NOTE: This review was originally posted on October 3, 2019 to: everythingboardgames.com/2019/10/visions-of-rainbows-race-for-champions.html, but due to the site owners’ unsupportive stance on Black Lives Matters issues, I’ve asked them to remove my association with them. Dane Trimble, the reviewer below, has also moved on for similar reasons.
Designer: Jason McDowell
Artist: Jason McDowell
Publisher: Little Tiny Fish
Year Published: 2019
No. of Players: 3-7
Playing Time: 120-180 min.
Find more info on LittleTinyFish.com
WARNING: This is a preview of Visions of Rainbows: The Race for the Champion’s Stripes. All components and rules are prototype and subject to change.
Visions of Rainbows: The Race for the Champion’s Stripes is a board game about bike racing. So what does Rainbows have to do with bike racing? I asked myself that same question, and here is what I found.
“The rainbow jersey is the distinctive jersey worn by the reigning world champion in a bicycle racing discipline, since 1927.” And I always thought it was a yellow jacket. 🙂
In Visions of Rainbows players will be controlling a team of riders, including their All Star, Climber, Sprinter and three Domestiques (a rider who works for the benefit of their team), to get the best overall team time (lowest time by the entire team). The player who achieves this will be the winner of the Rainbow Jersey and the game.
To begin the game, all players will create the track from a variety of different tiles. The tiles consist of many different terrain types including Mountain Climbs, Flats, Descents, Sprints, and Cobblers (a shoe maker on the course or a yummy dessert). The track can be as long or short as players would like, with the only rule being there needs to be Starting Map tile and a Finishing Map tile. In my experience, if you make it too short the game last for less than one round which is no fun. Make it too long and the game can play for well over two hours.
Once the track is laid out, players will take turns adding their cyclist to the starting tile. This will go from the first player to the last (one cyclist at a time) then back up from the last to the first, and so on and so forth until all the cyclists have been placed.
Players are then dealt tactic cards (amount depending on the number of players) along with a hand of five of their action cards (each player has their own action card deck). The action cards are used to move a player’s riders along the track. But be careful, as you move your rider(s) you will also be moving your opponents riders. Card types consist of Lead Movement (pull riders behind you), Draft Movement (pull riders behind and push those in front), Chase Movement (push riders in front of you), Break Movement (a solo move), and Wild (can be any type).
Once a player moves one of their riders, they will flip over the rider token to indicate that rider has moved for the round (each cyclist only gets to be activated once per round). Once all riders for all teams have been activated, a new round will begin. The game will end once all riders (from all teams) have crossed the finish line. And as mentioned before the player whose team has the overall lowest time wins!
When I was first approached about reviewing Visions of Rainbows, I was pretty excited. I enjoy the racing genre of games and have played and enjoyed bike racing games in the past. This one looked like it might be a bit more complicated due to the iconography and rule book; however, it is not.
In fact, the turn structure is relatively easy to grasp. Play a card from your hand and move an available rider of your choice. Where the complexity of the game comes in is knowing when and where to move what rider(s), as each have different strengths and weaknesses and timing is everything.
After several plays I still feel like I have a lot to learn about the strategy of this game, and I have a feeling that won’t change any time soon. It reminds me a lot of Chess in that way.
As pointed out above, the game can play as short or as long as you want based on how long the course is and how many players you have (plays up to 7). The longer the game is will allow for more strategy and long-term planning with your different cyclist, and will allow full use of your deck and tactic cards.
Event cards are played every so often and can really shake up the game. These cards may force a player’s rider to move to the back of the pack due to a flat tire or chilly rain may keep all players from using their tactic cards for a round.
The game is relatively easy to learn and teach. There are only a few things to wrap your head around, like knowing what the different action cards do and how they affect your rider and those around you. You will also need to learn how to use the tactic cards to benefit you the most.
There are many things you have to keep track of like rider abilities, damage from the played action cards, “bumping” rules (when moving through traffic) and others that can easily be forgotten. The best trick is to use the rule book to go through a complete turn before moving on to the next turn. I did this for an entire game before getting everything down pat.
Artwork and Components:
I am not sure that I can judge the artwork of the game as there isn’t much of it and the artwork that is in the game could be a draft form only. That being said, I dig the modern minimalist style they have going on for it.
As far as components themselves go, there is a bunch of cardboard included in this one. It can seem overwhelming at first, however once you figure out what everything is used for, your anxiety can take a back seat and you can get back to riding.
I really love the use of the action cards! Not only do they affect your rider, but all those around you as well. You may play a lead move that takes another ten riders with you or a breakaway that pulls your cyclist out in front but gives them permanent damage. There are a lot of choices to consider which can make for very exciting moments in the game.
Along with the unique way each card type moves your riders, you need to pay attention to how it may damage them as well. One card might not make the best move but it also might afford your rider to last a little longer.
Lastly is the fact that it isn’t who crosses the line first, but the team that crosses all together with the lowest time that matters most. This makes for interesting strategy as keeping your riders together can be very beneficial.
The Less than Good:
For me, the two big issues were the housekeeping (tracking all the cyclist stats/abilities along with flipping over the cyclist token every time you activate one) and the length of the game. The latter mostly being an issue because my main gaming group is my kids whose attention span doesn’t allow for a two-hour game.
There is a lot of game packed into this one. From easy-to-learn rules to deep and strategic decisions this is a game that will be coming off the shelf often.
Players Who Like:
Racing games biking games or strategy games like Chess.
One question I am sure will be asked is how it compares to Flamme Rouge? Besides the theme and genre, there are not many similarities. Yes, both games use player decks to drive movement; however, how they are used to accomplish this are very different. I don’t see why a biking enthusiast (or race-game enthusiast for that matter) couldn’t have both games in their collection.