As the title says, GANGNAM STYLE will make this game twice as hilarious. But don't worry, Homestretch is still a great game even if you don't like GANGNAM STYLE. If you'd like, you can even make your own ARKHAM STYLE, or TRAJAN STYLE, or anything comes to mind
I got a signed copy as BGG contest prize. Being given a great game for free, one thing i can do
to repay the kindness is by writing a good review. No no no, what does kindness have anything to do with review? I simply write the review because I like the game, of course
Homestretch is a game about horseracing. Each players start with some money, and the goal is to have the most money when the game end. We can get money in two ways : by having share of the winning horse, and by winning our bets. One game consists of four races, and last around 50 minutes.
I try making this part as clear and as brief as possible
1. We begin the game with drafting for horse share cards (before any race begin)
There are 11 horses in the game, and race is played by rolling two d6 dice. The dice roll tells which horse will move forwards. This means several horses would move and winning the race more often than the rest. Those are called favourite horses.
There are 33 horse share cards (3 for each horses) with different prices. Favourite horse share cards are more expensive than non-favourite ones, of course. We simply use card drafting mechanic to select which horse shares we want, then pay for them (we all start with $50k). Players' money are recorded in the money track around the board.
2. We play the first race, starting with placing our bets
We will play four races, each race / track is symbolized by a track card.
Top part of the track card tells which horse(s) are favored (ie. have advantage) on that track. Each players would place their bets with that info as their consideration, as those horses are more likely to win. Put the handicap tokens in the corresponding horse following the track card.
Each players are given 6 chips, 5 for betting (numbered 1,1,2,2,3) and 1 for color reminder (horse icon). To bet, players place all their 5 chips on the spots in the middle of the board.
The number 2 through 12 correspond with the horse numbers. Win means 1st place, Place means 2nd place, and Show means 3rd place. The numbers on the table means the payout multiplier. You can see that the numbers in the middle are small numbers, as those horses are more likely to win.
The number 1-3 in the chip means how much we'll gain if we win our bet (note : it actually tells how much you're betting, but it doesn't matter since you are not allowed to not betting). Starting with the player currently having the most money, they place all 5 chips on the spots in the board. Players are allowed to put as much chips in a spot equals to their position in money track (1st place in money track may only put 1 chip/spot, so they have to bet in 5 spots. 2nd place may put 2 chips/spot, 3rd place may put 3 chips/spot, and so on). One spot may contain the bets from different players.
3. The first race start. Do your GANGNAM (or whatever) STYLE here
Starting with the player with fewest money, and going clockwise order, players would take turn rolling the two d6 dice.
After first rolling the dice during his turn, a player may choose between :
a) move the horse with that number two spaces forwards, or
b) move that horse one spaces forwards and re-roll the dice. whatever number is rolled, that horse move two spaces forwards.
Handicap tokens affects the first move of a horse, after that the token is discarded to their pile. The token can be +2 / +4 / +6 space forwards, or cancel the movement of the horse (X mark).
There are 10 spaces in the board, so to win a horse must move 10 space forwards. The race end when three horses cross the finish line. Then we count our payout.
Note that if a player rolls the number of already finished horse, he moves one horse on the last place instead, depending on the difference of two dice roll number.
4. The payout
As I said above, we can get money in two ways : by having share of the winning horse, and by winning our bets.
First we distribute the purse prize. Look at the bottom of track card.
That number is distributed to the share owner of the winning horses
If only one player has share of the horse, he receive the full amount. (it doesn't matter how many cards he has)
If two players each have one share of the horse, they both receive half the amount. and so on
Next, we distribute the winning bet. The winning horses will only pay out the bets in their rows and below. So 2nd place horse will only pay out the bets in second and third row only. Remove all non-winning bets before payout to make counting easier.
To count the payouts, simply multiply the number on the betting chips and the number at the spot on the board.
5. Play the remaining three races, just like the first race. Note that between the first and second race only, players have chance to buy more share cards, but I'm not going into the detail here.
REVIEW MY COMMENTS
This is a great party game : simple and fun, easy to learn and teach. I have a great time playing it. I'm not really a fan of betting luck, though. Base rating from gaming experience : 8.5
These are some shots to justify that high number. I feel like watching horse race when playing this game
The starting idea is horseracing, and it use a fitting mechanic with two d6 dice to create the concept of Favourite / Field / Longshot horse. The two choice given to a player during his turn is great too, it makes me feel like I'm really cheering for certain horse to win. Truthfully I think this is the gem of the game. The concept of handicap in this game is also great. Lastly, the rule to move horse in last place when rolling already finished horse is also great.
The two ways to gain money is good, the game is too simple if we only place our bet. The concept of horse share gives the befitting complexity to the game. The choice of card drafting mechanic is okay, it's fast and quite simple. The option to buy more share is also okay. Personally I think players should be able to sell / trade their shares, I think it would make good variant.
The betting rule is okay. People may wonder why there's no penalty for losing bet, but actually there's no logic flaw at all. Well, people who doesn't want to bet shouldn't be playing this game at all in the first place.
For great integration between idea and mechanic, and because I like design without flaws I add +0.5 to my rating.
Ah, finally I can talk about some negatives. And I'm doing it wholeheartedly
First off, the box. I don't like having someone face in the box cover. Especially male face. And looks similar to photo. It is oversized, and this is because the board itself is oversized. It should only sized as big as the rulebook. The box insert is neat, which is good thing, but there are so many empty space inside the board. Actually, if I don't use the box insert then I can easily store another game in the box. But the problem is the box is not sturdy, the material is too thin. I don't like having damaged box, so this one would need extra care. (box : -0.15)
Next, the board. Good thickness and material. The layout is good, easy to use. But oversized, and the artwork is not good either. (board : -0.06)
Chips. Player tokens are good, both in size and thickness. The colors are distinguishable (I'm partially colorblind, so this is a plus for me). The handicap tokens, on the other hand, is not good : it doesn't fit the lanes. It's rather hard to put all X tokens in 6,7,8 horse lane. I understand that the size can't be too small, so it should be shaped rectangular instead (chips : ±0.00)
Plastic bits : cubes, and dice. These are good, especially the cubes. I appreciate the game not using normal wooden cube instead (plastic bits : +0.03)
Horse minis. These are good. The usage of horse minis really add the feel to the game. I think it needs some paint though, number 6 and 9 is often misidentified (minis : +0.06)
Cards. The quality is good. The artwork and layout is okay, on both type of cards. Surprisingly, I don't have problem with the artwork on the horse share cards (cards : ±0.00)
Rulebook. Is okay, I don't have any problem with it, which is a good thing (rulebook : +.0.03)
Final rating : 8.9
DISCLAIMER : despite the title, I'm not a fan of GANGNAM STYLE. I haven't even watched the original video on Youtube yet. I'm not lying. Hahaha