Game conventions are a wonderful way to discover new games and even get a chance to demo them. When we travel to attend one, we typically like to pack a couple smaller games in case we don’t find anything to purchase immediately. We recently returned from one in Nebraska where we did exactly that. This time, among others, we chose the new card game by 25th Century Games, Velomino.
Originally published in France, home of the Tour de France, this quick card game just recently made its debut in the United States. It fit our criteria to learn at a convention because the box promised “Ultra simple rules” and only thirty minutes for a full game. We found this to be perfectly accurate.
The box also describes the game as an addictive trick-taking game, and with this I would disagree. While tricks are part of game play, points aren’t determined by the tricks you win. Instead, the goal is to shed your hand of cards. This reminded us of a similar, classic game, Tichu.
Thematically, Velomino is about groups of cute animals riding bicycles in a climbing race. The game is played over five rounds, representing five different hills climbed through the entire race. Each player begins the game with eleven cards dealt out from the shuffled deck. A separate Jersey card is kept aside and will be awarded to the leading player at the end of each round.
On a turn, you will play one or more cards to the center of the play area trying to beat the total of the previous person. Cards must be played in sets by number or color. The value of your play is determined by the number of cards multiplied by ten, plus the shown value of the lowest card played. As an example, if you played three 3’s, the value of that play would be thirty-three.
There are also Breakaway cards which are not played in sets – only on their own. These high-value cards might help you win the current trick, but only get one card out of your hand. We found it is best to save them for later in the round. You don’t want to get stuck holding a low-numbered card you cannot play.
Everyone takes turns playing or passing until no one can (or wants) to play to that trick. The last person to have played becomes the starting player for the next trick. You’ll need to plan and manage your cards so that you have a chance to be the first person to play their last card. If you play a set which includes one or more of the number “one”, this allows you to take a card (or cards) from any opponent, look at them to decide whether to keep them, and then return the same amount to the other player.
The first player to play their final card from their hand receives one point for each other player with cards still in their hands, times the round number. This makes the first round worth a point per opponent remaining. While the last round scores five times as many points! After each round, the total overall score is checked. The player in the lead is given the Jersey card to use during the next round. When played, this card adds ten points to the total score of that set.
After the fifth and final leg, the person with the highest overall total wins. They are given the Jersey card (to use in the next game?). Velonimo proved popular at the convention. We would suggest picking it up wherever you typically purchase your games (FLGS, direct from the publisher or on Amazon). Don’t forget to follow 25th Century Games on Facebook or Twitter to find out what hill they’re climbing next!
Have you ever entered a bicycle racing competition?