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Board design for cycling game

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Hi all

I'm new to the forum and very impressed so far!

I'm working on a strategic game about pro cycling and would appreciate any suggestions about the game board.

The game is turn based, each turn being a number of kilometers of road in a specific terrain. Every riders ride each turn in a certain tempo and I need a board to keep track of positions.

My problem:
The obvious idea is to make a standard race board (like Formula De etc.) but this poses a couple of problems:
-The length of the race depends on the number of turns, not the number of squares (or whatever) on the board. There won't be a finish line on the board. This may be confusing.
-The board needs to quite large to fit all the riders moves from the beginning to the end of the race.

What I need is a board to keep track of positions and help calculations but not progress in the race. I'm thinking some sort of abstract board or tile system might be better. But I have no experience with this. Any suggestions?

Thanks in advance

Joined: 12/31/1969
Board design for cycling game

The classic French card game Milles Bourne might be a good place to start -- it's about a car race, and uses kilometer cards (50 km, 100 km, etc.) to keep track of how far you've gone.

Milles Bourne stops, IIRC, at a certain mileage, but it would be trivial to instead stop after so many turns and add up your milage to determine how far you've gone.

Good luck!

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
Board design for cycling game

In formule De, I think that the horizontal position of your car on the track is recorded. Allowing to determine if you can pass in front of somebody or if every blody is blocking the road.

But another solution will consist in having a logical position of your racer on a smaller map. So the road does not have many square where each racer can place themselves. It will just be a plain rectangle representing the a part or the race.

If you use this method, you will have a less precise and realistic racing. There will also be less strategy than formule De. But it might fit to your needs, and the road of the race will be smaller so you will be able to make a bigger race.

Board design for cycling game


I'm a fan of pro cycling and would love to see a good game on the subject!

I have been thinking of designing a cycling game myself, but have found it a too daunting task.

Of course, you can choose the level of abstraction and complexity, but I wanted to go for the epic "Tour the France"-simulation type of game...
I think that the type of track depends on what type of game you are making. Does each player control one rider, or does he/she control a team of riders with different characteristics?

Personally, I think it is the team aspect that makes pro cycling so fascinating. Therefore, I picture a game with player-controlled teams with, let's say four riders. The teams compete in a race with a number of stages.

Regarding your problem; here are some ideas:

The "race track" board should have two different parts.

Part one is simply a straight line of boxes. Every box represents a game turn. Box one is the start. You place a marker in box one and move it one step every turn. Beside every box is a space where you can place "terrain" markers:

flat, downhill, rolling, uphill climb

maybe by climb category, HC(hors category),1,2,3 or 4;

or: easy, normal, difficult climb

to depict the stage profile. Even better might be an actual course profile like in the graphics on TV. This can be done if you have preconstructed course profiles.

You can have a goal line marker on the space where the race ends.

Part two:

The major part of the board is a space where you place markers/pieces representing the individual riders. This part is like a zoom in on the space where the turn marker is placed on track 1.

I imagine this part to look something like the graphics they use on TV when displaying the positions of the racers.

Something like:

...............20 sec................40 sec..........1 min 20 sec.......

Group 4: ----------Group 3:---------Group 2:---------Group 1:

8,12 ................... 1,2,3,6,4,5,7 ... 9 .....................10,11

In this example we have a breakaway group with riders 10 and 11. Rider 9 is alone in group 2, 1 minute and 20 seconds behind the leaders. The main pack is in group 3, 2 minutes behind(1 min 20 sec + 40 sec) the leaders. Finally we have two riders, 8 and 12, struggling in the rear...

I think that this layout could create some nice gaming moments. I imagine the excitement when trying to create an organised chase in the pack to try to catch the leaders before the turn marker reaches the goal line. You could simulate some real cycling tactics with this layout. On the other hand this might be a bit too complicated to fit the gameplay.

Thats all I have for now, I will drop in later with some more ideas when I'm not at work...

I hope these ideas can be of some help. I also hope you can decipher something meaningful out of these comments , since I'm not a native english speaker...



Joined: 12/31/1969
cycling game

Hi Fredrik,

We played a 'pro-cycling' card game at our London club last month. It was based on the tour de france (can't remember the actual name though) and involved the 'yellow-jersey' leader playing a speed card that everyone else had to match or be at least within 2 of (km per second) otherwise they gained time tokens (that count against you at the end of the game). It had extra cards like '+2 speed boost' and '-2 speed' to play on yourself/other people plus a 'king of the mountains' that didn't allow overtaking that turn (going faster than the leader to get rid of time penalties).

We all enjoyed it as it played quick and had a tense finish as people tried to hold onto their high speed cards for the sprint to the line :)


Board design for cycling game

Hi Fredrik and DavemanUK

Fredrik: I agree completely that team tactics are central to pro cycling and especially a pro cycling game. I am aiming for a quite simple game, so of course it will be an abstraction of the real thing but riders helping each other and choosing whether to send someone up the road and similar tactical decisions will be important in the game.

Your thoughts on the board are also very much the same as mine - however I've found that the TV graphics style makes the game quite abstract and calculations harder (as you cannot actually count spaces between riders). I might have to surrender to the standard racing map with a start and finish but will definetely keep the turn marker and probably make board a "do it yourself" version where each stage is comprised of a number of small boards that are placed one after the other.

DavemanUK: I think it must have been Breaking Away that you played.

Thank you all for your input.


Board design for cycling game

Essence wrote:
The classic French card game Milles Bourne might be a good place to start -- it's about a car race, and uses kilometer cards (50 km, 100 km, etc.) to keep track of how far you've gone.

Milles Bourne stops, IIRC, at a certain mileage, but it would be trivial to instead stop after so many turns and add up your milage to determine how far you've gone.

That sounds very interesting - I couldn't find it on boardgamegeek though. Do you know where I might find more info on the game?

Thank you for your input!


Scurra's picture
Joined: 09/11/2008
Board design for cycling game

kaotmus wrote:
DavemanUK: I think it must have been Breaking Away that you played.

It was Der Ausreisser (Breakaway Rider in the English edition) - I know this, because it was my copy we played :-) It only uses cards (and counters for the time penalties.)

Breaking Away is John Harrington's wonderful pro-cycling board game, which is around fifteen years old now but still holds its own. Anyone making a pro-cycling game should at least try and play this one as a benchmark.

Joined: 12/31/1969
Board design for cycling game

Kaotmus - probably you didn't find it because I misspelled it. It's Milles Bornes. Here is a rules summary.

It's quite a classic; kind of the fore-runner of the nonstandard-deck games that abound today.

Thoughts about representations

Hi again

We have now playtested an "ordinary" from a-b type board and I would appreciate some more feedback.

In a lot of ways it worked very well - the board certainly worked for seeing the positions of the riders, determined the sequence of actions and helped calculations.

The problem: we need to record not just who wins the race but the time the rider finishes ahead of the other riders. Turns as a time unit is not accurate enough as the best riders will finish the race in the same turn.

This leaves us with a couple of choices which all involve measuring the distance on the board when the rider(s) cross the finish line. This represents a change in what the board represents - the finish line is no longer the end of the race and the board is no longer distance but time.

Do you think this gets too confusing or am I not being pragmatic enough about it?

And do you have any other ideas? I am seriously reconsidering the concrete distance based board and returning to an abstract time based board with the race length determined by number of turns. This keeps the board representation stable throughout the game - stable, but abstract.

Thanks for your feedback!

Joined: 12/31/1969
Board design for cycling game

I don't know whether this is possible in your game, but why would you use a board instead of cards? If you have cards each representing a distance (let's say: 15, 50, 75 and 100) it's easy to calculate at what speed a car is driving. You could say: count the last three values of the cards and then have a chart that tells what time it has taken you.

If you do this, let's say every three turns, of every three cards, and at the end you write down both the recorded time and the values of all the cards you have had. It's maybe a totally different game, but your problem is solved this way.

Good luck.

PS> if you don't want to make a lot of cards, you could well do with 55 and re-use them often. Every three turns people record both time and distance value so recorded cards can be shuffled into the deck every three turns.

PPS> in this system, you have two options: all players travel by the same road or each player has an own road, which he travels individually... last thing is better for the scores, but less realistic.

Joined: 12/31/1969
Board design for cycling game

An example of the possible chart:

CLASS 50 - 150

50 - 75 6 min
76 - 100 7 min
101-125 9 min
126-150 10 min

CLASS 151 - 250
150-175 6 min
176-200 7 min


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