Joyride: Survival of the Fastest — Race fast, drive hard

Joyride: Survival of the Fastest is an upcoming game by Rebellion Unplugged, designed by Duncan Malloy and Pete Ward with art by Pye Parr. In a high tech, low budget future players will be racing around the track in their vehicles while ramming and attacking their opponents in an attempt to be the first to cross the finish line.

Players all begin on the starting line in first gear. At the beginning of your turn you can shift up or down one gear or shift down two gears by causing damage to your vehicle. What gear you are in determines how many dice you roll, each with values from one to three. Movement uses a unique two part process. First you can lock any number of dice that you rolled in your previous turn, moving straight forward that number of spaces. Afterwards you roll all remaining dice and move straight forward that number of spaces. You are allowed to make a single turn at the beginning of either your lock or roll phases. The exception is in second gear you can make a single turn at the beginning of both phases. This means that being in a higher gear will allow you to move further (that’s good), but you can’t turn as tightly and risk smashing into a wall (that’s bad). This split movement mechanic allows for a lot of important tactical decisions. In second gear if you want to make a tight turn you need to lock a die, but they might not be the value that you would like. There is also some randomness in how far you will get to move after rolling the dice, but with the values only being between one and three, the randomness isn’t too extreme.

In addition to trying to navigate the course as quickly as possible, you also have to deal with your fellow racers. There are different types of collisions you can have with each other. If you hit another vehicle from the side, you will push them out of the way by actually changing the direction they are facing. Since changing directions is limited, particularly at high speeds, this can have a huge impact on the game. If you ram someone directly from behind, they have the option to allow you to push them or to slam the brakes, causing you to come to a dead stop. Colliding with a wall has a similar damaging effect.

What makes this all more interesting is how dynamic the race tracks are. There is not a set course or direction, instead numbered flag posts are placed around the track. Each racer needs to go through the checkpoints in order, but how they get there and what direction they go through them doesn’t matter. Add to this the fact that you will have to run the whole course multiple times means that there will be plenty of opportunities to interact with other vehicles. And finally, after going through certain checkpoints you will be given a random weapon, such as attack drones or mines, which you can use to slow down your opponents. Vehicles can take damage from attacks and crashes, putting damage tokens on different areas of your vehicle board, effectively limiting your options during the race and making it harder for you to successfully maneuver your vehicle through the course.

Joy Ride: Survival of the Fittest was given a GamingTrend Best of Gen Con award this year for being an extremely fun and well designed racing game that isn’t overly complicated. This was personally one of the best games I saw and was able to try at the convention and I look forward to having a copy of my own in the future!

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