Review of Top Speed: A Fast-Paced Card Game for Two Players
There truly aren’t enough automotive-themed two-player board or card games out there. The major racing titles out there focus on multiple players piloting their cars on the track; thus, the gaming experience depends heavily on the presence of a large group of players. Consolidating a car race down to two players is not an easy task–and one that’s not often undertaken.
Recently, I obtained a copy of Gamewright’s out-of-print Top Speed, a card game designed solely for two players. As a breath of fresh air, it pitted opponents against each other in a simple, speed-based challenge that’s portable and takes less than 12 minutes to play. It won multiple awards, like Dr. Toy’s Best Vacation Products and the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Award.
Review of Top Speed: The Race to the Finish Card Game
Designer: Reinhard Staupe
Box Dimensions: 3.75 x 5.75 x 0.75 inches
# of Players: 2 racers
Ages: 8 and older
Category: Real-time matching card game
Play Time: 6-10 minutes
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How to Play
Each player is given a deck of cards that feature six different vehicle parts in one of six colors. Between them is a row of four track cards. When the game begins, players flip over the lane cards to reveal the face of the track cards, each showing two race cars. Then, players race simultaneously to reveal the top card of their deck and find an available place on the table to lay the card. Cards must be laid in a run off of one of the track cards but cannot duplicate any other color or part that has already been played on that column.
When one player empties their deck or cannot play any more cards, they grab the nearby checked flag card and the game ends. Players tally their points, earning points for a stack in which they played the last card or the opposing player made an error. The player with the most points wins.
Top Speed includes:
- 42 part cards (2 decks of 21)
- 4 lane cards
- 1 checkered flag card
- Rules of play booklet
As it’s meant to be an affordable, compact game for families to take on the go (as many of Gamewright’s titles are), Top Speed comes in a small tuck box that fits the deck. It’s not overly durable, but it does the trick–and the colorful artwork and bold title on it are eye-catching.
The cards themselves are decently durable, which is good considering the ferocity with which players will flip, clench, and slam them. They are prone to creasing and folding with use, but they’re more than adequate considering the low price you’ve paid.
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Thoughts on Learning Experience
The game comes with a small accordion-folded pamphlet explaining the rules, which are pretty straight-forward and can be read for the first time when playing the game for the first time (this isn’t a game you need to study in advance). The objective, setup, gameplay, rules, and scoring are all categorized and laid out generally straightforward (accompanied by a couple example illustrations). It’s a simple enough game to teach your child or play with a friend when you’re bored.
Top Speed‘s directions also come in Spanish, which is useful considering once you learn the game, it’s non-language-dependent.
Thoughts on Playing the Game
Admittedly, I’m not the best at hasty games that rely on reaction time and split-second thinking; my brain prefers to chug along in Sunday afternoon drive mode. Yet, despite being ill-suited to this type of card game, I enjoyed playing Top Speed. The simplicity and short play-time of it made it hard to turn down a replay… after another replay… after another replay—even when I lost.
It certainly can favor the same person winning repeatedly who’s frankly better at the game (something parents playing against younger children might face), but it’s short and a nice icebreaker to get the mind and reflexes active. It reminded me in ways of the recent game Pit Crew, but instead of numerical sequencing, players were matching shapes (or, rather, avoiding matching).
My only other gripe was that I was confused why the lane cards showed red and blue cards—the same colors as the red and blue decks. It made it seem like the blue player could only play off the blue car, though the directions never said this. It would’ve been less confusing if the lane cards had cars that weren’t red and blue.
Anyway, Top Speed is a fun motorsports-themed game for two players that will be a hit in your household if you like speed card games. If you can still find a copy somewhere online, it’s worth getting to add to your library.
Top Speed is out of print but can be found on Amazon, Ebay, and other online retailers.
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.