By Rick Teverbaugh
The Herald Bulletin
— There is nothing typical about Hot Rod Creeps, the new customizable racing game from Cryptozoic Entertainment and designer Matt Hyra.
Back many years ago when I had a group of friends who played Formula De, there were always a few who wanted to be able to mess with their opponents cars, whether it was to put down oil slicks or shoot weapons at them. Formula De had no such mechanic, but Hot Rod Creeps does.
In this game each player selects one of the six teams; Epic Battle Wizards, Monsters, The Underworld, Food Fighters, Aliens and Rockabilly. Each of those teams has their own deck of movement cards, which makes each team feel and play a bit differently from one another.
But the distinct feel doesn’t end there. There are cards available on the table to customize each hot rod as the race progresses. These upgrades come in the form of weapons, engines, wheels and pit crews.
Yet more options are available including a push-your-luck choice called the Nitro Deck, which can give the car a big boost or land it in big trouble.
Each team deck serves as a fuel gauge as well. When the movement deck runs out, a pit stop will be necessary to continue. When a car suffers damage, cards are discarded from the deck. Several track pieces have pit stops marked.
Hot Rod Creeps is a blast to play. Very few games combine simplicity, variety and fun in one package to the extent this game does.
Much of the game’s fun starts before the first card is drawn and the first car moves away from the starting grid. Designing the layout is entertaining and will greatly control the length of the game as well as the strategy needed to safely navigate your way through. Cryptozoic has done a stellar job of providing enough track pieces to make the building process a creative bonanza. There are over 50 track pieces along with several markers and accessories to make the layout as challenging or easy as desired.
For instance, there is a Ring of Fire that can be set up as well as a Shark Tank. Both will inflict damage on a player’s car if not traversed properly.
I prefer a linear layout with the start at one end and the finish at the other rather than creating a complete oval or circle and making lap counts. But either option is possible.
The rulebook indicates that a looping track of 12 tiles will take about 3 minutes per player per lap so a four-player game with 3 laps would take roughly 40 minutes. A long track of about 40 tiles with the same four players would be about an hour. Trust me, the time will fly by in either configuration.
It doesn’t take too long into a game to know that there’s never been anything like this racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Daytona International or Monza. The artwork and the feel of the game is more accurately a homage to the old time hot rods that used to cruise the streets half a decade ago.
A weapon example is The Evil Eye, which moves your car forward and another car backward. An engine upgrade could be the Bloodburner V8, which boosts your move when you are getting low on petrol. There are Gator Grippers as a wheel upgrade as well as a Kraken that can join your pit crew.
There just isn’t anything about this game that detracts from the fun. All of the components are well designed and the rules are obviously well tested.
I am fervently hoping that this game is popular as I would love to see more racing teams and more track pieces and accessories available in the future.
Find out even more about the game here: http://www.cryptozoic.com/games/hot-rod-creeps
The retail price is $45, which is really reasonable considering the components and the replay value.