Racko is a simple and classic numbers game from the 1950s that is very heavy on luck. It’s light and enjoyable. I got it for Sean for Christmas after he enjoyed playing it at a game night recently. We took Racko along with us to dinner at Naked City Brewery after work on a Tuesday night. Naked City is a very cool local brewery with good beer, good food, and a board game-friendly environment.
We have been to Naked City a handful of times, and we have almost always seen other game players there. The servers are interested and encouraging of people playing games. They even have a shelf of board games near the front door that customers can borrow and play.
Of course, you can also bring in your own games. I’ve seen people play many games at Naked City, including Dominion, Small World, Settlers of Catan, and others. In fact, Naked City is where I first taught Sean to play Survive: Escape from Atlantis, which I blogged about earlier.
To start things off, we ordered Naked City beers. They brew many delicious beers there, and they also have a fantastic list that includes many other interesting beers, mostly local.
I ordered a Naked City blond beer, and Sean got a pale. They were both great!
The environment in Naked City is very inviting. There is a lively crowd, even on weeknights, but it isn’t too difficult to get a table, because the place is pretty huge. You can bring kids before 9 pm as long as they don’t sit in the bar area.
The soundproofing inside is really nice. You can actually hear the other people at your table easily, even with many other people around. They also consistently play great music, at least in our opinion.
The servers are friendly and helpful. They know a lot about the beer and food and can provide lots of advice.
On the night we went recently, we sat on stools at a tall table in the bar area. Our table was plenty big enough for games, food, and beer.
We also ordered a pretzel with a delicious cheesy dipping sauce that also included beer in it.
We ate the pretzel as we played Racko. We also ordered dinner, which arrived well into the game, so we wrapped up the game over dinner.
Basic stats on Racko: 2-4 players, ~30 min, ages 8+
Each player gets a plastic card holder with slots in it for 10 cards. The set of cards has one of each number from 1 to 60 or something. But with two players, you remove all the numbers above 40.
Each player is dealt 10 cards, and you must keep them in that order and put them in the slots on the holder in the order they were dealt.
Your goal in the game will be to change the arrangement of cards in your slots so that they are in order from lowest in front to highest in back.
In a game with more players, that’s all you need to do. When your cards are in order, you say Racko and the round ends.
In a game with two players, you must also have a streak of three cards in order (such as 6, 7, 8 or 22, 23, 24) within that in order to get a Racko.
On your turn, you draw one card, either the face up card on the top of the discard pile, or a random face down card from the deck. You can then either discard the card you drew, or you can swap it with one of the cards in your holder and discard the card from your holder, instead.
After you have discarded a card, you’ll never get it back, unless you go through all the cards on the round and have to reshuffle them, which is rare.
The components in our copy of Racko feel a little cheaply made. The holders are pretty flimsy, and the cards are not printed well. The numbers should be printed in a consistent location on the card regardless on which side is up, but they aren’t, so it isn’t easy to tell in a visual way whether your cards are in order.
If you were very careful to keep all the cards right-side up, the location of the number would allow you to see visually whether they were in the right order, but that is kind of a pain.
Whoever gets a Racko first says so, and the round ends. The person who got a Racko gets 75 points. The other player gets points based on how many cards they have in order, starting with the first (closest) slot.
Each slot is worth 5 points if the cards are in order for those slots. So if your first 5 cards are in order, you get 25 points. But if your first (closest) card is a higher number than your next closest card, you only get 5 points.
When the round ends, you calculate the scores and write them down. You play more rounds until one person has 500 points, or whatever number you agree to play to.
Sean and I played Racko while we waited for our dinner to arrive and while we ate dinner. Strangely, I got a Racko on every single round! The game is very heavy on the luck, and I think I had a streak of good luck.
Of course, bad decisions can totally kill you in this game, so it isn’t 100% luck. You do make some important decisions.
I ordered a black bean burger with salad, which I ate while we wrapped up the game.
Sean ordered a chicken burger.
We actually didn’t play all the way until I reached 500 points, because my score was about double Sean’s score, and we had another game with us that we also wanted to play. We ended up sticking around for more beer and a game of Finca after dinner. (I’ll blog about that session of Finca soon!)
Below are some pros and cons of Racko.
- Simple to learn and teach.
- Light and quick.
- Can feel satisfying.
- Even though there is a lot of luck, you still have some control and decisions to make.
- Components are somewhat flimsy and not printed well.
- Requires that you write down scores after each round.
- Feels very luck heavy.
And below are some pros and cons of Naked City Brewery.
- Great beer and good food.
- Board game-friendly environment.
- Lots of comfortable seating.
- Helpful servers.
- Feels cozy and inviting.
- Good music.
- Good soundproofing.
- Allows kids before 9 pm.
- Parking can be a little difficult–but at least it’s free.
- Can be a wait for a table on a weekend night.
- Nobody under 21 is allowed after 9 pm.