Breaking Away


This is an excellent cycling game similar to racing games like Golden Strider, but with some new twists. It was designed by John Harrington (Fiendish Games). These postal rules written by Keith Thomasson.

There are also a number of variants to this game, which have been run in various zines.

1. Introduction

Breaking Away is a race game loosely based on the sport of cycling. Players (6 recommended) each run a cycling team consisting of four cyclists, and compete to have the top team at the end of the race.

2. The Team

2.1 Each player has four cyclists on his or her team.

2.2 The four cyclists on each team are graded A, B, C, D. The gradings come into effect when determining the order of movement.

3. Building Your Team

3.1 At the beginning of the game, players choose cards for each of their cyclists subject to the following restrictions.

Rider Number of Cards Card Values Allowed Up to a total of:
A 3 or 4 1 to 15 30
B 3 1 to 15 25
C 3 1 to 15 20
D 3 1 to 15 16

3.2 Given below are some examples of legal starting line-ups:

A    10 10 10
B    8 8 9
C    3 8 9
D    5 5 6
A 1 2 12 15
B    2 10 13
C    3 6 11
D    1 1 14

4. The Race Track

4.1 The track is 120 squares long.

4.2 There are no lanes on the track.

4.3 Sprint finish lines may be found between squares 40/41 and 80/81. The significance of these will be explained later.

4.4 The finish line is between square 120 and 'square 121'.

5. Race Points

5.1 The first eight cyclists past a sprint finish line score points as follows:

1st 10 points
2nd 8 points
3rd 6 points
4th 5 points
5th 4 points
6th 3 points
7th 2 points
8th 1 point

5.2 The first eight cyclists across the finish line receive the following points:

1st 20 points
2nd 16 points
3rd 12 points
4th 10 points
5th 8 points
6th 6 points
7th 4 points
8th 2 point

5.3 Race points are accumulated over the course of the race, including the sprint stages. At the end of the race the points earned by ALL the cyclists on each team are aggregated to give a total team score. The team with the highest score wins. In the event of a tie, the finishing places of the teams involved in the tie are consulted: the team who had the highest placed rider wins the tie break.

5.4 Places in the sprints and at the finish line are determined on a first past the post basis, not furthest past the post.

6. The Movement System

6.1 Movement round the track is effected by the playing of a card for each cyclist each turn.

6.2 Players may only play a movement card for a cyclist if that card value is present in the cyclist's 'hand'. For example, if Percy Vere's cards consist of a 7, a 14 and a 15, he may be ordered to move 7, 14 or 15 squares.

6.3 Once a card is played from a cyclist's hand it is not returned.

6.4 Each cyclist's hand is replenished with a new card, the value of which is determined according to the cyclist's position in the field of riders.

6.5 To determine the value of the new card for any given cyclist, the referee will count the number of cyclists in an unbroken string ahead of the cyclist in question, and add that number to 3.

6.6 An unbroken string is defined as a group of cyclists occupying every square of a section of track. In other words, a string of riders is broken by an empty square.

6.7 The maximum value of a new card is 15. If an unbroken string of cyclists would generate a value in excess of 15, the value is reduced to 15.

6.8 An example of how to calculate the value of a new card is given below. Percy Vere is on square 38. The positions of the other riders are as follows:

43 Fred Bare (winner of sprint - 10 points)
42 -
41 -
40 Thad L. Thor, Pete Sake
39 Jeff Andum, Pete Boggs, Ben Dover, Phil deGlasse
38 Percy Vere, Harry Leggs, Walter Raleigh
37 BMX Bandit

Percy has an unbroken string of six cyclists in front of him (Thor, Sake, Andum, Boggs, Dover and deGlasse) and therefore replenishes with a 9 (6+3). Note that Percy does not receive anything for being behind Fred Bare because square 41 is empty and therefore breaks the string (as indeed does square 42). Also note that he receives no bonus for being on the same square as Harry Leggs and Walter Raleigh. However, BMX Bandit, tucked in behind on square 37, receives a new card of 12 (9+3) because he receives a further bonus for being behind Vere, Leggs and Raleigh.

6.9 Breaking Away - there is a special rule for a cyclist who has made a break from the rest of the field. On the first turn (only) that he is leading on his own, he replenishes with a card equal to the number of squares he leads by. Thus if he is 7 squares clear of the rest of the field, he replenishes with a 7.

6.10 On the second and subsequent turns that a cyclist is leading on his own, he will replenish with a value of 3. If he loses the lead and then regains it, he will gain a breaking away bonus in the turn that he regains the lead.

6.11 First turn only - if at the end of the first turn (only) any square has 4 or more cyclists on it, then the square in front is treated as if it were blank for card replacement purposes. For example:

7 - No replacement card
6 Conquest, War, Famine, Death Replacement card 3
5 Dip, Sky, Blue, Bottle Replacement card 3
4 Get, Outof, Derway Replacement card 7

Square 5 is the overcrowded square (it has 4 or more riders on it) so square 6 is treated as if it were blank. This means that Dip, Sky, Blue and Bottle replenish with a 3 and not a 7. This has a knock-on effect to the riders on square 4, who replenish with a 7, not an 11.

7. Order of Movement

7.1 Movement is always processed from the front of the field to the back, with the race leader moving first and the man at the back moving last.

7.2 In the event of two or more cyclists occupying the same square, the order of movement is determined by a succession of checks, detailed below.

7.2.1 Grade A cyclists move before grade B cyclists, who move before grade C cyclists, who move before grade D cyclists.

7.2.2 If cyclists of the same grade occupy the same square, priority movement is given to the cyclist playing the highest card that turn.

7.2.3 In the event of rule 7.2.2 failing to resolve the tie, priority movement will be given to the cyclist with the highest card available for play in his hand.

7.2.4 If rule 7.2.3 fails to resolve the tie, the referee refers to the second highest card available for play (and if that fails the third highest and, if applicable, the fourth highest).

7.2.5 If the tie is still not resolved, priority will be given to the cyclist who arrived on the square first. (On rare occasions, a cyclist will have occupied the same square on every turn as another cyclist, in which case it will not be possible to determine which cyclist arrived on the square first. In these situations the cyclists move simultaneously and any points gained by them on a turn are shared between them.)

8. Orders

8.1 Orders consist of the card value to be played for each cyclist in the team.

8.2 Orders may not be made conditional on the movement of cyclists further ahead or on any other factors.

9. NMRs

9.1 For those new to postal gaming, NMR stand for No Moves Received. In the event of an NMR, the referee automatically plays the highest value card for all of the cyclists under that player's control.

10. Getting Dropped By The Pack

10.1 It is possible for a cyclist to get dropped by the pack. It will usually be obvious when this has occurred and the referee will indicate that the cyclist has been dropped. It will then not be necessary for the controlling player to continue submitting orders for the cyclist.