Gumball Rally

Ted Cheatham’s Gumball Rally is another excellent card game from Z-Man Games. This one’s especially for kids or for adults looking for a “filler game.”

It’s a race, all right, for up to 8 players. The game takes less than a half-hour to play, and probably less than half of that to learn. The manufacturers recommend it for kids 6 and up. We recommend it for kids who like playing race-type games, and especially for adults who enjoy playing light and quick.

You get 8 different Go Kart cards – that is, large, thick, well-illustrated, cardboard cards depicting different Go Karts. You also get a deck of playing cards – 4 different kinds of playing cards (Race cards – 4 suits, each numbered 1-10; Hazard cards (19 cards, no numbers), 10 point cards, and 8 small Go Kart cards to help you remember which Kart is yours. So there are several sorting moments required. And yet more sorting moments once you separate out all the Hazard cards: giving each player 3 cards, removing the Winner and two Checkpoint cards, shuffling the remaining cards, removing 4 cards and placing them in the box (without looking at the cards), taking 3 cards from the Hazard deck and shuffling them with the Winner card, then 3 more cards from the Hazard deck shuffled with one Winner card, and again – placing these all in a stack to form the bottom of the draw pile. All of which is very clever and logical once you actually play the game, because the Winner and Checkpoint cards, placed as they are near the bottom of the deck, force the game to some oft-delightful and generally timely conclusions. After the first game, all this shuffling and sorting seems to add both to the fun of the game and the fun of getting ready to have fun.

The large Go Kart cards are placed, in order of play, on the table – the first player in the first position, etc. Race cards determine which Go Kart is the fastest. If you play a Race card, and you are in, say, third position, and your card is higher than the Go Kart in the second position, then you move up one position. Then there are the Hazard cards which affect the Go Kart whose color matches the inner border of the Hazard card.

Oddly enough, despite all this apparent complexity, the game takes only about 15 minutes to learn and less than a half-hour to play. The pace is fast enough to keep everyone in play – even when there are 8 players. Which makes the game feel most race-like – especially as cars are constantly changing position, and even more especially when you pass the lead car.

The cards are vividly illustrated by John Donahue under the direction of jim pinto (who artistically spells his name in lower case).

A lot of big fun in this little game.

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