Fastrack: NHL Edition Game Review

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The Basics:

  • For ages 3 and up (publisher suggests 5+)
  • For 2 players
  • Approximately 10 minutes to complete

Geek Skills:

  • Logical & Critical Decision Making
  • Hand/Eye Coordination & Dexterity
  • Reflex & Speed

Learning Curve:

  • Child – Easy
  • Adult – Easy

Theme & Narrative:

  • Table hockey at its fastest!

Endorsements:

  • Gamer Geek mixed!
  • Parent Geek approved!
  • Child Geek approved!

Overview

Hockey is one of those games that you don’t need to know how to play to enjoy. A typical hockey game is a blur of ice and flying sticks. Keeping an eye on the puck proves to be very difficult at times as it whizzes back and forth between players. Sometimes the game is a ballet of synchronized procession and sometimes a brutal brawl of punches. The ice rink might be cold, but the games are always hot. Now you can put the heat on your coffee table, too.

Fastrack: NHL Edition, originally designed by Jean-Marie Albert and co-published by CSE Games and Blue Orange Games, is comprised of 1 wooden “ice rink” and 10 plastic Puck discs. Included with the game is a small pouch that can be used to hold the Pucks when the game is put away. The game component quality is excellent and very durable. Do keep the Baby Geeks well away from the game, however, as the small Pucks are a serious choking hazard.

Game Set Up

To set up the game, first place the wooden ice rink in the middle of the playing area and have the 2 players sit on opposite ends.

Second, each player is given 5 Pucks which are placed to either side of the wooden ice rink referred to as the player’s “zone”. This portion of the ice rink contains several team logo images and is easy to identify. When done, both players should have 5 Pucks each waiting on the margins of the ice rink. Players can put all 5 of their Pucks in one of their zones or divide them between the two.

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That’s it for game set up. Drop the puck and hit the ice!

Ten Puck Slap Shot

Fastrack: NHL Edition is played in rounds with a total of 3 rounds (referred to as “Periods”) per game. During a round, both players will simultaneously be attempting to shoot the Pucks on their side of the ice rink to their opponent’s side. Sound easy? Not at all. The only way to “shoot” the Puck is to slide it back with one finger and fling it forward using a small elastic cord that is mounted to the two sides of the ice rink. Essentially, this acts like a slingshot that hurdles the Puck towards the opposite side.

But there is one “small” catch.

The ice rink’s dividing line is a small wooden wall that has the same thickness and height as the ice rink’s sides. Located at the base and in the middle of the dividing wall is a small slot. The slot is just big enough for a single Puck to pass through. If a player could take their time and aim their Puck towards the small slot, they would have a high success rate, but that is never the case in Fastrack. Both players are shooting their Pucks at the same time and as fast as they can until the round ends. There is never downtime to think.

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The most common method to get a Puck from one side of the ice rink to the other is through the small slot. A less common and legal way is to launch the Puck over the dividing wall. As long as the Puck lands and remains on the ice rink, it’s considered in play. Only those Pucks that are on the player’s side can be used to shoot and any Pucks resting in the small slot can only be moved by hitting them with another Puck.

Occasionally, a game will become so fever pitched that a Puck will go flying and land outside of the ice rink. These Pucks are considered out-of-bounds and cannot be used for the duration of the round.

Winning the Round and the Game

A single game round does not end until one player has successfully shot all the Pucks onto their opponent’s side of the ice rink. For example, if there are 10 Pucks currently in the game, all 10 Pucks must be on one side of the ice rink for the round to end. If Pucks are removed due to being out-of-bounds, then there are less Pucks to shoot and needed to end the round.

When the round ends, the game is reset as noted above. After the third and final round, the player who has won the most rounds wins the game.

To learn more about Fastrack: NHL Edition, see the game’s website.

Prediction

Fast and chaotic game play? I predict fun and screams!

Both the Child and the Parent Geeks are going to enjoy this game, I have no doubt. The Child Geeks are going to enjoy it more, of course, but the Parent Geeks should have a pleasant time, too. The Gamer Geeks are going to like the game, but it will not keep their interest for very long. Just one minute playing Fastrack is more than enough time to understand what the game is all about. There isn’t a lot of depth to Fastrack and the primary means to win is speed and dexterity. A sharp mind will be beaten every time by a fast blunt finger.

Teaching Fastrack is a two-step process.

Step 1: Pull back the Puck.

Step 2: Let the Puck fly.

And that’s it. Players will be repeating these two steps again and again and again until the conditions on the ice rink ends the round. When we taught the game, the most common questions we were asked were if it was possible to shoot more than one Puck at a time. The answer is a solid “no”, but a single hit of a Puck could cause two or more Pucks to go flying. The only other question of note that we were asked dealt with what Pucks could be used. Any Puck on the player’s side can be shot, but only one at a time. The only Pucks that cannot be used during a round are those that have flown off the ice rink.

After teaching the game to my 3 little geeks, I asked them their thoughts on Fastrack: NHL Edition before I let them go crazy with it.

“This is a great game!” ~ Liam (age 8)

“I don’t know how to play hockey, but I know I can play this game.” ~ Nyhus (age 6)

“Can we play this a lot, Daddy?” ~ Ronin (age 3)

Yes, we can play this game a lot. It’s a fast game and the time to set up it up is shorter than the time it took you to read this sentence (maybe). Let’s play Fastrack and see if it’s quick fun or a quick disappointment.

Final Word

As predicted, the Child Geeks loved Fastrack. Child Geeks who didn’t show much interest in card, board, or dice games sat down and loved it. Fastrack is easy to learn, exciting to play, and there were always players waiting in the wings ready to have their turn. In fact, after I finished testing the game with all our groups, I turned Fastrack over to my little geeks and I haven’t seen it since. They have claimed it as their own, it would seem, and that is a sure sign that the game was very well received. All the Child Geeks voted to approve Fastrack: NHL Edition and then asked me to stop bothering them so they could get back to playing it. Our youngest Child Geek at age 3 had no problem playing the game and even won several rounds.

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An intense game of flying pucks with my 3-year-old before bedtime

The Parent Geeks enjoyed their time playing the game with their Child Geeks and even found playing the game against their peers to be solid entertainment. Of course, it should come as no surprised that Fastrack didn’t have the same staying power with adults as it did with kids, but the allure was still there. I brought the game to my office and left it out in the open. Whenever someone stopped by, they would take a moment to look at the game, ask me how to play it, and then paused their busy work day to challenge me at some puck-flying-goodness. Every co-worker left with a smile. According to one such co-worker, “That’s a pretty neat little game. I can see my kids and I playing it.” Another Parent Geek said, “This game is mind-boggling boring at first, but after a few Pucks, you really get into it.” This particular Parent Geek brings up a good point. Fastrack is a very straightforward and shallow game. It’s the speed and intensity of the game play that will hook a player, not its depth. But lack of strategy and tactics did nothing to reduce its appeal and all the Parent Geeks voted to approve it.

The Gamer Geeks jumped all over this game and had a lot of fun with it. They all understood how it was played, talked a lot of smack when shooting Pucks, and laughed from start to finish. When it came time to vote on its level of approval, I was surprised to find the group was mixed. When I asked why, one Gamer Geek’s response summed it up nicely. He said, “This is a fast and fun game, but it’s not a Gamer Geeks’ game.” Yes, I can agree with that sentiment. Fastrack is little more than a simple dexterity game. All a player needs to do is shoot their Pucks faster with slightly better accuracy than their opponent to win. Thinking isn’t really necessary and there is no way to improve your chances of winning the game other than simply being lucky. But there were some Gamer Geeks who thought the game was enough to get their vote. According to one Gamer Geek who gave Fastrack: NHL Edition their thumbs up, “I enjoyed myself and smiled the entire time playing it. That’s enough for me to approve the game.” Enough for him, but not enough for the group. The end result was a mixed approval rating from the gaming elitists.

Fastrack: NHL Edition is nothing more than a rethemed version of Fastrack. No new rules are introduced and the game play is identical. The only aspect of the game that is different is the hockey motif that is lacquered on thinly. I don’t think that is enough to suggest that Fastrack: NHL Edition is a “hockey” game, but it’s not an inhibitor either. I’m also still on the fence regarding this game’s proper place. Should I put it on the game shelf or in the toy box? There are times where it feels like both.

I enjoyed my experience with Fastrack: NHL Edition and found the game’s inherent repetitive nature to be tolerable most of the time. Note that I said “most”. There were a number of games were the players were going so fast that they didn’t pause to consider how they were shooting the Pucks. This resulted in the Pucks simply bouncing back at them with nothing passing through to their opponent’s side. It was only a few minutes, but it felt a lot longer. Regardless of a game’s length, the players felt good about their experience, but did not necessarily always want to play it again right away.

In the end, I think Fastrack: NHL Edition is a pleasant and worthwhile game to put on your coffee table. It doesn’t necessarily provide an experience you’ll hunger for, but you’ll never turn down a game when it’s offered. The Child Geeks loved it, the Parent Geeks enjoyed playing it, and the Gamer Geeks kept flinging the Pucks back and forth with a grin despite the game’s lack of depth. You don’t have to like hockey (or even know of its existence) to enjoy the game and you can certainly make the time to play it. It’s quick, to the point, and will keep you engaged from the very first Puck shot to the last.

This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.

About Cyrus

Editor in Chief, Owner/Operator, Board Game Fanatic, Father of Three, and Nice Guy, Cyrus has always enjoyed board, card, miniature, role playing, and video games, but didn't get back into the hobby seriously until early 2000. Once he did, however, he was hooked. He now plays board games with anyone and everyone he can, but enjoys playing with his children and wife the most. Video games continue to be of real interest, but not as much as dice and little miniatures. As he carefully navigates the ins and outs of parenting, he does his very best to bestow what wisdom he has and help nurture his children's young minds. It is his hope and ambition to raise three strong, honorable men who will one day go on to do great things and buy their Mom and Dad a lobster dinner Cyrus goes by the handle fathergeek on Board Game Geek. You can also check him out on CyrusKirby.com. Yes, he has a URL that is his name. His ego knows no bounds, apparently....
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2 Responses to Fastrack: NHL Edition Game Review

  1. Avery says:

    Funny, I just saw this game at a local bookstore.

    • Cyrus says:

      You’d learn more about hockey by reading one of the books in the store instead of playing this game. I doubt it would be more fun, though.

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