Yesterday seven of us gathered at Game Matrix to run out Daveshoe's revisions of Thunderboats for cup racing, meaning multiple heats. Dave ran the games while Dave Demick, son Casey, Mark Waddington, Dale Mickel, Chris Bauermeister and I pushed around the boats. Any excuse to race hydroplanes makes for a good day, but the additional rules for pit crews, enhanced build points, and the fickle nitrous bottles were especially fun.
I don't know what strategies others used, but building a boat with 21 points to spread over three heats was a challenge. I took Miss Wahoo, one of my favorite boats, and chose a top driver, a top pit crew, three engine points, four hull points, a couple of re-rolls, and one nitrous bottle. I figured it would allow me to take some extra chances, and the strategy worked pretty well-through one heat.
In heat one I finished third. I was actually positioned pretty well to compete for the win, but stalled just before the finish line. That's a tough place to crap out. I had good die rolls-no, great die rolls-until the bad card draw. Unfortunately everyone else had good die rolls too, so I couldn't recover. Dale won the first heat. In heat two, in the first turn, I took hull damage and lost three of my four boxes. I stayed pretty conservative for a full lap and decided to take a few more risks. This became more difficult when my driver lost his nerve, so his plus three die modifier became a plus two. Mark Waddington won, but I used my nitrous bottle on the final corner and rolled a perfect twenty to pass Dale and take second. I hadn't won any heats but with nine points was still competitive. I needed to win the last heat to win the race. Didn't happen. I had pretty mediocre speed rolls, and lost my nerve again, so I was only a plus one driver. That meant taking risks were, well, risky. Through a series of card draws and a nasty collision roll Wahoo got pretty well beat up. Worse, I just couldn't get a decent die roll and was in danger of becoming irrelevant as I fell further off the pace. Finally, on the last lap, I rolled a fifteen, trusted to luck and made a move that pushed me right into the crowd of leaders. The downside is I had five rolls to make for engine pushes, corner pushes, roostertails and the like. I only passed one and my boat's fragile hull sprung a major leak and my racing day was over. Mark won the race in a close finish with Dale. Well done. All seemed to enjoy the new rules. I thought they demanded a lot more strategic thinking.
I should explain the pictures. First-as usual-I nearly forgot to take any pictures. The camera remained in its bag until the third heat. The first picture is coming out of the first turn--probably turn two of the heat. Everyone is still racing. Hawaii Kai leads the pack. I'm the brown boat running second on the outside with Mark's red Miss Exide running inside. In the second pic Dale and Casey are counting hexes as Casey prepares to move his blue Revenge. "Ah geez my driver lost his nerve, can I manage to push that corner?"
Below, Dale's Mariner Too has a mishap with his nitrous bottle. Not many drivers took them as there was a chance that they could result in an engine fire. I only used mine once, and it was very successful. Dale used his twice, and the second time, bingo, engine fire. I happened to have a Litko fire marker to decorate his boat with. Dave contemplates the cluster of racers in the turn second turn of lap one. His Hawaii Kai is still leading, but he'll suffer engine damage in the second lap and have to drop out. My boat is in hanging in there, but in fifth place.
I'm a high school history and journalism teacher, a career I've loved and continued to enjoy. Aside from my family I have several passions-miniature wargaming, movies, books and music. I'm also a died in the wool Mariners fan and baseball lover.