Heat: Pedal to the Metal is something extraordinary — it’s a tabletop racing game with a real sense of breakneck speed. Designers achieve this through excellence building deck mechanics, as well as with clever mechanics that speed up the actual gameplay. In fact, Heat may be the best racing board game ever designed, surpassing recent highlights as well as longtime classics.
The setting here is the Grand Prix of the 1960s and the core of the design is smart hand management. Each player secretly chooses a group of their cards to play moves in each round. The number of cards you play is limited by your current device. So if you’re on second gear, you’ll play two cards, third, you’ll play three, etc. Add up the values of the cards, and that’s the number of spaces you drive the little car. his down the track. Want to move further? Then switch to a higher number so you can play more cards and tear the line.
The corners squeeze it all up and act as speed bumps. They force you to slow down and downshift. Each corner has a number that is the maximum speed you can pass without penalty, speed is the total distance you move during that turn.
You can push your car and corner without having to slam on the brake. This comes at the expense of standard heat. Heat transfers to your deck as you blow through corners or as you crank the engine and gain more space after moving. These cards are functionally dead, unusable, or even discarded once they’re in your hands. Instead, you have to slow down and let the engines cool down if you want to flush them out of your deck.
In short, this system is great. It’s simple, but it forces painful tactical and strategic decisions. You have to evaluate your hand, current gear, position on the track, and even the makeup of the rest of your deck. Heat is a resource that is used rather than completely ignored. Rolling over a corner and ripping through your car can be a precise move, but timing is crucial.
Once you’ve built up enthusiasm, there’s a constant tension when you know that the cards in your discard pile will find their way into your draw and eventually your hand. . Your car seems appropriately flimsy, as if it could crumble at any moment. At some point you will have to relax the pedal, but you’re better off hoping that you can time it near a corner so you don’t miss the chance to make a lot of money right away. ie.
As you capture and release heat, the deck-building action becomes fluid and engaging. Heat, which acts as a burden to deal with later, also disturbs the current state of the riders in a similar way to the hidden victory points in other games. Simply leading the caravan doesn’t mean a car is really in an enviable position, especially if their decks overheat and the competition’s doesn’t. It’s interesting how simple and smooth deck management is as a tactical process.
Despite having a streamlined gameplay, Heat’s biggest obstacle is learning from experience. This is a simple enough game, but acquiring the processes can take several rounds. The flow is partially obfuscated by the player panel, which provides a poor set of icons representing the stages. However, after a lap, most drivers will feel comfortable turning the wheel and letting loose.
There’s a huge sense of momentum here. It is illustrated through the playing of cards but equally demonstrated through some physical and procedural flourishes. For example, all the planning for the round — including shifting numbers and choosing which cards to play — happens at the same time. This is half the game, planned and solved in a few moments with little downtime.
Another clever touch that speeds up the typical soft moments of racing games is the numbering of the spaces so you can see how far away you are from the next corner. This means you don’t have to keep counting points on the board to plan or when to actually move your plastic car. It’s all very fast and fluid and combines with the Heat’s intense pace to create that sense of speed.
My biggest criticisms revolve around Heat’s lack of authenticity. While it has a 60s racing feel, it lacks a bit of simulation. This is seen with cars in higher gears moving slower than cars in lower gears when the driver plays some cards of reduced value for the round. It is also evident in the catch-up mechanisms. The just finished game will bring an additional movement to the car in the last position, abbreviated it as “adrenaline”.
Also, line-sliding is a key component, allowing you to slide for extra space if you end your turn adjacent to another vehicle. This works to model a core element of the sport, but it serves primarily to allow the cars to move further forward. That might annoy some as contestants tend to gather around each other, but it really leads to dramatic moments with constantly jostling for places. It’s also not impossible to take the lead with aggressive play, even if that’s uncommon.
If this is all Heat, that’s enough. But not so. This product feels rich, not only in its ability to skillfully capture the Grand Prix races but also in its content delivery. It comes with two foldable double-sided tracks that present a variety of tactical challenges. Several modules are also included for mixing rules. It features weather effects, variable road conditions, and even AI-driven special opponents that allow you to fill in a lower number of players or even play it as a single player. board game alone. But Heat fully realizes its potential with championship mode.
This is a tournament game where you take part in a series of three races. Points are earned based on finishing position and whoever owns the most points at the end of the third track is the winner. This approach mimics the abbreviated career mode in popular sports titles like Madden. You actually modify your car after each race, adding new cards to your deck. The number of upgrade options is immense, resulting in asymmetrical builds and cars with legitimacy and identity. In addition, you can earn short-term rewards from sponsors by showing off on the track and performing daring maneuvers. There are so many options that it feels like Days of Wonder has given the game a bundled expansion, a highly effective expansion.
Heat: Pedal to the Metal is awesome. The distinctive tag system by designers Asger Granerud and Daniel Pederson appears as a modification of their previous hit cycling title, Red fire. It’s a great game in its own right, but it’s not Heat. The superb motion capture at the heart of the genre is an undeniable achievement. Pair this with such a thorough and complete product, and we have an absolute champ.