How to Play
- Each player takes a arrow marker, 5 marbles and a vehicle board of the same color. The marbles are placed in the holding trays of the spinner and the arrow marker is placed on any space on the gameboard (the player must choose a direction for the arrow to face).
- The purple marble is placed in the spinner.
- Shuffle the advantage cards.
- Pick a player to be the banker who gives every player and Dastardly Dan $50,000. Dastardly Dan’s money goes under the gameboard at the designated spot.
- A player is chosen as the scorekeeper who places a peg into the starting space for every player and Dastardly Dan.
- Everyone rolls the die to determine who goes first.
Movement and Spaces
At the beginning of every player’s turn (before they roll the die) they can choose to change the direction that their arrow faces. Once the die is rolled the player must move in the direction indicated by their arrow. If a player comes to a spot where there are two branching paths the player can choose which path to follow. When players finish moving they follow the directions on the space that they landed on.
When a player lands on an advantage space they are given the opportunity to purchase two advantage cards. There are two different types of advantage spaces.
The normal advantage spaces are located in the ring sections of the gameboard. If a player lands on one of these spaces they have the opportunity to purchase between zero and two advantage cards for $10,000 each. The player pays the bank the associated amount and takes the corresponding number of cards from the top of the advantage deck. These advantage cards are placed on the player’s vehicle board according to the section of the track that the player is currently on. For example if the player is on the balloon track (the balloons are in the center of the circular track) they will place the cards bought on the balloon portion of their vehicle board.
The other type of advantage spaces are “Bonanza! Advantage 1/2 Price”. With these spaces a player can buy up to two advantages for $5,000 each. The player can put these advantages on any section of their vehicle board. You can split up the two cards playing one on two different vehicle sections.
A player can only have two advantage cards on each section of their vehicle board at a time. A player cannot move or switch out any of their cards once they have been placed.
Soar, Motor, Steam or Barnstorm Anywhere
These spaces work as a wildcard. When landing on one of these spaces the player can move their piece to any other space on the gameboard. After moving to the new space the player takes the action related to the space they moved to.
Any player that lands on one of these spaces pays Dastardly Dan $10,000. The money paid to Dastardly Dan goes to his spot on the gameboard. If the player has no money or less than $10,000, they pay whatever money they have.
Collect $20,000, $10,000, $5,000
The player collects the associated amount of money from the bank.
Challenge Another Player
When a player lands on this space they must challenge another player as long as they have money. The player picks their challenger and both players secretly decide how many marbles they would like to put into the challenge. Each marble used costs the player $5,000. Both players put the money they chose to spend in the middle of the table. The marbles are put into the spinner along with Dastardly Dan’s purple marble. The spinner is spun and whichever marble ends up in the indented portion in the center of the spinner (winner’s circle) is the winner. If it is one of the two players’ color, that player takes all of the money bet. If it is the purple marble, the money bet goes to Dastardly Dan.
Challenge Dastardly Dan
If a player lands on this space they can choose to challenge Dastardly Dan. The player chooses how much money they would like to bet. The amount bet cannot be higher than the amount the player or Dastardly Dan currently have. The player places the amount they bet on the table and the same amount is taken from Dastardly Dan. The player adds one of their marbles to the spinner along with the purple marble. The spinner is spun. If the player’s ball lands in the winner circle, they take the money from the table. If the purple marble lands in the winning circle, Dastardly Dan takes the money.
The main mechanic of the Magnificent Race is the races themselves. Races can be started if a player either lands on a race or a crazy race space. If a player lands on a race space, all of the players will race with the vehicle pictured in the circle by the race space that was landed on. If a crazy race space is landed on, each player chooses which vehicle they want to race with.
When a race is started every player will get to add at least one marble to the spinner. Players put in additional marbles based on how many advantage card points they have on the corresponding section of their vehicle board. For example if a player has a two and a one card in the automobile section for an automobile race, the player will get to put an additional three marbles into the spinner for a total of four marbles. Players must use all of their advantage cards that they have in the section that is racing. Once the marbles are added to the spinner, the associated cards are discarded and added to the bottom of the advantage deck.
The player who landed on the race space gets to spin the spinner. The marble that lands in the winner’s circle earns its’ owner three spaces on the race track board. If it was the purple marble, Dastardly Dan moves three spaces and the race ends immediately. The marble that won is removed and the wheel is spun again (as long as Dastardly Dan didn’t win). Whichever marble ends up in the winner circle gets two spaces. If it is the purple marble, Dastardly Dan gets the two spaces and the race ends. The marble that won is removed and the wheel is spun for a third time. The marble in the winner’s circle gets one point. Players can win multiple spins and receive the points from each one so a player could get up to six points in one race.
Winning the Game
The game ends when one of the players reach the end of the race track. That player wins the game. If Dastardly Dan is the first player to reach the end of the race track, all of the players lose.
Being a thrift store/garage sale shopper I have come across quite a few board games. Typically you run into a lot of Monopolies, Trivial Pursuits, and children’s franchise board games. Every so often you will run into some games you have never heard of. Some are locally produced games which had very small print runs while some games were meant to be new franchises but never took off. Today we are going to look at one of the later by the name of The Magnificent Race which I recently found at a rummage sale for $0.25.
The Magnificent Race was made by Parker Brothers in 1975. The game must have not sold well since it appears to have never been reprinted. Although the game shares a lot of similarities with other Parker Brother roll and move games, The Magnificent Race was actually quite a bit better than I was expecting.
Being a Parker Brothers family game, it should not come as a surprise that The Magnificent Race is a family friendly game. The game has a recommended age of 8+ and that seems about right. Children a little younger may be able to play the game since it is not that complicated. The rules for the game are well written and most players should be able to pick up the game within five minutes.
While not fantastic, I thought The Magnificents Race’s theme was good. Parker Brothers games generally don’t put a whole lot into the themes of their board games. The Magnificent Race does a good job creating a “Wacky Racers” cartoony type race around the world. The artwork on the gameboard and box are well done. The inclusion of a “villain” like Dastardly Dan shows that the game doesn’t take itself too seriously. The roulette wheel mechanic (which I will get to next) does a great job simulating an actual race as the marbles roll around the spinner. I wish the game would have done a better job simulating the trip around the world aspect though.
The “roulette wheel” mechanic is reminiscent of a lot of board games from the 1970s and 1980s. Board games from these eras started to try new ideas for gameplay. Unfortunately a lot of these games were before their time which meant most of them failed. This is the case with The Magnificent Race. The roulette mechanic is interesting and is easily the best mechanic in the game. I usually hate luck mechanics and this mechanic is almost all luck based, but I still really enjoyed it. I don’t know why but for some reason it is very satisfying to watch the marbles spin around the spinner and push each other out of the way in order to land in the winner’s circle. Sometimes you can get into the “race” so much that you end up cheering on your marbles. It is unfortunate that The Magnificent Race didn’t take off because other games may have then decided to add this roulette mechanic to their games.
Unfortunately the rest of the game is nothing special. It is pretty much your typical roll and move game. You roll the die, move the corresponding spaces and then take the associated action. The one thing that The Magnificent Race added to this formula is the idea that you can choose which direction you would like to move on your next turn. I like some things about this mechanic but it also presents some issues.
I like that it gives you more control over your movement. This reduces some of the issues with rolling poorly. If you position your piece strategically, you can set up situations to avoid the bad spaces while maximizing your chances of landing on a good space. Generally you want to face your arrow in the direction of one of the connecting paths between two of the circles. This maximizes the amount of options you have on a turn and it also increases your chances of landing on the most valuable spaces.
The problem I have with the mechanic is that it makes it way too easy to land on the space that you want to land on. Players can easily take advantage of this mechanic and land on a good space almost every turn. In the game I played players landed on the move anywhere spaces way too often. In these situations players will likely choose either the half price advantage spaces, the $20,000 space, or a race spot to start the race of their choice. These move anywhere spaces are way too powerful and way too easy to land on giving the players the ability to pretty much choose every turn where they would like to go.
Between the roll and move and roulette mechanics, The Magnificent Race has a lot of luck involved. Generally I hate games that have as much luck involved as there is in The Magnificent Race. While I wish there was less luck, I didn’t hate that element of the game as much as I was expecting. The game does give you opportunities to try and mitigate the luck in the game. You have some control over where your piece lands on the gameboard and you can also buy advantage cards in order to increase your odds at the races.
I like the idea of the advantage cards but I think the execution could have used more work. Generally speaking if you have the opportunity to buy advantage cards you should. There is no other use for money in the game and at least in the game I played there is plenty of money to go around. The advantages won’t guarantee you anything in the races as there were several times where a player who had only one marble ended up placing in a race. The advantage cards are still a better use of your money than holding onto it and doing nothing with it.
While I like the idea of two different advantage spaces, I think the game should have swapped the two. In addition to the cheaper price, the half price spaces are better since you can place the advantages on any space you want on your vehicle board. Since this provides an additional advantage, I think players should have had to pay $10,000 for each advantage with this privilege. Since the normal spaces require you to place the cards on a specific section I think they should have cost only $5,000. How it is currently set up you end up paying more for cards with less flexibility.
This brings up a problem I had with the game in that there was not enough you could do with your money. In the game I played I ended up having over $100,000 at one point. This amount of money could have bought me between 10 and 20 advantage cards. The reason I had so much money is that I kept landing on money spaces but couldn’t land on advantage spaces. When I did land on an advantage space all of the cards were conveniently already bought by the other players. Since there is nothing else you can do with your money, I had to sit on a bunch of money as I quickly fell behind the other players.
The lack of things to use your money on shows how The Magnificent Race could possibly be a great game with the addition of some house rules. The game provides a good/great base for a game and it provides a lot of opportunities for additional house rules. In a short amount of time, my group came up with some interesting additions for the game:
- In order to reduce some of the luck required to land on an advantage space, the game should allow players to buy additional marbles for a race once it has started for $20,000 each. While that is pretty expensive, I would have taken that offer since I had so much money and I had nothing I could use the money on.
- Our group also thought you should have the opportunity to bribe Dastardly Dan to race for you. For a given amount of money, you could pay Dastardly Dan to take control of his marble for a race. If that marble should win, the bribing player would move the spaces instead of Dastardly Dan.
- We contemplated an idea where players could purchase additional larger marbles (not included with the game) that could be added to the spinner in order to be used as a blocker or as a marble to knock the other player’s marbles out of the winner’s circle.
Another interesting idea in the game is Dastardly Dan. Dastardly Dan is not controlled by any player and is meant to be a nuisance to the other players. Unfortunately in the game I played, Dastardly Dan was totally inept. He ended up placing third in one race and never placed in another race. The rest of the players also used him as an ATM as we were constantly stealing money from him. At one point Dastardly Dan went bankrupt. The concept of Dastardly Dan is actually quite interesting. Unfortunately he just had no impact in the game I played. According to some people on Board Game Geek, Dastardly Dan does end up winning the whole game sometimes. I think the game I played would have been more interesting if our Dastardly Dan wasn’t so inept.
Finally let’s quickly discuss the game’s components. For a Parker Brothers game I though the game components were quite nice. I already mentioned that I thought the artwork on the board was very well done. The plastic components are pretty thick and should last. Despite showing quite a bit of wear, the spinner of my copy still spun very well. I have only two real complaints about the components. First if you lose any of the marbles you may have some issues. It will be hard to find another marble of the same color, size and weight. The size and weight could be quite important since they will have an impact on which marble will win each race. My other complaint is with the peg board. The peg board is quite underwhelming since the game is about traveling around the world and that is simulated by moving pegs around on a board that only displays text. I wish the game would have had a board showing the globe and you moved your peg around to different locations on the board to simulate your trip around the world.
The Magnificent Race is neither a terrible or fantastic game. The game is pretty simple and has little strategy which will turn some people off. The roulette mechanic and the theme are really charming though. The Magnificent Race has the base of a good game and I think it could become a great game if some good house rules are added. Without any additional house rules added, The Magnificent Race is still probably one of the better roll and move games that I have ever played. If you hate roll and move games you won’t like The Magnificent Race. If you can at least stand them though, I think you might be surprised by The Magnificent Race.