Published on July 22nd, 2015 | by Nicole Jekich1
Open Road of the Southwest
Our Review of Roadkill Rivals Now on Kickstarter
The miles of road in the Southwest is a dry and barren place. The critters are vicious; the people drive monster vehicles and the entertainment options are few. Using your beefy vehicles, players will create piles of roadkill and each player is looking to win by gaining the biggest stack by the end of the game. Watch out possums, rattlesnakes, coyotes and armadillos – no one is safe!
*The images in this article feature prototype materials and design. The final product is subject to change depending on the Kickstarter campaign.
Little Balance of Power
2-6 players compete in this fast, ‘take that!’ style card game. Roadkill Rivals is a perfect filler game and features simple strategy that is great for kids. Players shuffle all of the cards into one deck and then put out four cards to be the starting community line up and then deal three cards to each player. Unlike many card games, a player’s hand in Roadkill Rivals is face up in front of them. Every player can always see their opponents hands and can better predict their next moves and thwart their plans.
Players take turns in clockwise order by first drawing a card from the community pile and adding it to their hand. Next the player can choose to create roadkill by using a vehicle and animal card where the sum of the vehicle is equal to or less than the total size of the animal. Players can use any combination of cards from their hand to create roadkill, but players are limited to having a hand worth 3 keys or less as indicated in the bottom right of each card.
Players can acquire special cards throughout the game that can help boost their strategy or ruin their opponent’s well-laid plans. The sabotage and windfalls are very powerful and not well balanced. Some cards allow players to take two additional turns, discard a player’s entire hand or skip the next player’s turn. There are also cars like the RV and Big Rig which can run over other players’ vehicles, sending them to the discard pile and that attacking player can keep their large vehicle/animal card even after the encounter.
No Country for Cute Critters
Roadkill Rivals has professional art studio, Jolby & Friends, creating the devilish creatures and outlaw country art of the game. The artists are keeping the rugged Southwest motifs in mind and drew the animals to look even more villainous by giving them eye patches, razor sharp teeth and sharpened bone weapons. If you had reservations about running over animals, the vicious smile of the possum card will change your mind. I mean, just look at that mean possum:
While the game claims to have a lot of replayability, I find the gameplay too simple and repetitive, which is why again I feel this game is made more for kids. There is a limited range of cards (vehicles number 2-6; animals number 1-5) to keep the game balanced and allows players to more easily complete roadkill assignments quickly. Using Roadkill Rivals as a game to teach kids about greater than and less than math principals would be great. Using it as a challenging game between adults gamers- not so much.
Harsh Elements of the Outlaw Country
Roadkill Rivals reminds me of all the good and bad parts of Uno. I do enjoy the fast-paced, free-for-all filler game; however, I really dislike losing turns in a game. I don’t like the idea that other players can have such a direct effect on my total time actually playing the game. Roadkill Rivals features a lot of turn altering cards that appear because of the luck of the draw and can result in a combo-clustered turn. In our 2 player game, Luke was able to combo ‘take extra turn’ cards until he had a total of 8 turns before I could go again – this combo was devastating and was difficult to keep track of. I say let players sabotage each other without the ability to prevent a player from participating- otherwise the experience of waiting for other people to play a game is like being stuck in the middle of a game of keep away.
We also demonstrated that using the RV, Big Rig, Coyote and Rattlesnake cards to destroy an opponent’s card is a major setback for the targeted player and the extra cost to keep the bigger vehicles/animals in your hand isn’t much of a deterrent. There is also little I could do to rid my opponent of their bigger vehicle except wait for a random Roadside card to come up and hope I had the opportunity to grab it before the opponent.
I would recommend changing the Roadside cards to be events that appear randomly and affect the entire group of players (a Tornado could wipe the whole board) and/or perhaps specifically target the player with the highest costed animal or vehicle. I think that would help balance out the stronger cards in the game and actually allow other players to rebound from previous sabotages.
Roadkill Rivals is currently on Kickstarter through August 19th and a base game is $20. To learn more about the game designer, visit their official Roadkill Rivals website. To learn more about the artists, visit Jolby & Friends.