[Note: unlike my comprehensive reviews, this is more of a quick summary of my impressions for those who want an easy introduction to the game]
Everybody loves races, but not everyone wants to spend hours glued to the TV to watch a Formula 1 race. So why not simulate a Formula 1 race yourself? Formula D does exactly that - it allows you and your family and friends to compete for who will be the fastest around the track. You can vary the number of laps, you can pit-stop, spin out, collide with other cars, and of course you can even crash entirely. And if racing the Monaco circuit is not enough for you, you can flip the board and race through the down-town of a big American city, at night, with different rules for street-racing, and with pot-holes to dodge and bullets to avoid from angry neighbours who are not happy that you’re making so much noise in the middle of the night. What could be more fun?
So how is the game played? The game comes with two rule-sets. You can either play the basic version - which is ideal for kids or for a quick introduction to the game - or you can play the complex version, which includes everything from optional rules for driving in different kinds of weather to special characters you can be in the street races.
For the purpose of this review, it may be best just to stick to the basic concepts. Once you decide which track you want to play on, you pick your race car. It should be pointed out that the cars are actually very tiny - you could fit one on the tip of your thumb.
Each player also gets a gear box; this consists of a plastic box into which you can fit a solid piece of cardboard with various holes for plastic pegs. Put together, this resembles your gear-box. It includes a gear-stick which can be moved all the way from 1st gear to 6th gear as well as a chart that keeps track of the wear-points that your car has taken. If you have too many wear-points you will crash.
The key thing to understand is how to change gears. For each gear there is a different dice, with increasingly higher values.
So if you are in first gear you can only rolls 1’s and 2’s. By contrast, if you’re in sixth gear you’ll get to roll the big blue dice - which happens rarely in a game - with numbers 21-30. The numbers of course correspond to the number of spaces you can move on the racetrack. So on the straight stretches you can really motor along if you’re in a high gear!
But of course there is a catch, and here we need to explain two more concepts. The first is that you can only go up one gear per turn. So you can’t suddenly jump from 1st to 4th gear, or from 2nd all the way to 6th. On the other hand, you can skip gears when you slow down, but only if you take a wear point for each gear skipped beyond the first.
The second rule that is critical involves the corners. You see, in each corner you are required to make a designated number of stops. This ranges from 1-3 stops. So let’s say there are around 10 corner spaces and you need to make 2 stops in that corner. You can imagine that if you’re in 6th gear you would just whip right through. So you need to slow down. If you don’t you’ll take a wear-point for each space by which you exceed the corner. If you missed two or more stops you’re simply eliminated right away.
The trick, then, is to try and control your speed. It’s all about pushing boundaries. You should try to use your wear-points to get ahead, but if you’re whizzing through every corner at top speed you might be eliminated before you reach the finish line.
Will you like it? Let me explain why this game may or may not be for you. First of all, it involves a heavy dose of luck, so if that bothers you, then this is not for you.
However, the game does reward skill, particularly with the complex rules. You have to make decisions about what gear to drive in, when to slow down or speed up, when to draft behind players, when to take wear-points, and when to risk it all.
The game is also quite fast. All you need to do on a turn is to roll one dice and move your car. This is the kind of game you want to play when you just want to have fun.
Another plus is that the game is lavishly produced. When the game was first produced as Formula De in the early 1990’s you had to write down your wear-points. The gearbox in the new version makes life so much easier. And the board is stunning.
If you have kids they will love this game. My five and six year olds have no problem playing this and it has helped their counting skills tremendously. They of course find it very funny when I crash.
Lastly, this game scales very well for a great many players. You can play with as many as 10 players, which is fairly unusual for this type of game.
Thanks for the review. I plan on purchasing this very soon (hopefully in time for Saturday's gamenight!!).
Sounds good. Great review.