A Kickstarter Race to the Finish for Evil Hat’s Race to Adventure!

Geek Culture Kickstarter

Image: Evil Hat Productions

Evil Hat Productions has made a small but growing name for themselves in the gaming world by producing excellent RPGs tightly integrated with published stories, of both traditional and graphic novel sorts. One of their most popular lines is the Spirit of the Century, which takes places in a pulp-novel world of fantastical adventures across the globe to fight mysterious monsters, dodge traps, and of course bring back amazing treasures. They’ve had a lot of success using Kickstarter to get their projects off the ground, and their latest — set in the Spirit of the Century world, but a board game instead of an RPG — is doing quite well, too.

I first had the opportunity to play Race to Adventure! at PAX East, back in April, and right away saw that it was fun and well-balanced — it had to be the latter, since I was playing against two of the game’s designers, and I beat them. (Yes, I’m sure they didn’t let me win: my margin of victory was so slight there’s no way it could’ve been planned that way.) It’s a fulfill-the-missions kind of game, with indirect but very important player interaction, and with a very pulp feel to it.

In Race to Adventure!, you play one of five members of the Century Club, who must travel from your base in the Empire State Building to nine locations across the globe (a randomly-built grid of nine locations), fulfill certain requirements, and obtain passport stamps from each. The first player to get all nine stamps and make it back to the Century Club is the winner. Some of the locations are exotic, like Atlantis, Antarctica, or Egypt; some are relatively mundane, like the United States and Great Britain — although the Location Guide that comes with the game describes the stories that are actually meant to be taking place in each location in detail, which makes even the U.S. mission sound interesting. You will collect clues along the way that will help you with some missions, and find that some missions are considerably harder than others: for the U.S., you need only show up to get the passport stamp, but for Atlantis you must first free a prisoner and then get him safely back to the Century Club in three turns or less. And the Egypt mission hits you with a curse that then must be removed.

The player interaction is limited to which of the various special items you choose for each round — the items are the Biplane, the Jet Pack, the Magnifying Glass, the Map, the Zeppelin, and the Lightning Gun. Each item has its own special uses, and each may be selected by only one player per round — for this reason, the first player rotates each round. The Biplane offers another level of interaction in that, uniquely among the items, if one person takes it, anyone else can use it, too, only they can’t go as far. Selection of items is paramount throughout the game, and becomes doubly so as the race nears its end — you may find yourself taking items sometimes merely to prevent another player from picking them, but then you risk damaging your own ability to win.

Image: Evil Hat Productions

The game is a lot of fun, and can get very competitive as everyone gets closer to nine stamps. The only problem I have with the game is that the only element of luck lies in how the locations are laid out. While the demo I’ve played has two-sided locations, with a “shadow” game on the reverse that changes the missions and adds the wrinkle of barriers between some locations that can only be crossed in certain ways, that still doesn’t add as much variety to the game as I’d like. I’m a huge fan of mission-completion games, but most of the best of the type (like the Ticket to Ride series, for example) employ enough luck that most every game seems fresh; Race to Adventure! lacks that element, leading me to wonder how many games it might take for it to start seeming repetitive. The Kickstarter campaign promises more variety of locations, so that should help a lot. It’s a pretty straightforward game to play, so I think the box’s recommendation of the game for kids 8+ is probably about right, though quite a few slightly younger kids could probably handle it, too.

Evil Hat has already reached its goal of $40,000, but they’ve got some good stretch goals, they’ve only got a little more than a day left, and they’ve just passed $45,000 as of this writing. I should note, for fans of Evil Hat’s Dinocalypse trilogy, that they’re already promising some Dinocalypse-related extras.

So what are you waiting for? Just $40 gets you the game and some nice extras. You don’t have much time left — go now!

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