottom, for it to make sense.

    Quote:
    Matt Drake is a regular contributer to Fortress: Ameritrash and the author of the Drake's Flames blog, where you can read more of his crassly opinionated reviews.
  • avatarInfinityMax  - re:
    ldsdbomber wrote:
    Formula D is terrible. Rush and Crush sounds a bit more interesting


    The racing in Rush N Crush is very similar to the racing in Formula D, so if you just hate the racing part, Rush N Crush might not help much. But you might get past it, since you could drop land mines on the road and roast your opponent's car with a flamethrower, and then he could spin out of control and go head-first into a concrete pylon.

  • ldsdbomber

    cool, I didnt really look at the name, I just saw Matts name in the featured link on the front page of AT but I will endeavour to remember in future. Keep up the good work Matt, sorry to hear about your house burning down, hope you fixed all that up

    PS
    your review of Cave Evil was awful though, I'll give you a pass since youre usually awesome and youre doing it almost for free

  • avatarInfinityMax

    Yeah, opinions on the Cave Evil review were split. Didn't seem to be any middle-of-the-road opinions - it was all either 'best review evar' or 'what the hell were you thinking.'

    I had a great time writing it, though, so I'm still happy with it.

  • avatarSuperflyTNT

    I totally disagree with you on RnC, Matt. Formula D's 'racing' is the MarioKart of racing board games. It lacks everything interesting about racing. The saving grace is that the bits are cool and it's so easy and painless that you don't mind it.

    Rush N Crush, if you took out the whole shoot-em-up thing would be the best racing game "engine" ever because of the truly remarkable way that it handles lane changes, shifting, crashes, as well as the heat factor.

    Of course, those rules only work because of the fact that there's obstructions on the track. If you could meld the rules for RnC with a "street racing" track that has all kinds of tight spots, curves, and shit all over the road such as medians, static trucks and cars on the street, and parked cars on the sides....that would truly be the best racing game ever made.

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