Downforce – Review

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Downforce is a simulated racing game played with cards on a map-track for 2-6 players. The game includes 6 colors of cars, with the same colors of 6 Drivers, and a set of 6 special ability cards.

Components
1 double-sided game board – with a different racetrack on each side
6 colored race car pawns
42 regular speed cards – each one has 2 or more colors with a number on each color line
6 speed-8 speed cards – one for each color
6 special ability power cards
6 driver plaques (they look like drink coasters) – one for each color
1 pad of score sheets
Rulebook

Gameplay:

The game starts with placing each of the 6 race cars at the starting line randomly placed in starting spaces, there is a ‘one’ place so it too is randomly assigned a colored car in that spot. The 42 ‘regular’ speed cards are dealt out to all the players until the stack of 42 is gone (and everyone has an equal number). Then one of color of driver coaster is paired with a driving special ability card and the combination is auctioned off to the highest bidder.

The auction is basically handled by using your hand of ‘speed’ cards. If the ‘red’ car/driver/power combination is up for auction, and you desire to ‘own’ that set you would bid by using one of your cards with a higher number at the top of your speed card. Everyone selects a card, if you don’t wish to own the car/driver/power you can select a card that will not win you the auction. The winner, and new owner, of the car/driver/power is the person who has the highest number of that color from the speed card – that person takes the set and writes down the cost (in millions) on their score sheet next to the car they just bought. This goes around until all the cars are owned, though there is a chance that no-one will buy a car but it still competes in the race owner-less.

Once all the cars have been claimed (or not), the race begins. The car on the ‘1’ spot has its owner go first. Playing is a simple matter of choosing one of your speed cards, which include any of the speed-8 cards matching any car color you won in the auction, and playing it face up. The cars move the number of spaces shown on the card matching the color starting at the top of the card and going down. There could be just 2 car colors, or up to all 6, or even ‘wild’ cars where the current player gets to chose a car to move.

 

 

Simply play cards, move cars, and finish the race. BUT, it isn’t as simple as it sounds! No car can pass ‘through’ another car, so you can cause traffic jams. Some of the special ability power cards allow the player to do odd things like move extra, or move the cars in reverse order on the card, or always move your own car instead of the current player moving your cars. Throughout the race course there are 3 ‘betting lines’. Once a car passes one of these special betting lines everyone marks on their score-sheet which colored car they think will win the race (1st place). This happens all 3 times, one for each of the 3 betting lines. Players continue playing cards around the table until all 6 cars pass the finish line and are ranked in their order of finishing the race.

Once the last car crosses the finish line, the scoring begins. Car places 1st-5th all have ‘win totals’ and if you own a car in the first 5 positions, you’ll earn money associated with the place your car finished. You then find if you accurately predicted the winning car at each of the 3 middle stages of the race, if you were correct you won the bet and earn the money associated with the betting actions. You then total up the money you spent during the auction to buy your car(s), and SUBTRACT that from the previous two fields since you had to BUY the car as the owner. The final dollar amount is then compared to all the other players and the player with the highest amount of money is the winner!

(yes, simplified rules to save typing!)

 

Review:

Okay. With that out of the way. Go. Play. This. Game. Now!

Really, this game is great fun. The rulebook is very well written and easy to understand. It plays well with 2 players and with 4, though I imagine it also plays well with 6 too but haven’t had a chance to try 6 players yet. Based on the gameplay description it doesn’t sound like there is much strategy, but there is a LOT here. Do you advance your own cars? Do you advance your opponents cars so you can make money at the end of the race from bets? Do you sabotage someone else by ‘blocking’ them in? Do you cause a whole pile-up jamming the track so only your cars get through? Do you use your only Speed-8 card NOW, or hope you can use it better next turn? Did I overbid on buying 3 cars and should have only bought 1?

The components are top notch. The rulebook is great. The card stock is just right for shuffling the cards before dealing. My only gripe, and it is a small one, is the use of the pad of score-cards – because you could burn through them if you play this game often (there are a significant number of sheets in the pad) and it reminds me of something like Yahtzee.  It could also use more tracks to play on, but I’m sure that’s coming.

 

Overall the gameplay is very fast. The first night I played a two-player game with one of my sons, and from opening the box, to reading the rules and then playing we spent around 40 minutes total. Once that game was finished, my son piped in instantly wanting to play the other track because he said he thought of a new strategy. The 2nd play-through took another 30 minutes. We played 2 very fun games, both with high strategy, in just over an hour. Even the 4 player game we played took less than an hour including teaching the rules.

I rated the game a 8 on BGG, I liked it that much. This thing is just begging for expansions to be made in the form of new race-tracks and special ability power cards.

 

** Review Update **

We have since played this with 6 players and it was also incredibly satisfying.  Even with 6 players, after the first game, we just flipped the board over and played on the other side.  The strategy seems increased with the number of players.  We had a player who did NOT own a car, come in 2nd place due to great card playing to get his bets to pay out the higher amounts.  So, this game plays very well with the minimum 2 players, as well as the full 6 players!

 

The game is being published by Restoration Games; from the design team of Rob Daviau, Justin D. Jacobson, and based on an original design by Wolfgang Kramer; and art from Tavis Coburn and  Michael Crampton.

For more information check out Restoration Games’ Downforce Page

Restoration Games also has a PDF download for the score pads, so you can print off more if you burn through the ones in the box – here

Downforce can be purchased from your FLGS, Restoration Games, or Amazon

 

Restoration Games provided our copy of Downforce for this review, this has not clouded or influenced my opinions of the game nor this review.

*Note the above Amazon link is an AFFILIATE LINKS, DDO Players will get a small percent of the sale, this is another way you can help support the site*

 

 

One comment

  1. Thanks for the review. We’ll have something exciting to announce soon regarding new tracks and the scoresheets.

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