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ASS, £29.95

3-6 players

designed by

reviewed by

I had the advantage of a session with Ausgebremst designer Wolfgang Riedesser to sort out the various nuances of this Ave Caesar variant based on Grand Prix racing. Although movement is still dictated by cards, there are subtle variations to the original game. Those not familiar with Ave Caesar should note that the chariots therein are propelled by means of a choice of one of three cards drawn from a players' deck. The fixed course is anything from one to four spaces wide, with the narrower sections proving particularly difficult to navigate. This basic system is retained for Ausgebremst, but with the following adjustments:

Having determined which track to utilise (the three game boards included can construct eight different circuits), and having given each player his individual deck of movement cards, players choose a particular style of driving to suit the course. This is done by removing certain cards from the basic deck, leaving you with a set which is rated ``fast'', ``slow'' or ``average''. The total number of movement factors that you are left with is the same in each case, but the mix will be different. For example, if you select a track with little room for man\oeuvre, it may be better to select a deck with fewer ``sixes'' and more ``ones'' and ``twos''. Each player then deals his cards into four decks -- your choice, but 1's, 2's and 3's, 4's and 5's and 6's seemed favourite. The race is run over three laps, with an optional pit stop, where cards relinquished during the grid set-up may be replaced.

During each turn, a player plays one of the two cards in his hand, which is then replenished from any of the four piles at your disposal. Although luck plays a part, it is less so than Ave Caesar, particularly if your initial distribution was accurate. Although this is very much a ``blocking'' game, players can usually move, and are not penalised for failing to do so. There is also a facility for including a full field of six cars when between 2-5 are competing, wherebye the spare car(s) can compete by simply shuffling their specific deck (without removing a set of dot cards) and playing them one at a time. Apart from being a bloody nuisance, they can also win -- highly embarrassing. One crucial rule common to both games is the ban on playing a ``6'' movement card when in the lead. I can't remember any race in which there has been a run-away winner, so the maths have obviously been well-planned.

As is usual with ASS, the components are first rate, although the cartoon-styled cardboard race cars did not meet with whole-hearted approval. Nonetheless, as Ausgebremst is aimed at the family market (and includes basic rules), it is understandable that the graphics should be accessible. Along with Mush and Die Oster Insel, this was my favourite game at Essen.

Mike Clifford

next up previous
Next: MUSH Up: Sumo 20 index Previous: DIE OSTER INSEL
Stuart Dagger