First play: CarmaRace

Posted by Jørgen S. Kjølsen on Tuesday, July 8. 2014 in Reviews

I have had a board game session with one my groups, Get the Game Started (feel free to join us if you are near Copenhagen and ant to join us at one of our events). During this game event, I was playing Cluedo, then Drageborgen/Dungeon Quest - and then ended the night with a session of CarmaRace!

This is a review of CarmaRace after playing it for the very first time!

Purpose of the game
The game is as the name apply, a race game: In this game you are one of six nerds who have heard that the first visitor at a convention will get a special collectors item - so now there is a buzz around the block! You want to get there before your nerdy neighbors! The problem: The convention is across the country and none of you own a car so you have to hitchhike to the convention.

How to start the game
Each player choose one of the six characters; they have a special ability including adding or retracting speed to your or opponents transportation card or reroll dice. When all players chose their character you find out who starts. If you are the player on 5th or 6th spot you can start the game using Train (5th spot) or Aeroplane (6th spot) - if you will get one of those Transport cards!
Players not take cards up in their hands; the cards are divided into four piles: Transportation, Road Carma, Air Carma and Rail Carma (they might really have other names but this is what I choose to call them in this review!). The amount of cards is used by following algorithm; Amount of players + 2 - so if you play a 6 players game your hand limit is 8, if you play 2 players your hand limit is 4 - but the designers have been nice enough to write in the rulebook that you can make your own house rules, including changing the hand limit, but in this session we used a limit of eight cards, as we were six players active.

When it is your turn
When it is your turn you have to go through five phases: In the you start by taking cards up to your hand limit. Then your play your Transportation Card, which could be a car with a speed of 6. At the same time you can play a carma card; this has to be the right type; You can't play an Aero Carma card for a car or a Rail Carma card on a plane. This is the second phase and is called the Transportation Phase.
Now everyone - including yourself, by turn, play a Carma Card matching your mean of transportation; this can be Good (green), Bad (Red) or Neutral/Risky (Yellow); some of these cards have a fixed speed change, such as Plus 5 or Minus 3, on other cards you roll the dice (there are two red and two green dice) which then will tell you what to do; this can be different from Carma card to Carma card, so I wont go in details here. There are also some Carma cards which simply ends the Carma Phase and skips the next phase, called the Movement Phase! The Carma Phase ends either by an "Ender" card or by a a whole circle of "pass" in the Carma phase. In the first three rounds, you are not allowed to play any Bad Carma cards. Neutral or Good are still allowed!
If your Movement Phase is not skipped by a Carma card you now calculate your total movement; If you started with a speed of 6, your might now have more or less - or just the same. Let's say you put a +2 on yourself, your friend put a -3 on and another one placed a -2 on. You then added a +5 card and everyone passes. This will give a total speed of 8 and you can now move eight spaces ahead. If your speed is 0 or negative you can choose to walk instead; this will move you ONE step ahead (it is considered an EPIC WIN if you cross the finish line using a biocycle (speed 2) or walks!). Your then get out of the vehicle that you hitchhiked - meaning that you discard the Transportation Card and the Carma Cards in play. Public cars (Taxis and Busses) you can use again following the rules stated on the cards, and if you use a plane or a train you use this card untill you reach the next station/airfield.
Now it is time for the last phase; Here you can discard up to two of your cards to draw two new ones; it does not have to be the same type. Your turn is now over and your the next player start his or her turn by taking cards back to the hand limit.

The game goes on like this until one person reaches the convention hall to get that epic loot!

What can happen?
I will tell you what happened to some of us during our play;
I had gotten my way to an airstrip and played my "Carma Airline" Transportation card; This is a Speed 20 card; at the same time I played a Speed +1 card - and as no one had any bad Air Carma to stop me, I flew directly to the next airport and was ready.
Next to me was Kelli who also wanted to fly with her Carma Airlines" but did not have a positive carma card, meaning she had to stop right before the airstrip anyway. Risking of being hated and backstabbed the rest of the game, I played my Bad Carma card called "Turbulence"; not only did it set her back by eight spaces, but she also had to roll one red die which said how many cards she had to discard: Carma was against her and she lost her entire hand, giving her no chance to fight back; and no chance to put any bad carma on any other player untill her next turn where she should restock her hand.

Carma IS a bitch; The next time that I chose to fly, Kelli crashed my plane by hauling a bunch of birds in my turbines making my plane crash and set me back on the road, now having much longer than estimated before I reached the finish line.

I repayed her by letting her stuck in the middle of the game board, constantly setting her back using the most evil and devious cards that I had... But... as I said; this game has a lot of backstabbing included, so I will let you to guess what happened while I was sooooooo close to the finish line...

What can I say about this game?
I deffently recommend it! There is so much satisfaction in backstabbing your best friends by hurling bad, bad carma on them - but to be honest you also get a bit "upset" when it's pay back time! But this game is very fun!
If you have a chance of playing this with someone you know, I would recommend you to do this - and if you don't; BUY IT! If your local game store don't have it or can't get it home for you, you can always get it at the publisher, using CarmaRace's own website.

A bit of a warning thou; the Carma Phase can take a very long time, making the numbers on the side of the box a huge lie - especially with six players! According to users of, it is best with five players; I would say maybe four is the optimal.

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