As a child, I spent much of my time watching Hanna Barbera cartoons, and absolutely loved Wacky Races. So much in fact, that a much younger me could have told you everything about the show, ranging from car numbers, to the number of victories each racer had. As a result, you can probably imagine my nostalgic excitement when they announced that a Wacky Races board game was being released early next year.
For those who were not aware, Wacky Races, was originally a 60’s cartoon, before the recent reboot and subsequent new show next year. It was produced by Hanna Barbera, the same studio that is responsible for other cartoons such as Scooby Doo, The Flintstones, Yogi Bear and Tom and Jerry but to name a few.
The premise of the show, was that 11 ‘wacky’ racers competed to win various races across the country. I would say tournament, as that was the premise of the show. However, the show was never given an end, so no overall winner was ever officially declared. Each character had a wacky personality and their car usually had a special ability to match this. For example, Professor Pat Pending could change his vehicle at any time. However, what made the show, was the hair brained schemes of the villain Dick Dastardly and his dog Mutley, that would often back fire in comical ways, such as tying everyone to a lamp post before the start, before reversing into said lamp post.
What do we Know About the Game?
For those who have been gaming for a very long time, or are in to retro games, you may know that this is not the first Wacky Races board game to be released. However, the 1969 game and its update in the early 2000’s received mixed reviews. This version by CMON was announced in July this year, but since its announcement, and a few interviews at GenCon, news of the game has worryingly gone quiet, especially as the promoter was hoping for a release in January 2019.
The game starts by making a bold claim, in-which you can play as your favourite racer. However, if like me, your favourite character was Dick Dastardly, then I have bad news for you, he is a game-controlled character only. When reading this, I was disappointed, as he was what made Wacky Races brilliant, and felt that by not making him playable, a key part of the game was missing.
However, in one of the few YouTube videos I found, it was mentioned that a one-person version, where Dick Dastardly was playable, was potentially in the works. However, the tone of the interview, and the fact that during all the interviews it was mentioned that they were still awaiting the green light from Hanna Barbera to finalise everything, did not really fill me with much confidence that either this would happen, or that the game would be released in the first quarter of 2019.
The game is card-based, where players draw environment cards, which reflect the race environments that racers must pass to win the race. In order to move, players must play one or more of these cards. For their first move, players can play any card. However, for any further moves during their turn, the card must match the environment.
From what I can understand and from reading between the lines, Dick Dastardly moves after every player has their turn, and moves on to the space of the last card played, otherwise he cannot take the lead. He then places a trap onto that square before returning to the back of the pack.
Each car has abilities which can negate the effect of some traps, and this was only briefly touched upon in the interview. Out of curiosity I would love to see what Peter Perfect’s abilities are, as apart from having a car that can stretch itself into weird shapes to do things, such as walking along a crocodile pit. The only other thing I can remember, is his car randomly exploding through over tuning.
Wacky Races is suitable for 2-6 players and can be played in one of two ways. It can be played either as a 15-minute race, ideal for those who love quick games, or a full-blown championship, which has varying rules between races, ideal for those who prefer much longer games. Due to the race environment tiles not being on a physical board, it means that the game is extremely customisable, and players can vary the length of the race to suit their needs.
There are two editions of the game. The standard edition, where the cars are painted grey, and the deluxe edition, where all the vehicles have been fully painted. I am not going to lie, before seeing the deluxe edition, I didn’t see the point. However, when I saw the fully painted vehicles, my nostalgia took over and I instantly wanted it. The cars and paintings were of extremely high quality. Speaking of high quality, the artwork on the cards and box were also of high quality. From looking at them, you would have thought they were stills taken from the original cartoon series.
Early Thoughts on Wacky Races
I have mixed thoughts about the game to be honest. The nostalgia, high-quality game pieces, the customisability of the game, and the potential short play time are extremely appealing to me. However, a lack of clarification or updates in almost four months, with the game aiming to be released in January, plus the current non-playability of Dick Dastardly has put doubt in my mind.
I can see this being a great addition to anyone’s collection who loved the TV series. However, I can see this being more of a quick game whilst others are finishing their games within a society or as a warm up game, rather than being a full-blown championship game. But I hope I am wrong. This game has definitely caught my attention and peaked my curiosity. If the issues could be clarified and Dick Dastardly was made a playable character, I would have no hesitation in buying the Deluxe edition.