We raced to complete 1000 km drives in Mille Bornes, the next game in our A-Z game shelf play-through.
Basic Info: Mille Bornes
Time: 20 Minutes
Designers: Edmond Dujardin
Artists: none listed
Publisher: Winning Moves Games (our edition)
Mille Bornes is a simple card game where players race to play cards totalling 1000 km each round while navigating hazards of the road like empty gas tanks, flat tires, and accidents. The first player to 5000 points over the course of several rounds wins.
The game is set up by giving each player helper cards (at least in our edition) and shuffling the deck of cards. Each player gets a hand of seven cards, and that’s it.
On their turn, a player is going to draw a card and play a card. These cards take on several forms. There are mileage cards with 25, 50, 75, 100, or 200 miles — these are simply played in stacks of the same number in front of the player. But, miles can only be played if the player has a “Go” card showing on their “battle stack.” The goal is to be the first to play exactly 1000 miles of these cards.
Then there are hazard cards, which are played on an opponent’s “battle” deck — out of gas, accident, or flat tire. These prevent that player from laying down mileage cards until they have solved the problem with a remedy card — gas tank, repairs, or a spare tire — and played another “Go” card. There are also speed limit cards, which are played on an opponent’s speed pile and prevents them from playing any mileage cards over 50 until they play an “end of speed limit” card on their speed pile.
Finally there are safety cards which can be played to protect the player from one hazard or another. When they play a safety card, the player gets to draw and play another card.
In addition to playing cards on their turn, a player can play a safety card when attacked by another player if they have the correct safety card in hand. If they do this, they say “Coup Fourré” and place the card in their safety area, but at a 90-degree angle (because they extra points for it at the end of the round). They then get to draw a card and play their turn. Play proceeds from the attacked player.
As soon as a player gets to 1000 miles, the round ends and is scored. Players get points for the miles they’ve driven, for completing the trip, for not playing any 200 mile cards, for each coup fourré, etc. Players reshuffle the cards and play another round until someone has reached 5000 points. Player with the most total points wins.
We picked up this game many, many years ago. I had remembered playing it as a kid, and wanted it in our collection. However, this was the first time we played this copy, and it is not exactly a great game by modern game standards.
There is a lot of luck in the game. You can keep another player down with an attack card if they don’t have the remedy, and they can just be caught in a cycle of drawing and discarding useless cards. I remember as a kid loving the opportunity to perform a coup fourré, but it’s another bit of luck. I could see this as a good game to play with friends if you just wanted something to do with your hands as you talked, but not much strategy.
How is it as a 2-player game? Mille Bornes works fine with two players. It is designed to be played with either 2 or 3 players playing on their own, or 4 or 6 players playing in teams. With a team, there may be more opportunities to mitigate attacks, since there will more cards in the team’s collective hands.
How about the art and component quality? I really hate the art in this edition that we have. It looks like a bad Photoshop job. There are some cute touches — the snail on the 25 mile card and the hare on the 100. Otherwise, the cards were fine.
Will this stay in my collection? No, it can move on. I am satisfied with the fondness I have for this game in my memories — I don’t need to play it again.