Sonic the Hedgehog: Battle Racers
From Sonic Retro
|Sonic The Hedgehog: Battle Racers|
|Publisher: Sega, Shinobi 7|
|Author: Benjamin Yamada|
|Number of players: 1-5|
|Playtime: 30-60 minutes|
Sonic the Hedgehog: Battle Racers is a tabletop game designed by Benjamin Yamada and published by Shinobi7 under license of Sega. The game was made available through a successful Kickstarter campaign that took place on March 2018.
In Sonic the Hedgehog: Battle Racers, characters from Sonic games race against each other on tracks that resemble levels from Sonic games, much like multiplayer modes from the actual video games. Battle Racers achieves that quite successfully, with a board full of the usual Sonic stuff like Rings, Badniks and spikes, among many others (there aren't powerups or Chaos Emeralds, though). The board itself consists of a 5-lane-wide circuit mostly composed of square spaces that goes from a start line, where racers are placed at game setup, to a finish line, which a racer must cross to finish the race. Track geography, along with the lane and movement rules, will also bring a feel of exploring different paths to an extent, akin to the video games. Characters are unique and true to their digital counterparts through their abilities and powers, and there is even a boss mode to complete the faithful experience.
The basic rules are simple: each turn, every player chooses a card from their hand, then everyone reveals their cards, and these are solved in an order marked by their priority number, starting with the highest one. Card resolution follows three steps: first, the racer can take the optional action described in the card, then they must perform the mandatory movement, also marked in said card (jumping, running, or the player's choice between both), and, finally, the racer draws a card chosen among a few face up ones. Each time everyone has solved their cards, they repeat the process until someone crosses the finish line, because, at the end of that turn, the game ends and players count their scores to determine who's the winner.
Card actions are used for strategy, and are almost the only way to change lanes since the mandatory movement always takes a player forward, whether they like it or not. Total movement is determined by a speed meter on the racer's sheet, and speed itself changes through a lot of factors like card actions and terrain effects, so taking advantage of the cards and board layout is necessary to have a chance to win. This includes collecting Rings and defeating Badniks, since the total of Badniks defeated and Rings kept is what determines a player's score at the end of the game. Note that players can hit other racers just like they'd hit a Motobug, and that Rings a racer has collected will scatter over the board when said racer is damaged. A player can never backtrack, but they can sometimes move diagonally if they are playing as Tails; otherwise, movement is just forward or sidestepping.
Boss mode makes things more challenging and adds variety to the game: some racers can alternatively be used as bosses, one per game, with their own decks and rules to make each boss fight different. In this mode, a player doesn't have to destroy the boss to win, but, if the boss crosses the finish line before a player does, said player automatically loses the game, which means a game may end with no human winner if the boss is the first one to get to the end of the track. Boss mode also allows for solo gameplay, where a player can get a rank for their score if they win, or get an early Game Over if they're damaged with no Rings on hold.
Not only does Battle Racers follow the design of the video games very closely for its gameplay (as stated earlier), but also does as it should for its design. Mostly, this is modern territory, with no classic-only character on sight, and no pixel art. While some other fan-favourite characters may also be also missing, the roster is quite complete, and they even allowed Sticks to join despite belonging to Sonic Boom. On the board side, all the levels featured come from classic games, and are even present in Sonic Mania also, but their artwork isn't directly translated from the games except maybe for Studiopolis Zone; track sections, however, keep the colour schemes of the levels they're based on, and are good renditions overall, so they feel familiar for even hardcore classic fans, blending modern and classic gameplay, and probably the most appropiate one for this kind of game. Most Badnik designs come from Sonic Lost World save for Spinners, which come from Sonic Generations instead.
Along with the core game, a large number of level expansions, racer expansions and miniature packs were planned for release and also made available through the crowdfunding campaign, including some Kickstarter-exclusive content. Bosses and their standard racer profiles are included in level expansions. All racer and boss miniatures come pre-painted, while the rest of the miniatures don't. These are the contents of each set type:
- 4 racers: Sonic, Tails, Knuckles and Amy. Each one has:
- 1 racer miniature.
- 1 racer profile sheet.
- 1 custom speed meter token.
- 10 track sections:
- 6 Green Hill-themed straight track sections.
- 2 track turns.
- 1 start line (also Green Hill themed).
- 1 finish line (also Green Hill themed).
- 64 Agility cards.
- 105 board tokens:
- 4 two-sided reference cards (token related).
- 1 two-sided reference sheet (terrain related).
Each level expansion:
- 6 additional straight track sections following the level theme of the expansion.
- 1 Racer/Boss miniature.
- 1 Boss profile sheet.
- 16 Boss cards.
- 1 Racer profile sheet.
- 1 generic speed meter token.
- In most cases, a unique trap set (smaller board sheets) associated to either the level or the boss of the expansion.
Each character expansion:
- 1 Racer miniature.
- 1 racer profile sheet.
- 1 generic speed meter token.
Token replacement miniature packs. There are 2 types which aren't KS exclusive:
- Badnik packs: 10 miniatures of a single Badnik.
- Rock pack: 20 Miniature Rocks.
- Super Sonic racer expansion.
- 1 Token bag.
- 50 Miniature Ring token replacement pack.
- 5 Miniature Ring holders.
- 1 All-in-one DeLuxe box with plastic holder/protector for racer miniatures.
While the Kickstarter campaign allowed backers to get everything in one shot, the following ones are the products that will be sold at the regular market:
- The core game box.
- Level expansions:
- Green Hill/Eggman (features a different set of Green Hill tracks and no board traps).
- Oil Ocean/Shadow (includes 6 Breakaway Platform board traps used on some Oil Ocean track sections).
- Metallic Madness/Metal Sonic (includes 3 Switching Trapdoor board traps used on some Metallic Madness track sections).
- Studiopolis/Infinite (includes 6 VR board traps used by Infinite both as a boss and as a racer).
- Racer expansions:
- Miniature packs:
- Buzz Bomber
While Super Sonic is another racer expansion, and Rings are another token replacement miniature pack, they weren't included on the above list because both are Kickstarter exclusives.
The game was first released as a Kickstarter campaign that run through March 2018 and was planned to arrive to backers on October of the same year, but quality controls and unexpected events delayed the game production and it finally started arriving to the backers at the end of October 2019, a whole year later. Some changes were made to the pledges and the stretch goals in the process; the following list notes the pledges, unlocked stretch goals and other add-ons you could get at the end of said campaign:
- Racer pledge (50$). It included:
- The core game.
- Green Hill/Eggman expansion.
- Super Sonic racer expansion.
- Super Pledge (100$). It included:
- Everything on the Racer pledge.
- 1 miniature pack of each badnik (40 miniatures in total).
- Every unlocked stretch goal.
- Hyper pledge (150$). It included:
- Everything on the Super Pledge.
- 1 pack of each of the optional buys.
- Metallic Madness/Metal Sonic level expansion (20$).
- Studiopolis/Infinite level expansion (20$).
- Big racer expansion (10$).
- Vector racer expansion (10$).
- Omega racer expansion (10$).
- Miniature Rock pack (10$).
Stretch goals (all of them unlocked):
- Oil Ocean/Shadow level expansion.
- Cream racer expansion.
- Rouge racer expansion.
- Espio racer expansion.
- Charmy racer expansion.
- Blaze racer expansion.
- Silver racer expansion.
- Sticks racer expansion.
- Jet racer expansion.
- Wave racer expansion.
- Storm racer expansion (special gift, see below).
- Token bag.
- Miniature Ring pack.
- Miniature Ring holders.
- Deluxe box.
- Racer holder/protector for the Deluxe box.
Additional info about the campaign:
- Super Sonic's ability and power were determined through a contest that took place during the campaign. The winners of that contest, Dylan N. Atkinson and Michael "Stiv" Stephenson, have their names featured on Super Sonic's racer profile.
- Initially, there was a stretch goal that would have given a metallic shine to racer profiles, but there was no guarantee that any racer released later would feature that upgrade, and a lot of backers wanted all the profiles to stick to the same design, so that stretch goal was removed at backers' request.
- Storm was planned as one of the last stretch goals, but licensing for him didn't make it on time for the campaign. Since the game was backed more than enough to unlock this character, Shinobi7 included it on the super and hyper pledges as if it had always been one of the real stretch goals.
- Game Design: Benjamin Yamada
- Graphic Design: Jamie Goldkamp
- Proofreader: Nibedita Sen
- Developer: Rob Stoddard
- CEO: Jason DeAngelis
- Source: Rulebook credits
- Sonic Battle Racers at Shinobi 7 Games
- Sonic Battle Racers at BoardGameGeek
- Sonic Battle Racers project on Kickstarter