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TGN Preview: Street Kings

TGN Preview: Street Kings

I pulled my car up to the line. The engine roared in my ears as I revved it, tipping my hat to the power under the hood. I saw the other racers’ knuckles whiten. This is it. After all the small time street races and car shows, I was finally one race away from being crowned king of these streets. I hope the track is in my favor and my rivals don’t have anything up their sleeves. The flag drops, I hit the gas. The race is close, but my car is built for speed and has great handling. As I crossed the finish line, I jumped up from my chair at the table, champion of Street Kings.

Race King

Currently on Kickstarter, Street Kings is a worker placement game from the Board to Death Team. The team recently released the print and play version of the game, so I gave it a shot over the weekend and found myself really enjoying the time I spent with it. Initially, when I saw it described as a worker placement game, I thought, “That doesn’t sound very exciting for a game about street racing.” Why would I want my workers placed, when I really want them flying down the street in suped-up rides. I was pleasantly surprised.

In Street Kings, 2-4 players strive to become the king of the streets by earning seven gold trophies. Each person starts off with two class D cars, building their way up to class A cars by the end. Each car can be equipped with upgrades and crew members to better tackle the races ahead. Before a race begins, the first player for the turn decides what class of cars will be allowed in the race, and then players go around taking one of five actions until everyone has passed. The choices include: send a car to the car show, visit the dealership to buy or sell a car, buy or sell upgrades at the shop, play a card on to the track, and qualify for the race. Once all actions are concluded, the racing begins, and the fastest racers come out on top.

Money is King

To be the best, you’ll need to raise some cash for new cars and upgrades. Sending one of your rides to the car show is a great way to do just that, but that car can’t be used in the upcoming race. The car show only has three open spots in a four player game or two in a three player game, so you’ll need to act fast if you want that show money. Every car and upgrade has a “beauty value.” This is the amount of credit you’ll immediately receive after sending the car to the show. If you have the car to spare, it’s a good way to go, giving you funds for upgrades or new cars.

Everyone starts with class D cars, so you’ll want to upgrade to class C as soon as possible to get that extra edge. Initially, only class C is available, but as soon as someone buys a class C car, the class above is revealed and so on to class A. You’ll want to have at least one car of each class. If someone picks a race class two or more higher than one of your cars, you won’t be able to take part. If you are sitting on a car you’re not using, you can also sell it to the dealership, pushing you closer to the next new ride.

Every car has four icons: Top Speed, Acceleration, Handling, and Breaking. If there is a star next to one of those icons, it excels in that area. To further enhance those base skills, you’ll want to mod your cars with upgrades. Upgrades have those same icons and supplement the car’s natural abilities. On any given round, only three upgrades are available for purchase from the shop. So you can’t hesitate if you see something you want. Crew members also show up at the shop and function similarly to upgrades, but are placed on the sidelines until a race begins.

Hit the Road

The car and upgrade icons also appear on the track cards, which every player has three of in hand. This gives players agency over how the race will turn out. There are two open track spots where players can play a track card if they choose to take that action. The card is placed face down, only to be revealed when the race begins. This allows a player to know what’s coming up and plan the car they bring to the race accordingly.

When a car icon matches a track icon, the car pawn moves the number of spaces indicated by the stars next to the icon on a car and any upgrades it may have. For example, a car that is good at breaking has breaking upgrades, giving it three stars. If the break icon appears on the track, that car can move three spaces.

In my stable, I specialized my cars in certain areas, like handling and acceleration. Other people chose a more well-rounded approach. Both seemed like valid strategies. In my case, I wanted as much control of the tracks as possible, so I always took the chance to put down a track card. It paid off, but barely.

To take part in the race, you’ll want to qualify. Qualifying determines when you get to activate your car during the race. If you qualify first, you’ll put your car pawn on the “1.” (We used wooden meeples for the print and play copy.) Once everyone is ready, the first track card is revealed. Cars activate from 1 to 4 based on the first of two icons on the card. After everyone moves, resolve the second icon. Do the same for the second track card and continue between the cards until everyone crosses the finish line.

Several times I thought I had the race in the bag, but my qualifying position cost me a win because the other cars had that extra edge before me. A lot of strategy goes in to choosing the right car, track, and position. Slip up a little on any one, and it’ll cost you the gold.

Crossing the Finish Line

As I mentioned earlier, Street Kings is currently on Kickstarter and has under two weeks left. For the preview, we used a print and play version of the game, with our own wood cubes and meeples. The final version will have different cubes and wooden cars. Over at the project page you can take a look at the rules and print your own to try it out. If you’re a fan of worker placement games with very little downtime and movies like Fast and Furious, this project is right for you. Board to Death is hoping to have the Street Kings out by the end of the year. Once the game releases, we’ll take a look at the final version and give it a proper review.