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Friday, January 2, 2015

Gentlemen, start your engines! A Formula D Review

My parents were awesome enough to get me several amazing gifts this Holiday season, and Formula D was one of those! I was introduced to the game by WWPD editor Throck Morton a while back, and really enjoyed it! I know absolutely nothing about actual Formula 1 racing, and not much more about vehicular competition in general- but I do know that this game is fantastic!


Like many of you out there, a board game's components are a huge part of my enjoyment of a game. Formula D does not disappoint! The set includes 20 individually painted cars, 10 double sided characters, 10 double sided dashboards, and 7 specialty dice! That's in addition to tons of plastic markers for the dashboards, some cardboard damage and weather chits, and most importantly: a massive double sided race board featuring two tracks (one, I am told, is real, while the other is a made up street race).

The cars are tiny, but still fairly well painted! No idea what the scale is- 6mm maybe?

An example of a dashboard on the "advanced" side as well as a character. This dashboard has a tracker to monitor the wear of the car's tires, brakes, gearbox, body, engine, and shocks. You can see the character has starting values for each of these wear points, giving the different racers slightly different feels when playing the advanced game.

Detail on the dashboard. Note the gear selector on the left indicating what die you roll, and showing what numbers that die can produce.

The double sided dashboard features a beginner side, where all of the different wear points are abstracted into one general "wear" rating. More on wear when I discuss the game mechanics!

Anyone who knows me, knows a board game earns massive kudos when it's got solid storage, and this box is great!

Just look at that!

Game Play

The actual game play is relatively simple. Each round, starting with the player who's car is in the lead, each player takes a turn. At the start of a player's turn, they select their gear. A player can move up or down one gear without issue, allowing them to roll a "faster" or "slower" die. You may also optionally burn wear points (or gearbox points) to skip gears in case you're coming into a turn too quickly! You then roll the die corresponding to what gear you're in, and move that many spaces. You cannot zig-zag on the road, but can "change lanes" once. You cannot move through other cars, and must instead move around them (which is the only time you can zig-zag).

Turns have some really cool mechanics! First, you can see there are black arrows on each square inside a turn, indicating where you can move. Each turn also has 3 numbers associated with it. The first and most important is the big number in the yellow box. In this case "1". That number indicates the minimum number of times a car MUST stop in the turn. When coming into a turn if a car overshoots it (rolls so high that they cannot stop in the turn) they have to burn off brakes and tire wear points in order to slow down. If they can't do that, or overshoot it by too much, they crash and it's game over for that driver!

The number in the green box is simply a quick summary of the "slowest" possible path through the turn, while the number in red is the "fastest".

Some particularly brutal turns require more than one stop! Drivers are cautioned about trying to drive through those too quickly!

There are a handful of more advanced rules covering collisions, debris on the track, weather effects, and much more- though even with every rule included the rulebook is an easy read!

This is the reverse map, which is a night-race in an entirely fictional city. I really enjoy the art!

In conclusion, Formula D is a solid board game that is easy to teach, fast paced, and comes with some beautiful components. At only $39.99 USD on Amazon, it's a steal! Go check it out! Big thanks to my parents for the wonderful gift, AND for humoring me and giving it a shot!

Have you played Formula D? Please sound off in the comments below, or let us know on our forum!

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