Ever wanted to play Mario Kart the board game? Well, your wait may be over. Wonky Wheels from first time independent designers, and father and son duo, Colin and Nathan Lee is just that. A family friendly race game, with crazy power ups, speed boosters, wild swings in race position, and multiple race tracks. Intrigued? Read on!
Coming to kickstarter soon, Wonky Wheels is a crazy mix between hand management, extreme power ups, and a flat out race. This is an early prototype copy so rules, art, and quality of components are sure to change. This was provided for free for my unbiased early opinion.
Getting Wonky Wheels to the table is a breeze. Everyone must first chose which character they want to be. Distribute the character piece, cards, tokens, and player mat in each colour to all players. Then choose your race set up. You can do whatever you like, or copy one from the manual. Just make sure it joins up and looks fun. As part of this you can also lay out various power tokens, such as the frisbee and flying carpet. Deal out one Super power up card to each player and shuffle the regular power up cards and split them into two face down decks. That's it. You are now ready to race.
How to Play
Players will draw the top three cards from their deck then chose one card. They will play this face down and then when all players are ready, flip the card face up in unison. Cards allow you to move forward, turn, and sometimes add a nitro boost.
The game is a simple race. First round the track three times wins. If two or more players cross the finish line at the same time then it's the player who travelled the further beyond the finish line that takes the victory.
Each time you cross a POW sign you can draw a new power up card. You can play one power up card each turn. You can also player your super power up card whenever you like, but this is a one time use. These cards offer some hilarious and powerful options to help you or hinder others.
If players move through each other, they will cause damage to other players. Using your Nitro's will wear down your tires, and various cards will affect your mechanics and engine too. If they get too low on either of these tracks, you will start losing powers to your steering, power, or nitro. The only way to fix this is by driving through the Pits. One of the corner pieces.
If you travel through the frisbee or flying carpet you can use its powers. The frisbee is another way to enact damage on other players vehicles. The flying carpet will increase your movement, doubling whatever you have leftover at the point that you reached it.
As you play Wonky Wheels, it will very much feel like a Mario Kart port. It has all the chaos, fun, and random power ups of the video game racer, and everything works so well on the table. Some of the power ups are hilarious. I love the art, and how simple they all are to understand and use. There is even a power up card which enacts a side mini-game of rock-paper-scissors. If the attacking player wins it allows them to swap places with the other player. Something very handy if they are significantly in the lead!
The only thing that disappointed at this stage of the development of this game, was that there are currently no asymmetric powers. The characters you can choose from are all incredibly varied in terms of their looks. But identical in terms of the deck of cards you have, and the options available. I would like to see some minor asymmetry at work in the final version, or perhaps as a side module, where each character has its own special power linked somehow to its characteristics. The submarine can take a short cut through a water area perhaps? The foot can stomp nearby players to become mini versions?
I love the Super power up cards. They add a huge twist and swing to the game. Some are a little less powerful that others though, and as they can be so influential in the game, I feel that perhaps you should be dealt two or three, and then can chose one, and discard the others. Some games I have not even used my super power up card as it just did not work out. Other times I felt I won because of it. I think you need more options at set-up with these.
The frisbee and flying carpet tokens are a nice addition to the game. For variety, perhaps a few more tokens could be developed that bring in new affects and powers. There is already quite a lot of variety here with the Super power up cards, various track lays outs, and the random nature of how players interact with each other. But I would like to make the tracks look and feel different each race with these variations in tokens too.
Overall, I was left very excited to see how this game develops. It is great fun right out the box as it is. But can see huge potential with just a few minor amends. There are some great race games out there. But a lot of them take themselves a little too seriously. I like how Wonky Wheels brings a more arcade style sense of fun to the table. Games are quick, incredibly hard to predict, and offer all players the sense of victory at all points with the various power up cards on offer. I will follow the progress of this game very closely.
You can do the same too here - https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/wonkywheels/wonky-wheels
And here - https://icklefamgames.uk/