crazycartsCrazy Karts
Portal Games, 2016

Fantasy Mario Kart chaos racing for the win! Or, if you’re old enough, Wacky Races in board game form.

Crazy Karts is exactly that. You and a partner compete in a race across a hazard filled board against other teams. Play goblins, elves, dwarves or mummies, each with their own special actions. Each player has a hand of steering wheel (action point) cards (6 cards, 3 worth 1 point, 2 worth 2 points, and 1 worth three points.). Each player has a control board that contains half of the actions for the team. Each player distributes their action points across the available actions on their board. One player will control the special power, acceleration, attack and repair, which the other controls the initiative, powerups, brakes, steering and power. The catch? The players cannot conspire or communicate in any way when programming their actions! After all the cards have been secretly placed, all players reveal their boards and resolve the actions.

Along the way your cart may take damage from your opponents (either from getting shot or from running into other carts or walls) or from obstacles on the course. The more damage you take, the lower your maximum speed can be. Also, the faster you go, the less action point cards you can use in the next round. These mechanics make for very close races, and lots of chaotic, hilarious excitement. The board also has power up points where you can gain special powers that may help you or hinder your opponents.

The game comes with variable board sections, so you can play different layouts and lengths. It is suggested that you start with a three-board qualifying race. After the qualifying race, teams recieve upgrades and repair damage to their carts based on their finishing placement. Then you play a four board “race”, winner takes all and receives the fancy champagne bottle token to celebrate their win.

The combination of blind programming, wacky power ups and special actions make this game very chaotic. I have found that many races will have most of the carts finishing on the same turn, so initiative can be very important, as can strategic space manipulation. Guessing where your opponents might be headed and trying to outmaneuver them will give the strategic gamer their fix, while still allowing for enough random wackyness to keep the lighter game lovers happy.  Recommended!