Motorcyclists are kind of tunnel-visioned in that when they’re not riding the like to look at bikes, read about bikes, talk about bikes–whatever. Especially during the winter, when you can’t ride or at least are limited in how much you can ride.
Well, here’s a new option to at least git yer motor runnin’ vicariously when you can’t do it for real. American Throttle is a board game that is part trivia game, part poker run, part drinking game, and all about cruising the country on two wheels.
When I first heard about this game I asked for a copy so we could play it and see what it’s like, and I could then write this review. The creators, Steve Schader and David Veal, obliged and I was finally able to get a few of the guys together Friday night to give it a whirl. I’ll sum up the experience in two points. First off, we’d say the game could stand some fine-tuning. Second, we had a really good time.
The game is played across a board with the 48 states on it, starting off in Seattle, ending in Hollister, CA, with stops at Sturgis, Laconia, Daytona, Four Corners, and Laughlin along the way. For playing pieces you have your choice of bikes: cruisers, sportbikes, a cafe racer, some customs, and some vintage bikes. At the beginning, end, and the five intermediate stops you take a playing card and that forms your poker hand for a best five of seven hand. The player with the best hand wins half the pot. The other half of the pot goes to the player who reaches the end first.
Oh yeah, so there’s a pot, at least if you want to play that way. For our first game nobody was particularly interested in putting up cash until they had a chance to see what this was all about. We had fun in the first game and didn’t see that adding money to the equation would make much difference in that, so we didn’t have a pot in the second game either. But if you like having that added bit of incentive, go for it.
As with many board games, as you move along there are spaces you can land on that reward or penalize you, sometimes depending on your ability to do things such as “Belch a name and go to Daytona. If you can’t, stay here.” Several spaces just tell you to “Take a swig of your drink.” Also along the way there are numerous spaces marked either “Two Wheeler Trivia” or “What the Hell Is That?” Answer the question correctly and you move ahead a designated number of spaces. Fail to do so and sit there.
Both sets of cards are at least minimally related to motorcycles and riding, though in some cases the stretch is greater than others. Photos in the What the Hell Is That? deck show motorcycle parts for you to identify, monuments and other sights you might become familiar with if you’re out on an extended ride, road signs to identify, etc. The Two Wheeler Trivia cards have questions relating to movies and songs that feature motorcycles, specific bikes or manufacturers, places you might visit while touring the U.S., and others. Sometimes the answers are quite easy, but there were quite a few times when we all looked at the cards and asked, “What the hell is that?”
Our issues with the game had largely to do with insufficient explanation in the instructions for play. We wondered, for instance, whether we needed to roll the exact number on the die to get into a rally. Otherwise, you might be two spaces away, roll a five, and then, do you just ignore the other three spaces? We did. Also, there are side trips along the way and we weren’t sure if we needed to take all of them or only go there if you get sent there. We did take all the side trips but later concluded that that was in error.
If you like board games, you might consider American Throttle. It definitely helps to be acquainted with motorcycles, although some of the cards can be answered by just about anyone, while some others are tough even for those of us who ride. If you’re interested, the game is available at the American Throttle website or at a variety of retailers, a list of which can be found on the site. Call your rider buddies and forget about that snow outside.