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[Review] RASC

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tomvasel
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Joined: 03/23/2011

I’ve always had a soft spot for Formula De, because its cool dice and boards helped bring me back into the boardgaming fold from my affair with miniatures and CCGs. While not a racing fan, the game helped immerse me into the theme, and I had (still have) a blast when playing it. When I heard about RASC - Real Action Stockcar Championships (Serious Fun Workshop, 1998), I hoped for another experience that was as fun as my memories of Formula De.

When opening the box, the game alluded to the same “coolness” factor that Formula De had: a pretty board, nifty dice, nice model cards, etc. Then I had a bit of confusion with the rules, as they were formatted poorly. Fortunately, the game was fun to play. I’m not sure how to compare it to other racing games, as it can be played as a marathon 500-lap race, or a short ten-lap race. The races are fairly realistic, and a “realism” package can be purchased for even more simulation. I enjoyed the basic game; and while I don’t think I’ll ever try a marathon race, it’s good for a lark if you can look past some of the niggly rules.

The game comes with a double-sided board, each with a different track on it. Track facts are listed on each board, showing the minimum speed (10 or 15), maximum speed (13 or 18), and an “incidents” chart. The track has three lanes, with several of the spaces being marked with a “-1” or a “-2”. Three tokens are placed on the board on three tracks to keep track of what lap number the cars are in. Players then choose a team of two cars (of the same color) and prepare to start the race. Either a qualifying lap is run to determine starting position, or players roll for starting position (my preferred way). Once starting position is determined, the players place their cars on the numbered space that matches their position, and the race begins.

Each turn of the race follows the same pattern, with four phases. The first phase is track movement. Starting with the car in the lead, each player rolls two to four special six-sided dice. (Sides are “Min” x2, “Max”, “+1”, “+2”, and “TI”). Players then move their car the number of spaces corresponding to the best number showing on the dice:
- Min = Minimum speed (10 or 15)
- +1 = (11 or 16)
- +2 = (12 or 17)
- Max = Maximum speed (12 or 18)
Rolls of “TI” mean nothing, unless a player rolls a pair of them. At this point, the player rolls a pair of two regular six-sided dice and compares them to a chart on the board. Extremes on this chart range from the player’s car crashing to the car losing a couple spaces from their movement. In this way, the player can decide to roll more dice, hoping to roll a “Max”; but they take the chance of rolling more “TI”’s.

If a player starts their move on a “-1” or “-2” spot, they subtract that much from their total movement. Players are not forced to move their entire roll. Players can also not initially pass cars in front of them. Instead, they must stop in a lane next to the car they are attempting to pass and wait for the next phase, which is the “Challenging” phase. In this phase, each set of challenging cars (there can be three per spot) roll off to see who wins the lead in that spot. Each player rolls a ten-sided dice and subtracts the numbers, if any, on the space their car is located. If any player rolls an unmodified “0”, an incident immediately occurs, with two-six sided dice rolled and the chart consulted. The player who rolls the highest moves their car slightly forward to show that they move first next round, etc.

The next phase is drafting. If a player’s car is directly behind another car and is in one of the “drafting zones” on the board, both cars move forward one space; as long as BOTH cars are in the drafting zone. Only cars, which have either won a challenge or not participated in one, may draft. If a car is immediately behind another car at the beginning of a track movement, they will be allowed to add one space to their track roll only if the car behind lands within a drafting zone after moving.

Cars have a certain amount of fuel, which lasts only a certain amount of laps, as evidenced by each track. Cars can be passed in the pit zone without any challenging occurring. The race continues until the first ten cars finish. The first car to pass the finish line is the winner OR points are scored for the place each car ends up in, with bonus points awarded for each lap that a car led the race.

In the advance rules, each car comes with a sheet, where players can keep track of mechanical wear (suspension, engine, etc.), body damage, fatigue of the driver, etc. These affect the speed of the car and allow basically a lot of modifiers to each roll. Incidents are more detailed and affect a player quite a bit more. Rules talking about how to deal with lapped cars, detailed qualifying, and other things that require some rather detailed formulas help fill up the forty-two page booklet. Dodging, broken parts, and more help make the game more realistic and complicated.

Some comments on the game…

1.) Components: The game box is very long and big; it’s one of the biggest games I own, and thus makes it a bit harder to store. The board is HUGE; it’s as large, if not larger than an Eagle games board, and certainly looks the part of a NASCAR track. Twenty plastic cars, in ten different colors (the cars are 1/144th scale model), three different colored ten-sided dice, four special six-sided dice, and two regular six-sided dice are also included in the game. Everything (except the rules) is of high quality, and the game does look good on the table. Since the cars are fairly large, they are easy to move (unlike the small cars in Formula De); and this good, since they get moved a lot. The dice are all high quality, and it’s nice how the three ten-sided dice are a different color so that players can differentiate when making challenges.

2.) Rules: I was fairly displeased by the rulebook. The rules for the game are not that difficult, but the order they are written in the rulebook caused me to read it three times before I finally figured out what was going on. The gameplay itself is fairly simple (the basic rules), but some better editing should have been done. The advanced rules are much better written, even though some of the detail in them would make most people’s eyes spin.

3.) Length: A ten-lap game probably would last an hour or so. That’s not too bad; and once players know how to play quickly, it might last even shorter (if there are ten or less cars in the race.) A five-hundred lap race – well, I don’t even know who would have the time to do something like that – perhaps over a very lengthy time. The game includes a season schedule, which includes five 300-lap races, and five 200-lap races. Who has that kind of time!!?? But I’m sure that there are some devoted NASCAR fanatics out there who would love this sort of thing, and perhaps the longer races are for them. As for me, I’m satisfied with the shorter sprints and find that they make a nice change of pace from more mathematical games.

4.) Math: Formula De bases a lot of its mechanics in math. You may need a “13” to hit a curve exactly in the right spot, so players may analyze, trying to pick the right die to land there. RASC isn’t like that. Players just roll two, three, or four dice. Attempting to pass another car has nothing to do with the odds (well, maybe a little, considering what space you are on) but ends up in a fight for leadership. This game involves players passing around dice and makes for a quick moving game. (Unless twenty cars are in the race, and even then it’s fairly fast.)

5.) Advanced rules: You can buy the advanced rules, as well as lap sheets, log sheets, etc. from the internet. Some of the sheets are even downloadable for free at the company’s website, www.realaction.com. I think the advanced rules are downright cool and are incredible how much realism they add to the race. One must remember; however, that realism does not equal fun. (See many simulation war games to prove this point.) However, there is a genre of people who adore this kind of complexity, and for them, the advanced rules would be a godsend. Most people won’t need them, so for them I’d suggest not purchasing them.

6.) Fun Factor: The game is a lot of fun to play, as long as everyone keeps everything moving swiftly. Just have everyone keep rolling the dice, and keep going. The chance of a car crashing is fairly high (about 1 in 20); so if players use two dice, they’ll probably move slower but increase their survival. Also, all players should have two cars, so that the elimination factor of the game is lessened. I played the game with kids and adults, with the kids enjoying it more. It also made for a pleasant solitaire simulation exercise. I’m not sure it’s as fun as Formula De, but it was fun enough for me to want to play it again.

If you’re a fan of NASCAR, then this game will appeal to you greatly. Whether or not the advanced rules will be enjoyable depends on your need for complexity. Fans of Formula De will probably enjoy this one, although they will feel less of a lack of control. People who want a quick, fast fun racing game should enjoy this, and they have the option of playing a longer game. The game is not deep by any stretch of the imagination (except the advanced rules), and it looks good on the table. While not my favorite racing game, RASC does give a good time, and it’s ability to handle up to twenty people is an excellent trait. If you’re looking for a light racing game that has the possibility of simulation complexity, than RASC is the one for you!

Tom Vasel
“Real men play board games.”

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