The easiest to find version in the U.S. of a great racing game series...
last update: November 30, 2004
Starting with Formel Eins, continuing with Top Race, and preceded here in America by Daytona 500, D/C Grand Prix is simply the latest in a series of card-based race games. D/C Grand Prix is that rarest of gems, an excellent 3 player game, and a lot of fun as well. The tips offered here help 'goose' the game a bit.
The Auction Problem
Using "Daytona 500" to fix it!
One of the difficulties of D/C Grand Prix is that the smallest bill available in the game is also the smallest payoff. So, if you buy the last car for $10,000, the worst you can do is break even.
My thought? Use the payoff chart from Daytona 500 make the auction more interesting... higher bids make more sense and you have a much bigger stake in working the auctions (rather than just taking the cheapest cars that match your cards.)
Viva Las Vegas
Betting (ala "Top Race")
Three points are marked on the racetrack. When the first car crosses each of these marks, players may "bet" by secretly choosing a car. Players don't have to bet every time, and may bet on the same car more than once or choose different cars. You do not have to bet on a car you own. Bets are kept secret until the end of the race.
At the end of the race, bonuses and penalties are assessed based on the time of the bet and the order of the finish, using the following chart.
Location of Betting "Points"
On the Top Race board, the points come after the 12th, 23rd and 35th spaces, with 20 spaces between the 3rd betting point and the finish. Some proportional assignment of betting points on the D-C Grand Prix board would probably also work. I notice the Top Race betting points are before, and definitely not inside, narrowed sections of track.
End of the Race
When a player has got all of the cars they own past the finish line they still continue to play cards - after all they may well still have bets outstanding on other cars. Play continues until either all cars are past the finish line or all cards have been played.
What to Do With the Switch Cards
Some other options (besides using them as written in the Mayfair rules)
reversal of fortune:
Spin Out, Mechanical Failure, Burst of Speed, Careful Passing, & Defensive Driving are from ever-creative mind of Steffan O'Sullivan.
burst of speed:
Switch Card Clarifications (for the rules as written)
The switch lasts until the person who played the switch plays his next card. A switch card can still be played when one of the cars has finished, but it does nothing at all.
Anyone who gets dealt two or all three switch cards may declare a misdeal if desired. All cards are then thrown in, reshuffled, and redealt. Even though all players continue playing cards after their cars cross the finish line, it is too much of a disadvantage to have two, possibly three of cards with no movement on them. (This house rule is written for the original rules... not the variant uses of the switch cards mentioned above.)
Tighter Movement Deck
Remove the three 5 movement white cards and the switch cards from the deck. This drastically reduces the effect that can happen in a game with a large number of players if one player gets dealt all three 5 movement white cards. (It often doesn't matter so much which car they take so they just get the one which is the cheapest.) It also has the advantage of making it just a bit tougher to get across the line.
Down with the King(maker)
When playing the original rules, players who have already finished have an inordinate amount of influence on the finish of the race. In order to combat this "kingmaking" tendency, players whose last car has crossed the finish line must turn the remainder of their cards face and shuffle them. When it is their turn, they draw randomly from the pile in front of them to "blow" other players' cars across the line. If there is a white number with multiple valid choices, the car that is farther behind gets to use the white number. (Again, this variant is useful only with the original rules. With the betting rules, players should be able to play cards down to the end of the game.)
Whenever a car moves and a second car is directly behind it, move the second car forward one space. If there is a whole row of cars and the front one moves forward then all those directly behind it will move forward one space. This rule is borrowed from Daytona 500.
This helps make it less of an advantage to get ahead of the pack, and adds some interesting twists to the game play.
In order to keep players from sitting on their cash & waiting for a cheap car, eliminate car ownership limits. (This variant is for 2 & 3 player games.)
Thinking Seriously about the System
A Great Conversation
What follows is a not-quite-verbatim conversation from rec.games.board, which gives you some very good information about the Formel Eins series of games, including the "grandfather", an abstract game called Tempo.
My experience with Top Race is limited, so it might be true that the betting element better allows 5 or 6 players to enjoy this version rather than the others. Anyone have any comment on this?
I've never tried any of them with fewer than 4 players. I still find the games enjoyable with up to 6, but you're right about the control. I think the key there is to save what you can control for the finish, or also in the case of the road course for the chicanes, but indeed you are limited by lack of cards. I don't think the betting in Top Race addresses any of the control issues at all. In fact, more than 4 players and the resulting fewer cards in hand makes the betting more of a wild guess.
By the way, I finally got around to translating the Tempo rules (the forerunner of all these games) this past weekend. I think I played the game once years ago with someone describing their understanding of the rules, but I'd long since forgotten them. Turns out a betting component was key to the original game system, so much so that the blurb on the box describes it as a betting game rather than a racing game. In this version the track is merely a large "U" and the pawns (no car theme) have their own identical (save for the color) tracks. The pawns never switch lanes, so there is no blocking in the game. The betting is in the form of six cards, one for each color pawn, that are given to each player. Each player looks at their race cards (which are quite a different mix than the race car versions) and decides which of the six pawn cards to select as their bets for first, second, and third place. The cards are placed face down as secret bets. Then the players get points at the end of the race for all three colors they've selected depending on their finish, plus bonus points for finishing any of them in the correct order in which they were bet. In a sense then, each player owns three "cars" in each race (without bidding for them) and several players can end up owning the same car. (And in the unlikely event that two players happen to put out three cards in the same order at the outset, then they can't do anything but tie at the end.) There's a variant suggested in which all the bet cards are turned face up at the start of the race.
Mark Jackson (the Conductor):
In my ever-so-humble opinion, D/C Grand Prix works best with 3 players (if playing "strategically") and 6 players (if playing "with chaos")... while Daytona 500 works well with 3 or 4 players.
Your "mileage" may vary. :-)
BoardgameGeek entry for Detroit/Cleveland Grand Prix
The Game Report Online Peter Sarrett reviews both D/C GP & Top Race
Now, if you're a NASCAR fan, Daytona 500 is a "must-purchase".(It will also help if you're a frequenter of thrift stores, as it's OOP.)
BoardgameGeek entry for Daytona 500
The Game Report Online Peter Sarrett
The Game Cabinet Mike Siggins (of SUMO fame)