Spring Rally: A cute racing game from Korea [Review]

Spring Rally is a board game published by Mandoo, a company based in South Korea. It’s a good time to introduce this game after we played the other board games coming from another part of Asia, such as Taiwan and Japan. From 3-5 players can play this game; it only needs approximately 20 minutes for one session. You don’t have to step on the gas pedal in this game; race to the finish line by winding the spring cars, only in Spring Rally.

Spring rally components

The basic rules of Spring Rally

When we play a racing game in a board game format, it will mostly be cards intensive; this game is not an exception. You will face many cards and a spring that you can wind. In this game, the first one to finish two laps wins the game. First, as usual, set up the board in the middle. Take the spring and the car token in your favourite colour; put the spring in front of you and the car on the board, on the starting line.

Then, take the cards needed (it depends on how many players playing the game, by the way) and shuffle them all to make a drawing pile. The game is played in three rounds; deal 5, 7, and 9 cards to each player respectively. The round ends when all the cards are played. Starting from the first player, every racer needs to play a card from his or her hand to play the trick; this goes around until all cards are played. There are three colours with numbers 1-15; the numbers needed in the game depending on the number of players.

When a player plays a card for the trick, other players need to play a card from their hands and it needs to share the same colour as the first card played. If he/she does not have the same colour, then the other colours can be played. The next player still needs to abide in the first colour, if possible; if not, then he/she needs to play the second colour played. If he/she still does not have the second one, then the third colour can be played.

Spring rally components 2

How to win the trick

If all cards have the same colour, then the highest number wins the trick. If there’s a second colour involved then it will be the trump colour; the player with the highest number in that colour wins the trick. If the third colour comes out, then it will be the trump colour with the same rules above. When the player wins the trick, he/she then moves the car token forward. The number of spaces depends on the lowest number played in the trick. You can always overlap the other car in front of you. Use this advantage as much as possible! 

The other players who lose the trick then wind up the spring in front of them once. This spring can be used to boost up the number of spaces the car token can move forward; or else, at the end of the round, the players must release it and move according to the number on the spring. Remember that if you wind it up too much, the spring will then break!

There are two special lanes in the rally. The blue lane acts like a downhill; it will help you to go forward when your car token ends up on this lane. However, the red lane is equal to the uphill; if your car ends up on this lane, then it will go backward. The first player who finishes two laps first wins the game.

Spring rally board

How to win the Spring Rally

This is where it gets tricky: winning the trick every time does not grant you the trophy. The other players may be going up ahead and overlap you due to the kinetic energy from the wound up spring they save until the end of the round. You have to assure that you let your opponents win the trick and move just a bit. It will really hurt if they win with big cards but they move only 2-3 spaces ahead; and while they do so, you are saving lots of spring to somehow overlap them. I usually let them win in the first round, letting me wind up the spring and then jump over them.

The strategy in the second round is a bit different although it’s quite similar to the first round. You still try to win less than your opponents to wind up the spring. However, at this point, you might have reached the last lane to finish the first lap; these lanes are full of downhill so you might want to use the spring boost you have saved in order not to let your car goes backwards and gets left behind.

The last round is the trickiest part of the game, and to say it’s the most important is appropriate. Remember that you might break your spring if you wind too much? In this round, you get 9 cards, if you lose all the tricks, it will really doom your spring. The strategy in this round is really different. If you are the first player to play the card, try to play the smallest number you have; your chance to win the trick is bigger when you are the last player to play the card for the trick because you have more options to control the result.

Spring rally components 3

Overall experience and opinion

This game is a family-friendly board game that may be able to teach kids to understand colours and numbers. It’s easy to learn and it’s basically really targeting children starting from 7 years old. It’s quite fun if you play with your little nephews and/or cousins.

The game is pretty straightforward: you need to win the race. The strategy is there and it’s trivial to understand what you should do to win the race. The mechanic is trick-taking; it’s actually the typical mechanic you will find in almost every racing board game out there. Spring Rally is enjoyable in every player count. This game will be a good addition to your shelf if you have younger audiences in your group. If you have played something more complex (in terms of a racing board game, such as Flamme Rouge, well, you may think that this game might be too easy for you.

I enjoy playing Spring Rally despite it’s being a board game for children. Its simplicity will be useful for your daily dose of short, filler game. Thank you Evan Song for introducing me to this game and thank you Mandoo Games for the chance to review your games. Cheers!

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