Early Thoughts on A La Kart

Remember last month when I kicked out this quick idea for a racing auction game, but couldn't figure out a theme that really captured my interest? Well, like all breakthroughs, my wife came up with the best name EVAR. We've been playing a lot of Mario Kart Wii, and she suggested "A La Kart."

The ideas started flooding in after that. It's basically a food-themed racing game, in the spirit of Sugar Rush from Wreck-It Ralph. This would be less focused on candy specifically though. Instead, each suit of the game represents a flavor: Sour, Spicy, Sour, Savory. (I may use Bitter as another thing, but for now I'm sticking with four S's.)

I'd love to hire Miranda Dawn Yeo for the art. She drew the Sugar Rush avatar for my wife you see above. I think that art style would be a blast.

The Basics

A La Kart is a racing-themed auction game. There is no track board, though. Each racer is represented by a unique pawn (or maybe a card?) set in a row, from first to last place. They're always in a tight group throughout the race, jockeying for best position in a randomized series of obstacles. Each round players may BID or COAST:
  • Bid: The first-place player sets the suit for this round. If the first-place racer is an AI (explained below), then use the suit noted on the track card. 
    • Starting with the last-place player, each player bids one card at a time, trying to get the highest total ranks. Players cannot bid more cards than their current Brakes rating.
    • When a player has no more cards of the suit to bid, or simply doesn't want to bid any more, she passes and is out of the auction.
    • The racer (either player or AI) with the highest bid gets first-place position. Second-highest bid gets second-place position, and so on.
  • Coast: Each coasting player can draw and spend cards. These cards depict unique combinations of ranks and suits and some power-ups.
    • Coasting players can draw a number of cards equal to their current Tires rating. Players cannot hold more cards than their Chassis rating. Any remainders must be discarded immediately.
    • Coasting players can then spend cards to use their special effects, which will restore Chassis, Brakes, or Engines, or have some other effect. Players cannot spend more cards than their current Brakes rating.
The base reward for 1st place in a round is worth 2pts, 2nd place is 1pt, and 3rd place is 0pts. For each point reward, add the number of the round and add a reward for the next place. So, the true  round rewards are...
  • First Round:   3, 2, 1
  • Second Round:  4, 3, 2, 1
  • Third Round:   5, 4, 3, 2, 1
  • Fourth Round:  6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
  • Fifth Round:   7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
  • Sixth Round:   8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
  • Seventh Round: 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2
  • Eighth Round: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3
The player at the end of the eighth round with the most points wins! But of course, there are some complications.

There are limits to how many cards each racer can hold in-hand, how many she can bid, and how many she can draw while coasting. These are represented by the racer's three stats.
  • Brakes: The number of cards you can play while bidding or spend while coasting.
  • Chassis: The number of cards you can hold at the end of the round. Discard any extras immediately.
  • Tires: The number of cards you can draw while coasting.
Each racer has a unique ability that can be used once per race.

Analog AI Racers
The game always has eight racers, but can be played with 1-8 players. Any non-player racers' bids shown on the track card, thus creating a sort of dumb AI. You could even make this a solo game, as you try to win the best position amongst the AI racers.

The ranks on player cards are always even numbers, while AI racers always have odd bids. And because the ranks are unique to each suit, even with the occasional boost, ties should be very unlikely, if possible at all.

Also note an asterisk next to an AI racer's bid. That indicates their use of their unique ability at this time, so be sure to resolve that, too.

Random Track
Here's what a typical track setup would be:

Start from the top and work your way down each track. I haven't decided yet whether the whole track would be visible from the start, or if it might get gradually revealed over the course of the race. Maybe I could make that a fourth stat, letting some players know further in advance what's coming two, three, or more rounds ahead.

Each track card has an effect on one or more players. These effects are resolved at the start of the round. In most cases, it adds a negative stat modifier to players who meet certain conditions, like a certain position or a certain bid from the previous round.

And that's pretty much all that's on my mind for now. I'll need to make a proper prototype of this soon or it's gonna go sour in my brain for way before too long.
Daniel Solis
Art Director by Day. Game Designer by Night.