GRAPH RACERS.

A Paper-and-Pencil Car Racing Game.

To play this game, you need from two to maybe six players, a coloured pencil or pen for each person and some paper with quarter inch (or so) squares.

 It should look like this: ...and not like this:

Next, draw a racetrack with a start-finish line like this:

The Basic Rules

The basic rules are VERY simple once you get the hang of them.
 RULE 1: Your 'car' is always at the intersection of the lines on the squared paper - not inside the squares. As you drive around the track, you draw lines showing where it goes using your own colour pen or pencil. RULE 2: Players take it in turns to move - the youngest person plays first. RULE 3: First person to make it all the way around the course once wins. RULE 4: Each turn, you car can either move the same number of squares in the same direction as it did last time - or it may move one square more or less in either North, South, East or West directions than it did last time.

That last rule needs some pictures to explain it.

 The RED arrow shows where you moved last turn. Three Squares EAST and One Square NORTH: ...and if you do nothing, your car will follow the blue arrow and go Three Squares EAST and One Square NORTH this turn: ...but you can choose to go one extra square North, South, East or West of that place - to any of the places marked with dots: ...so any of these would be legal moves: Suppose we chose to turn toward the South: ...then on the next turn the car was going three squares EAST (and none north or south). So now it can go to any of these places: Here is a continuation of this game - showing the car narrowly avoiding a crash into the side of the track:

Stopping.

If you are moving just one square north, south, east or west, you can come to a complete stop on your next move. The move after that, your previous move was to be stationary - and you are allowed to move off at a speed of one square either North, South, East or West.

Damage, Crashing and Collisions.

The rules require that you always try to avoid a collision with another car - you aren't allowed to do it deliberately. However, if it's unavoidable then look back and count how many squares apart the two cars were last turn. Both cars take one point of damage for each square. This makes head on collisions nearly always fatal, but you can usually survive rear-ending another car.

Both cars are then considered stopped and can move off at one square next turn.

If you crash into the side of the track then you take one point of damage for each square of speed you had on the move you crashed. Put the car at the edge of the track on the square nearest to where it crashed - and start off again at one square of speed the next turn.

If you lose more than five damage points, you are out of the game...you lose!

Once you've mastered the rules and played a couple of games, you may be ready for some more complicated rules. Pick which ones you want to play before you start - but make sure everyone agrees about what rules you are using before you start racing!

Good Brakes

Using 'Good Brakes' allows a car to slow down by TWO squares instead of the usual one. However good brakes wear out quickly and you are only allowed to use them twice in each race.

Turbo Option

Using the 'Turbo Boost' allows a car to speed up by TWO squares instead of the usual one. Just like good brakes, you can only use turbo boost twice in each race.

Oil Slicks

You can draw oil patches onto the track before the race. Whenever a car would cross any part of the puddle during the turn if it didn't turn, speed up or slow down, it skids and MUST make the exact same move as last turn. Good brakes and turbo-boost don't work on oil.

Each player gets \$100 to kit out his or her car at the start of the game. Good brakes cost \$10 and Turbo Boosts cost \$10, Damage points cost \$5 each.

You can buy as many 'Good Brakes' uses, 'Turbo Boosts' and Damage points as you can afford. If you don't buy any damage points then you car blows up the first time it hits ANYTHING!

You could allow players to save money from one race to another - or award prize money to the winner and allow them to spend that in the next race.

It's important that you design the race track before everyone designs their cars!

Collectables

You could place small coins on the track to represent 'collectable' items. A penny could be worth two Turbo-boosts, a nickle two Good brakes uses and a dime could give you five extra damage points. You could also have collectibles that are worth money that you can spend in the next race.

The first car to drive into a collectable gets to pick it up and use it.

James Bond Mode

In this mode, you can spend your money to buy missiles, oil slick sprayers, rocket boosters, submarine mode, or rear-shooting guns. The rules (and prices) for these things are as follows:
• \$30 Missile. You can fire the missile one time whenever it's your turn. It moves on your turn just like it was another car - so it starts off moving the same speed as you are. It's advantage is that it can use turbo-boost every turn until it hits something. (Not 'good brakes' though - it's boost only makes it go faster!). If it ends up on the same square as any car (including your own!) then it explodes and causes 3 points of damage. If two missiles hit each other then they both vanish.
• \$10 Oil Sprayers. Once during the game, you can draw a 3x3 square oil slick right behind your car - it behaves just like a normal oil slick.
• \$30 Rocket boosters. Once during the game, you can speed up by THREE squares - like using two turbo boosts at once.
• \$30 Submarine Capability. Before people design their cars, players could agree to colour some parts of the track with blue crayon. These could cover up important short-cuts for example. Only cars with submarine capability can cross these parts of the track. Everyone else crashes if they try.
• \$20 Rear-shooting machine guns. Any time another car is one square behind you at either the start or end of your turn, you can shoot and cause one point of damage. You can use your machine guns as often as you like in the game. If you buy two sets of guns, you can do two points of damage, three sets of guns, three points of damage - and so on.
Any of these goodies could be a collectable too!

Team Racing

You can have players form teams and help each other reach the finish ahead of the other team - you can also have each player drive two or even three cars at once! Remember that every car moves every turn - so on your turn, you must move each of your cars once before the other players get a turn.

In team racing, cars score three points for a win, two points for second place and one point for third. The team with the most points wins overall.

Be Creative!

I'm sure you can think of lots of good things to add to the game.

Footnote:

Memories are faulty. I thought I remembered that the group I played with in school had invented this game. That would have been in England back in 1972 or '73. However, since I put up this web site, several other people have told me that they too were playing it all over Europe at about the same time - so either everyone got it from the same source at about the same time - or it is a bizarre case of parallel development.

Ernst van Rheenen tells me that this game has been played in his classroom in the Netherlands for some time before this website was created. Ernst has a nice JAVA implementation of the game where you can play the computer, or other people via the network. Check it out here.

Dag Nystrom told me that he learned a very similar game called "paper racing" in Sweden - around 30 years ago (which is about the same time I was playing it). His version had a few small differences: (Quoting Dag...)

```> In that time we had: Race-track on paper, oil patch and jumps (The ability
> to jump over obstacles). One difference though was the freedom of movements,
> in our version the following move rules applied:
```
• You could NOT duplicate your previous vector, i.e., you HAD to brake and/or turn. Exception given for oil patches and jumps, in which you MUST duplicate the vector.
• You were allowed to change your vector to any of the 8 adjecent crosses(i.e. not only North,South,East,West, but also NW,NE,SW,SE).
• If you left the race-track, you had to make a circle and enter the race track at a point before the point you left it.
I really like the last of these rules - and encourage everyone to try it out as an interesting variation on my rule on leaving the track.

Dag also says:

```> The funny thing is that I came across this game, less than a year ago on
> a Ph.D. course I took at Uppsala University, Sweden. We used a formal
> verification tool, called UppAal, to calculate optimal "racing-runs" for
> an arbitrary track. (Link to the course-lab:
```
http://www.artes.uu.se/++/courses/fa04/lab3/
```> ). According to the teacher on this course, he had learned the game
> in Denmark some years ago.
```
Finding the origins of this game is turning into quite a detective hunt!
You can email me at: steve@sjbaker.org