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CHAMPIONSHIP FORMULA RACING

Reviewed by Chris Kovac

CHAMPIONSHIP FORMULA RACING (Ultra Pro, 1 to 12 players, ages 13 and up, 45-60 minutes; $60)

 

Back in the 1980’s when I first started gaming and Avalon Hill was king, one of the most popular racing games was Speed Circuit.  However, many years passed and the game faded into history as other racing games, especially Formula D, (featured in the Spring 2009 Gamers Alliance Report) took its place.  Championship Formula Racing, as designed by Douglas Schultz, is an updated and revised version of the original game which is, oddly enough, published by Ultra Pro, best known as producers of card sleeve protectors for CCG and sport cards  This review will cover the basic game without pitting, weather, etc.

To start, every player gets a car, a racing deck and a driver deck.  The racing and driver deck are identical for each player.  Then you design your car using the driver deck.

The driver deck consists of six characteristic cards in four ranges (-1, 0, +1 and +2). The six characteristics are start speed, acceleration, deceleration, top speed, driver skill and wear.  A base car uses the 0 range driver cards.  You are given two driver points to modify your car and you can get more if you “downgrade” one or more of your 0 cards to a minus 1 card.  You use your driver points to improve some of your characteristic cards to +1 or +2 range cards.  Once you have decided on what cards you will be using, you are given wear markers and drive skill markers equal to the multiplier on their respective cards times the number of laps to be run in the race.  You might also receive a small number of special driver markers (+3) depending on what the quality of your driver skill card is. (What these markers are to be used for will be explained later in the review.)  Pole position of a race is determined by an “in your fist” auction using your wear and drive skill markers (only worth a half point per marker spent during this auction).  The person who spent the most will be in pole position and the other positions are determined by what they spent using a dice roll to break ties.

A turn consists of each choosing a speed card from the racing deck based on acceleration/deceleration except for the first turn when you movement is at “start” speed.  Cars are moved from who’s in front to the last car in the back with ties broken by who is on the inside of a corner.  You must move your full move and choose to exceed your acceleration, deceleration, top speed or a corners speed by up to 60 mph per hour as long as you can pay the appropriate wear chips and succeed at the appropriate skill roll(s) which can be modified by up to two skill chips (+1 and or +3 chips).  If you do not have enough wear chips you must substitute skill rolls using two dice with the results compared to the appropriate outcome table in the player aid.  A higher result is usually better.  If you succeed, you may perform the action you chose at the speed you chose.  If you fail, it can result in a partial failure in which you downgrade the affected characteristic by 20 mph (special cards indicate this) and you might spin out as well (starting next turn at your start speed).  If this characteristic is downgraded a second time during a race, you are eliminated from the race.  Also, in some instances, if you fail a skill roll entirely, your car is eliminated from the game. 

Passing cars blocking the track is allowed but requires taking a skill roll plus, if the blocking car attempts to block you, a second skill roll which can result in either you or the blocking car having to pay a wear chip.  If you fail the passing roll, you stop in the space before the car you attempted to pass and must brake by the number of spaces you still had to move.  Corners maximum speed can be exceeded by 20 mph or 40 mph if you following the corner line of the appropriate color.  You can also gain up to two extra spaces by drafting a car in front of you (must be on a straightaway and going at least 120 mph for one space or 180 mph for two space).  The end of the turn is choosing a new speed then picking up the old speed card into your hand unless you played the same speed card when the old speed card is retained.  The first car past the finish line of the set number of laps is the winner and ties are broken who gets further past the finish line.Championship Formula Racing is a nice upgrade from the original with better game pieces and tracks along with better rules such as eliminating the annoying “wall of death” problem where players would block a corner intentionally to eliminate following cars.  The rules are well illustrated and fairly well written though some rules seem to have been placed in odd places so you must read the rules a few times to find them all.  This game can play with up to twelve people and, although the box lists a playing time of from 45 to 60 minutes, we have found that it takes about 1.5-2 hours for a three-lap game with six players depending on the track.  Much like the original game, designing the appropriate car for the track and the number of laps, then using most efficiently the wear and driver tokens during the race is key as well as having a little luck with the die rolls in order to win. 

If you already have a racing game you enjoy, this might not be for you since it adds nothing really new to the genre.  Otherwise, I would recommend this game to racing game fans who enjoy medium level games or were fans of the original.  I give the game a solid eight our of ten. – – – Chris Kovac


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