Board Game Review: ‘Hot Rod Creeps’ Customizable Racing Game
It might come as a shock, but not everyone loves motorsports. For some, the smell of burnt rubber and the roar of a engine appear more like a billboard on wheels driving in circles. So when it comes to convincing a non-racing fan to play a racing-themed board game, it takes something unique to win them over. Hot Rod Creeps, from Cryptozoic Entertainment, is aimed at that demographic.
If you combined Wacky Races with Mario Kart and Rat Fink, you’d get Hot Rod Creeps. This wild, competitive racing game pits players against each other in a chaotic rally of weaponized cartoon cars. Customize your track, choose your team, and let the mayhem begin!
Hot Rod Creeps Racing Board Game Review
Publisher: Cryptozoic Entertainment
Designer: Matt Hyra
Artist: Dirk Erik Schulz
Box Dimensions: 12.1 x 12.1 x 2.9 inches
# of Players: 3-6 people
Ages: 15 or older
Category: Hand management/”take-that” racing
Play Time: 30-45 min
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How to Play
To win Hot Rod Creeps, simply be the first car to cross the finish line. However, achieving victory isn’t that easy. You’ll have to survive the attacks of your competitors and make it through a course full of dangerous obstacles (like the Flaming Ring of Fire).
Before the game begins, the track is built using interlocking pieces to customize the difficulty and experience on the track. Then, players choose a team (Aliens, Battle Wizards, Monsters, Food Fight, Rockabilly, or Underworld) and a personal deck of movement cards. The cars line up on the single-track course, and the competition begins.
On a player’s turn, they may:
- Play a movement card from their hand
- Flip the top card from their personal deck (their “tank”)
- Flip the top card from the shared Nitro deck
- Replenish their hand by drawing four cards
Certain movement cards have added special abilities, while others can damage your vehicle. Players are penalized for rounding corners too quickly or being attacked by fellow players. When damage is taken, a player discards their cards. If no cards are left to play, the unfortunate player is forced to return to the nearest pit stop. When landing on a pit stop, you’re able to enhance your vehicle with special upgrades.
Unboxing & Game Components Evaluation
Hot Rod Creeps includes:
- 6 team decks of 20 cards each
- 6 team mats
- 6 player tokens made of thick plastic
- 1 nitro deck of 20 cards
- 4 upgrade decks of 12 cards each
- 50+ various track tiles & decorative standees
- Instruction booklet
The weakest element of Hot Rod Creeps is the components. While the entire game has a carefully-crafted design appeal–made as an homage to Rat Fink artist Ed Roth–the components themselves are generally lacking. The solid plastic cubes with sticker decals are creative but hard to decipher from a distance. The ring of fire and ramps leading up to it constantly fall over and could use plastic stands. The film on the brand-new box already began peeling off.
The pieces themselves are sturdy and punch out smoothly when assembling the track; the snap-together tiles are a brilliant way to keep the track from shifting around. The cards are well-designed and easy to understand.
Overall, you get quite a lot for your money–certain aspects just needed to be improved to perform how they were intended.
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Review of Learning Experience
The hand-drawn, cartoon art on the cover of the rulebook (matching the game box) makes it feel like a comic book, and the introductory story on the first two pages adds to that narrative feel.
For being primarily text with a couple diagrams, the instructions are pretty easy to understand. The wording is simple, casual, and never over-complicated or technical. It’s thorough without being wordy and can be comprehended with a single read-through of the booklet. The directions also include plenty of example scenarios too. Despite multiple elements involved, they were fluidly integrated enough to quickly pick up and teach to the group.
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Review of Playing Experience
The News Wheel’s editorial team played Hot Rod Creeps and had a lot of fun with its aggressively competitive gameplay and wild artwork. Its colorful design caught everyone’s attention; though receiving mixed reactions, its appearance definitely stood out. It’s gritty, chaotic, kinetic, and detailed; each team is genuinely unique and not a faceless race car.
There’s great interplay between the cards, deck management, movement, and taking damage–especially losing cards from your deck due to damage. With plenty of turn options, you’ll never feel “stuck.” This was also one of the few games we’ve actually used our upgrades in, as they normally are a superfluous addition. You can legitimately affect the progress of other players, which drew out everyone’s competitive sides. Because this leads to a lack of long-term strategy, some players may become disinterested, but it’s a fast game that plays in 30 minutes.
The track gets crowded with more than four players on the track (since the entire track is single-lane), so you’ll need to build the board in a way that reflects the number of players. For most of our race, the track was congested, so I’d recommend creating a long track for fewer (3-4) players. It takes a while to build the track–which takes up a lot of table space–so it’s best to play more than once or multiple laps to avoid feeling that more time was spent preparing for the game than playing it.
Judging by the quality of the art, the uniqueness of the design, and the overall feeling of bizarre mayhem, the creators of Hot Rod Creeps were aiming high and just needed a bit more refinement with final production to make a truly excellent game. Apart from some issues with the components and finding the right formula for a balanced game, it’s still a blast to play.
There’s a lot of personality in Hot Rod Creeps–far from being as bland as most sterile automotive racing games are–and if you like that, you’ll be able to overlook its flaws. It might be too unorthodox for some–including its unpolished, cartoony design–but it easily could be some people’s new favorite game. Divisive, unusual, and different from the norm, Hot Rod Creeps is the kooky racing experience the market needs with all those NASCAR and Formula 1 games blurring together.
Hot Rod Creeps is available for purchase through the publisher’s website, Amazon, Miniature Market, and other retailers.
- Aaron WidmarSenior Editor
Aaron is unashamed to be a native Clevelander and the proud driver of a 1995 Saturn SC-2 (knock on wood). He gleefully utilizes his background in theater, literature, and communication to dramatically recite his own articles to nearby youth. Mr. Widmar happily resides in Dayton, Ohio with his magnificent wife, Vicki, but is often on the road with her exploring new destinations. Aaron has high aspirations for his writing career but often gets distracted pondering the profound nature of the human condition and forgets what he was writing... See more articles by Aaron.