Rainbow Games, Germany, 2011
Here is a simple wooden game that does look quite unpromising at first sight. It includes what you see: a 24 x 17.5 x 2 cm wooden board with 30 holes, twelve wooden pegs in two colours (for some reason, there is an extra red "cyclist" in my game), a wooden die, and a printed sheet with simple rules in German, French, and English. Everything put in an unmarked simple cotton bag. The game is supposed to represent a team pursuit cycling race, but it does not (seem to) have a cycling feel: no cyclists, six riders per team (there should be just four if we try to represent a pursuit race, shouldn't there?), and very short rules that make it look like some kind of simple roll-and-move game.
Nevertheless, and here is the surprise, this game is quite more interesting to play than one would have thought. While it obviously depends on luck, it also depends on the skilled choice of which "rider" to move, and, more unexpectedly, it does convey a cycling feel. Furthermorte, the choice of six riders instead of four is absolutely correct with these rules and shows that these guys know what they are doing. .
According to their website, Rainbow Games are Silke, a trained educator, and Ralf, a trained carpenter. They have been producing games since 2010.
UPDATE 2023: The game can be purchased here.
Here is the starting position. Teams have to complete a lap, and the winner is the first team to have its last rider past its starting position, unless the last rider is overtaken by the other team before completing the lap, in which case the race ends. As in real pursuit races, teams have to stay together. Basically, the only rule is that there cannot not be more than one unoccupied field between two members of the team, except once. And in that one case, there cannot be more than two fields. A team that cannot make a valid move in his turn just misses the throw. And that is all.
With these restrictions, players move their team ahead, trying to have as many possible moves available in subsequent throws, and the outcome of the race depends more on teams being able to move than on teams rolling high throws.
Here are three phases of a race that finishes with the first rider of the red team overtaking the last rider of the blue team. Not the most usual outcome of the race, but not an impossible one either.
All in all, this game is a nice surprise, and it enters my list of "simple games that represent a single feature of a cycling race or a single race but that represent it well". (The only other games in this list so far are Matchtsprint and Keirin, both of which are available as free downloads in case you want to try them).
Thanks Gordon for the tip !
Description written in December 2022.