Dr Drago’s Madcap Chase review
Dr Drago’s Madcap Chase, aka Die total Verruckte Rallye in Germany, was a game developed by BlueByte and released in 1995.
The game featured a turn based board game for Windows 3.1. It’s played on a big european map and consists on a race Mario Kart style but buying properties like in Monopoly.
The game has some interesting mechanics:
- Economy. There is a long term goal:
- The game is won by the player that has more money, liquid and invested in real estate properties, on game end.
- Players can (and should) buy real state properties with money. Having too much liquid money is risky and less efficient. Players also can buy cards with the money. Everything can be sold for liquid cash, but losing up to half value.
- Real estate properties net you a benefit every turn.
- If a player is in red numbers, he is forced to sell properties to go back positive.
- The game features cards to do some actions for benefit you or mess with other players: read about card uses. This adds a strategic factor.
- It’s turn based. On turn start, the player can use a card. After that, player must run a single reel (results in 1-6 as it’s just a dice) and move to the corresponding tile. It can use a card to move instead of using the single reel.
- Short term objectives. It is a race, so players must try to reach a goal to win a prize: read more.
- Up to 8 players. Human can play on hot seat but also there is CPU. Any player can be switched to CPU or human at any time.
- Every board tile can be a regular town/city, a capital city, win money tile (blue), lose money tile (red), free card (yellow) or a card shop (purple): read more.
- It’s educative: the map is the real Europe and shows monuments and caricatures of every region economy (cows, industrialization, fishing…). Real state properties also reflect on local town/city business.
- There are various random events, some affect to real estate properties, other block map roads.
- Game characters feature parodies of known VIPs from the time (a chancellor, movie actors, …).
- East europe is closed for players until some game time passes. So the game pace is faster on the beginning (less map to cover).
- And lastly, the game features an special AI character called Dr Drago, that bully players: read more.
There is a nice mix of objectives. You’re expected to reach the goal, but you should be also looking for acquire real state properties, to mess with other players goals and to get rid or avoid Dr Drago.
The game is very fun on the early and middle game but it isn’t flawless:
- The game economy is unbalanced. Player income gets high but other things don’t get equally updated.
- Money is valuable on early game.
- On middle to late game, money losses value. Most players should have a lot of money or income every turn, income enough to cover any red tile loses and even Dr Drago expenses. This means red tiles are just rendered innocuous and blue tiles are rendered worthless. Dr Drago is also a little bit less scary.
- As money income grows, cards are more important. Middle and late game consists on abusing cards to obtain good real state properties or mess other players properties. Any other objectives (go to goal, avoid Dr Drago) are eventually less important.
- Dr Drago practically only mess with your money and cards.
- AI players are not particularly good dealing efficiently with game economy: they should save little bit money to buy with cards as game progress instead of just buying everything on sight. Still is not a bad AI, so no big deal.
- After reaching a lot of goals, when the players has too much money, game feels a bit repetitive.
To improve the game and be almost flawless, it would need just balancing blue/red tile values and a surprise of game pace change on endgame.
I’m also missing characters had unique special skills. That would add a replayability factor as characters will unique (gameplay wise). That would need some deep thought to keep balance, but it should be something relevant (like some Dr Drago immunity, free double reel, free sugar, sell for 75% always, and so on). Also, distinct char AIs would be nice.
Why to play?
This is not the usual board game you see, which most of the time is just Chess or a puzzle game. It’s a fun board game, focused on competition and incorporating some interesting mechanics.
How to acquire
Sadly, there is no way to buy this game and, as far as I know, it’s not free but seems game developer abandoned it, it’s licenseless. The game can be played in a Windows 3.1 sandbox, it can be done by just using DOSBox. Feel free to contact me if you’re interested on playing it.
The reviewed game is also the only one built, which was released on Windows 3.1.
There is a open source remake partially done but, sadly, it seems dead and incomplete.
There won’t be any remakes for the game, as it’s totally abandoned and mostly forgotten, even if many fans still remember it (specially in Germany). Sorry for the bad news. At least the original is still playable.
Games like Dr Drago’s Madcap Chase
I didn’t played many board games as it’s a niche genre, but here are some titles that I know are good:
- Monopoly. Very popular. Electronic Arts has it’s rights and there is a port in android.
- Catan. Fun strategy game. There is a PC port called Catan Universe that seems buggy. Still, the game mechanics are there and hopefully it will be fixed or re-released.
- Solitaire. Well, it’s the classic card game.
There is a subgenre that is closely related to this game. If you enjoyed the card using of the game, you could also enjoy this other card deck building games (I played first 3 and they are good):
- Magic, the gathering.
- Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales.
- The Elder Scrolls: Legends.
- Hex: Shards of Fate.
Dr Drago is a great game to be played with friends in hotseat, expect great fun when racing to goal and dealing with Dr Drago on the way. The game is good enough to be enjoyed against AI, have fun!
- When a player reach the goal, gets a prize and a new goal is set.
- Every new goal is always random from any european capital city. Regular town/cities can’t be chosen as goals.
- Game ends when the players reach a predefined number of goals (e.g. 90 goals).
- The player can freely ignore a goal and focus on other things (sometimes it can be worth) but chasing the goal is a easy way of get money and a way to avoid Dr Drago.
- Goal prize increases on every new goal reached.
- To voluntary buy or sell a real estate property, you must fall in the corresponding town/city or capital tile.
- Blue and red tile win/lost money amounts fluctuates during the game. It starts low and, on every tile touch, the value raises to a max. After reaching max, it lowers again to a minimum value. It’s cyclic.
- The won free card, in yellow tile, is always random.
- You can buy or sell any card you choose in the purple tile shop. Best cards are more expensive.
- Acquire/sell to estate properties.
- Slowdown or harass players.
- Long range movement, could be to a random tile or using multi-dice reels.
- Other for precise movement, E.g. move 4 tiles or move to a capital.
- He appears in the game after the first goal is reached. He is switched to a player after every goal reached.
- Dr Drago is temporary bound to a player, following him. Dr Drago will start following other player that touches same tile, so a player can remove Dr Drago just by surpassing other player.
- When the bound player turn starts, Dr Drago will punish him (lose money, card or properties).
- Dr Drago has 3 vehicles. The more expensive the vehicle, the more dangerous he is (he punishes more).