Table top games saw me through middle school lunch. I’d throw down whatever dreck they had uncanned for us (elapsed time: 30 seconds) and then I’d set about the serious business of playing quarter basketball or pencil football for the remaining twenty-nine-and-a-half-minutes. A couple of props, a flat surface, an opponent—I had it made.

I would gladly bolt through my favorite meal (a thai peanut-sauce dish called pra ram long song thanks for asking…) in order to spend a bit more time with Gigamic’s table-top racing game, Regatta.

Now Regatta is a bit more complicated and prop driven than the games I played at school, but the conceit is the same. In this case, players race wooden sailboats across whatever flat surface they have handy. The game comes with four sailboats, four course buoys, and 54 movement cards.

The cards really make the game. Players hold five cards. Each card has an arrow that curves from one side to another. Sometimes a card will have multiple arrows so that the player has some choice. In short, players move their boats from one side of a card to another. When it is a racers turn to play, that boater places a card in front of his or her yacht so that the arrow starts at the bow of the yacht. The player moves the boat so that its aft quarters are on the tip of the arrow and the boat is facing the arrow’s direction.

The cards also serve to show where sailboats cannot go. Each yacht has a no-go region in front of it (so that another boat cannot block its turn. This no-go region is the size of one of the cards. You can move anywhere on the board as long as you do not move into the no-go zone of another player. There are also some special cards that allow double movement, extra turns, and an especially nasty one that makes an opponent miss a turn, but these just spice up the game’s elegant movement mechanic.

There is a surprising amount of strategy that goes in to placing the cards. Most cards do not move your boat in a straight line. Most curve to the left or the right so you have to set up a series of moves that play out over your next few turns. Saving up special cards for the right moment is critical.

The racing is clever and fast, and best of all there is no deep water!! Racing yachts in the comfort of my dining room? Major Fun.

2 – 4 players. Ages 5+

Regatta  by Emmanuel Fille and Martine Moisand. © 2010 Gigamic.

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