Development, the F1 Board Game
Russell Degnan

I can easily recall the first sporting event I was allowed to forgo "bed time" and stay up late for: the Wimbledon men's final of 1987. Whether my parents' realised it, or were merely helpless to prevent it happening anyway, this represented a watershed in what became (and has continued to be) an endless series of late-night sporting vigils for cricket, cycling, tennis, football, and in the immediate years after 1987, Formula One.

This was something of a pity though, because 1986 and 1987 represented the best two years of F1 racing for probably the next twenty-five years. Five drivers won races from four different teams in both those years, with three drivers contending for the championship decided in Adelaide in 1986. Subsequent years were less kind, as first McLaren then Williams dominated the standings.

The highpoint in my interest, and my board game making and playing, was in 1990. The cars lack any of my brother's precise (albeit much older) hand, but offset it with surprising detail in the colours and shape of the air intakes. There were plenty of teams and obscure names in those years for the aspiring anorak, and hand drawing each and every one of them was a handy starting place.

In around 1989, my brother made a wooden and paper-mache version of the board, now stored at my parents, complete with hills and painted colours. It was magnificent, but couldn't deal with number of cars, or an expanding sense of what made a good game. Other tracks were created, three A3 sheets big and coated in contact. Future board games would get cardboard backs and computer printing, but this depended on rulers and smudged ink.

Racing lines were introduced, and pass cards (for lapping vehicles). Somewhere there is a clipboard full of race results, each lap recorded against the number of turns, and the fraction of each turn used to cross the line (I can still calculate fractions for every number up to 24). Fastest lap times and time gaps, carefully recorded, and whole seasons run on the floor of a bedroom.

Probability simulations became something of a hobby as my mathematics knowledge (and my general nerdiness) increased. This came to its fullest fruition in cricket, but there were changes in F1 too. There was an obvious difference between a real race, with a small handful of passing manoeuvres in tens of laps, and a board game where a car could run back to front with a handful of lucky rolls.

Some basic ideas were developed around gears, where a car would accelerate out of corners, keeping its position; on tyre wear; and in making the better teams very slightly faster, turn on turn. There are further notes on game practice and recording results efficiently, and a multi-coloured board that made good use of a derwent pencil set.

And then? Computers happened. Microprose Grand Prix specifically, which was quicker to play, and somewhat more fun. Then serious school (sort-of) and university. The bits and pieces got filed in the cupboard, appearing only recently, when I decided to revive the board game. But that's another post.

Frivolous Pastimes 6th April, 2015 23:10:48   [#] 

Comments

Development, the F1 Board Game
Fantastic that you've still got the original materials, I wish I had still had the many notepads where I played my own dice versions of F1, horse racing and cricket.

From memory my F1 game was just a grid with the names down the left and 20 or so columns. Each driver would get bonus points based on their car/talents/grid position (NFI how I determined that) then I'd go down the list rolling the dice - and with bonuses included whoever had the highest score at the end won. A retirement was generated when the same number was rolled a third time in a row.

The cricket game was far simpler, dice roll for each batsman's score - with five generating an appeal then another five or six being out. Didn't give a rats about the bowler's figures.

I feel like there must be remnants of these many well spent days somewhere in my archives, and will now be digging through them.
Adam 1.0  8th April, 2015 14:02:30  

Development, the F1 Board Game
Like many things, including just about everything on this blog, I merely put aside a project, rather than toss it. Twenty years seems like an excessive hiatus though.

There is another post to come, because I have recently redone the whole shebang. The cross-section of art project, probability problem and gaming is still pretty fun.

I don't have any remnants of my cricket dice games, but some time after I got a calculator with a random number generator I developed a (relatively accurate) simulator for matches, and I still have all the scorecards/statistical compilations from those. That's for another post though.
Russ  9th April, 2015 10:59:22