Some Say He Has No Concept Of A Board Game...
Top Gear was one of my favourite TV shows as a teenager. The combination of the daft stunts, the entertaining challenges and the chemistry of the three hosts made for very appealing content to me. Weirdly, cars didn’t really feel like the main pull for me, but I still enjoyed the show, and my maths-y brain took in the stats really well. Fast forward about 10 years, and I still watch the show from time to time. Things have changed, of course.
New hosts, the studio replaced with an outdoor arena outside Television Centre, but one thing has stayed the same – the famous racetrack set up at Dunsfold Aerodrome. And now, that track finds itself on your table in Top Gear: Fastest Lap! (I’ve got a limited word count; I’m just going to call it Fastest Lap.) So put on your helmet, fit your harness, and prepare to shout “POWER!” a lot as we try to set the Fastest Lap.
He Believes Dice Are A Lie Constructed By Geese...
In Top Gear Fastest Lap, players are racing around the Top Gear Test Track, aiming to be the Fastest Lap Champion. To set up, players lay the tiles either in the formation suggested to make the Top Gear track, one of the two smaller loops or just however they like to make their own track. Players then need to pick a car and place the standee on the start line alongside Stig’s helmet. Everyone then gets a Damage Report sheet, which is used for scoring at the end. Shuffle and set the three decks of cards (red Prank cards, orange Challenge cards and green Upgrade cards) to one side, then put the Hazards, Stig and Trophy tokens next to the track.
Included in the rulebook is a QR code that has a handy How to Play video and features which interact with the game, such as the Stig’s movement and how crashes might resolve, but you don’t need the internet to play. You can instead resolve everything by rolling the dice supplied. For the sake of simplicity, I’ll explain things as if the dice are the only option. The Stig moves first by rolling the dice, then all players take their turn to roll and move. Wherever you land may have an impact, be it a challenge, upgrade, prank, hazard or boost space or a crash with another player. The game ends once a player (not the Stig) crosses the finish line, triggering scoring. To score at the end, first award all trophies, based on position, whomever completed the most challenges, received the most upgrade cards and took the least damage from crashes. Total your points and the highest score wins!
...All We Know Is - He's Called The Stig
If you’re looking for a basic family game for a group of petrol heads, or something to start kids off on a hobby, I think this is a good place to start. It isn’t as complicated as Downforce or Formula D and you can use it as a springboard to other games, if that’s what you’re into. I like that you can mash the track up however you like – it gives a great level of variability over other roll and move games. However, with a digital implementation so heavily involved with the game, it’s a little disappointing that you need three players.
I can only see one feature which specifically requests a third person do something, the head-to-head section of the Challenge cards, and even that can be mitigated by just doing the general knowledge option. Speaking of challenges, one came up in our game which was fold a piece of paper in half as many times as you can, which was odd and ended in a tie because you can only fold a piece of paper six or seven times before you need mechanical help. I also think I’ve gotten too used to games without a pure luck-based mechanic. There is an element of tactics, choosing who your challenger is and placing the traffic hazards on strategic points of the board.
Overall, I think this is a very good implementation of a TV show-based board game. There’s a little more to it than Snakes and Ladders, but it’s not as complex as Formula D. It absolutely has a niche on the board gaming world, there is never not for any game. I think 11-year-old me would have loved it and it probably would be something I played with my dad on Father’s Day.
The variable track is great, you can just go nuts with it, and the variety of the cards makes things very replayable. Is it a game for me? No, probably not but that’s because I now have games that I didn’t have when I was at the right age for this. Which means I have games I would rather play if I’m setting a game night for myself and my friends. However, if I ever start playing games with my nephew, it’s one I’d set down on the table for him.