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FORMULA D

Reviewed by Andrea “Liga” Ligabue

FORMULA D (Asmodee, 2-10 players, ages 10 and up, 60+ minutes; $59.99)

 

Formula D, designed by Eric Randall and Laurent Lavaur, is a new edition of the great Formula Dè, published in 1991, with some small improvements and really great packaging. I’m not in agreement with people neglecting graphics, materials and arts in a game considering these not relevant for theplayfulness. Just as a well served recipe tastes better, I think a well packaged game is more fun to play and easier to propose to “non-addicted” gamers. The new Asmodee edition offers a thick double-face cardboard map, ten dashboards with “gear stick” and small plastic cars, both Formula 1 and Rally, and lots of dice.formulad

The game is quite simple and runs quickly which is one of the best things about it. Players alternate taking their turns starting from the race leader down to the one in last place and than back on top again. The first decision for a player to make is which gear to use for the turn.

It is possible to stay or go up or down 1 gear without a problem. Going up or down 2 or more in one turn slightly damages the car. Every gear is associated with different dice: d4 (numbered from 1 to 2), d6 (2 to 4), d8 (4 to 8), d12 (7 to 12), d20 (11 to 20) and d30 (21 to 30). You have to move the exact number displayed on the rolled dice. Traveling slowly offers you quite a good guess about the speed of your car but using higher gears (5th and 6th) results in a lot of randomness. That is one of the faults of the game because often a good (or bad) roll in 5th or 6th can really change the outcome of the race. But, of course, Formula D is a dice game.

The track is divided in non-aligned rectangular boxes so it is always possible to move from one box to the one directly in front or to the two on the side-front. In the curves, there are trajectories with arrows displaying the allowed moves. Usually it is not possible to change trajectory in the straightaways more than once. Every curve has a printed number (running from 1 to 3) displaying the number of turns you have to end your car movement inside the curve. A level 3 curve is a slow one where your car has to stop 3 times; a level 1 curve asks for a quick touch and run. Most of the curves are level 2. The goal of the game is to be able to move your car in a way that allows you to enter the curves from a distance, stopping in the first boxes, moving to the end of the curve and exiting with the higher possible gear. Positions can really change a lot by rolling a 5th gear d20 or a 4th gear d12 when exiting a curve: usually the difference between winning or losing the race. Of course, thanks to the randomness of die results, bad things often happen and your car will travel too much, exiting a curve without stopping enough. Here comes the use of wear points (WP).formuladboard

Every car starts the race with a fixed amount of WP that can be used for breaking, changing gears, travelling too much and so on. Every box you travel in excess out of a gear costs you a WP.

Formula D has two level of rules: basic and complete. In the basic rules, all the usage of the car is tracked with WP. In the complete rules, WPs are split between Brakes, Gearbox, Engine, Car Body and Road Handling. You can use WP Road Handling to move extra boxes outside a round, WP Brakes to move less boxes than rolled, WP Gearbox to change more than one gears down in the turn.

It would not be a real race without collisions. Every time a car stops movement adjacent to another one a collision check has to be made. Each car (the one just moved and the one already there) has to pass a 5+ roll on a d20 or take 1 WP Car Body damage. 1 Engine WP is used to change 3 gears down in a turn and also a 5+ check is needed for all cars traveling in 5th or 6th gear when a 20 or 30 is rolled on the d20 or d30. Collisions and engine breaks yield the right amount of randomness to the game to create the suspense a real car race need. Using a WP in a category in which you have no more to spend means the end of the race for you. To win, you have to exploit you car to its fullest, usually ending the race with few or no WP.

The complete rules offer much more like Slip-streaming, Pit Stop, weather and car personalization – everything you need to simulate a real race or a championship.

The new edition also offers rules and tracks specific to road races including drivers with different special skills. Every car is equipped with nitro fuel injection that can be used once every lap to get extra moves equal to the actual gear. The road track also has special zones like “danger zone” or police station. The other rules are the same but the race runs really differently and it is really fun. I think the road race is one of the best improvements from the old Formula Dè edition along with the game’s quality components and the promise of a lot of new tracks and expansions.

If you are expecting something quick and simple with a touch of randomness, Formula D will meet your expectations. It is a roll and move game so if you roll too badly you will not be able to win despite your strategy. But if you roll really well you’ll have a great race. Formula D is one of the best race games ever. – – – – – – – Andrea “Liga” Ligabue


 

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