Skip to main content

Lazer Ryderz (Acquire-To-Zendo)

👨‍🎤 Totally Radical!

2017, 2-4 players
Complexity: light/moderate

The 80s weren't just a time of synth-heavy pop music, stock market excess, hair metal, and cocaine. They also produced a totally bitchin' glossy pseudo-futurist aesthetic that permeated children's entertainment. Now that the Lisa Frank generation has come of age, that design ethos has been seeing a resurgence. And if you want to have that aesthetic injected directly into your veins, then fire up the old VHS player and put on some Lazer Ryderz.

Let's See It In Action

In Lazer Ryderz, you and one to three friends take on the role of iconic laser-riding heroes of old: Lazer Shark, Super Sheriff, Phantom Cosmonaut, and Galactic Waverider. You're racing each other through the cosmos to capture prisms of... awesomeness... or something. And unlike some other board games that use a "board" for gameplay, Lazer Ryderz uses a table. You start on the edge and race towards the middle.

At the start of the game, each player blindly picks a starting position and a starting gear. Each player's character has a vehicle with five gears, but if two people start in the same gear, they both stall out and go back to first. Turn order is determined by which player is in the highest gear and tracked using these very on-brand turn order markers.

On your turn you can upshift or downshift one gear, and then you move by placing a piece of track on the table, connected to your current position (that is, the end of your most recently played piece of track). If you want to turn, you have to roll a die and match or beat whatever gear you're in. If you fail the die roll, you go straight. If you pass, you can make a turn. The die also has one face that makes you spin out. It's not numbered, but for all intents and purposes, it's the 6. If you roll that one, you still make the turn, but you have to go back down to first gear.

The aim of the game is to capture prisms, which you do by passing your track completely over them--it doesn't have to be through the center, but part of the prism has to be visible on both sides of your track. If it is not, then the prism gets nudged out into the open. If it is, you replace it with a prism of your own color and replace the original by--and I'm not making this up--stepping back, closing your eyes, and throw it onto the table.

Prisms are the only place where tracks are allowed to cross each other. If you run into someone else's track at any other point--or if you run off the table, you remove your track and pick a new starting point. Conversely, if someone runs into your track, you remove pieces but don't have to start over.

Your prisms are up for grabs if you don't have track going through them, so be careful. Also, if you start to run out of pieces, then your track will start to disappear behind you--although it takes a large enough table for that to be an issue. There are some character-specific rules as well. (We didn't use them in this game, but they're there.) For instance, the Phantom Cosmonaut can pass through someone else's track once. These give you a little more variety, but they're optional.

The game ends once someone has captured their third prism.

What Makes It So Good?

It's a very goofy game, but it knows exactly what it is and it's not holding anything back. For starters, the aesthetic is just 100% on point. I love that the game box looks like a collection of VHS tapes, and I especially love the added detail of the worn edges.

At the end of the day, it's basically just the Light Cycles from Tron, but as a board game. But it plays quickly and there's a fun tactile element to the gameplay that you don't get from a lot of more traditional games.

I like the fact that turn order is determined by gear rather than just rotating around the table. I like the idea that you can play on different surfaces to get a different gameplay experience. And for whatever it's worth, I always--always--play as the Phantom Cosmonaut.

What's Not To Like?

I have two big gripes. The first is that the glossy components tend to slide around on the playing surface, unless you have a felt table, I suppose. It means that pieces tend to shift and that can create ambiguity in how you are supposed to place your pieces. The second is that the character stands have a weak spot where the gear indicator goes, as can be seen below.

Is It Expansible?

When it was Kickstarted, it had two promotional characters in its stretch goals, but if you buy the game retail those are typically included. The fun thing is that they are characters from Sentinels Of The Multiverse--Captain Cosmic and Visionary--and they have unique character-specific abilities. It would have been nice if more of the stretch goals had unlocked, enough to allow for a promo variant for each color, but such is the way of Kickstarter.

Oh yeah. There's also a soundtrack available.

Final Thoughts

In keeping with the aesthetic, this game is awesomely cheesy, and a nice little nostalgia trip for aging Gen-Xers like me.

Tune in next week when we try to find the elusive Lost Legacy...

In Acquire-To-Zendo, Kurt is going through his favorite board games in alphabetical order. Read the explainer or see more posts.


Popular posts from this blog

Alexandra Rowland And Bad Faith Accusations

This morning, writing twitter was blown up by a post from Alexandra Rowland accusing Scott Lynch and Elizabeth Bear of some nasty manipulative behavior. I have reason to believe that Rowland is acting in bad faith.

Seven or eight years ago, Rowland and I were in the same writing group. I didn't know them well, but we became Facebook friends because that's what you do. At some point after we fell out of contact with each other, they made a post about an affair with an influential older male who had lied about being in an open marriage and proceeded to manipulate and gaslight and emotionally abuse them.

I didn't know any of the people involved other than Rowland, but I was affected enough by Rowland’s post that I can still recall reading it all these years later. So when I saw Rowland's blog this morning, I assumed it was the same situation... except the dates weren't right. The Bear/Lynch events took place in 2016, but the post I remembered was older than that. So I w…

100 Album: "Game Of Thrones Season 3 Soundtrack" by Ramin Djawadi

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Ramin Djawadi
Title:Game Of Thrones, Season 3 Soundtrack
Released: 2013
Genre: DAH duh, duh-duh-DAH duh, duh-duh-DAH duh

He's not as big a name as Hans Zimmer or John Williams or the various Newmans out there, but Ramin Djawadi is easily the most interesting composer working in television right now (with due respect to Bear McCreary). Soundtracks, especially television soundtracks because they're produced so quickly, have a tendency to serve more as a wall of atmosphere than anything else. But Djawadi's work here and on Westworld has generated some amazing musical themes. There's a strong undercurrent of leitmotif informing the way the music flows together and the themes those motifs are built around are damned catchy--which you know if you got the joke in the genre description above.

While all of the soundtracks for GoT are very listenable, this is my favorite. It has A Lannist…

My Recent Experience With Daily Science Fiction

Update: On March 3rd, they re-issued my story with a blanket apology to the subscribers for the error. In terms of fixing the original mistake, this feels both thorough and sincere. They have still not reached out or responded to me personally. If and when that changes, I will note it here.

Update: On March 21st, Jonathan apologized via email for the mixup. As far as I'm concerned, the matter is now settled.

If you follow Daily Science Fiction, then you probably saw this morning's email that started "Major glitches on the spaceship DSF" and you may be wondering what some of that was about. Well, this is what some of that was about.

So I recently had a story accepted by Daily Science Fiction called Marla Corbet: Living (With The Invaders). (I never got around to a formal announcement, so if you'd like to read it, you can find it here. It's a very silly thing about an ersatz Martha Stewart. And human hair. And alien poop. You'll love it.) It was accepted on …