We were kindly gifted Velonimo by 25th Century Games for review. This game helps immerse you in the world of competitive biking. All players race to be the first one to lose all their cards, and the first player to do so wins the largest share of points. The race lasts four rounds. Throughout your race, you will strategize, bluff, up the ante, and sometimes stall until the moment is right. You’ll laugh, get angry, feel excited, and sometimes be disappointed. This game is a fun addition to the table and can be learned in a matter of minutes.
The game comes packaged in a neat and tidy box that has a slight gap in closing, giving it a post-modern feel and a great eye-catching silhouette for your shelf. Inside are a set of cards that are in 7 colors and are numbered 1-7. Each card has a different animal riding a bike, and they are all a sight to see. Each color represents a “team.” The artwork is whimsical and light-hearted. This is a family game that is not afraid to be silly with its art. You’re racing animals against each other, and that’s all that matters for the art. There are also 6 break away cards that are black and feature a hare racing its little heart out on its own (as it has no teammates). The final card is the Leader of the Pack Jersey, which counts as a bonus card for the winner of the round.
Setup is extremely easy: All cards (except the Leader of the Pack Jersey card) are shuffled together, and 11 cards are distributed to each player (any remaining cards are set aside). That’s it. No fuss, no mess, easy as pie.
The game strategy itself is rarely simple. In short, it is a sort of bidding game with a few extra steps. Step one is that the first player begins an attack, which represents the progress they are making in the race. There are two ways to attack: a single card or a combination of cards. The value of other players’ cards must then be greater than the attack that was just played. The value of the attack for a single card is simply the value of that card, which is to say that if you play a green 2, the value that must then be exceeded is 2. This is a good strategy if you want to take it easy and maybe see what the other players will bring to the race. However, you’ll quickly find out that a valid way to win is to do a mad dash toward the finish line and hope you don’t run out of energy. This is done by playing a combination of cards.
By using a combination of cards you’ll more efficiently use your cards to have greater attacks than a single card. There are two types of combinations: same color or same number/animal. The two are pretty self-explanatory. From a combination of cards, your attack value is 10 × (the number of cards played) + (the lowest value card). So if your combination consists of a green 1, green 2 and green 4, your attack is 31 (since 10 × 3 +1 is 31). If your combination is a blue 7 and a red 7, your total will be 27.
On your turn, you may also pass, which does not mean you are out of the game but simply chose to conserve your energy (maybe). You don’t want to let the table know what you are holding, so sometimes saving a large combination until the last possible moment is a great way to get rid of cards. If you pass and it comes back to you, you can play cards if you’d like.
This continues until ALL players have passed and are unable to play additional cards, and the winner of that attack will get the opportunity to start the attack by starting the pile over. You’ll find that playing large combinations earlier in the game extinguishes the large combinations in the latter part of the game. This unique mechanic makes it really feel as though you are racing and brings to mind the tortoise and the hare.
Play continues until a player runs out of cards. The first player to do so earns the Jersey card and gains 1st place. Play continues until only one player remains. The following rounds are scored with progressively more and more points. This can lead to the first winner potentially getting last place! This is a fun game to bring to the table and an easy game for newcomers to enjoy.
Language Barrier Playability: Excellent. This game has and will be played many times with a language barrier. All you need are basic math skills and the ability to discern colors. There are small symbols to help colorblind players, but they are tough to see. Especially for the yellow cards (white on a yellow background is never a good color combination for symbols or text).
Replayability: Good. The game is played over several rounds and it gets progressively more aggressive as gameplay continues. There are two types of players: the ones who are finished after the race is over and the ones who catch their second wind.
Artwork: Cute, odd, and a little silly. The box is a great little work of art on its own and the two couple together quite nicely.
Quality: Good. It’s a nice game of decent quality. The cards a durable but are by no means tough. The light texture of the cards lends itself to easy shuffling and picking up.
Strategy: On the surface, very simple, but over the course of the entire game, it is fairly complex.
Instruction Manual: Excellent. The game is explained very quickly and wastes no time in teaching you how to play. There are a few pictures when needed and it is easy to find rules for later reference.
Organization: Excellent. It’s a deck of cards, a rule book and a stack of score sheets. Not exactly a lot to pack away but Velonimo does a good job of fitting it all in a neat package.