Shuffle Grand Prix by Bicycle
Players: 2 to 4
Playtime: 30 minutes
Perfect for: Small groups who enjoy card-based racing games fueled by direct competition and fantastical themes.
Shuffle Grand Prix is a game of going the distance! Players assume control of a two-character team each with their own special abilities. Using these talents, the teams try to out-race the competition by traversing the furthest, even if that means a little light sabotage along the way.
To begin Shuffle Grand Prix, 2 to 4 players choose the two of the eight unique drivers and their corresponding decks of cards. These two decks are then shuffled together and a hand of three cards from the new pile represents the actions a player can take or in response to events. On a player’s turn, they draw from the facedown distance card deck which contains values of 25, 50, 75, and 100, representing how far their car zoomed ahead. This card is then placed on the table as a personal growing number line which gives some visual sense of who is in the lead. Individuals may then play an ability card from their hand such as a trap that might hinder other players, or something to boost their own score. That player then replenishes their hand up to three cards, and the turn passes to the next player. Once all distance cards have been revealed, the player who went the furthest is declared the winner.
What works in Shuffle Grand Prix is the cleverness of the style, and the highly engaging and fast gameplay. Each driver has a unique special power that they can unleash if they are currently in control of the car. Thematically, these drivers are quite fun and include choices like The Spy, The Wizard, The Scientist, etc. Players also have “health” meaning that they can (and should) be attacked to slow down their progress and force a swap of drivers. This means individuals must be cunning with their strategy, blending offense and defense constantly during the race. Shuffle Grand Prix isn’t really about going the fastest—it’s about making sure your opponents don’t outpace you.
Players who don’t enjoy heavy aggressive competition may not enjoy Shuffle Grand Prix as much as others. The core mechanic is designed for consistent (and often relentless) head-on attacks between the drivers, and some may not enjoy the direct conflict. Also (and this is an incredibly minor quibble), while the system of putting out overlaying distancing cards is novel, it: a) is somewhat unnecessary and b) takes up a surprising amount of room on the table. Shuffle Grand Prix is almost a great on-the-go game, but its table footprint feels larger than it should.
Shuffle Grand Prix is light on strategy, but big on competition. The mechanic is simple to pick up and the variety of characters and abilities give the box high replay value. The only hindrance is that some groups might not want an experience so focused on what is essentially combat in cars. That said, Shuffle Grand Prix is fast, fun, and likely to provide an overall good time and laughs.
Recommended if you like: Unmatched, War Chest, Boss Monster
Final Grade: A
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