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If you’re not following Button Shy, then you’re missing out on their micro revolution. Their ambitious goal is to release a new game every month. The catch is that these games are small, 18 cards or less, packaged into an attractive bi-fold plastic wallet. Let’s settle into the driver’s seat and talk about one of their newest games to hit the street, Turbo Drift from Rob Cramer.

Turbo Drift Overview

The world of drifting is a heart-pounding, adrenaline pumping, thrill a minute whirlwind which started in Japan in the 1970s. In drifting it’s not just about winning the race, it’s doing it in style with supernatural cornering and raw power: some of these cars have over 1000 horsepower. Admittedly Turbo Drift doesn’t have that much horsepower, but it does have a surprising amount of depth for only 18 cards.

Turbo Drift overview

In Turbo Drift players are trying to make it from starting line to checkered flag by utilizing 6 unique double sided movement cards to drift and corner around obstacles laid out in front of them. The game takes place in real space, meaning that there’s no board. Use as much, or as little, of your table or floor as you like. The first player to touch the checkered flag gets bragging rights, maybe even pink slips if you’re bold enough.

Turbo Drift setup

How to Set Up Turbo Drift

Turbo Drift comes with the following cards:

  • 4 race cars
  • 5 barrier cards (with orange boost icons)
  • 6 double sided movement cards
  • 1 start sign
  • 1 checkered flag
  • 1 boost card

Setup for Turbo Drift is simple. Set aside a space about 3ft x 3ft. More or less is fine, but keep the space tight and your game will be more enjoyable. Place the start signal and checkered flag cards at opposite sides of the racing area.

Take all 5 barrier cards and shuffle them around, and flip a few over. Then lay them onto the table in an obstructionist fashion. Seriously, get them in the way so that players don’t have a striaght path towards the checkered flag. The designer has provided some example setups for reference:

Turbo Drift barrier layout

If you have a smaller space, feel free to use fewer barrier cards. Once every thing is laid out, you’re ready to race!

How to Play Turbo Drift

Selecting Movement Cards

Movement in Turbo Drift is designed around 6 double sided cards which have a mix of straight movement, curved movement, and hairpin corners. The cards are laid out in a 2 x 3 grid like so:

Turbo Drift movement cards layout

When selecting movement cards, players may choose from the following 4 options:

  • Pick any 1 card from the 2 x 3 grid
  • Pick any 2 cards from a single row
  • Pick any 3 cards from a single column
  • Pick all 6 cards (only once per game)

Playing Movement Cards

When playing cards the first thing players will do is to take the boost card (tire tracks with flames) and place it either touching the start signal, or directly behind their car. Move your card aside, then play each path cards so that the tire treads touch the treads on the card immediately behind it.

Turbo Drift movement cards 1-2 cards

Play each card in order, then place your car at the end of the line so that the rear of your car touches the thick line on the final path card. Flip all the cards over and place them back into the grid in any order you wish.

Turbo Drift movement cards 1-2 cards

If a player chooses to take 3 cards they must first shuffle the cards before playing them as above.

If at any time a players movement card overlaps a boost icon they may take the boost card, add it to the end of their current path, and continue racing.

Turbo Drift boost icon

If a path card overlaps another card, or a the portion of a barrier card outlined in red, that card may not be placed. The player’s turn is over.

Using Nitro

Once per game a player can trigger their “nitro” and take all 6 cards. Shuffle all 6 cards then play them in order. Players may choose to stop without playing all 6 cards.

What I Dislike About Turbo Drift

I only have a few minor nitpicks with Turbo Drift. The cards in Turbo Drift are pretty fiddly. You’re constantly moving cards around, bumping them, turning them, etc. In many games it mignot not be a big deal, but in this game it can mean the difference between crashing or not. Most of the people I played with felt that putting the boost card behind your car to start made it “feel” like you were losing ground. Thematically it makes sense because most drift-style cars are rear-wheel drive. But it still felt like you weren’t moving forward very far on your turn.

Additionally the games can take longer than you would think. Because you’re not always using the full length of the card you might only move a total of 4 inches on your turn, only to lose some of that distance on your next turn because of a card order issue from shuffling.

What I Like About Turbo Drift

The notion of micro-games is really intriguing, but most of them fall flat. Turbo Drift is one of the few micro-games that I really enjoy. The gameplay is easy to pick up, turns go fast, and it’s fun to min/max your turn based solely on the cards available to you on your turn.

The artwork is simple, but really well executed. It has a retro 80s feel without going for the tired pixelated look.

Turbo Drift movement cards 1-2 cards

Turbo Drift also has a tangible table presence. I commented about it on Twitter a few weeks ago and Jason Tagmire, founder of Button Shy Games indicated that table presence was a big target for them this year:

Final Thoughts on Turbo Drift

The Kickstarter for Turbo Drift and it’s Q1 siblings might be over but you can still pick up this game from Button Shy when it releases later this year.

All in all this is probably the most satisfying Button Shy Game I’ve played. The art is excellent, the game play is well thought out and fun, and it’s a simple concept. Besides, who doesn’t like racing games? Is Button Shy on the hunt for a strategic partnership?

Micro Machines logo


What do you think about Turbo Drift? Give us your opinions about what you like and/or dislike about the game in the comments below!

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Andy Matthews

Founder of Meeple Mountain, editor of MeepleMountain.com, and software engineer. Father of 4, husband to 1, lover of games, books, and movies, and all around nice guy. I run Nashville Game Night, and Nashville Tabletop Day.