Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Heinz Meister


No. of Players:
3 - 5



In previous years the games from ZOCH have made a name for themself by their unusual playing mechanisms and their outstanding components, and this year once again a game from ZOCH has come with some rather nice playing pieces. The racing game Avanti actually features no every-day racing cars, but instead some of the most popular leisure cars of all time are competing in a series of races, with their owners trying to win the money necessary to purchase their very own remote island retreat. So, the players can chose between nicely shaped miniatures of the Volkswagens Beetle and Bully, the 2CV from Citroen, a Minicooper and a Fiat 500. Equipped wither their car registrations and a starting purse with a bit of money, the players place their cars on the circular racetrack which is depicted on the gameboard, and each player is dealt a hand of three random Power-cards which may be used during the course of the upcoming race.

[IMAGE]For the first race all player cars are placed starting space, and this space also will be the finish line which the players aim to be the first to cross. To determine the movement of his car, each player then choses one of his Power-cards and places it face-down next to the gameboard. These power cards have a triangular shape, and in each corner a different movement speed between one and seven spaces is indicated. However, to indicate which speed is used, the players have to point one of the card's corners directly at the gameboard, and only this speed will be applied when it comes to the movement of a player's car.

The game proceeds clockwise from player to player, and the active player first reveals his chosen Power-card and then moves his car for the indicated number of spaces. However, if the finishing space of the movement already contains a competitor's car, the active player is lucky and may move his car again for the same amount of spaces. This kind of prolongation actually may happen more than once, and so a lucky choice of a matching movement card may give a player who has fallen behind a chance to regain rapidly on the race's leader or even take the leading position!

After all players have made their movements, the leading player will receive a payment from all other participants in the race. So, each player has to pay the current leader an amount of money equal to the sum which is printed next to the space they currently occupy, and later in the round the players may use the money to purchase steps on a Remote Island Purchase Track which will bring them closer towards the goal of winning the game. If a player does not have enough money to make the payment to the leader, he has to move his pawn on the Remote Island Purchase Track backwards until he gets enough money from the bank to pay the leader. However, making such a backwards move is costly, since the bank only will hand the player an amount of money which equals half of the value of the original move on the Remote Island Track.

[IMAGE]A bit tricky in the context of movement is the use of a Power card with a high speed value, since a player is only entitled to draw a new card after movement if the speed value of the movement did not exceed a speed of three. If a higher value is used, the immediate effect will be that the car moves faster, but on the longer run the player will feel more restricted because his used Power card will not be replaced. All players who run out of Power cards during the race or who want to leave the race for tactical reasons win the questionable title of being quitter(s) of the week, and while they cannot win the race anymore, they are still allowed to collect money from the other players as long as they are still in the leader's position. Once the leadership has changed over to another player, the leader still will receive payments from the quitters, and so it may be wise to quit the race on a low-value space.

The race ends after the turn in which the first players have crossed the finishing line, and then the winner and the runner-up will be allowed to make free movements with their pawns on the Remote Island Purchase Track. After these movements were made, each player is allowed to collect some cash depending on the number of spaces with ATM-Machines between their car and their respective pursuers, and then all players are allowed to spend some of their money to purchase one or more steps of their pawns on the Remote Island Purchase Track. However, the last part of the track does not bear any pricing numbers, and so - true to the saying "you can't buy happiness" - the last three steps towards the dream island can only be made by reaching good racing results.

If the just ended race has not led to a winner, the Power cards will be shuffled anew and each player receives a fresh hand of three cards. All cars now come together on the space occupied by the hindmost car of the last race, and then a new race may begin!

Although Avanti offers some minor room for tactical considerations, the game is manifestly founded on a high factor of luck. Since all players have to choose their Power-cards at the same time, a successful "frog-jumping" of other cars cannot be really counted on but remains a matter of pure speculation. Nonetheless, in the case such a speculation turns out to be true, there will be a lot of excitement around the table since such a successful movement effectively means that this player will roll up the field from behind. Players with a strong preference for strategy games certainly will not like this effect, but this type of players actually falls out of the target group at which Avanti is aimed. Actually, the game is meant for the opposite species of gamers, which means those who like easy-going, entertainment with good fun but without too much depth. Looking at the whole concept (including the background story), Avanti doesn't take itself too serious, and that's exactly the mood in which such a Beer n' Pretzels game should be played.

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Copyright © 2011 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany