Friday, 19 February 2016

Win or Go Home! A first look

Even though it is about auto racing, Win or Go Home (WoGH) still uses many of the same mechanisms as other THW games.  What is different about them is that those other THW mechanisms have been stripped down to their bare essentials.  After all, a game about car racing needs to move fast.  The idea is that after a few minutes, the rules themselves sort of ‘disappear’ into the background, letting the players concentrate on the strategy of getting their ride to the winner’s circle.  With that in mind, let’s take a look at just how the game works.
We’ll start with just four cars, which are pictured below.  These are the resin cars that are sold as an add-on to the rules, just like the resin chariots for Charioteer.  They are a little cooler than the counters provided in the game, but are not required for play.  You can use the counters provided, the resin cars in the photo, or die-cast cars.

The turn sequence in WoGH looks long, but goes pretty quick.  Anytime you roll dice during a turn, you are looking for successes. A success is 1, 2 or 3 on each of the dice you are rolling.  Compare your successes to your opponent’s, and the person with the most successes is, well, successful. 
A turn consists of seven steps.  They are:
1. Turn Lap Card –Adjust the Lap Tracker.
2. Turn Track Card (last turn of game is always straightaway)
3. Pit (Straightaway only), Pass or Draft
4. Random Events
5. Passing
6. Reset Pack
7. Exit Pits
Steps 1 and 2 are pretty self-explanatory, so let’s skip to step 3.  Starting with the lead car in the pack, every player decides if his car is going to go into the Pits (although only on a straightaway card) to repair damage and gain more Bonus Dice (BD), try to Pass the car(s) ahead of him, or Draft the car ahead of him.
In the picture above, the Blue car has decided to try and pass the Green car, which is in the lead.  The Red car has decided to stay where he is, and the White car is drafting the Red one.  After random events have been rolled for all cars, it is time for the Blue car to try and pass.  He moves into position:
and rolls all the dice he wants to use, looking for successes.  After the Blue car has rolled, then the Green car rolls all his dice that he wants to use.  If the Blue car scores more successes:
then the Green car is moved back one space and the Blue car is now considered to be in the lead.  In phase six (reset pack) the Blue car is moved into the inside lane.  IF, however, the Green car scores more successes:
then the Blue car is moved back to where he started from.  Note that, if the Red car wanted, he could now try and pass the Blue car.  If the Red car was successful, then the White car could try as well.

With that in mind, let’s look at the beginning and end of a race.  Just to keep things simple, all of our drivers will have skills of 3, and the race will be 150 laps.  The first lap of the race is how we set the pack.  To do that, each driver rolls against the Straight skill (all drivers have three skills: Straights, Turns, and Savvy) and adds however many Bonus Dice he wants to use (each car starts with 6).  Everyone is considered to be making this roll simultaneously, so the order of cars doesn’t matter.

AND THEY’RE OFF!  The Blue car starts out hard, using 5 of his six bonus dice for a total of 8 dice (3 straight skill +5 bonus, which are shown in [brackets]).  He rolls 1,3,5, [1,1,3,5,6] for 5 successes.  The White car uses all six bonus dice, and still gets only 5 successes with a 1,2,5 [1,2,3,4,5,5].  The Red car uses 2 BD, but gets no successes.  That lets the Green car, with two successes slip in front of him.  Meanwhile back in front, the White and Blue cars total their successes, and both have rolled a total of 9.  So, it comes down to a single die roll.  Blue rolls a 1 and White rolls a 3.  At the end of the first lap, the pack looks like this:
The first lap card is turned, and 5 laps have gone by.  That means there are 145 to go, and the race is in a turn.
 (These cards are the prototypes used in testing the game.  The ones in the actual product are much nicer.)
Now we roll Random Events for each car.  White gets a BD, Blue gets no effect, and both Green and Red gain BDs.  Blue decides to try and pass, while Green and Red stay where they are.  Blue gets no successes!  White rolls his 3 Turn skill dice plus and extra for being on the inside lane.  He gets 2 successes and easily holds Blue off.  Green could now try and pass Blue on the inside, but decides not to.  The pack is reset into the inner lane.
The next lap card says 20 laps have gone by, so now we’re down to 125 laps remaining and are on a straightaway.  All random events are “no effect” this time.  Blue decides to draft White, which lets him pick up a BD, for a total of 1.  Now it’s time for Green AND Red to make their move on Blue.
Green pulls alongside Blue, and uses 2 BD.  He rolls 1,1,3 [1,1] for 5 successes.  Blue gets an extra die for being inside and uses his 1 BD, but can only roll 1,2,4,5 [2] for 3 successes. Blue drops back and Green could try to pass White but decides not to.  Now Red makes his move.  Red throws in 3 BD for a total of 6, but rolls 6,6,6 [2,3,3].  Blue rolls 4 dice again, but only gets a 2,3,4,6.  Red passes him, but without those BD it wouldn’t have happened!

10 more laps go down, and now Green makes his move on White.  This time though, they both roll the same number of successes.  That means no one wants to give in, and now things go to the Trading Paint table.  This is where Savvy comes into play.  Both cars roll their Savvy score and however many BD they wish to use.  Once again, both sides roll the same amount of successes and Green drops back to his original position.  If one car had scored more successes, it would have taken the spot and the loser would roll on the Out Of Control Table.  That table requires a Savvy roll and ALL of your Bonus Dice.
The race goes on, and finally we are down to the last lap.  The pack order looks like this:

Blue has 2 BD left, Green has 1, Red has 3 and White has 3.  Once again the random events are all no effect, and since it is the last lap, everybody who can pulls out to pass:
Hmmmm.  Looks like Red will be happy with either a second or third place finish, depending on how well Green does in front of him.  White, however, sees a chance to take it all.  Three wide coming for the checkered flag!  This is racing!  Green pulls up, and throws in his one BD; after all, he has to get by Blue.  Green rolls 1,3,5 [3] for 3 successes.  Blue goes all in with both BD along with his inside lane bonus to get 6 dice rolling.  Blue rolls 1,2,4,5 [5,6] for only 2 successes.  Green takes the lead and Red makes his move!
Red goes all in too, and throws 1,2,4 [3,3,5] for 4 successes.  Blue has no BD; the best he can hope for is to trade paint with Red and shove him back.  But Blue rolls 1,2,3,5 (remember the 1D6 bonus for being inside) and misses it by one again!  Now here comes White!

But note that White is all the way in the outside lane.  This is what we call in WoGH a Wide Pass.  White is going to lose 1D6 for being so far up the track.  However, he wins any ties without going to the Trading Paint table, as the two cars are not right next to each other.  Even if both cars get no successes, White will still advance.  
White has 3 BD left.  Does he use them all to get around Blue, or try and ration them?  White decides to only use 1 BD, and keep the rest for the other passes he’s sure are coming up.  White rolls 6,6 [5] for zero successes.  However, if Blue gets zero White still makes the pass.  Blue rolls his 3 dice plus the inside lane bonus and gets 3,3,3,3.  He holds off White and takes third place.  The race finishes looking like this:
That, in a nutshell is how to play Win or Go Home!  We didn’t talk about pit stops, yellow flags, or what happens when you get to the Out of Control Table. 

Remember, as Dale Earnhardt, Senior once said, “You win some, you lose some and you wreck some.  Just because you didn’t see it in this race report doesn’t mean it can’t happen.  We can look at some of those other things in a second installment.


  1. I played an early version of this last year, and it's great fun so I'm looking forwards to getting hold of it again.

    Has it been expanded to cover other styles of motor racing e.g. Formula One?

    1. It's hasn't been expanded in the rules but the necessary rule tweaks will be available for free in a bit.