Quick Look: Death Roads: All Stars
Designer: Jasiek Łuszczki
Artists: Mariusz Szulc
Publisher: The Knights of Unity
Year Published: 2022
No. of Players: 2-4
Playing Time: 45-90 minutes
Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com
From the Publisher:
In a post-apocalyptic world of road carnage, there are a few games already out there. Yet, none of them are like Death Roads: All Stars. The desolate world is left in ruins, and you are a racer who has armed their vehicle to survive the landscape and other drivers. Play your cards to position yourself to unleash devastating attacks to the other vehicles. Utilize your specific character’s abilities to help you avoid being destroyed by your opponents on your way to victory!
Rules & Setup:
I worked off a prototype version of this amazing game. The rules are not logically laid out.
Information that you need to know is further into the booklet. I would recommend a glossary
of all the icons to go along with the one reference card.
The set-up is a bit time consuming for your first game, but subsequent games will move
much faster. I played this twice, once as a two player, and once as a three player.
The second game definitely went smoother.
Theme and Mechanics:
The game’s theme is reminiscent of Gaslands, which is what drew me into this game from the moment I saw it. The post-apocalyptic, Mad Max, feel emanates from the moment you open the box. The mechanics are very simple and straight forward. The game starts with a draft. Every player picks a vehicle, and takes its respective deck of 7 starter cards, the miniature, the vehicle board, initiative token, one of each color damage marker, and a health, handling, & gear token. Then, in reverse order, players chose a driver. Lastly, you draft weapons to arm yourself. Then, you shuffle your 13 cards together and the game works similar to a deck builder. Only now, your deck is built, and you add NO MORE cards to it. So, choose wisely. The cards can be played to move you or attack your opponents. Sometimes, you might even damage yourself in the pursuit of glory. The game board is large and allows for great tactile feel. You get to physically move these amazing miniatures across the board according to the rules and the cards drawn.
The gameplay goes through phases, each player completes the phases, and once everyone has exhausted their handling for the turn, the round is over. To start the first of the possible five rounds (the game can end earlier), you flip the Road Event card in the leftmost position and resolve accordingly. After that, the player with first initiative starts by playing a card and resolving its actions. Then, the next player goes. These actions could boost your vehicle forward, slam on your brakes moving backwards, shift gears, dodge left or right, or attack other opponents’ vehicles as indicated on your weapon card. A lot of the fun of the game comes from trying to position yourself in relationship to the other vehicles so that your weapons can do maximum damage. This really ramps up when you have more than two players.
The game ends when the last Road Event card has been flipped and that round concludes. The vehicle that would be in first initiative is crowned the winner! OR, if you are able to knock out all your opponents and be the last driver on the road, you are crowned the winner! OR, if you are using the final stretch cards, the game could end if you trigger that specific event. These could be kill an opponent and trigger Far Ahead, or collect a trophy of each of the three colors (these are from damaging opponents), among others. These trigger end game immediately.
Artwork and Components:
The artwork by Mariusz Szulc is simply amazing. Each of the seven drivers are unique. The weapon cards and vehicle cards feature amazing weapons and car areas and accessories. The miniatures are going to be legendary. They are well-made, highly-detailed, and larger than you would ever imagine. The board and cards are also of high quality. I know that the Kickstarter is going to have a custom insert, and that will be excellent considering how great these components are, and you wouldn’t want any of them to be damaged. More cars and characters are set to be unlocked during the campaign. I just cannot say enough about how amazing the artwork and components are in Death Roads: All Stars. This is a game that has to be seen and felt to be fully enjoyed. Steam and Tabletopia will not do it justice!
What can I say? The artwork and miniatures are stunning! Absolutely amazing! The replay-ability is through the roof. There are so many combinations of drivers, vehicles, and weapons. The Road Event cards offer a different race each time because only 5 of the 13 are used in each game. Then, you can add the Final Stretch cards, too. I forgot to mention, the board is double-sided! You can wreak havoc in two different landscapes. Also, how can you hate on game that offers multiple paths to victory?
The rules need a lot of work before this game hits the shelves. I hope that their amazing success on Kickstarter allows them to pay someone to go through them and make them work. As I stated earlier, there seems to be a lot missing from them.
What started off to me as being a quicker way to play Gaslands quickly turned into a new obsession for my son and I. Death Roads: All Stars creates a great racing and attack game WITH NO DICE! Not a single D6 in sight! Amazing feat! The miniatures are going to be the next big thing to be painted and posted on Facebook. If you haven’t backed this game already, what are you waiting for!?!?! Back it Now!!!!
Players Who Like:
Mad Max, Gaslands, deck builders, car racing, car-fu, carnage, high replay-ability, amazing miniatures