Leader 1 (and its expansion: Giro) designed by messieurs Ollier and Leclercq is a fantastic game, and I'm probably one of the biggest fans. However, soon after I fell in love with it, I got the feeling that it lacked something, and that the wonderful components in the box suffer from slightly imperfect rules. As a huge fan of road cycling, I saw a chance of creating the most playable and most realistic simulation of cycling ever. This is how the dream of Leader 2 was born.
Being one of the authors of this variant, I certainly lack the objectiveness to call this a review. However, I feel that both the thread explaining the rules and the downloadable version are somewhat dry. So here comes a rather compact introduction of why you might want to try it, independent from whether you hate or love Leader 1. Since I assume you've tried out the latter, I'll concentrate on differences only.
The structure of this presentation is very simple. I believe there are two main components to any good simulation game: replayability and realism. I'll show how we attempt to cover both of them in a combined fashion: each time we improve the replayability, we do so by introducing an element of the world of cycling!
From my 50+ Leader 1 games, what strikes me is the lack of strategic depth once you become reasonably adept at managing your energy by following others and cutting the corners. All races seem to be very similar: give the downhill skill to your main guy, attack at the first "cheap" spot (normally a downhill), often with your entire team, then outsmart the others by using less energy to cover the same distance, et voila...
The two main causes of the above situation are:
a) all cyclists being almost the same,
b) the peloton being so ridiculously weak that it can be completely ignored.
This is where Leader 2 comes to save the day
Since every cyclist in the peloton is different, we introduce more special skills.
Will your explosive rouleur manage to keep the wheel of the opponent's aggressive leader specialising in cobblestones long enough to use his sprint ability in the final kilometres? That is the question that not only makes your board game more exciting, but also closer to a real-life cycling race.
Still, if those two were left alone, the one riding the majority of time in the opponent's wind shade would prevail. But yes, you guessed correctly: these 100 guys behind them shouldn't exactly be forgotten! But what exactly are they doing to catch the escapees? Well, the team interested in pursuing the break-away usually forms a so-called train. The helpers of the big guys spend all their energy to catch the riders in front, or at least to bring their captains closer, so that they can counterattack. Of course deciding to add +1 (for free) to the peloton roll every fifth turn does not exactly translate to this concept.
This is where Leader 2 steps in again
In the picture above you see all 9 members of the CSC team forming a train. The six in front (known as helpers, domestiques, or Wasserträger) are wasting lots of energy, while protecting their leader (in yellow), their climber and their best rouleur (the two behind the leader). Also, one of them has to go back to the team car and provide the whole team with fresh beverages every now an then, as illustrated here by Matthias Kessler from T-Mobile:
To simulate the presence of your helpers, Leader 2 introduces the concept of Team Pursuit Points (TPPs). Before the race, every team is given a certain amount of TPPs, depending on their strength and the race profile. When the peloton token reaches you, you can decide to form a train (keep the token), and pursue the break-away in a steady pace (maximum peloton movement is 6), while your teammates lose their energy (i.e. TPPs diminish) gradually. The more teams are interested in pursuing, the longer this steady pace can be sustained. And since your pool of TPPs is limited, choosing when and how many to spend is a tactical decision, just like the teams decide in real life which escapees are dangerous enough to be pursued.
The two additions described above (new skills and TPPs) are the cornerstones of Leader 2. You are free to stop there, or pick from plenty of other ideas we found useful to make the game both realistic and playable, like energy consumption tuning (less overall energy, more spent in long breakaways, more spent by rouleurs in high mountains), cancellation of blocking, limitation of the number of attackers etc.
Enjoy the game, and remember that your feedback is important
I support your search for realism:
As a huge fan of road cycling, I saw a chance of creating the most playable and most realistic simulation of cycling ever.
I believe there are two main components to any good simulation game: replayability and realism. I'll show how we attempt to cover both of them in a combined fashion: each time we improve the replayability, we do so by introducing an element of the world of cycling!
But I feel there is still something missing in Leader 2. A key element of the world of cycling that would boost the realism of your good simulation of professional cycling.
Feel free to include/edit anything from my thread:
Let's call it Leader 3, the ultimate simulation.
With Leader 3 you can even simulate who won 2006 Tour de France and 2004 Vuelta a España!
John Di Ponio
The LEADER 2 rules have been a great thing to have. It has brought more realism into the game and made the replayability substantually greater!!! I do appreciate all the effort you put into creating this for the game!
Ihave read your tread and you have some great ideas in there!!! I think this game can improve to make it a fantastic simulation if people want that level in the game!!! Keep up the great work!!!!