Sunday, May 16, 2010

Mille Bornes

Every now and then my parents and some of their friends have a "game night" where they get together and play random games.  These are usually card games.  Most of the time these game nights are on Saturdays, which usually means I'm at the CAINE showing, but since the semester's over, I could play.

We started with Mille Bornes.  It's french, I think it means 1000 miles or something.  Basically everyone's in a car and you're racing to your destination (which is actually only 700 miles away, but when you reach that point you can opt to extend to 1000 for extra points), but you can throw hazards in each others' way to try and stay ahead (or catch up).  The whole thing is played over multiple hands which get scored and the ultimate goal is to get 5000 (or more) points.

I played it a lot as a kid, but I don't remember it being this bad.  Maybe it was just a really bad shuffling job or something.  Since we had so many people we were playing in teams, and my dad and I ended up in a car accident with no repair card available because the other teams had all six of them.  So we were stuck basically.  There's no mechanic for stealing cards from people, every hazard only has one specific type of remedy card, and the rules expressly forbid shuffling the discard pile when the draw stack runs out.  There's actually a point bonus for winning after the draw stack runs out, but I'd rather get all those cards back.

So I got to thinking how I'd fix and modify this flawed french card game.  This is what I've come up with:
  • Combination remedy cards: These will fix either of the listed hazards, but not both.
    • Full Service - fixes Car Accident or Out of Gas
    • Full Repair - fixes Car Accident or Flat Tire
    • SUV Driver - fixes Car Accident or Speed Limit
    • Roadside Assistance - fixes Out of Gas or Flat Tire
    • Gas 'N Go - fixes Out of Gas or Speed Limit
    • Burn Rubber - fixes Flat Tire or Speed Limit
  • Hazard delay cards: These let you continue for a short distance with a hazard and are discarded once that short distance has been travelled.  The purpose is to give you more chances to draw the hazard's remedy while letting you get a bit more distance on the board.
    • Gas Can - can go 25 miles before refueling (let's be realistic about gas mileage here, given that gas cans typically only hold one gallon)
    • Compact Spare - can go 50 miles before changing tires
    • Bribe - can go 50 miles before having to obey the speed limit
    • Colorblind - can go 50 miles before having to stop
    • Demolition Derby - can go 50 miles before having to repair your car
  • Instant Remedies: These can be played as shit happens to you to prevent it (they cannot be pre-played), are discarded after use (unlike safeties), and have downsides.
    • Close Call - prevents a car accident, but you become stopped
    • Use Caution - prevents a flat tire, but places a speed limit on you
    • 5 Bucks' Worth - prevents running out of gas, but you become stopped
    • Above The Law - prevents speed limit, but you become stopped
    • Illegal Light Control Device - prevents stop, but places a speed limit on you
On second thought it would be really tough to work a usable card-stealing ability in. The combination remedies would put enough extra cards in the deck that it probably wouldn't be needed. The downside to all these new cards: the deck would be even bigger, and the hand size would have to increase (probably by two, to eight cards).

I had an idea for another hazard, but when trying to implement its remedy found that it's not viable.  There was going to be a Bridge Out card that would make the affected player lose their next turn, but the remedy would have to be played on the lost turn (defeating the point) and if immediately followed up with a Go card would have the same effect as just losing the turn.

I briefly considered making it "lose two turns" but it would be even more pointless since you really couldn't play a remedy.  Remedyless hazards don't exist in this game and I think it might be bad to institute one.  Even though there would be a fifth safety card to prevent it from ever happening.

There are other good names for "lose a turn" hazards though, such as Fruit Stand, Rest Stop, Hotel Stay, Restaurant Stop, Amusement Park, Traffic Jam, etc.  Maybe instead of having generic "Stop" cards, these could be substituted and just have that effect instead.

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