Mistral Games, UK, 2024


As I have said elsewhere, every now and then I receive an email from someone who is developing a cycling game, just came across my site, and thought that it was a good idea to contact me. Which it is, though I apologise for not always being quick to answer. Some of these people think they have invented the best possible game and just want me to acknowledge it, others (think they) have a "finished" game and want some advice about how to find an editor or distributor, and a few are asking for advice about the rules. I generally try to help where I can (most often I can't), and I always ask them to keep me informed of the progress of the game. Sometimes the conversation stops there and I never hear of the game again, sometimes the exchange goes on and eventually gets somewhere. (By the way, I could have used this paragraph to introduce the description of a few other games, among them this one, which I am also adding to this site this month).

In 2019 I received one of the aforementioned emails from David Sachs, from London, who looked like (and is!) the kind of person who listens to advice, and with whom I have had a nice email exchange these years. Anyway, I just gave him some advice: "test , test, test, and then retest the game"; and also "don't expect to get rich with it". (I more or less give the same advice to everybody). We probably also discussed the rules, but David had a quite clear idea of what he wanted and how he wanted it done, and he preferred to have the game released in a small, self-produced edition with no distribution than not to have it at all. I always support this approach (as long as you do not mortgage your house to have the game produced), since it gives the world games that, even if hard to find, otherwise would not be available at all. 

In this case, as you can see, David Sachs (along with graphic designer Adele Poirier) has produced a beautiful game that might even be a sought-after collector's item in a few years. You never know. In case you think you should have a copy, scroll down to the end of the page for details.

By the way, the board is 65 x 65 cm, quite big, and the box is 35 x 35 x 5 cm.





Sometimes the name of a game only gives vague hints of its contents (how many cycling games called "Tour de France" are there that do not represent a stage race?). This is not the case with "Race To Ventoux". The name of the game gives away what the game is about. This is a very special game in that it represents an uphill climb to the Mont Ventoux, and while of course the mechanics of the game could have been adapted to other scenarios, they fit quite well with the famous three different gradients of the Mont Ventoux climb.

Personal note: The name of the game used to be just "Ventoux", and that is how it was included (and remains) in the unpublished games section. At some point, David changed the name to "Race To Ventoux". I never told him, but I preferred (and still prefer) the shorter name. 


Custom made dice. I love these.


What I wrote about this game four years ago remains true: The race covers three distinct, varying terrains, each of which favours different riders’ abilities. To win, you need to get all your team across the finish line on the summit of Mont Ventoux. All riders count; riders are placed, and the team with the lowest aggregate placing wins.

On top of that, we find special rules for the narrow St Estève Corner (space 21) and "The Windy Mountain" (Col des Tempêtes, squares 62-67), and, most crucially, a drafting rule wich allows cyclists on the same square as a moving rider to catch a free ride under certain circumstances.

So far, so good, and not so different from many other cycling games. What makes the mechanics of this game unusual is that, in every turn, players just move one rider. While it is not the most intuitive rule for a cycling game (in most cycling games all riders move in every turn, which makes sense since in "real" races all riders move at the same time), the decision of which rider to move is not straightforward and gives the game a nice balance of strategy and chance.




A grouped peloton before St Esteves corner


Sprinters, climbers, and GC riders still riding together in the bunch


Sprinters start to lose ground as the slope gets steeper


A lonely rider struggling with the strong winds in the Cold des Tempêtes


Finally, the finish line is in sight



Table of speeds for the different types of riders and terrains


Score sheet



The three different phases of the game are called "stages", but they are not really such, at least in the cycling sense. I mean that cyclists do not regroup there. These "stages" are not only spaces where you get bonus points if you reach them first, but they are also where the gradient of the slope changes, so that a different type of rider is favoured in every "stage".



Strategy cards.


Finally, the game also includes some strategy cards. Each player receives three of them, which are not shown to other players and will give the team a few extra points if the goal is fulfilled at the end of the game. These cards add a pinch of salt to the game as they give (slightly) different goals to every team, as is the case in real cycling.



Rules leaflet front page illustration


As gorgeous and professional-looking as this game might be, only a very small run has been produced. and the game is not for sale. However, at the moment of writing. David may still have a few copies left. In case you want one, contact me, and I will put you both in touch (*). Of course, even if the game is not for sale, you should expect to pay at least for the shipping costs, import taxes if you are not in the UK (ouch, the Brexit!), and maybe a small nominal fee to help recover the expenses of producing this game.

(*) I never publish other people's emails. There is already enough spam around. Of course, I am not receiving anything (apart from personal satisfaction) from putting people in contact, or for keeping this website, for that matter.


Back of the box



Thanks, David & Adele for creating this game.

Description written in May 2024.