Friday, July 29, 2022

Rallytaire is Formula De built in a cave with a box of scraps

Rallytaire is:

A game from the first Solitaire Design Contest
A Roll and Write game
A Roll and Move game
The closest thing I’ve seen to a one-page Formula De

Honestly, Rallytaire feels like a game that designed on a bet. Can you make a race car game that just uses a piece of paper, a pencil and some dice? Oh, can you make it for one person and make it interesting?

(While I have also seen people compare Rallytaire to Rallyman, I haven’t played that game. (But it is available on Board Game Arena so now I’m interested) So Formula De is really what Rallytaire reminds me of and what I’ll keep referencing) 

There are three different sets of race tracks, each with three to four individual tracks. The number of turns it takes, plus how fast you go through the finish line, determine your time and the only challenge is beating your old times. 

There are advanced rules where you manage brakes and tires and engine. Effectively ways of fine tuning your play. These are simple enough additions that you should really just play use them.

Okay, like Formula De, Rallytaire is all about managing gears and corners. In Formula De, each gear is a different speciality die and each corner has a set number of times you have to stop on it. 

In Rallytaire, each gear has an automatic distance you move and a number of standard six-sided dice you roll. You get an extra space of movement for each 4, 5 or 6 you roll. As for corners, each corner has a maximum gear you can be in. You can drift to be in one higher gear but corners are grouped together and you can only drift once per group.

It has been a long time since I’ve played Formula De or any of its descendants. I understand there are groups that would actually not just play it but run tournaments or seasons or whatever you would call a whole bunch of races in a row. I still keep a copy of Formula De Mini in the closet. The formula of Formula De is a solid one. You don’t push your luck or hope that you have luck. You manage your luck.

And while Rallytaire doesn’t perfectly capture that, it does a remarkably good job of it with a minimalist production. (In fact, I wonder if you could use its rules on a Formula De track. Fan made tracks are out there and this might work if you don’t have the speciality dice. Which I do so I don’t have any reason to try it)

Which actually highlights the biggest drawback of Rallytaire. A race with no competition lacks something. I’ve played a lot of solitaire games at this point and I’m no stranger to trying to beat your own score. But games about race cars cry out for competition and interaction.

Rallytaire is not a substitute or replacement for Formula De. It is methadone for Formula De.

I am going to note that, while I appreciate how little ink the minimalist line art uses, you could skip a copy of the game into a business report and no one would notice. Published racing games tend to be flashy and Rallytaire is anything but. I’m fine with that but I can see that being an issue.

Rallytaire isn’t a game I’m gojng to play dozens of times. The lack of competition and interaction takes the edge off the genre. But I think the game does an amazing job mechanically and I’m sure it will get at least  _a_ dozen plays out of me. If you have any interest in racing games, you shoud make the tiny ink investment and try it out.

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