Gen Con 2012 was a blast! Lots to see and even more to do. I could have used another day just to see half of everything I wanted to. Naturally, I spent most of my time at the Cryptozoic booth giving game demos all weekend long, so that might have had something to do with it. It's where game fans got their first look at Hot Rod Creeps. President of Cryptozoic Cory Jones created a wild and wacky world of 70's inspired Hot Rod racers. I designed the game engine, so today I'd like to share some of experiences over the long weekend of racing action and give some new tips on track building.
Everybody Loves a Good Jump
Or more accurately stated, everyone loves the Flaming Ring of Fire and the Shark Tank. But for some people, two spaces to jump over just isn't enough. You can add length to the gap between the takeoff ramp and the landing ramp by wheeling the track around and putting a track space in between the takeoff and landing. If you don't clear The Jump and land on the track space, you stay there instead of taking damage and placing your Hot Rod backwards prior to The Jump. Just be sure that the track space is on the lead up to The Jump, and not a shortcut to victory. It works best when the track space you can land on is about 7 spaces backwards, prior to The Jump, just like in the picture. Any more than that and it's too much of a penalty.
The Banana Peel is a Great Final Hazard
The demo tracks we ran during Gen Con were different every day, but the one thing they had in common was the final Hazard on the track. A Hot Rod that lands on the Banana Peel has to burn a card off their Tank (their Hot Rod's custom deck of 20 cards), and then move backwards that many spaces. So even when it looked like a sure thing that a player was going to win next turn, if a player was able to “Reel ‘em In” or play a “Bump and Run” to move them onto the Banana Peel, it was always fun to watch the Leader suddenly move backwards equal to the value of the card they burned (flipped) off their Tank.
Running more than one lap on a looping track is great for when table space is limited. I noticed a few players in the board gaming area had custom designed their own looped tracks. One thing to watch out for is the distance between the last Pit Stop prior to the Finish Line and the first one. With the Starting Grid in the way, some track designers forgot to put in an extra Pit near the end of the first lap, so the distance between the two was about 19 spaces! One nice trick is to convert one of the Starting Grid tiles into a Pit Stop after the players have all left the Grid. That puts a Pit somewhere in the middle of that long stretch of gas-slurping road.
Saturday night I was strolling through the board game area at Gen Con 2012, when I happened upon a Hot Rod Creeps game that featured the biggest track I had even seen (outside of the office). They had used all but about 4 tiles in creating their masterpiece, and a full 7 people were playing! The Monster team was being piloted by a “two-headed giant,” so every decision was hotly debated. They had also peppered the track with so many Hazards and Bonuses that they had run out of corner markers for the last quarter of the track! Fortunately, it wasn't a looping track, so they grabbed some markers off the early part of the track after passing them and added them to the missing areas. Normally I might advise against such an epic game as your first one right out of the box, but with Hot Rod Creeps, you can't go wrong.
When I arrived they were just starting to hit The Jump, and the Rockabilly Hot Rod had failed to make it over and ran out of gas after having to burn 6 cards off his tank for landing on the Flaming Ring of Fire. With a 6-player game, wouldn't you know it but the nearest Pit Stop behind him was occupied, so he ended up back at the first Pit Stop… a full 22 spaces behind the Leader! That looked to be an insurmountable deficit to make up, but around 40 minutes later, the game ended and the Rockabilly boys were within 7 spaces of the finish line. The Underworld ruled the day this time, pulling a lucky 8-move off of the Nitro deck to seal the victory.
Those lucky Gen Con conventioneers were able to grab the very limited number of preview copies of the game before the rest hit stores in about six weeks. We saved a couple dozen copies for PAX Prime (the Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle this coming weekend), so be sure to drop by the Cryptozoic booth on the skyway for a demo. See you there!