This was a good talk. Going into it, I thought "road rally" just meant time+distance rally, and those sound pretty boring to me. But it turns out that there's a variety of rally types, so I shouldn't be too quick to dismiss them all as boring. Just like none of these things are much like Swedish Rebusrally. Anyhow, the talk.
- He is Bill Jonesi. He's kind of a big deal. He's been doing road rally for 35 years. Local SF Bay Area link: The Rallye Club
- Not all road rallys are puzzle-y. Historically, they were races. Or you could do one of those precise time+distance rallys. But if you want something puzzle-y, you probably want a "Gimmick Rally".
- Gimmick Rallys maybe evolved from scavenger hunts and murder mystery games in the 30s.
- First heyday in late 60s... but then big ol' gas crisis came along.
- But it came back! You can play it. Now there are some teams that consist of older folks who played in the 70s dragging along their teeny bopper kids.
- Sports Car Club of America does rallys, mostly not the kind you care about. But as of a couple of years ago, they have a national championship for gimmick rallys.
- Actually, those time+distance rallys have puzzles in 'em, too. [Editor's note: at some point, I talked w/someone that made me think that most of your attention in a time/distance rally goes into getting the timing just right: hurrying up close to a checkpoint, then stopping, then going forward to make sure that you cross it at just the right time. I dunno if that emphasis on timing over puzzles reflects truth, or just that guy's emphasis.]
- The Rallye Club just had their 30th anniversary! Mostly do gimmick rallys. Score doesn't depend on precise timing. Though you gotta finish in time, emphasis isn't on speed, but on solving a bunch of gotcha-puzzles along the route.
- You get instructions. They're very precise. The game is something like a combination driving game, duck conundrum (careful instruction-following with strange rules that "turn on" only under conditions that you need to look out for), careful observation.
- You get the "general instructions" a few days ahead of time. E.g., there's maybe a paragraph about what exactly a "left turn" is.
- Later, you get the route instructions. Depending on the nature of the
gimmick rally, different kinds of weird stuff might be in those
- Question Rally There are questions interspersed. Mark your answer.
- Example: Instructions said to follow Shattuck Avenue; but Shattuck ave splits: the main road becomes Sutter, while Shattuck Ave itself subtly continues. Question might be: what is first intersection after Eunice? Folks who followed the main road will incorrectly say "Yolo", while careful folks who stayed on Shattuck will say "Amador".
- A-B Rally Uses dual-route instructions. Mark which one can be done validly first: A or B... or C if both apply. There are "floating" instructions which can alter the rules.
- Coursemarker Follow instructions carefully. Along the way,
spot pie-plates with letter+numbers on 'em.
Note down which letters you saw.
If you followed the right route, yay. If you followed the almost-right
route, folks scoring your sheet will notice.
- Example: Mountain View put up a typo'd street sign: "Middlefeld". So,
suppose your instructions say "Left on Middlefield". You drive along,
you get to Middlefield, and you see see a sign: Middlefeld.
So you say "That doesn't match my instructions exactly", so you keep
going straight. You see a pie plate that says N23. You note
that on your answer sheet, and you also look up supplemental
instruction number 23. That tells you to pull a U-turn, take a right
at first opportunity, and delete the current instruction.
So afterwards, everyone's following the same general route, going along on Middlefield. But the careful observers took a little half-block detour and spotted this thing which they noted down, scoring an extra 10 points.
- Example: Mountain View put up a typo'd street sign: "Middlefeld". So, suppose your instructions say "Left on Middlefield". You drive along, you get to Middlefield, and you see see a sign: Middlefeld. So you say "That doesn't match my instructions exactly", so you keep going straight. You see a pie plate that says N23. You note that on your answer sheet, and you also look up supplemental instruction number 23. That tells you to pull a U-turn, take a right at first opportunity, and delete the current instruction.
- Photo (can be combined with other rally types) Given a route and a bunch of photos of things to look out for. You drive along. When you spot something from a photo, note down what mile of the route you're on.
- Hare and Hound Like the Hash House Harriers, except in cars (and, one hopes, with less drinking).
- Question Rally There are questions interspersed. Mark your answer.
- Question: More examples of things to solve?
- Suppose you're doing an A-B Rally. Instructions say "A Left at Tenth St B Left at 10th St". So, you know where you're gonna turn, but you gotta pay attention so you know what to note down in your log. Maybe you reach the intersection and there are big signs saying "Tenth St"... but you also notice a little sign saying "10th St". So you note down C for both. Not-so-observant folks will just note A.
- At the start of a coursemarker race, there might not be any instructions in effect yet. So you just drive straight. You see a coursemarker that says "Delete current instruction and U turn". A novice might think "OK, this is how they get us into the flow of course instructions" and do that. But a careful veteran says "I don't have a 'current instruction,' so this does not apply to me" and keep going straight. They will encounter another course marker whose instruction tells them to start following course instruction #2 after pulling a U-turn. That's how you get into the flow of course instructions.
- Precedence of instructions. Maybe your course instructions say "Left at Rock". But your general instructions have something buried in them that say "Right at Rock". You have to know the precedence of your instructions: the note in the general instructions takes precedence, so you need to turn right at Rock—and then you'll probably see a pie plate whose number tells you to pull a U-turn and to ignore the right-at-rock general instruction from now on. Meanwhile, you still have that "Left at Rock" course instruction hanging over you. So after your U-turn, you're back at the intersection. So if you're carefully keeping track of all this stuff, you turn left; while a less-careful carload of folks would go straight through. Now the careful carload spots another course marker that tells them to pull a U-turn and then a left—so now everybody's going the same way on Rock; but some folks have scored 20 points, some folks have scored 10 points; some folks scored zero points.
- Logic puzzle: There are two volunteers standing at a checkpoint, one of them will always tell the truth and one of them will always lie; you don't know which is which, though. You gotta ask one of them one question to find out how to get full credit.
- Typically about 40 gimmicks to a gimmick rally.
- Have two hours at the start just to read over instructions, take notes, set up your devices...
- Like puzzlehunters, this used to be a night activity; but as folks got older, folks want to start earlier, be wrapped up by 9pm.
- Question: What's a team? Is it a 2-Person driver/navigator dealie?
Yeah. At the beginner levels, you can have more. But as you get good, you notice that more people in the car is gonna distract you more than it helps you: if you've got two experts and a beginner, that's probably a weaker team than just two experts. If you've got a team with three experts, that's not so bad, but you're gonna hit some peer pressure to be just two people.
- He's got an old rallye that you can mostly-follow today; you can follow it and then ask for the answer sheet to see how well you did. Or you can just show up for a rallye: there's a first-timer's division, so you won't feel bad when you get your a-- handed to you by the experts. therallyeclub.org