It’s automatic…It’s systematic…It’s hydromatic…It’s Street Rod by Gaudete Games! Travel back to the summer of ’63 in this card game about souping up your car, racing opponents’ (either virtual or other players), and finally beating the King to become the best racer on the streets. Do all of this and you might impress and win the heart of your crush, Becky Sue!
Street Rod is a card game designed by Jan Willem van Dijk and published by Gaudete Games. Ages: 10+ Playing Time: 20-40 minutes for 2-4 Players
Players are each given an equal portion of the entire deck. They then go through all of the cards and select up to $500 worth of cards and parts.
The remaining cards are then reshuffled into the game deck and 5 cards are placed face-up on the table to form the main supply.
You’re now ready to play!
The Game Play
On a player’s turn, they have a handful of actions they can choose to perform. The player can perform as many actions they so choose, in any order.
Upgrade their car or parts: Each round a player receives $200 to spend on cards in the main supply. Additionally, a player may discard any number of cards from their hand to receive the value indicated on the card(s) to spend on new parts or cars. Certain parts are only compatible with specific car types and some parts require being paired with other parts in order to function. Parts and cars all have varying values for power and acceleration. You want the highest value for both of these attributes and they will each help increase your score on varying race tracks.
Race against an opponent in the main supply: In addition to the parts and cars in the main supply, there are also opponents of varying difficulties to race against. Opponents have varying racing values based on three different tracks: the Drag Race, Mulholland Drive, and the Aqueduct. This is where it gets a little complicated. To calculate a player’s score on any of the drag races, you first add values for your car and parts to calculate your total power, acceleration, and skill (skill can only be earned by beating opponents). For the Drag Race, a player’s score is calculated by 2x power + 1x acceleration + 1x skill. Player’s scores on Mulholland Drive are calculated by 1x power + 2x acceleration + 1x skill. Finally, player’s scores on the Aqueduct a
re calculated by 1x power + 1x acceleration + 2x skill. The player chooses which track they want to race on, calculate their score and subtract the opponent card’s score on that track. If this number is greater than or equal to the Bad Luck Indicator (a random number in the top corner of every card) of the next card on top of the main deck, then you win the race! Winning the race earns you the opponent card into your hand and a value of skill points (listed on the card) which are most useful on the aqueduct course (the only course the King can race on).
Race against another player: The challenging player chooses another player to race against. The player being challenged gets to choose the stakes (cheapest card, fastest car etc) of the race and the challenger gets to choose the track. Scores are calculated as described above, subtracted from each other and compared to the bad luck indicator. Whichever player wins earns the card chosen in the stakes from the losing player.
Execute an Opponent Bonus: All of the opponent cards have special powers. Any Opponent that you have raced against and defeated will end up in your hand (which you can discard for money during the upgrade action). Once per turn, you can use the opponent bonuses on any opponent cards you still have in your hand.
Players continue taking turns, upgrading cars, and racing. When the King shows up in the main supply and a player defeats the King in a street race, that player is declared the winner.
The Closing Remarks
The Theme is interesting: Let me start off by saying that I am not really that into cars and I thought the theme of the game was really interesting. This is a very underused theme in board games and I thought it was very refreshing.
There is a very nice feel to the upgrading and progression: My favorite part was that it had the same feel as many of the RPG video games I played growing up in that you would do some actions to earn points, upgrade and then perform harder actions with your upgraded supply of items. It was neat to earn money, soup up your car, and race harder opponents. I really enjoyed the progression in the game, going from junker to hot rod.
The Bad Luck Indicator adds a nice press your luck: Originally I thought that all of the racing would be boring and straightforward as you could calculate your score and compare to your opponents and get the win. Since there is the comparison to the bad luck indicator (which can be negative) you can actually have a lower score against your opponents and still win the race. I took advantage of this several times while playing and raced against a harder opponent in the hopes of getting a good bad luck indicator draw. This was a neat little press your luck addition to make the racing less straight forward number crunching.
The rule book has issues: It felt very incomplete and rules seemed quite lax (for instance it never mentions whether or not you can just add two different engines to the same car; it also does not specify what the terms of players racing each other need to be, they really can select any type of terms they so choose).
Needs more organization: A bad flop in the main supply can really hurt a player. If there are no cheap parts that you can afford, you cannot upgrade. If there are no opponents that you can beat, you do not race an opponent, you gain no luck, and you fall behind. It would be interesting to see a set up much like in 7 wonders with different ages. Compile cheap parts and easy opponents for a stage I deck, moderate parts and harder opponents for a stage II deck, and expensive parts and really hard opponents and the King in a stage III deck. This way players are never screwed with cards they cannot use in the main supply.
There is a lot of number crunching: Every time you plan on racing, you have to calculate your score on three different tracks, which involves three different sets of values and compare them to all of your opponents. The math isn’t hard but there is a lot of it. There is also always an optimal track you should choose as there will always be a greater differential on one of the tracks, and you always want the track where you have the score/track with the greatest difference from your opponent.
I think that this game is definitely interesting and has some high points. I liked the feeling of progression and the ability to upgrade a lot. My biggest concern is that the game might not be completely developed at this point. The rules were a really low point for me as I felt they were deeply lacking. This actually kept my expectations low on the game and I will admit that we liked the game more than we expected we would. If you have a thing for cars, or quick card games, you should definitely head over to the Kickstarter page for Street Rod and check it out! Although this game was not really for us, everyone has different tastes and this might be right for you!