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Jeff Goldsmith
United States
Pasadena
California
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Wow...there are some people out there who haven't played RoadKill. The title is a verb, not a noun---the players drive a road rally trying to kill each other. The cars are decked out with all sorts of weapons: machine guns, tire spikes, hand grenades, the works. First person across the finish line in one piece wins. The finish line is pretty far away, so there is plenty of time for death and destruction. Allocate about two hours for a game, though one can play a shorter game by reducing the number of road segments in the race.

The standard game is eight road segments. The beginners' game has a map, but advanced players make their own, so no one knows what the track will be. Road segments come from the card deck. As do weapons. And everything else.

Within each road segment, cars are in their race position; passing one another is possible. There are no other positions (mostly) within a road segment. But anyone in road segment 3 is ahead of everyone in road segment 2. This is important, because everyone in a previous road segment is a "trailer." More on that later.

On your turn, you can play as many cards as you like, even more than your hand limit (which starts at 7) if you can obtain more. If, however, you play 2 or fewer cards, you get to draw at the end of your turn. If you play 2, you can draw one; if you play 1 you can draw 2. If you play zero, you can draw 3, unless you do nothing at all during
your turn and you are stopped, in which case, you can discard as many cards as you like and can refill your hand.

Playing cards is the good part. In order to pass another car, you may use a move card to move past him, or you can use a weapon card to move past him. Weapons can do damage (but there are defenses and counterattacks) which reduce the player's hand size. Or they can cause cars to spin out, crash, or the like.

A car in the lead of the pack in the lead segment can try to create the next road segment by playing a Move/Road card. In order to succeed at this, he needs to make an "exit check." That's computed by comparing the number of trailers the car has (cars in previous sections) with the car's "Time on Road." The Time on Road is roughly how many turns the car has been in that road segement. So the longer you've been there, the easier it is to leave. The fewer trailers you have, the easier it is to leave. This makes it hard for a leader to run away.

The card deck is large (128 card) and each card is used for all sorts of things, including random number generation. That lends to a big variety of possible situations in the game.

The real fun part is the car upgrades. These give cars special powers like never running out of gas or avoiding bad events. We play with each car's being given two. The rules call for a draft, but it's more fun to assign the upgrades randomly by drawing them out of a cup. For a more powerful game, give each player three from which he may select two. Upgrades are not normally found after the start of the race, but some groups let them be found under special situations, like being placed in a Box Canyon or reaching a milestone in the race. The game is rich enough that all sorts of tinkers like this are possible.

The Box Canyon card is the most important card in the deck. Players will quickly learn to keep track of it. It can only be played on a car which is creating a new road segment (thus the leader) and has the effect of placing him in a new road segment off to the side of and behind the current lead section. This is a very big swing of position. As a result, players nearly always save it to be played only at the end of the game. Many groups have added the rules tinker that it cannot be played at the finish line for exactly that reason. "I win!" "No, you don't," just doesn't make for a great ending. There are a few cards which can be used as defenses to the Box Canyon, but if you don't have them, the only alternative is to try to steal the card from the owner's hand. In order to do this, your car needs to sideswipe his car (while passing him). Sideswipes are a particularly dangerous type of attack, but desperate situations demand desparate measures. Much of the gameplay will center around this.

Despite the numerous weapons and ways to kill each other, we have found that the game just isn't bloody enough. I have never seen a car totally destroyed. To add a little more destruction, we use the Extra Death rules, which can be found at http://waggle.gg.caltech.edu/~jeff/games/roadkill.html
RoadKill definitely needed a "Psychotic Driver" rule; these variants supply it.

All in all, RoadKill's game play is reasonably good, but nothing really special. The theme, however, is not just tacked on, but is central to the game, and is very immersive. For those who like a little role playing in their board games, RoadKill is a winner.
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Roadkill Variants and Optional Rules from http://waggle.gg.caltech.edu/~jeff/games/roadkill.html

Optional Rules
Box Canyon: The box canyon may not be used at the finish line, that is, not in the last section.
Variant (Extra Death) Rules

Some of the upgrades are too wimpy. I've never seen a car completely destroyed, so these are upgrades to the lesser upgrades.
E: (Power Ram) +2 to Ram attacks only.
T: (Mortar) Adds +1 to resolution
U: (20mm Turret) +1 to Assault Rifles in addition
X: (Assistant Driver) +1 to Assault Rifles in addition
C,Q: Replaced by the Psychotic Driver upgrade. See below.
Optionally, add to the check chart that on a 6 result, car loses a card at random.
Psychotic Drivers

Psychotic Drivers may use one of the following abilities once per deck. (It's helpful to invert the upgrade counter when used.)
+2 Sideswipe
+2 Ram
Draw three cards at night while moving
Void a spinout (Scree...Vroom!)
Take four cards when using NoDoz.
Use the TV Interview Landmark card as a Move/Road 1 card.
Use the Blonde Hitchhiker Landmark card as a Move/Road 2 card.
+1 vs. Tire Spikes
Complete a Sabotauge or Theft or Siphon Gas voided by Assault Rifle, but AR does 1 damage and causes a -1 check. Burglar Alarm acts as an Assault Rifle for this purpose.
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