Review – Showboat from La Mancha Games
Designed by -Noah Levin, Mark Nowacki, Abhishek Radhakrishnan
Many thanks to the folks at La Mancha Games for providing a copy of this game for review purposes.
Artwork -Chan Ying Hol
On the back of a fun experiences playing Ave Caesar, Junkyard Racers and Rallyman, I’ve developed an interest in playing racing games that are simple and fun. Forget the racing simulations. I will leave that to others. I want to play fun/not-so-serious racing games which have good theme but are playable in short amounts of time and good for a laugh. Next up is Showboat from La Mancha Games of Singapore which is a game about boat racing for 2-5 players aged 8+.
Looking at the box, the artwork is fun and not too serious and reading the notes, it seems that the main theme of the game is all about the amount of cheering by the crowds which actually impacts who will win the races as the boat drivers will slow down to “Showboat” their skills for the crowd. Hmmm… interesting…
La Mancha Games has produced a game with pretty good components. The artwork has an anime type look in terms of the people depicted as well as humor and it works nicely. The game is colourful and it just looks great to me. The components include:
– A sturdy game board (with a little board warp unfortunately…) depicting the racing area
– An “elevated” pier to place in the middle of the race area. This is a very nice touch and certainly different from other racing games.
– 5 boat tokens in plastic stands – Serviceable but I would have preferred little plastic boats – again, a minor quibble but this would have added a little more coolness to the game
– 5 speed dials – to regulate the speed of the boats – now this is my main component issue. These are a bit too small and flimsy for my liking, especially considering that you use them continually throughout the game. They should have been larger and sturdier. AND, the numbered dial should have been a bit larger to make it easier to turn. You may want to use a D6 for each boat to track their speed.
– Betting tiles, Checkpoint tokens as well as Cheering Cards which are used to determine which boat gets the most or least cheers, thereby slowing it down.
– Advanced rules provide you with cards that bring player interaction and some strategy
– Mancha Moolah – On thin paper, this is the money players can earn for betting correctly on which boat will place 1st, 2nd or 3rd. Money is also earned by betting on which boat places 1st-3rd.
Very simply, the object of the game is to win the most money through a recommended total of 3 races. Each race starts with placing betting tiles on the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd spaces on the elevated pier as well as beside Checkpoints 1 and 2 to see who crosses these first. These bets are revealed at the end of the race. All 5 boats are used and you must bet on a different boat for each bet you place.
The boats are placed in the starting lanes in any order with starting speeds allocated with the closest to the Pier starting with the slowest speed and the furthest away from the pier starting with the highest speed.
Each race has the following steps
– Players select cheer cards for the boat or boats of their choice and place the card(s) face down. Maximum 2 cards for 2-3 players and 1 card for 4-5 players.
– Cheer cards are turned over simultaneously and current speeds for effected boats are reduced immediately. The advanced cards can be played once each per race which means there can be more opportunities to impact the race directly.
– Boats are moved forward with their new speeds
– Each boat’s speed is increased by 1 to a maximum of 6 (for 3-players, the increase is 2 immediately after the first and second checkpoints are crossed).
During the race, players can earn Cheering bonuses. Each time the first boat crosses one of the Checkpoints or Finish Line, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd positions are immediately determined based on the boats’ current positions and players who are cheering for those particular boats earn extra Mancha Moolah.
The race is over when at least one crosses the finish line. Places are immediately determined, cheering bonuses paid and initial bets are revealed and paid.
This is a pretty simple, light process and randomness and luck plays a strong part as no matter which boats you cheer for, others may impact and possibly negate the boats you want to win.
So this is not a game for those looking for a simulation or for a game of skill and outwitting your competitors. This is really a social game for the right crowd. Having said that, it is definitely a much better game when the advanced cards are played as the players need to give thought to how and when to play them.
Did it work for me?
Showboat is quite a fun game and a great start for La Mancha Games. simple to learn and quite tense as the constant changing speeds keep the boat fairly close and the results are uncertain. The advanced cards make it a much better game than the basic race. The betting aspect is all a bit of a guessing game but then you try and influence things to realize your tile placements. A nice filler without much brain burning. A nice twist on the racing game genre. A few improvements regarding the components and this would be a very good game.
This is a fun game for families. The age range is right. Easy enough to understand. Good idea to start without the advanced rules and get used to the betting and speed changes.
Boardgames in Blighty rating – 6 out of 10
For more information about La Mancha Games go to – http://www.lamanchagames.com/