I like racing games; perhaps you do too. I like Nitro Dice and you might also. But not, I think, as a racing game. Nitro Dice has the trappings of a game about street racing, with its artwork of hot-rod cars, scantily clad women, and cool-looking men. Nitro Dice also, as its name suggests, includes brightly-colored dice. But I found the game to be not as much a racing or dice game as a card hand-management game.

Nitro Dice includes a deck of 96 cards, each with a picture of a street section—straights and curves, some with hazards. At the beginning of the game, each player gets a vehicle condition card with spaces marked one through nine, a hand of nine street section cards, and one of the ten-sided dice to represent the player’s car. A race track is then laid out on the table using 10 or more of the cards. The game proceeds in phases.

In the first phase, starting with the player furthest forward on the track, each player sets his car’s speed by changing the number face-up on the die. The speed selected can only be adjusted so much each round and may not exceed the recorded number on the player’s vehicle condition card.

In the second phase, in speed order, the players move their dice-cars forward along the track a number of spaces equal to their speed. Braking, handling, and various maneuvers, though, require a player to discard cards. If a player is unable to discard the required cards, his car is damaged. After moving, a player may replace one section of track (that is, one card) with another section of track (another card) from his hand. The type of card (straight, left turn, right turn) must be the same in the replacement card, but it can have different hazards. In this way, players can move hazards out of their own way or put them in front of other cars.

In the third phase, all players draw new cards, with the number of new cards depending on the player’s position and limited by the current condition of the player’s vehicle.

So while the objective of the game, like a race, is to be the first across the finish-line (or more precisely, the furthest across the line in the turn during which at least one player crosses it), getting there isn’t simply about moving the fastest. To stay ahead of other racers, players must balance speed with keeping their cars in good condition. The faster a player moves, the faster he’ll use up the cards in his hand, and the more likely his car will take damage. And because car damage limits the number of cards that a player can hold, it again limits the maneuvers that a player can safely execute and impacts the player’s ability to adjust track hazards.

Notwithstanding the overall the positive experience I’ve had with Nitro Dice, I should mention one problem that I do have with the game, and that is the use of cards to make up the playing surface. There are other games that do the same thing and given their part in the play of Nitro Dice, I don’t see a way around it. However, using cards as the board can be difficult, particularly if you’re playing on a smooth surface or in a breezy area, where cards could slide around or blow away.

Nitro Dice, then, isn’t what I expected when I got the box and read the name of the game. As a card game, though, it’s fun, and the racing theme is a nice addition.

A complimentary copy of Nitro Dice was provided to me by Minion Games for review.

You too can get one now from the company, as they’ve offered to send a copy free to one of our readers. All you have to do for a chance to win is leave a comment below by Thursday, May 31 at noon ET. After that, I’ll pick randomly from among the entries. For an additional entry, however, make your comment a little more interesting and tell us about your first car or a particularly memorable one.

The giveaway is now closed. Tom is the winner. Congratulations!