If you are struggling to get your racing fix through the winter months then the peloton-based Attack the Pack card game could be just what you need. It takes a few goes to get your head around the rules, but once you are savvy it can be quite a fun-fuelled and tense 20 minutes or so of getting your rider to the line.
- Pros: Quite addictive, the pack fits in a jersey pocket for post-ride games
- Cons: Rules can be quite complex the first few times you play
Attack the Pack allows you to live out your directeur sportif fantasies to use your team to take the stage win. It is surprisingly addictive and fun to play once you get the hang of it, even if you are a relative newbie to professional racing. That said, the whole game benefits from a bit of knowledge so it might be a good idea to dust off that Tour de France boxset you have lingering about in the cupboard.
There is a full tutorial video here as well, which gives you an in-depth run-through of the game.
Before you start
There are three types of cards in the deck: Riders, Roads and Actions and Reactions.
Each player receives three rider cards which is their starting team line-up, and one road card showing either a choice of hill, cobbles, flat road or mountain is placed in the centre of the game; this dictates the terrain the riders are starting the race on.
The players are then dealt another three cards each, which are kept face down, and is their starting hand.
Playing the game
At the start, all of the dealt riders are in the peloton (the tutorial video shows you how to lay out the cards) and if you choose to attack, the riders are moved into the break in front.
The game is controlled by each player in turn giving their team three orders, by playing a card in their hand, a rider, an action or changing the terrain by way of a road card.
They can also draw a card from the unused deck, choose a rider to attack, refresh a rider or exhaust a rider to rest them. (It all makes sense after a few goes!)
Attacking with one of your riders is obviously the best way to win the game, and the numbers and symbols along the bottom of the card shows their ability on the various terrains. Basically, adding these numbers up for your riders dictates the amount of minutes achieved in the break.
It's up to the other players to use their riders to control the break or join the attack – just like the real thing.
There are also the action and reaction cards that can also be played to your own team, like receiving an energy gel which gives a rider +1 points, or take 1 away by dishing out an 'empty bottle' card.
Riders in the break can become exhausted, too, so this all needs to be taken into account.
The player who draws the final card in the pack initiates the final kilometre in which each player has one last chance to get their riders into the break. Once everyone has had a final go, it's time for the sprint where all exhausted riders are removed from the break and the peloton is also removed.
A tot up of the points on offer for the current road surface for each rider dictates who moves to the front and takes the win.
This is just a brief run-through of the game, and it's difficult to portray the speed and competitiveness of playing it – but it really is good fun.
Price-wise, £15 may look pricey for a deck of cards, but if you've seen the price of board games on the shelves of your local toy store you'll know that it is quite reasonable.
A fun card game for those who fancy themselves as the next big directeur sportive
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Con Gas Games Attack The Pack card game
Size tested: 2-4 Players
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
From Con Gas Games: "Attack the pack is a card game that replicates the experience of a professional bike race. Deploy a team of riders, attack from the peloton and ride to victory in the final sprint for the line."
I think the game is quite realistic to the pro peloton.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
20 Minutes per game
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It's good fun!
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Fun and exciting once you get the flow...
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The rules can seem quite complex until you get your head round them.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
There isn't much on the market like it, so it is difficult to gauge, but board games in the high street shops are getting close to 20 quid.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Attack the Pack is a quick, addictive card game for those who want to relive their favourite racing scenarios. It's a bit pricey but not overly so against other board games.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!