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Lee Howard

1 April 2023

Death Road: Tournament

Death Roads: Tournament is a turn-based card game where you compete in a Mad Max style death race tournament. Death Roads: Tournament was developed by The Knights of Unity. The Knights of Unity have an interesting development background, they have worked on some very cool games. They helped Devolver Digital with optimizing the code for the Switch port of Cult of the Lamb, CD Projekt Red on UI development for Gwent the Witcher Card Game, and polished (their words) the multi-award winning game Disco Elysium. Death Roads: Tournament is the first of 2 projects from the same fictional Universe created by The Knights of Unity, the second project is a physical board game called Death Roads: All Stars that was a very successful Kickstarter and funded in 44 minutes.


Death Roads: Tournament starts with a voiced Borderlands-style cutscene, the moon has blown up and nothing has been the same again, the whole of the US is desolate except for one gigantic city called ‘Prime One’. To gain access to the city there is a televised tournament called Death Roads where selected riders across the region fight to the death to win, think ‘The Running Man’ with cars. Once the cutscene has finished you're dropped into a game with a tutorial, you have control of a car, and it quickly demonstrates each type of card. I found the tutorial a little confusing as it kept saying to pick the red card, pick the green card, etc. As I’m color-blind, I spent more time trying to work out what color I should be picking (and wasn't really able to follow) than what each card was supposed to do. I did check for a color-blind mode but there isn’t one. It would be great if they added one, or prompted at the start of the game asking how the cards should be displayed. Once I completed the tutorial, a few menus later I selected my first car from the garage and jumped into a game. The music kicked in with a guitar riff, then a fast-moving road appeared, and my car with the other cars that had to be defeated.

Like any card game, you have points to spend at the start of each turn, and you have a handful of cards to play. Each card costs a varied amount of the aforementioned points. You can carry out a few different actions, attack forward, attack backward, or move around the road to get into a better position.


My first couple of battles were simple enough, only a car or 2 was on the board as I was able to just do basic attacks and moves to defeat them. I then picked up an upgrade for my car and found that this game can be quite complex. Once I worked out how to read a card, I could see there was a lot to this game.


This card is a basic move card, follow the right-hand column from top to bottom. 3 Handling cost, the cost to play the card. Gear Range, depending on which gear you are in gives you more options. In gear 4 or 5 you can move, bash, and then move again. It alters what attack you can do. I was in gear one at the time so this card is not as powerful as it could be. I found I had a card that would allow me to change gear from 1 to 3, I then realized this game will require way more planning than using a single card to move. And this movement card wasn’t even the most complicated card!

When you complete a battle, you get to choose a car part as a reward. These car parts manifest as playable cards. You get to swap out parts before each battle, which is a novel way to build a deck. Once you have completed the battle you choose your next fight and which route you wish to take, each route has different options, from mystery circles, multiple battles in a row, a chop shop, or a fix station. You cannot fix your car between battles until you get to a fix station, so plan accordingly. Then you can go to your garage and change out parts on your car. This is where you build your deck for the next battle and take a closer look at the part you picked on the reward screen. There is a lot to take in and there is not much hand-holding going on, but after a few battles, it started to make sense.


I liked the detail of the cartoon-style graphics; they are well-drawn and suited to the feel of the game. I believe they will translate well to a board game. Although I found the dialogue a little hard to read in some parts, I’m not sure if that is because I’m old and going blind or due to the size of the text used, but I often found myself struggling to read cards unless I expanded them. When you change the loadout of your car, the car's physical appearance would alter in the garage. The attention to detail continues in the battles, all the cars are well-drawn, and the animations provide a sense of movement during battles. Every action has a nice animation for damaging the car or even moving it to a different lane. When in the menu system the music was like a chilled western, but once you get into a battle, the music almost has an 80s Top Gun feel to it, with guitar, keyboards, and drums pushing you along the road. The game sounded great in both respects.

Death Roads: Tournament is a great little game, the price of $13.50US is a good price for a game you can tell has been well thought out and, on the surface, looks just like a simple card game. The more you play the more fun you can have with building a deck. The options are endless on how to play this game, with the option to start from multiple starting places on the map and the different car parts you can install.


The Bad

- Lots of ways to play.
- Detailed graphics
- Fun Music
- Difficulty curve feels right

- Could be a little overwhelming for beginners.
- Small text on cards.
- Tutorial doesn’t really tutor.

The Good

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