27 Dec 2006

Game Review: Initial D

Name: Initial D
Genre: Collectable Card Game
Designer: David Williams
Publisher: Alderac Entertainment Group
Category: Street Racing
of Players: 2 Players
Cost: ???
Quality of Components: High
Age of Players: 8+
Rules: Simple
Strategic Depth: Low
Learning Curve: Very Low
Set up Time: Minimal

This is collectable card game based on the manga with the same name. The game is about challenging an opponent to a car race. I got to play this game due to a friend (Renato) , that lend KGB two pre-made decks.

The game play is simple. There are 4 types of cards. One is the car. There is only a single car per player. These cards have two three values: engine power, traction and cost.

To improve the performance of the cars there are mods that can be applied to them. Mods are another type of card. Up to three mods can be placed on a car. Pilots are also on this category.

Another type of card are track cards. Each of these cards have segments, that can either be straits, curves or obstacles. Each player will have 3 of those.

The car is placed on the board along with the mods, and the tracks are put on a separated pile. The other cards are the action cards. These are the cards that will determine the curse of play, and the outcome of the race. Each action card belongs to a certain category: speed, turn or tactics; each have a strength in each segment type and a strength to counter other types of action type cards. They also have a requirement that can either be engine power or traction.

So for example, a speed card requires 6 engine power to be played and has a strength of 7 for straits, 3 for curves and 4 for obstacles, with a counter of 4 in speed, 6 in turn and 2 in tactics.

The game play is simple. The owner of the most expensive car (including mods) is the challenger, and will race on a randomly selected opponent's track. The owner of the track starts in front. The objective is either to win two consecutive stages or to be in first at the end of the track's last stage.

Each player draws 7 cards. The owner of the car with the most style points will get an additional card, just like the person who's in front. The front player starts playing a card. To play a card, the player's car must meet the requirements of that card. If not, for each point needed, the player must discard a card. The strength of the manoeuvre is determined by the type of stage the players are in.

Using the above example, to play that card I needed 6 engine. However, my engine power is only 4. So in order to play the card, I needed to discard 2 other. Now let's say that the stage is a strait. The manoeuvre has a strength of 7.

Then the opponent gets to play a card, trying to counter the opponent's manoeuvre. The card played (besides the requirements) must have a counter of the previous manoeuvre, equal or greater to that manoeuvre's strength.

Using the card I gave as an example, to counter that same card. My opponent's engine power is 7, so it's fine. But the previous speed manoeuvre has a strength of 7 and this can only counter a strength 4 for that type of action, so in order to play it, my opponent has to discard 3 cards. The manoeuvre also has a strength of 7.

The play goes on until one player runs out of cards or if they can't play any of the remaining. That player loses the stage.

The race proceeds to the next stage. New cards are drawn, and the car in front get to chose if they want to keep any of the remaining cards.

This game has a few problems. First of all, it's a very short and simple game for a CCG. I believe that it would be better if this was just a card game without the collectible components. Then it's the starting player. Being the challenger the most expensive car, unless I change my deck, the starting player will always be the same.

The standard winning are weak. Unless you play a 2 out of 3 or 3 out of 5, where the the winner is going to be the next challenger, the game will seem woefully repeating. It also makes little sense that I'm preparing an uber-expensive car and still have to throw some tracks that I know I'm never going to race on them.

Theme is a little weak when playing the game. Have the car and it's mods, and a set of “home” tracks is cool. However, the manoeuvres.... I know it's not simple to put the manoeuvres into card draws, but I think they could of done a better work. A simple text describing the manoeuvre would suffice. Nonetheless, the art on the cards is super, and it's really a pleasure looking at them.

Also, a negative mark must go to the pre-constructed decks I've trying. Both had a card that could not be played, and one had a track that hurt the deck more than it would benefit it. I've seen this once and in my opinion it's preferable to put a card that does not benefit the deck but it also would not hut it.

Besides the artwork on the cards, the rare cards are also a plus. Just lovely to know that these cards are foil, making them even more beautiful.

My final thoughts about the game: it's not worth it. The game can be resumed in playing cards until someone can't play. The game is not involving (I didn't get the feeling I was racing someone), the game play is to simple; strategically it's almost a no-brainer. The artwork does not compensate for the poor mechanics. This game will probably only please the fans of the series.

But I do recognize it might be a good game for kids to play. Boys just love cars, and this game could be extremely appealing if they also like the Japanese cartoonish look of the cards.


Blogger Davide Ferreira said...

I also agree with this review, unless you are ready to spend heavy money to collect the cards and make several decks, like you would with MTG or Pokemon or whatever, you cant get very far with this game.

The other problem is strategy, is too simplistic and as said before good for kids to play.

With several good trading card games in the market you can really choose a better one than initial D.

1:42 pm  
Blogger hmocc said...

Hi there, or should I say Olá!???

I liked your review. Will definately keep an eye open for this game!

- off topic -
It's very interesting to see other people playing boardgames in Portugal. I found your blog via "Jogos de Tabuleiro".

This is the reason I am interested in promoting boardgamers sites in Portuguese like AbreOJogo or Ludopedia.

My blog, http://bodegueims.blogspot.com/, was born to try to bridge the gap between the English speaking and Portuguese speaking boardgamers all over the world.

So, drop by anytime and leave your comments. I will do the same at KGB.


11:20 am  
Blogger FNunes said...

Hi. I would prefer "Hi". I prefer to keep this blog in English to reach a broader audience.

One thing I was surprised after creating this blog, was to see a small world of other blogs from Portuguese dedicated to boardgames. Boardgames don't have a tradition between us like it has in other countries and not that many people maintain blogs or other content pages, so I wasn't expecting the combination of both. But anyway, I'm glad these sites exist and I will add links to them as I'm finding them (already added you blog).

Comments are always appreciated, especially on reviews, so feel free to drop by from time to time. As for comments on your blog, I want to do better. If you want my cooperation, I'll be glad to share some of the material of this blog to bode gueims. I already send you the message on BBG.

Good year for you and good games.

12:20 am  
Blogger hmocc said...


You are very welcome! I definitely enjoy reading your reviews and having them in Bode Gueims will be a tremendous boost for the site.

Thank you very much for your help!


11:25 am  

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