Spotlight on Games > Interviews
Alfredo Genovese, Inventor of Bolide
April 8, 2006. Alfredo Genovese hails from Italy and is the inventor and also the publisher, with others, of an interesting new auto racing game, Bolide, which appeared in late 2005. I began our interview by asking him to introduce the game and tell us why he decided to publish it ...

Bolide is an amazing and exhaustive car race simulation: the main innovation compared with the homologous, preceding board games consists of the cars' movement which is based neither on cards nor dice. This means that luck is not the most important element in winning the races. Rather it's the driver's ability, since he must learn to apply a particular car's movement rules – based on the inertia principle – which perfectly simulate the abilities of a real car.

As in real races, Bolide drivers must work out the best routes along the track, pushing their cars at desired speeds, making breathtaking overtakings, and so testing their own driving abilities and their own driving styles.
Bolide game board showing race track
British Grand Prix from Bolide

Furthermore they will have to manage the race since from the beginning, when several choices must be taken: pit stop or not? soft or hard tyres? set-up car customized for the highest speed or for the most challenging braking? Bolide is this and much more, since every race is driven mostly by the interactions among the players.

Why Bolide?

I have always been fond of sports and games: I find that they have the same targets, establish the same relationships among the players and produce the very same irrepressible enthusiasm. Finally they have the same ability to educate. Everything began with a historical game group, playing Subbuteo and not missing any sporting event for more than a decade. From 2004 something special happened: I decided to take it seriously. Therefore I induced my game-mates to carry out the games we had invented so far just for our pleasure we started Ghenos Games. We invented, manufactured and published entirely by ourselves the first game, Bolide, the revolutionary car racing game, at the end of 2005.

2. How is the title Bolide related to the game?
Bolide is a term deriving from the Greek Bolis-Bolidos, meaning thrown or flying object. In many European languages, such as Italian, French, Russian, Spanish and also English, Bolide stands for fireball, meteorite, asteroid and racing car. I found it a fine word for my board game title: short and powerful.
3. The main challenge in a racing game is rewarding good play, but still permitting trailing cars a chance. What steps have you taken in this regard? Is it possible for a car at the back to catch the leader and if so, what approaches could a player take to do so?
That's true. Actually during all the rules preparation and play-testing phases my major concern regarded this fundamental balance between the simulation (where it is really difficult for the car in the back to catch up the leading one) and the board game (where an author must guarantee the interest of every player until the final part of the match).

In this regard it is worthwhile to distinguish the basic and the advanced rules cases. In the basic rules the approach of the last driver should be one of accepting a more or less calculated risk each turn. I mean that the rules permit trying a Booster (to get extra speed) and Brake (to have an extra sharp braking) options. Normally the leader does not like to risk, but if you are at the bottom of the rank, you should risk and the tables are calculated in order to give you a good percentage of success. With these completely opposite approaches the basic Bolide rules try to solve the challenge of the question.

In the advanced rules, what I said for the basic is still true, but the drivers' choices for their cars dominate in this regard. In other words, it is quite normal that in the first lap you will find in the leading position the cars which started with half fuel, since they are lighter and faster, and in the last positions the heavier cars with full fuel. But in the second and last lap, while the first group of cars is making the pit stop, the second group should overtake it and the race is studied to assure as much balance as possible until the final and thrilling rush.

Therefore I can conclude saying that Bolide has been tested for one year just to solve the main challenge you have pointed out.

4. Since you mention it, could you briefly outline the main differences between the basic and advanced games? Should everyone play the basic game the first time or can some players jump right into the advanced?
Alfredo, Anna and 2 children
Alfredo with family
Bolide was originally designed and planned with the advanced rules. The advanced rules contain the basic rules, but they provide much more fun and simulation. What the advanced and the basic rules have in common are the following features: When you move from the basic to the advanced, the real Bolide, you will find:

Therefore I suggest to the players to try immediately the basic rules just for learning, but as soon as possible to move to the advanced rules.

5. What are some of your favorite racing games other than your own? What are some of your favorite games on topics other than racing?
Bolide game board showing race track
French Grand Prix from Bolide
I have always been impressed by the world of Formula Dé: the cars' series (60s, 70s and so on) and the tracks with wonderful reproductions of the most famous circuits worldwide. A great and accurate setting: you can really feel the grand prix atmosphere. What I have always found a bit disappointing is the dice-dependence. But Formula Dé's twenty-year career cannot be questioned.

Considering topics other than the racing, I can mention Subbuteo, and apart from sports I appreciate every board game related to political and economic strategies.

6. There have been a few other games using inertial movement including TaCaRa (which I saw at Essen in 2000), the German game Simulator, Star Fist, Triplanetary and also an old game called Racetrack. Were you familiar with any of these and how might your game differ?
Ghenos Games is a very young publisher (end of 2005) and we have not the knowledge and the experience of our more expert colleagues. Consider that we are going to attend the next Spiel '06 at Essen for the first time and our first appearance at a board games-related fair was at Lucca, at the end of last October.

Therefore I am not familiar with several famous games and even more so with the titles you mentioned, even if it is not the first time I have heard that they have something in common with Bolide.

7. Can you tell us something about your life away from games?
I was born in 1969 and grew up in Milan, Italy, where I still live. I studied at Liceo Classico (Greek and Latin) and got a degree in nuclear engineering. I am 36, married to Anna, have two children, Giulia and Tommaso, 4 and 2 years old. I have been working in electronics for IBM and then Celestica for several years and now I am Quality Manager in a small Italian company in the mechanics area. I am also a volleyball player (definitely at the end of my career) and coach. My areas of interest are History and Physics. And I'm a founding member of Ghenos Games.
8. What future plans do you have for Ghenos Games? Have you designed other games or possibly other tracks for Bolide? And how did you choose the name Ghenos?
Ghenos Games is young and properly ambitious. Our target is to become a high quality and well consolidated board games publishing and manufacturing company in the next three years. To do that we should essay a few more successful games. At the moment we are working on various new board games that are in the development phase. They are mostly related to sports, as the current company profile suggests. We hope at least one of them can be published by the end of the year and shown at the Essen fair or at the Lucca Games and Comics fair. Even so it is worth saying that Bolide had a testing phase of a year and a half, since we love to polish every detail of a game. On the other hand we are planning to release more Bolide tracks in the very near future (Essen for sure). They will still be invented circuits, but we are in contact with the licensing coordinators of the most important circuits in the world in order to try to publish reproductions of them.

Ghenos is my nickname from college; it is a Greek word meaning origin or beginning. I found it appropriate.

Thanks for your time and efforts, Alfredo, not least bringing a new game into the world. Good luck with it, and with all your future efforts.

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