Bridgetown Races is a fast-paced racing game.
The setting is Portland, this year's city for the fictional Bridgetown race. This race requires you to cross each of the major bridges using various types of transportation.
Brief Rules Summary:
During setup, different colored flags each representing a different mode of transportation are randomly assigned to each of the eight bridges. Each player has three transportation "coordinators" and in clockwise order they place one at a time on the transportation rondel until all are placed. The rondel has sectors for each of the seven modes of transportation. You can't place more than one of your own coordinators on the same transportation mode.
Once all the coordinators are placed, beginning with the starting player, players will choose one of their coordinators on the rondel and move their racer on the board a number of spaces corresponding to its speed on the rondel. For example, motorcycles move 4 versus pedestrians move only one. If you cross a bridge with a flag matching the transportation you're using, you remove that flag and put it on your scoring card.
The game continues until someone collects flags for each of the 8 bridges or after five rounds.
Sounds pretty straightforward, right? Ah, but there are some twists, of course. First, there are three special actions that you can place a coordinator on: First, Swap and Double. Each special action may only be used by one player each round. "First" entitles that player to move first. "Swap" allows you to swap the flags on any two bridges. "Double" lets you to move double the number of spaces normally allowed for a given coordinator. The other twist is that when you select a coordinator to move your racer, you move not only its base movement (the number on the rondel) but also add one space for each other players' coordinator that is still on that transportation sector. And you must move your racer all of the spaces. So, for example, if you choose to use your motorcycle coordinator and two other players have also placed a coordinator on the motorcycle sector and haven't moved them yet, then you must move your racer 4 (base) + 2 (for two other players).
Unlike many racing games, there is a palpable racing feel to this game. Frequently, you and an opponent will both be going for the same bridge. You may be first player but what if your opponent chooses the "First" action? Maybe you take that too but then a third player plays the "Double" and snatches it before either of you.
This is a game that rewards being a contrarian. There is a lot of trying to guess the other racer's intentions and then planning accordingly but with multiple players there is always some chaos thrown in. The special actions are very powerful but you sacrifice a move and must declare your intentions sooner. The game favors flexible approaches.
The player moving first has his pick of bridges but which one? The first coordinator he places may not be the first he intends to move. Plus, someone will likely take the "First" special action. What impact will that have? Players early in the turn order tend to go after central bridges whereas later players go for the extremes.
There are lots of opportunities for leader bashing so most games have a photo finish.
Often you will find yourself in a situation where you can only claim two bridges. Then there is a great temptation to use the third coordinator to throw a wrench in the plans of the other racers or to take one of the special actions defensively.
Because of the interaction between players, I think that the game plays best with 3-4 players 2 players is fine, but it has a different feel. Players have more control and it allows more planning. I was a playtester for this game and most of the games I player were with three. The times I've played with four seemed good as well but I've only played a couple of times.
With a maximum of four rounds, it plays pretty fast. Once the rules are understood, most games take 35-50 minutes.
This game at first seems like a traveling salesman game and inevitably will be compared to Elfenland. It's quite different in feel, however. Both planning and movement are done incrementally in turn so the other players' designs slowly reveal themselves and there is a scramble to respond. I feel tense just thinking about it. In some ways it feels more like a madcap scavenger hunt than a traditional race. More a sprint than a marathon.
Overall I would recommend this game as a fast, lively, interactive game.