HomeGamingCarmarace Stage 1 Preview: An Interview with Luca Caltabiano

Carmarace Stage 1 Preview: An Interview with Luca Caltabiano


Coming soon  to a Kickstarter near you is Carmarace.  A design by Luca Caltabiano of Board to Death TV.  Carma race is a game where players get to play themselves. All players have received an e-mail from their favorite convention and are promised a free autographed, limited edition item of their choice.  Only the first one there will get the prize.  As Karma would have it, no one has a car and players will need to hitchhike to the convention with planes, trains, cars, bikes, and even scooters.  They’ll use any vehicle they can get their hands onto and It’s sure to be a crazy journey across the the continent.  While hitchhiking players will ride in cars with NOZ, turbos, and even some fuzzy dice.  Players will travel across deserts, snowy hills and farmlands and travel with risky drivers.


This isn’t a game for the feint of heart.  Everyone is vying for the same prize and the competition is sure to be stiff.  Players can upgrade their own transportation and try to sabotage their opponents using old ladies, moose in the road, or birds in their engines.  They can even cause them to crash and burn.

It’s a strategic game of hand management, partnerships, area control, and karma. There are two levels of play.  The regular uses the special abilities of the cards.  The junior level, plays without the special abilities  and uses the only numbers.  This way younger players have fun while learning some simple math and strategy skills.

 Designing Carmarace

After a non-stop year of playing and reviewing games on Board to Death TV, Luca came up with an idea for a game of his own.  He wanted to make a game that was simple to play, allowed for player interaction, and was strategic at the same time.

 Luca said that Carmarace started as a fast paced card game to help children learn math.  The cards started out with just numbers and images and the winner was the first to reach thirty points.
As play testing continued, players kept wishing that the cards could have special abilities. They felt it would make the game more interesting.  So special abilities were added and play-tested.  The ideas didn’t stop there.  Some one said “you know what would be cool? a board to visualize the actual trip of the hitchhiker.” Carmarace went from a card game to a board game.

 Luca and his game reviewers from Board to Death TV have played over 200 games in the past three years and they know what mechanics they enjoy. They took their favorite mechanics and put them into Carmarace.

From Munchkin, Vince took the mechanic of playing cards on other players.  Choosing a path and staying on the ride is a mechanic similar to the classic children’s game Chutes and Ladders.  They wanted to use the mechanics that they enjoyed the most and kept the game simple to learn and play.  A lot has been added but the rules are still only two pages long.  It has evolved from a game for helping kids learn math to a “massive mayhem karma racing game.”  After two years of play-testing the game is ready for Kickstarter.


 Carmarace started out as a simple way for children to learn math but play-testing helped the game evolve into something more.

From play-testing, Luca learned that they were having a lot of fun playing the game.  They learned that they could add even more and still keep this fun factor.  New cards, new characters, new abilities could be added;  the possibilities are almost endless.  Luca says that expansions are going to be easy to make and fun to use.  There are so many different vehicles that could be added.

Sometimes not every idea works.  During play-testing they tested out many different rules and abilities.  They kept the ones that they liked and improved or took out the ones that they didn’t.

Luca gave me the example of the card called “Crash and Burn.”   A player can play this on their opponent.  When it was played the victim felt like their turn was useless and didn’t like the card.  To balance it out they added one sentence to the card “The current player may take this card into his or her hand.”  It was a game changer.  Players now have to think twice about playing “Crash and Burn.”  It may help them, but it can come back it bite them when their victim takes revenge.


Kickstarter is a way to help budding designers and companies get a head start, even established companies are using it for their upcoming games.  It is no surprise that Carmarace is heading there.  Luca said that using Kickstarter will provide the money needed for the first print run and help the buyer get a good price on the game.  There is no distributor, so everyone saves money.  

 Another reason to use Kickstarter was that Board to Death TV wanted to thank their 10,000 fans.  They wanted to release a game that was fun, fast, easy to learn, and not expensive.  Luca said “Kickstarters are the best way to connect with the people supporting your game and that’s what we’re about, connecting gamers and families.”

 With Kickstarter they can also include these fans in the game.  If they reach 300 backers, they will make an expansion called the DRIVER’S EXPANSION.  When someone backs the game they can send a picture of them in front of any vehicle or transportation.  Even backers can get creative as they take pictures in front of bumper cars,  the local bus or taxi, a steam locomotive, or that sports car they always wanted.  The backer and the vehicle will be put into the next expansion.


Game Play

Luca promises a fun, fast paced game with Carmarace so you might be wondering what the game is like to play.

Carmarace has four decks of cards.  One deck is transportation:  vehicles, trains, and planes.  Three other decks are the Karma decks for each path: road, railway, and air.

 On a players turn they have a hand of cards with Transportation and Karma Cards.  A player will play a Transportation and Karma Card in front of them.  The transportation is what you are getting into (you’re a playing as a hitchhiker).  An example would be: the player plays a car with a speed of 4 and a Karma Card called NOZ which adds +5, so they move 9 spaces.  Before moving, the other players can play card on you too. They will try to play bad Karma Cards unless they are playing in teams.

On of the bad cards is the “Old Lady Crossing” which gives you -4 speed. When it comes back to the active player, they can then play more good Karma on the vehicle you are in.  Each vehicle, has a Karma LIMIT above it’s speed. This is how many cards that can be played on this vehicle. Some Karma Cards are neutral and players roll a die to see what happens and the results can be good or bad. Sometimes it may be worth the risk.  A player can play “Risky Jump” on their team mate and make them take a jump and hopefully land it.   When everyone “passes” on playing karma cards, the active player adds up all the cards together and moves that many spaces.

 A Few of his Favorite Things

Luca has been working on the game for two years now and so I wanted to know what he liked best about the game.  He said that ” game reviewers will appreciate all the different mechanics here. There is no “gimmicks” like stone pushing or ball rolling,  it’s back to basics fun and mechanics that work and passed the test of time.”

Luca also likes bluffing and this mechanic can be found in Carmarace as well.  For example, players can exit their vehicle at any time.  If a player is next to an Airport or Train Station others may think on their next turn they are going to take a plane or ride the train.  To prepare, they may draw Karma Cards from the Railway or Air deck.  But then instead of taking the plane or train, the players continues with another road card.  Leaving the players with Karma Cards that are no longer useful.  Luca tied this a couple times and said “it was priceless every time.”

Luca also loves coming up with new cards.  He said that they had to stop at some point and leave cards for the expansion, otherwise the game would never be launched.  Luca also loves how fast the game play is.  He loves that the rule book only turned out to be two pages so it is easy to learn.  Yet the strategy is very deep.

He also likes the GPS that will determine where you go if you ever reach a fork in the road.  He also likes the that players can make their own house rules.  They may want to change the maximum hand size, create variant rules, or even make it easier for younger players.

 Art Work

Luca also loves the artwork for Carmarace.  He used a local artist Julie Labossiere from Squish Image.  He wanted dark humor, which isn’t the easiest artwork to produce.  He wanted something funny but dark and he is ecstatic about the outcome.  She designed the board so that is was simple and clean.  But there are small treasures to discover, like in a “Where’s Waldo” Book.  He thinks the cover is awesome and the production quality very nice.  He is very grateful that she worked hard even though there is a risk that the game will not  be launched.  So he’s even more hopeful that people will support the Kickstater project.

The Future 

You may have noticed that the game is named “Carmarace: Stage 1” and that is a pretty good indication that the race doesn’t end here.  And, if you have been paying attention Luca has already mentioned the possibility of future expansion like the Drivers Expansion.  So what else does the future hold?

There will be more maps, new cards, new characters, new mechanics like tornadoes and sandstorms, new rules and game play.  The game will always remain fast paced.  They are also thinking of making special editions of the game with a different theme such as SteamPunk.  Their true goal is to release expansions based on Movies such a Batmobile, Anime (Akira’s Bike), and television shows (the General Lee).  They can’t afford the copyrights now but maybe with the backers help they will.




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