Monday, January 28, 2013

Formula D Written Review

Formula D

Asmodee/2-10 Players/Ages 14 and up/Racing
Killer cars at high speeds and you dont even need to know how to drive stick!

Formula D is a racing game that has it all: a cool theme, multiple ways of playing it, both beginners and advanced rules, and the ability to play anywhere from two to ten people.

The Board

Inside the box (which, incidentally, has some of the most gorgeous cover art you will ever lay eyes on) you will find a large board.  Two actually.  Each board is one half of the race track and each is double sided, allowing you to play on a traditional Formula 1 type track or a city street at night.  The rules vary slightly depending on which track you choose.  Either way, the art on the board is very colorful and fits the theme well.  My only complaint here is that the board has several folds in it that prevent it from lying perfectly flat on the table.

There are twenty cars to choose from: ten formula vehicles and ten street racers.  The vehicles are definitely on the small side, which unfortunately makes them easy to bump or even lose once spread out on the board.  They are pre-painted and fairly easy to tell apart from one another.

There are several dice that are color-coded to match up with whichever gear your car is in.  Basically, the higher your gear, the larger the die you can roll for movement.  First gear has four sides and it goes all the way up to sixth gear, which has 30 sides.  It must be noted that the dice do not have normal dice numbering.  The first gear (four sided die) only contains ones and twos, while the top gear (sixth) only has numbers 20-30 that are repeated on multiple sides.

But the best component in the box is your gearbox.  Each player has a plastic tray where you actually fit in a plastic gearshift knob as well as pegs to keep track of your cars condition (brakes, gearbox, body damage, etc.).  It is definitely cool to physically shift your car into a higher gear, reach over for a larger die than before, and roll away.  I love it when a games components match its theme so perfectly.

The Game

The track is divided up into an almost grid-like pattern that is three lanes wide and gameplay basically consists of the age old roll and move mechanic.  You roll a die and move that many spaces.  Which WOULD be boring were it not for the rules added on top of this to match the racecar theme.

 At the start of a race players must roll a 20 sided die to see how strong their start is.  A one means a stall out and they lose their first turn. Anywhere from two to 19 and they have a normal start and roll the first gear die to move.  If they luck out and hit a 20, they receive a great start and go four spaces.  After this, movement is decided by both your gear and the number you roll.

So basically you go up a gear until your max out and then speed like a bat from the very depths of Hades, correct?  Not so fast, because the tracks have turns.  Turns mean you must slow down or risk death.  And the possibility of death means you have to decide when to push your luck and when to play it safe. 

Each curve of the road has a number next to it (a one, two, or three).  That number indicates how many stops you must make in that turn (which is boxed off to show where the turn begins and ends).  A slight bend in the road will only require you to stop or end your turn once within it.  A sharp dead-mans-curve may have a three by it, meaning tiny dice rolls in order to stop three times within the cornerbox.  So basically you need to downshift in advance of these turns in order to not blow right through them and die a terrible, fiery (but way manly) death.

Now, you can still take risks.  If you are the type who rides hard you could do zero stops in a one stop corner.  However, in order to do this you take one point of tire damage for each space you move past that corner.  Once you run out of tire points, you begin to spin out and lose ground.  Or you could brake hard, stopping short of the number of spaces that you rolled.  Again, this is hard on your vehicle and you take brake points.  If you run out of brake points you die.

You can also receive physical damage (if you end next to another players car you both roll to check for bumping).  I have seen players use this as a strategic move to eliminate another player!  Andrew (Red Meeple) once realized he had taken no body damage the entire race, while Patrick (Purple Meeple) was down to his last body point.  Andrew then began PURPOSELY landing next to Patrick at every opportunity.  He knew that he could afford to take the hit and that Patrick would be dead.  Talk about cutthroat.

There are a few other rules, such as rules for slipstreaming and pit stops, but what you need to take away from all of this is that each and every rule ties into the theme.  Every rule in the game happens for a reason, and that reason is to make the races more realistic and exciting.

The Verdict

I think the theme is done VERY well.  It oozes cars and racing all the way from the box itself to the components inside.  The artwork also helps it to all come together.  A very tight package.

I love the fact that there are simpler rules for people just starting out.  It makes it easier to get kids (or non-gamers) going.  It is also nice that you can not only add more complicated rules, but you can change the race style and have even crazier rules!  If someone is not into the formula racing concept you just flip the board and street race Fast and Furious style (complete with thugs shooting at your car in certain parts of the city).

And did I mention that it plays up to ten?  Great for family night, game night, or party night.

One of the only downsides that I see is that you do sort of sit around and wait for your turn.  People who bore easily may get antsy.  This also means that the bigger the game the more it might drag.  I have found 4-7players to be the sweet spot.  Luckily turns are short. 

The dice also add a sort of randomness that some will love and others will hate.  I feel that it is nice to always have that nervousness of If I roll now I can hit anywhere from a four to an eight.  As long as I dont roll that eight I will be fine.  And of course you roll the eight, blow through the corner, and wear out your tires.  Pushing your luck almost always makes a game more thrilling.

Final Verdict:  9 out of 10 

1 comment:

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