Road Runner


There's not much to eat in the American West. A coyote often has to go to extreme lengths to get a feed. A road runner makes an excellent meal, but they can be tricky devils to catch. Luckily, your average coyote has the smarts to tip the odds in his favour...

Road Runner is a game of outlandish cartoon traps and chases. Each player is a coyote, striving to be the first to catch a road runner for dinner. The trouble is, the road runners are fast runners, and the coyotes are not as smart as they like to think they are.

Preparation

Before playing this game, it is necessary to produce a set of the game cards. The complete card list, with card texts, is at the bottom of this page. A full set of the rules and printable cards is also available in PDF format, thanks to a couple of contributors. Simply download the PDF file, and print the cards on to card stock, or on to paper and glue on to card stock before cutting out. You will also need a pool of about 5 counters per player to represent points of damage. The counters may be the same or different - it doesn't matter.

Basics

Road Runner is a card game for three to eight players. It tends to play better (and more hilariously) with more players rather than fewer. Playing time varies depending on the draw of the cards, but is usually around 20-40 minutes.

There are two types of cards: Capture cards and Escape cards. Capture cards represent a piece of equipment or terrain which the coyote uses to try to catch a road runner. A Capture card usually has one or more Keywords written on it, which define the game characteristics of the card. Some Capture cards have conditional Keywords on them. Conditional Keywords apply if the card or cards named in the condition is played at the same time and do not apply if the named card/s is not played. Conditional Keywords are written on the card as the condition first ("With CARD NAME:") followed by any applicable Keywords.

Escape cards represent events which occur to allow a road runner to escape a capture attempt. These can either be cartoonish zip or smarts exhibited by the road runner, cartoonish spurious physics which foils the capture attempt, or cartoonish stupidity on the part of the coyote. An Escape card has text on it which explains which sort of capture attempts it prevents. This text often refers to Keywords which appear on any relevant Capture cards.

A few cards are both Capture and Escape cards. These cards may always be played as Capture cards, in which case any Keywords on the card apply. They may also be played as Escape cards, but only after the draw pile has been exhausted and a new draw pile made by reshuffling played cards. Once a reshuffle has been made, these cards may be used as Escape cards, even if they were held in a player's hand during the reshuffle and not themselves reshuffled. These cards represent traps set up by the coyotes which may come back to haunt them later...

Playing the Game

To start, shuffle all the cards well, especially if the Capture and Escape cards have been separated during the previous game. Deal five cards face down to each player and place the rest face down to form a draw pile. The player to the left of the dealer plays first and play proceeds clockwise.

During his turn, a player draws one card from the top of the draw pile and then does one of the following:

The turn then proceeds to the next player.

If the draw pile runs out, reshuffle all the Capture cards which have been played so far to form a new draw pile. Any played Escape cards are kept separate and not reshuffled into the new draw pile. Cards which are both Capture and Escape cards are included in the reshuffled draw pile, regardless of which type of card they were played as.

If a capture attempt is successful, the game is over and the player who made the successful attempt wins.

Capture Attempts

A capture attempt is made by playing one or more Capture cards face up on the table and declaring how the attempt is being made. A capture attempt may only be made if the player can play cards with Keywords making up one of the following sets: Normally a capture attempt involves two Capture cards, one for each required Keyword of a pair. LAUNCHER cards may be played singly, since no other Keyword is required. Note that some Capture cards contain both Keywords of a required pair - these may be played singly. If a Capture card has conditional Keywords, an attempt might require three or more Capture cards to be played at once.

(If you have looked at the cards, you will note at this point that some Keywords do not help in meeting the requirements for a capture attempt. We will get to those shortly.)

When making a capture attempt, the player is encouraged to describe the attempt, creating a cartoonish scene using the equipment involved. This is a large part of what makes the game fun to play.

Once a player announces a capture attempt and plays the relevant cards on the table, every other player has a chance to play Escape cards to prevent that player from capturing a road runner and winning the game. In order around the table, beginning with the player immediately to the left of the player making the capture attempt, each player may play an Escape card if that card will prevent the capture attempt. Each player only gets one chance to play an Escape card - if you hold back on a card thinking that a later player will prevent the attempt, but nobody does, too bad, the attempt succeeds and the game is over!

If a capture attempt is prevented, but some players have not yet had a chance to play an Escape card, those players are still allowed to play Escape cards on the attempt. This may cause extra damage to the coyote who made the attempt, and so be desirable from a strategy point of view. (It will almost certainly be desirable from a humor point of view!)

As foreshadowed by the previous paragraph, some Escape cards can cause damage to the poor coyote making a capture attempt. Such cards have text on them explaining how much damage the coyote takes. Usually the damage depends on numbers written on the Capture cards used for the attempt. If a coyote takes damage, he "falls down" for a few cartoon scenes, and that player must skip a number of turns equal to the points of damage taken.

As with capture attempts, players playing Escape cards are encouraged to describe the consequences listed on the card in a way which makes fun of the cartoonish stupidity of the coyote trying to catch a road runner in what is obviously a very silly way. This is a good place for humorous sound effects such as "Splat!" or "Kaboom!".

Because it often happens that several players will have to skip various numbers of turns, it is recommended that when a coyote is damaged, the player takes that many counters from a central pool. When the player's turn comes around and is skipped, one counter is put back into the pool, and the player resumes playing when he has no more counters.

A player who is skipping turns because of damage does not draw cards or make capture attempts, and does not receive passed cards. Any card passed to a player currently skipping turns is immediately passed on to the next player to the left (continuing if necessary until it reaches a player who is not skipping turns). A player skipping turns can still play escape cards as normal.

When a capture attempt has been foiled, the played Capture cards are placed on one discard pile, and the played Escape cards are placed on a second discard pile. This separation simply makes it easier to reshuffle only the Capture cards when the draw pile runs out.

Example Capture Attempt

The players are, in order: Amy, Brett, Colin, Debby, and Evan. Amy begins her turn by drawing a card. She then declares a capture attempt and plays the Skis, Refrigerator and Fan. The Skis have a conditional Keyword which relies on the Refrigerator. With the Refrigerator also being played, the Skis become a VEHICLE. The Fan is a THRUSTER with Speed 1.

Amy declares: "I'm strapping the Refrigerator on my back, so that the ice cubes fall out and form a path I can Ski on. I stick the Fan on the fridge to provide thrust and I start chasing that darn road runner!"

Brett now has a chance to play an Escape card. He cannot, so passes. Colin then plays the Escape card Fast Running! This stops any chase up to and including Speed 1.

Colin says: "The road runner puts on a burst of speed and outruns your puny chase attempt!"

The capture attempt is now thwarted, but Debby and Evan still have a chance to play additional Escape cards. Debby has another card which stops chases, but decides not to play it, and passes. Evan is more vindictive and and plays a Cliff Face!

Evan gloats: "As your jaw drops to the ground watching the road runner easily outrace you, you don't notice the cliff face directly ahead and... WHAM! Take one damage!"

The Cliff Face! card says the coyote takes damage equal to the Speed of a chase. Since the Speed was 1, Amy takes one damage counter and sits out her next turn as she slowly peels her flattened coyote body off the cliff face...

Basic Strategy

Playtesters

Geoff Bailey, Rachel Crawford, Claire Garrity, Anna Hansen, David Morgan-Mar, Lachlan Patrick, Collette Patteson, David See.

CARD LIST (81 cards)

Note that some cards appear twice in the deck - these are repeated in the lists below for clarity. When printed on to actual cards, the card title should appear at top left. The card Keywords and text should appear towards the bottom (leaving room for an illustration if required), with semi-colons in the texts below indicating a new line of text on the card.

CAPTURE CARDS (41 cards)

Long Slope
THRUSTER Speed 1
Sail
THRUSTER Speed 1
With Fan: Speed becomes 2
Fan
THRUSTER Speed 1
With Sail: Speed becomes 2
METAL
MECHANICAL
Outboard Motor
With Bucket Of Water: THRUSTER Speed 2
METAL
MECHANICAL
Internal Combustion Engine
THRUSTER Speed 3
METAL
MECHANICAL
EXPLOSIVE Damage 1
Rocket Motor
THRUSTER Speed 4
METAL
MECHANICAL
EXPLOSIVE Damage 4
Skis
With Refrigerator: VEHICLE
METAL
Unicycle Helmet
With Tightrope: VEHICLE and THRUSTER Speed 1
Skateboard
VEHICLE
METAL
Ball Bearings
VEHICLE
METAL
With Free Birdseed and Giant Magnet: TRAP
Leg Muscle Growth Pills
VEHICLE
THRUSTER Speed 2
Roller Skates
VEHICLE
METAL
Rocket
VEHICLE
THRUSTER Speed 3
EXPLOSIVE Damage 3
Free Birdseed
BAIT
Free Birdseed
BAIT
Detour Sign
BAIT
Female Road Runner Costume
BAIT
Giant Spring
LAUNCHER Speed 1
METAL
MECHANICAL
Giant Sling Shot
LAUNCHER Speed 2
MECHANICAL
Catapult
LAUNCHER Speed 2
MECHANICAL
Cannon
LAUNCHER Speed 3
EXPLOSIVE Damage 2
TRAP Damage 2
SHOOTER
MECHANICAL
Dehydrated Boulders
With Bucket Of Water: DROP Damage 3
Anvil
DROP Damage 1
METAL
Huge Boulder
DROP Damage 3
Refrigerator
DROP Damage 2
METAL
MECHANICAL
Tightrope
HEIGHT Damage 1
Precarious Rock Spire
HEIGHT Damage 2
Winding Mountain Road
HEIGHT Damage 3
ROAD
Cliff
HEIGHT Damage 4
TRAP Damage 4
Hot Air Balloon
HEIGHT Damage 5
VEHICLE
MECHANICAL
Giant Arrow
AMMO Damage 1
Dynamite
AMMO Damage 1
AMBUSH Damage 1
EXPLOSIVE Damage 1
DROP Damage 1
TRAP Damage 1
Bomb
AMMO Damage 1
AMBUSH Damage 1
EXPLOSIVE Damage 1
DROP Damage 1
TRAP Damage 1
Giant Bow
LAUNCHER Speed 1
SHOOTER
Sling Shot
SHOOTER
Bear Trap
AMBUSH Damage 1
DROP Damage 1
METAL
MECHANICAL
Knife And Fork
AMBUSH Damage 0
METAL
Road
ROAD
Tunnel
ROAD
RAIL
Level Crossing
ROAD
RAIL
Bucket Of Water
(no keywords)

CAPTURE AND ESCAPE CARDS (5 cards)

Giant Magnet
(no keywords)
After reshuffle: Prevents any capture involving METAL
Rolling Boulder
AMBUSH Damage 2
After reshuffle: Prevents any capture and Coyote takes 2 damage
Retractable Steel Wall
AMBUSH Damage 2
METAL
MECHANICAL
After reshuffle: Prevents capture by any VEHICLE or LAUNCHER chase and Coyote takes Speed+2 damage
Tiger Trap
AMBUSH Damage 2
After reshuffle: Prevents capture by any VEHICLE chase not involving HEIGHT and Coyote takes 2 damage
Piano
DROP Damage 3
With EXPLOSIVE: BAIT and TRAP
After reshuffle: Prevents any capture involving AMBUSH

ESCAPE CARDS (35 cards)

Cliff Face!
Prevents capture by any VEHICLE or LAUNCHER chase and Coyote takes Speed damage
Boulder!
Prevents capture by any VEHICLE or LAUNCHER chase and Coyote takes 1 damage plus any EXPLOSIVE damage
Fast Running!
Prevents capture by any VEHICLE or LAUNCHER chase up to and including Speed 1
Burst Of Speed!
Prevents capture by any VEHICLE or LAUNCHER chase up to and including Speed 2
Zoom!
Prevents capture by any VEHICLE or LAUNCHER chase up to and including Speed 3
Beep Beep!
Prevents capture by any VEHICLE or LAUNCHER chase
Cactus!
Prevents capture by any LAUNCHER chase and Coyote takes 3 damage
Cactus!
Prevents capture by any LAUNCHER chase and Coyote takes 3 damage
U-Shaped Rock Formation!
Prevents capture by any LAUNCHER chase or shot AMMO and Coyote takes any AMMO damage
U-Shaped Rock Formation!
Prevents capture by any LAUNCHER chase or shot AMMO and Coyote takes any AMMO damage
Uh Oh!
Prevents capture by any VEHICLE chase and Coyote takes Speed+1 damage
Uh Oh!
Prevents capture by any VEHICLE chase and Coyote takes Speed+1 damage
Mechanical Failure!
Prevents any MECHANICAL capture and if a VEHICLE or LAUNCHER chase Coyote takes Speed damage
Mechanical Failure!
Prevents any MECHANICAL capture and if a VEHICLE or LAUNCHER chase Coyote takes Speed damage
Bad Aim!
Prevents capture by any shot AMMO
Bad Aim!
Prevents capture by any shot AMMO
Rust!
Prevents any METAL capture
Rust!
Prevents any METAL capture
Dud!
Prevents any EXPLOSIVE capture
Dud!
Prevents any EXPLOSIVE capture
Backfire!
Prevents any EXPLOSIVE capture and Coyote takes EXPLOSIVE damage
Backfire!
Prevents any EXPLOSIVE capture and Coyote takes EXPLOSIVE damage
Oops!
Prevents any HEIGHT capture and Coyote falls, taking HEIGHT damage
Oops!
Prevents any HEIGHT capture and Coyote falls, taking HEIGHT damage
Gravity Failure!
Prevents any HEIGHT and DROP capture and Coyote falls and has object fall on top, taking HEIGHT+DROP damage
Gravity Failure!
Prevents any HEIGHT and DROP capture and Coyote falls and has object fall on top, taking HEIGHT+DROP damage
Truck!
Prevents any ROAD capture and Coyote takes 2 damage
Truck!
Prevents any ROAD capture and Coyote takes 2 damage
Express Train!
Prevents any RAIL capture and Coyote takes 3 damage
Why Didn't It Work?!
Prevents any AMBUSH capture and Coyote takes AMBUSH damage
Why Didn't It Work?!
Prevents any AMBUSH capture and Coyote takes AMBUSH damage
Too Smart!
Prevents any TRAP or AMBUSH capture and Coyote takes TRAP or AMBUSH damage
Too Smart!
Prevents any TRAP or AMBUSH capture and Coyote takes TRAP or AMBUSH damage
Too Dumb!
Prevents any TRAP capture
Too Dumb!
Prevents any TRAP capture

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Last updated: Tuesday, 14 December, 2004; 23:52:01 PST.
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