Updated: Sep 12, 2019
The smell of grease is in the smoke ladened air and the roar of the crowd rises above the screech of the tires on the blacktop. Vektorace is a game for 2-4 players which uses movement templates to create a fast paced racing game without a board to limit your play. Create any track you want, race as one of 8 different racers, grab your upgrades, pick your gear and go.
Vektorace comes in an octagon shaped box and has components for 4 players, although the designers say it will play with up to 8 if you share tenplates. Inside you’ll find:
20 Movement templates
8 Paper Cars
Tyre, Nitro, Lap and Position Tokens
Before I begin I should mention that the game was originally published in Italy and has been distributed in the UK by Gen42 who kindly provided this review copy. The game ships with english rules but they are not always as clear as I would have liked.
The components themselves are really thick and have a good solid weight to them. The art is functional and clean and the graphic design is simple and functional. Of course, the best (and worst) part of the game is the cars.
The cars (designed by Papecarz) look fantastic on the table, the downside is you have to build them yourself. The rulebook describes this as “easy and fun” but I suspect for many it will be frustrating and time consuming. For me, an experienced modeller, it took over an hour to assemble all eight cars and I needed to use a craft knife and glue. I do love the look of the cars on the table and how they can slide behind one another without bumping but I also think it is important to point out you will need to spend some time assembling them before your first game.
How To Play
Players can assemble the track however they please by placing the corners, pit lane and startline anywhere on the table. I myself have build all different tracks including a fig 8 with long bends and fast straights. Once you have built your track each player takes their 3rd gear template, chooses a mix of eight tokens (Nitro or Tyres) and the game is ready to begin.
Each round the players activate in race order, 1st through to 4th. As players overtake the order will change for the next round. To activate a player places their template either in front or one notch to the left or right of their car. They can then move to any of the 5 end positions on the template and rotate their car through 45° according to the arrows shown there.
To use a black arrow on the template you must also spend a tyre token, usually these manoeuvres are tighter turns. The player must be able to place both the template and the car completely without nudging other cars or the corners of the map.
Once a player has moved their car they must then choose, without measuring whether to drop down a gear, shift up or remain as they are. They can spend tyres or nitros to shift up or down additional gears.
And that’s it really. There are a few additional rules, such as being able to boost, draft, slingshot and shunt opponents. If a player goes off the table or cannot place their car they must perform a restart from first gear. Play continue this way until the players have completed a certain number of the laps and the first car to cross the line is the winner.
I’m going to kick things off by say I like the game. The concept of using templates for movement isn’t new, games like X-Wing and Lazer Ryders have been over this territory before but the octagon system allows cars to drift more organically around corners or slow down for more controlled precision moves. The system is simple and once you have the handful of rules down the game moves along at a good clip, which is vital for a racing game.
The freeform nature of Vektorace allows you to build virtually any track you want, however it is going to take up a large amount of table space. In our four player games on a standard dining room table we found the “track” to be a little cramped, meaning that 2nd, 3rd and 4th had a hard time catching up to 1st who coasted to an easy victory. With two players I find that there is a lot more back and forth as places are traded and you can almost always place your template. The templates themselves are very wide which can make placing them without overlapping other cars or corners tricky on a smaller table.
The english rules in Vektorace could be clearer, there is some fuzziness such as how attacking works which should be simple but the rules come across as overly complicated which makes them tricky to explain. As an example to shunt another car you must be within one hexagon of the rear side of the car in front, you must be in second gear or higher and travelling in the same direction. That’s a lot of caveats and it is different to drafting where you must be directly behind and have not used tyre points and explaining the two attack types takes up a whole two pages.
Despite this, one of the things I wish Vektorace had more of is special moves. The game is very much based on stock car racing with only nitro boosts venturing towards the more zany end of the racing game spectrum. I’d love to see if a mario-kart-esque version of this game were possible with power ups or special moves or stats that individualised the cars.
That is not to take away from what Vektorace is, which is a fast paced, luckless simulation of a stock car race. The turns are simple, place template, move car, decide if you want to change gear, repeat. The tracks are infinite. Each game allows you to change your loadout, for tight twisty tracks you can stock up on tyre points, for long straights you want nitros. I also know that Gen42 Games has big plans for this title as they have expressed a desire to get a championship running at the UK Games Expo and I’d love to see how this game functions in the tournament scene.
Vektorace was designed as a game to teach the concept of vectors, it doesn’t rely on luck, there’s no dice rolls, no card play, no random events, the only variables are the other players and you always know what gear the players immediately ahead of you have chosen so you can always make an informed choice on your turn. The best player will win, the one who can calculate how quickly to approach a corner, determine when to use tyres to turn tighter or nitros to cover ground more quickly.
I have run the game at all player counts and for me I prefer it at two. The track is less crowded and it really pits you head to head against your opponent. With three and four I feel whoever has poll position has an easier time as they don’t have to contend with cars in front, giving them the freedom to place their movement template unobstructed.
Vektorace is definitely going to appeal to a certain kind of gamer. The mathematical nature of the movement and the fact that the person who can best calculate their vectors will win means that the game isn’t just a knock-about romp but can instead be a serious racing game where each decision matters.
However, it is also quick to set up, quick to play, it has fast turns to really emulate the speed of a race. It has variable set up, different tracks, different loadouts, lots of options to choose from. Which means you can just open the box throw it down on the table and be having fun with only a handful of rules to explain.
For me, the game falls into the fast fun category. I’ve enjoyed each play but I also throw my car into corners far too quickly and skid and slide about as I attempt to regain control however, at least for me, that’s where the joy is. You’ll probably win but I’m having a good time coming in second and sideways.
Disclaimer: A review copy of this game was provided by Gen42 Games