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Mille Bornes Card Game Review and Rules

Mille Bornes Card Game Review and Rules
How to Play | Review | Final Verdict | Comments

How to Play

Setup

If there are four or six players, teams play in pairs and sit across from one another. The six instruction cards are removed from the deck and the rest of the cards are shuffled. Each player is dealt six cards.

Playing the Game

Mille Bornes is played in rounds with the goal of reaching exactly 1,000 miles each round. A player’s turn begins with the player drawing a card from the draw pile. The player then either plays a card or discards a card.

Mille Bornes has four different types of cards.

Hazard Cards in Mille Bornes

First there are hazard, remedy, and roll cards which are all played to the battle pile. Roll cards are played to allow a player/team to play distance cards. Hazard cards are played against other players/teams and stops them from playing distance cards. A hazard card can only be played on top of a roll card or on another hazard card (in some versions of the game). Remedy cards are played on top of hazard cards in order to allow a player/team to play more distance cards. Here is a list of the different hazard cards and the remedy cards that need to be played to fix them.

  • Stop Card-Roll Card
  • Out of Gas-Gasoline Card and then a Roll Card
  • Flat Tire-Spare Tire Card and then a Roll Card
  • Accident-Repair Card and then a Roll Card

Speed Limits in Mille Bornes

Next there are Speed Limit and End of Limit cards. Speed Limit cards are played against other players/teams and prevents them from playing any distance cards other than 25 and 50 mile cards. End of Limit cards are played on top of Speed Limit cards in order to remove the speed limit.

Safety Cards in Mille Bornes

There are also safety cards that prevent hazard cards from being played against a player/team. Safety cards can either be played on a player’s own turn or when a corresponding hazard card is played against the player/team. Whenever a safety card is played, the player who played it gets another turn (skipping other players if necessary). Playing a safety card removes the corresponding hazard if it is impacting the player/team that played the card. If played in response to a hazard card being played, the player who played the card gets to draw another card. If the card is played during the player’s turn, it is played in the same direction as all other cards. If the card is played in response to a hazard card being played, it is played in the opposite direction to indicate how it was played for scoring purposes.

  • Right of Way-Prevents Stop and Speed Limit cards from being played against a player/team. The player/team that played the card can also play distance cards even if they don’t have a roll card exposed.
  • Extra Tank-Prevents Out of Gas cards from being played against a player/team.
  • Puncture Proof-Prevents Flat Tire cards from being played against a player/team.
  • Driving Ace-Prevents Accident cards from being played against a player/team.

Distance Cards in Mille Bornes

Finally there are distance cards. Distance cards can only be played if the top card on your battle pile is a roll card. Players can play whichever distance cards they want as long as they don’t have a speed limit card played in front of them. Each player/team can only play two 200 cards though. Players cannot play distance cards that will put their total distance traveled over 1,000 miles.

End of Round and Scoring

A round ends when either a player/team reaches 1,000 miles or all of the cards have been played. Players score points as follows:

  • Each player/team scores points equal to the number of miles they traveled.
  • Each safety card that is played is worth 100 points. If the safety card was played in response to a hazard card that was played, it is worth an additional 300 points. If a player/team plays all four safety cards they also receive an additional 300 bonus points.
  • The player/team that completes the 1,000 mile trip gets a 400 point bonus.
  • If a player/team finishes their trip after all of the cards have been drawn from the draw pile, the player/team gets 300 bonus points.
  • If a player/team doesn’t play any 200 mile cards and completes their trip they get 300 bonus points.
  • If a player/team prevents their opponents from playing any distance cards, they get 500 bonus points.
Scoring in Mille Bornes

This player/team will score as follows: 1,000 points for the distance traveled, 400 bonus points for finishing the trip, 200 points for the two safety cards played, 300 bonus points for the safety card played in response to a hazard card, and 300 points for not playing any 200 mile cards for a total of 2,400 points.

The game ends when one player/team gets more than 5,000 points. If two players/teams get over 5,000 points at the same time, whichever player/team had more total points wins the game.

Review

Yesterday I looked at the game Touring. Touring is generally considered the precursor to Mille Bornes since Mille Bornes borrows the basic concept from Touring along with a lot of the mechanics. I didn’t particularly care for Touring because the game relied way too much on luck and the hazards get way out of control. So with time to refine Touring and improve the gameplay, was Mille Bornes successful? While Mille Bornes is far from a great game, it does a good job of refining Touring into a solid little card game.

The main reason I think that Mille Bornes is better than Touring is that the hazard problem is better than it is in Touring. The hazard problem is not as bad in Mille Bornes for a couple reasons:

  • The hand size is larger in Mille Bornes.
  • The addition of safety cards give players ways to avoid getting hit with hazard cards.

While the hand size only increased by one card in Mille Bornes, that one card makes a bigger difference than you would think. The extra card gives you more flexibility in being able to hold cards as a precaution in case of a hazard card being played against you. In Touring you can’t hold a lot of remedy cards since you need to use some of your hand to hold the specific distance cards that you still need to play.

Another factor that influences the hazard cards are the safety cards. There are only four safety cards in the game but they have a huge impact on the outcome of a round. The safety cards are easily the most valuable cards in the entire game. Playing a safety card gives a player/team a big advantage since it makes it easier for a player/team to keep playing distance cards instead of wasting time dealing with a particular hazard. Once a safety card has been played, that player/team no longer has to worry about keeping the remedy card for that hazard. Each safety card is worth points as well so there really is no reason not to play a safety card.

The most interesting thing about the safety cards is that you can play them right away or you can hold them in your hand and wait to play them until another player plays the corresponding hazard card against you. This creates an interesting dynamic and could make a player/team second guess playing a hazard card if they think the player/team has the corresponding safety card. You want to prevent a team from playing a safety card in this manner since they will get 300 bonus points. They also get to take their next turn immediately so your teammate’s turn could get skipped.

For the most part I like the idea behind the safety cards since they speed up the game. They are good at preventing players from getting stuck in a never ending chain of hazards. The only problem I have with them is that they are way too powerful. Basically whichever player/team gets the most safety cards will likely win the hand. Preventing certain hazard cards is powerful enough on its own so when you add in getting points for playing the cards, they become too powerful. They can also lead to a lot of worthless cards getting stuck in players’ hands.

Even though the hazard cards don’t seem to impact the game as much as they do in Touring, they still have a big impact in the game. The player/team that gets hit with the most hazards will likely lose the hand since they are still quite hard to overcome. I honestly think the game should have considered implementing a system where you score points for each hazard you overcome in a hand. This would make players more hesitant to play hazard cards since they could be giving points to another player/team. With hazards still controlling the game, there is still a high reliance on luck in Mille Bornes. Whoever draws the best cards is going to win a given hand of Mille Bornes. While there is some strategy in Mille Bornes, you pretty much have to just lay back and see how the game unfolds since luck is going to play a bigger role in who wins than who has the best strategy. Strategy doesn’t play a huge role in Mille Bornes since it is usually pretty obvious what card you should play at any given time.

Other than reducing the hazard gridlock, I really liked the elimination of the requirement of playing specific distance cards like you had to in Touring. I thought it was a stupid idea forcing players to play specific distance cards since players could be way ahead and end up losing just because they couldn’t draw the one distance card that they needed. Letting players play any distance card they want is better since it adds more strategy to the game. You don’t have to wait for a specific card to show up (except for the end of a hand) and you get to make decisions on which cards you want to play.

The biggest decision regarding the distance cards is whether to play 200 mile cards in a hand. Since you get bonus points if you don’t play any 200 mile cards, you need to really consider not using them unless you fall behind. They make the trip much easier but the bonus points are really tempting. I personally think you should hold off playing them unless you fall behind quickly and need to catch up to the other players/teams quickly.

Another thing I like that Mille Bornes did was to reverse how the speed limits/freeway worked. In Touring players could only play the high mileage cards after they had played a freeway card. This made the game start really slow as players waited to get a freeway card. Players could easily take the freeway card away as well so it was hard to play high mileage cards. Mille Bornes actually reverses how this mechanic works allowing players to play any distance card unless a speed limit card is played against them. While players do get slowed down by these cards, it is not as prevalent as it is in Touring.

Overall I found the scoring system in Mille Bornes to be pretty interesting. It does make Mille Bornes a more difficult game than Touring. The scoring is not super complicated but it takes a while to understand all of the different ways to score points. For your first several hands you will need to reference the instructions/reference cards to see how many points you earned in a round. I like the scoring system though since it gives players some choices on how to play a given hand as they pursue different ways to score points.

Final Verdict

If I had to compare Mille Bornes and Touring, there really is no comparison. Mille Bornes is clearly the superior game in my opinion. Mille Bornes took the basics from Touring and tweaked them in order to eliminate some of the luck from the game. Mille Bornes is still far from a fantastic game since the hazards are still a problem and the game mostly relies on luck over strategy. Mille Bornes isn’t very strategic but is a simple casual game that you don’t have to put a lot of thought into.

My recommendations for Mille Bornes depends on how much you like casual card games. If you like Touring but have never tried Mille Bornes I would highly recommend it since I think Mille Bornes is the better game. If you like simple card games like Uno where you don’t have to put too much thought into the game, you should like Mille Bornes. If you like more strategy in your games though I don’t think Mille Bornes will be for you.

If you would like to purchase Mille Bornes, you can purchase it on Amazon here.


Lori

Sunday 28th of November 2021

What happens if a player has a speed limit on them but forgets and plays 75, 100, and 200 mile cards and the opponent doesn't notice?

Eric Mortensen

Tuesday 30th of November 2021

I briefly skimmed the official rules to see if this situation is addressed. I didn't see anything and I am guessing it is not addressed as it is a situation where the rules were broken. Technically the player that played those cards cheated whether they did so on purpose or by accident. As I doubt there is a specific remedy in the official rules, you group will have to decide for yourself how you want to deal with it. You could choose to let it go as the other players didn't catch it as the other players should be always double checking to make sure all of the rules are being followed. If you catch it before the hand is over you could decide to force them to discard all of the cards that they played illegally. Otherwise you could decide to just throw out the entire hand/round and not count it as this error could have impacted the outcome of the round. I personally would have the group come to an agreement about what should be done as this feels like the type of situation where the group should decide how it is resolved.

Sherry

Saturday 26th of December 2020

I have only played the older version which I have saved from the 60's -70's. I had no idea the rules were changed. If someone does not reach the 700/1000 miles before you reach bottom of the initial draw pile we used to shuffle those and continue till someone would reach the 700/1000. Is that incorrect? Also, eventually all the hazard, remedy, roll cards eventually wind up being played and sitting in front of each player and none are in the draw pile anymore. This didn't make sense to us when recently playing - Do I remember taking all what's under everyone's "battle" pile, except for the top one, and adding them with the discards and shuffling, putting them back into the draw pile and continuing play until someone wins that round? I'm assuming we must have been playing wrong. Always one of my fav games!

Eric Mortensen

Saturday 26th of December 2020

Hello.

Based on what I wrote in the how to play section, the 1971 version of Mille Bornes appears to end when all of the cards are played. The 1962 and 1982 version also end when all of the cards from the draw pile have been drawn and played. I don't have the newer versions of the game easily available so I don't know if this rule was changed with some of the newer versions of the game.

As for how you played the game I don't think you followed the "official rules". If you enjoyed playing the game that way though I see no reason why you couldn't just use house rules to keep playing until one of the players reached the target miles.

JP From Baltimore

Wednesday 22nd of April 2020

Hi Eric, How awesome to find this thread on Mille Bornes. We started playing this game again do to the current LOCK DOWN of american citizens. As a kid I think I played the '62 version as a hand me down in the 70's. Purchased the Collector's Edition from a brick and mortar store like 20 yrs. ago.

I had some questions to rules, but found as you did, that you can make your own rulez to the game. We have been playing to the end of the deck with no mileage limits per hand. We keep a running total. The question we came up with was; Can you throw down a hazard card directly on a remedy card, or do you wait until another Roulez card is put in play before you can put down a hazard again?

We decided that you have to wait for a roulez card to be down first. Our reasoning is it is a car card game. If you are not moving how can you get another hazard down the road. If you ain't moving. We have been interpreting rules as if you are actually driving a car down a French country side.

Thx for letting me in on this discussion. Cheers!!

Eric Mortensen

Thursday 23rd of April 2020

As I have mentioned in other comments the answer to your question depends on the version that you are playing. As Mille Bornes has been printed many different times the rules have changed between versions.

Some versions of the game only allow you to play a hazard card on top of a roll card. Other versions of the game allow you to also play them on top of other hazard cards.

There is another rule in a couple versions of the rules that somewhat addresses your question. Apparently if a player has played the Right of Way card you are allowed to play a hazard card on top of a remedy card for that player.

As the rules have changed so many times for the game over the years I believe you should address the issue however you prefer. Outside of the above rule I couldn't find a rule in the instructions that I looked at that allows you to directly play a hazard card on top of a remedy card except in the case of the Right of Way card.

Dylan

Thursday 27th of December 2018

The published rules to Milles Bournes have changed considerably over the years, as the distributors of the game have changed. The current rules simplify the game considerably (which is a shame because it wasn't that complicated to begin with). The biggest change is that there is no more scoring. So a game is complete after one hand. The new rules also allow for 2, 3, or 4 players playing individually or 4, 6, or 8 players in teams of two. What happens when the draw pile is exhausted has changed several times and is now ambiguous.

I'm not sure why they changed things up, except to make it a quick and easy game. In my opinion, the game is far more enjoyable with the scoring system. The deck is also not big enough to support 4 players individually or 8 players in teams.

If you've bought a newer version, get a copy of the older rules with the scoring system and use those. Fortunately, the deck has not changed, so you can still play the old game with a new deck.

Eric Mortensen

Thursday 27th of December 2018

Thanks for the help. It seems like a lot of board/card games that get reprinted a lot, change rules from time to time. Most of the rule changes are made to either fix rules or to simplify/streamline the game. While some of the rule changes actually make the games better, there are many instances where they just make the game worse. The good news with Mille Bornes is that you can just use an older version of the rules with the cards from a newer version of the game. Some of these bad rule changes are not so easy to remedy.

Dylan

Thursday 27th of December 2018

No. A coup fourre can only be called when you play the safety card immediately after someone plays the hazard card on you. It is a safety card played out of turn. After playing it, you pick up a replacement card and then it becomes your turn. If a safety card is played on your turn, it is not a coup fourre, even if the hazard has not been remedied.

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