- For ages 10 and up (publisher suggests 12+)
- For 2 players
- Approximately 30 minutes to complete
- Active Listening & Communication
- Counting & Math
- Logical & Critical Decision Making
- Strategy & Tactics
- Hand/Resource Management
- Child – Easy
- Adult – Easy
Theme & Narrative:
- Travel down the iconic Route 66, ensuring you see the sites along the way!
- Gamer Geek approved!
- Parent Geek approved!
- Child Geek approved!
English conductor known for his association with the London Symphony Orchestra, having first conducted it in 1959, Colin Davis said, “The road to success and the road to failure are almost exactly the same.” In this game, players will go down the iconic highway, Route 66. Players will race from the middle of the United States to the West Coast in hopes of being the very first player to see the ocean. However, the road to be traveled is bumpy, and victory will only go to the player who can navigate it wisely.
Route 66: Get Your Tricks, designed by J Simmons and self-published through The Game Crafter, is comprised of one bi-fold Dashboard Map mat, one bi-fold Odometer mat, six Player discs (three red, three blue), four yellow transparent Warning Light discs, five Instertate cards, 24 Destination cards, and one Steering Wheel card. Illustrations, also by J Simmons, are bright and colorful, capturing unique sites to see along the historic U.S. Route 66, one of the United States’ first highways.
Prepping for Your Road Trip
To set up the game, complete the following steps.
First, unfold and place the Dashboard Map mat and Odometer mat to one side of the playing area and within easy reach of both players. Place the yellow Warning Light discs next to the Odometer mat.
Second, have each player select one of the two colors that make up the Player discs. Each player will place one disc in the “Begin” space on the Dashboard Map mat, one Player disc in the “0” space on the Odemeter mat, and one in front of their playing space to remind them of their color.
Third, take the Interstate cards and play them on the table in a single row. Starting with the “10 – End of the Trail” Interstate card and followed by any of the remaining Interstate cards. Order doesn’t matter, but the “20” value should be the only value currently showing.
Fourth, shuffle the Destination cards and deal six to each player face-down. This is the player’s starting hand. Players should look at their cards but keep them hidden from their opponent until played.
Sixth, flip the topmost card from the Destination card deck and place it face-up in the middle of the playing area. This sets the Trump suit. Find and flip the Interstate card that matches the color and flip it so it shows the “40” value. Place the Destinate card draw deck off to one side of the playing area. This is now the “Open Road” stock for the game’s duration.
This completes the game setup. Determine who will go first, give them the Steering Wheel card, and begin your trip!
Quick Note on the Lead Player
The “Lead Player” is the current player with the Steering Wheel card. The Lead Player may take any of the following actions at any time during the round, but only once per Trick and before playing the lead card.
- Tune-Up: If the Lead Player has the zero-value Destination card that matches the current face-up Trump card, they may replace the zero-valued Trump card with the face-up Trump card, placing the higher-valued Trump card into their hand. This action is only available if currently playing on the open road.
- Interstate Photo Opportunity: From your hand, show the “3” value and the “4” value matching suit values (they also both have a camera icon). This awards the player the points currently displayed (20 or 40) of the matching Interstate card suit. These points are added to the player’s total on the Odemeter mat. This might end the round. If it does not, the player takes the Interstate card and adds it to their stack of previously won Tricks.
- Close the Road: Discards the Trump card. The player’s opponent then takes their unused Player disc and places it on top of their Player disc on the Odemeter mat, creating a stack of two Player discs or on the “Speedometer” image found on the Destination Map mat if the opponent has not yet won any Tricks. The second Player disc will remain at its current location for the round duration, regardless of whether the opponent scores additional points.
An Even Quicker Note on the Following Player
The player in the Lead might seem overpowered and have all the advantages. Nothing is further from the truth. There is a real advantage to being in the rear.
The Following Player (the opponent who doesn’t have the Steering Wheel card) can use the Warning Light discs to adjust the gameplay. However, the Warning Light disc must be played before playing a card, and only one Warning Light may be “illuminated” per round. Once illuminated (selected), the action is provided and may not be used again for the remainder of the game.
- Brights: View up to four of the top-most face-down cards in the Open Road stock and place them back to the top of the deck in any order. This action cannot be taken if the road is closed.
- Hazards: Swap any card in hand with the face-up Trump card, turning the appropriate Interstate cards to their “20” or “40” point value sides and adjusting points scored in the Odometer mat accordingly. This action can only be taken if the Trump card is in play.
- Emergency Brake: Return any claimed Interstate card into play and in the row. The player who loses the Interstate card must immediately reduce their total points on the Odemeter by “20” or “40” spaces based on the Interstate card value.
- Gas Tank: Immediately add 10 points to the Odometer mat. Lead is then taken for the next Trick regardless of who would have won it.
Route 66: Get Your Tricks is played in rounds and turns with no set number of rounds per game. A game round is summarized here.
Playing On the Open Road
A round begins with the player who has the Steering Wheel card. They play any Destination card from their hand face-up in front of them. This is referred to as the “lead suit.”
Their opponent must now play a Destination card as well. However, since the first portion of every round is considered an “open road,” the opponent who follows may play any Destination card they like. That is to say, they are not required to play a Destination card of the same suit as the lead suit.
These two cards played are called the “Trick.”
The two cards in the Trick are now evaluated. The player who placed the Destination card with the highest number value of the lead suit wins the Trick, or the highest value card that matches the Trump suit wins the Trick. This means the opponent could win the Trick if they play any card that matches the Trump suit, regardless of its number value.
The player who wins the Trick now determines their score. This is done by adding the number values of the two cards played. The total is calculated, and then the player’s disc on the Odemeter mat is moved that number of spaces forward, indicating the total number of points they have earned so far.
Once the points are calculated, the cards in the Trick are gathered by the player who won the Trick and placed face-down in a stack next to them. No players can ever look at the Destination cards played and scored.
Finally, both players, starting with the player who won the Trick, draw one card from the Open Road stock of cards and add them to their hand to bring the total number of cards back up to six. Give the player who won the Trick the Steering Wheel card.
Game play continues as noted until the road is closed.
Playing On the Closed Road
Open Road gameplay continues as described above until one of three conditions is met.
- A player drives (scores) 66 or more miles/points, thus ending the round.
- The lead player (the one with the Steering Wheel card) decides to “close the road.”
- The sixth trick is won.
“Closed Road” gameplay changes the rules a bit.
- The suit of the lead card must be followed. The Following Player must always play their highest matching suit value if it would allow them to win the Trick. If unable to win the Trick with the highest valued suit card, the Following Player must play a Trump card. If unable to do so, the Following Player may play any card.
- No cards are replenished after the Trick is won.
- No Interstate cards are won through the Photo Opportunity special action.
Game play continues until all the cards in the players’ hands are played, or a player earns 66 or more points.
Ending the Round
The round comes to an end if either of the following conditions are met:
- A player scores 66 or more points
- The final Trick is won on the “Closed Road” (meaning none of the players have cards left to play). If this condition ends the round, the player who wins the final Trick also takes the “10 – End of the Trail” Interstate card and adds 10 points, but only if all the other Interstate cards have been acquired.
Both players now look to see which gets to move their Player disc on the Destination map mat based on conditional and basic scoring. Only one player can move their Player disc at the end of each round.
If the game has not been won, reset for the next round.
- Return all Odometer values to “zero” and return any secondary Player disc on the Odometer to its owning player.
- Player discs on the Destination Map mat, and any placed Warning Light discs remain in place.
- Shuffle the Destination cards, set a new Trump, and deal six new Destination cards to each player.
- Pass the Steering Wheel card to the other player who starts the next round.
Reaching Your Final Destination
The game ends when a player travels on the Destination Map to the final location (“End of the Trail”). The first player to do so wins the game.
To learn more about Route 66: Get Your Tricks, visit the game’s webpage.
The Child Geeks enjoyed this trick-taking game, finding it easy to understand the rules and even more straightforward to have fun. According to one Child Geek, “The game is easy to learn and fun to play. The best part is the special abilities you can use during your turn, and I love watching my car go across the map.” Another Child Geek reported, “I liked the game, and I liked how you can score points to make your car, disc, or game piece of whatever we call it move to California. It felt like a race but one that I could win.” When all the cars had come to a stop, the Child Geeks got out, and all decided the game was well worth the trip.
The Parent Geeks also enjoyed the game, finding it a fun new take on traditional trick-taking games. One Parent Geek reported, “I’m not a fan of two-player games most of the time, as I enjoy playing with all my family members. This game, however, was a lot of fun and could only ever be enjoyed with just two. Each game was fast and had me making meaningful and entertaining choices. It’s a real winner.” Another Parent Geek said, “Oh, I liked it. It is the best trick-taking game I have played in a while. What made it so interesting was how you can manipulate your points repeatedly to jump just a little ahead or get a little behind. There were a lot of great choices to be made, and I enjoyed every one of them.” When the tanks were all out of gas, the Parent Geeks agreed to fill them up again so they could take another trip on Route 66.
The Gamer Geeks sat at the table expecting to play “yet another trick-taking card game” (which was always followed by dramatic and over-the-top reenactments of exaggerated yawns). In this case, however, the Gamer Geek shut their mouths and leaned into the table, finding Route 66: Get Your Tricks to be something different. According to one Gamer Geek, “What makes this game stand out from all the other trick-taking card games are the little powers and abilities you can trigger. I liked this as it gave the game additional depth and gave me different roads – you’ll excuse the pun – to travel down on my way to victory. I’d play this again.” Another Gamer Geek boldly reported, “This is an outstanding and well-themed trick-taking card game. So pleased to have had a chance to play this little gem.” When the sunset blazed off into the West, the Gamer Geeks all agreed that playing this fun little card game was a wonderful day.
Route 66: Get Your Tricks was a real surprise for all who played. As was mentioned time and time again, all of our players were expecting a trick-taking card game with a loosely based theme of traveling down an old highway. Indeed, they did get it, but they also got so much more. The game had a surprising depth that introduced rewarding and cunning strategies. Each player always felt empowered, and the games went quickly, with victory never being a sure thing until the end.
My biggest concern about the game is the components. The mats are thick cardstock that is folded over. This works to fit them in the box, but it felt cheap considering how often these are used and how important it is to keep them in top shape for the many times you’ll be shifting counters on them. Game publishers need to keep their production costs down to make a dent in their debt, but the design choice to have a bi-fold mat with spaces on the folded seam where discs were to be placed wasn’t a good one. After playing the game ten or more times, it caused one of our mats to rip. It’s easily fixed with some clear tape, but still…
All things being equal and production choices put to the side, Route 66: Get Your Tricks was a big winner and received praise from all our groups. This is most certainly a game you should try. Take this game on a trip to see if you enjoy the journey.
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.