Type: Racing board game
Suggested Ages: 8+
Play Time: 60-90 mins
Play Style: Roll-and-move, risk management
Learning Curve: Low
Links: Board Game Geek
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Formula D turns formula or street racing into a strategic, competitive battle for control of the track in a highly accurate and surprisingly exciting interpretation of the sports. Players must control their speed in straightways and tight turns, avoid vehicle stress and collisions and take bold risks to come out ahead of the pack.
How to Play
The board shows the track, divided into several lanes and squares to count movement and shifting positions. Each player gets a card showing their gear shift and a wear track to count stress and damage on the car. Each gear has a die associated with it, with increasing numbers of sides for higher gears (and no low numbers). Each round you choose your gear within one step of your previous gear (or two steps for a little wear), roll your die and move the indicated number of spaces.
The strategy comes in lane control and positioning, especially in the turns. Turns are outlined in red, and with fewer permitted lane changes. If you pass through a turn entirely in one move, you take wear for each extra square. Also, cars passing in adjacent squares roll a collision die and risk minor damage or, rarely, a catastrophic crash.
Cars can make pit stops to repair wear, either with a fast stop for minor repairs like tire changes, or a full stop for total recovery. The game can be played with a simple unified wear track, or with each component (such as tires, gearbox or transmission) tracked separately.
The winner, of course, is the one who crosses the finish line first, typically after three laps.
Frankly, I was surprised how fun and exciting playing Formula D was. I expected a racing board game to be somewhat tedious, since there was no way it could capture the speed. What I didn’t realize was how intensely strategic it would be.
Most of the people I played with were first-timers, so our first lap was spent feeling the mechanics out. Once we had it down, laps two and three were hotly fought for, cars shifting position constantly from round to round. It’s a genuine battle, complete with damage, to hold the front positions.
The risk factor proved my favorite, as my fellow rookies held slightly more cautious intentions than I did. In the last two turns I trailed in third place, so I started upshifting to higher gears despite the tight turns. With a healthy portion of luck I made it through both turns without flipping my car, skated past my opponents and sailed across the finish line with only a couple wear points left keeping my car on its wheels.
This game will surprise you. It’s an energetic mix of strategy, risk taking and aggression without the direct conflict of a fighting-themed game. It was some of the most raw fun I’ve had with a strategy board game in a while. Everyone at the table got into it easily and had a grand time.
The game is also expandable with more tracks, and it’s pretty easy to take the game past 10 players. $60 is a mid to high price for a game, but between changing strategies and a double-sided board with street racing on the back, this one has plenty of replay value.
If you like get-out-of-your-seat excitement at the gaming table, this is the game for you.