Published by: Restoration Games
# of Players: 2-6
In Downforce, players will be auctioning to get ownership of drivers and their cars, making bets on the race and playing cards to play out the race. Can you be the owner that has the most money at the end of the race? Will your race team finish first or will you be last? Plan your moves correctly and you will be capturing the checkered flag and the winnings. Before you jump in and start driving, I invite you to read along as I give you my take on Downforce by Restoration Games.
Downforce is a card driven race game that has players moving some or all the cars along the track during their turn. The cars are plastic Formula One cars that almost look like toys you could play with. The board is double sided with a different track on each side. Each player will receive a betting page that will track which cars they own and the bets they made during the race. Restoration Games provided a ton of betting pages so that it would be hard for you to run out. Cards are your standard size and quality. The information on the cards is very clear and easy to understand. The rule book is colorful with helpful illustrations and a break down of each part of the game. The rule book also provides alternate ways to play and plenty of examples to help you understand Downforce fast. Restoration games did an excellent job on the quality of the components and everything fits nicely inside the box.
Downforce is a mix of betting and racing games mixed into one. Your goal in Downforce is to be the player with the most money at the end of the game. Most games are one race, but you could use both tracks to make it a 2 race season. Downforce has 3 parts, the auction, the race, and the betting. At the start of the game players will divide the card deck evenly and give each player an equal amount of random cards. The 8 speed cards will be left out to determine what car is being auctioned. These are your cards that you will be using for the auction and the race.
A random 8 speed card will be flipped over along with a power up card. That color car is now the car that is being currently bid on for ownership. Players will choose a card from their hand and place it face down on the table. Everyone will reveal their cards and the player with the highest speed of the matching color wins the bid and gets ownership of the car. They will mark on their score sheet the speed number that won and that is how much they paid for the car. The winning player will add that speed 8 card into their hand. They will place the matching driver plaque and power card in front of their play area. Power up cards provide special abilities for that will alter some of the rules of the game for your cars. These are always good things like moving an extra space or determining which spots your car should move to. The cards that were used for the bid are returned to the player's hands and a new car will be randomly drawn to bid on next. Each player must have at least one car. Once you get to the point that there are equal cars to be bid on and players who do not own a car, the auctions will switch to only the players without cars. Once all cars have been auctioned off, cars will be randomly chosen to fill the starting spaces of the race. The player with the car on the first player icon will go first.
During a player's turn, they will play a card and then move the cars the number of spaces as depicted on the card. Cars will be moved from top to bottom of the card and moved by the number spaces indicated on the card. For example the middle card in the first picture of the review has the green car moving first and moving 6 spaces followed by the black car. You would fully move the green car the 6 spaces or the max possible in case of cars blocking you, then you would move the black car it's 5 spaces and so on. Some cards have a wild car. The player who played the card can move any car that is not already depicted on the card and move them the indicated spaces. Cars can only move straight or diagonally to the next adjacent space. They can not move sideways or backwards. They also can not move through other cars or off the track. One of the biggest strategies you want to try during the game is getting your cars ahead of the pack and trying to use areas where the track is narrow to clutter up and slow down the other cars. By placing a car in the right spot and playing the right card, you can effectively move your car and cause the others to not move when playing cards. This will be huge for winning the race. During the race you will cross 3 yellow lines at different points of the race. Once the first car passes a yellow line and all movement has been completed for the current card, play will be stopped. Each player will secretly mark who they think will win the race. Players can bet on any car and even on the same car more than once. Once bets have been made, play will continue and each yellow line will cause a new betting phase. Once the race is over, players will gain money for each of their bets on the score sheet if the cars they bet on finished first through third. Players will also receive prize money based on their car's performance of the race. Players will total up all their winnings and subtract the amount that they spent on owning the cars. The player with the most money wins the game.
I like racing games but have never found one I really enjoyed enough to own. Downforce is the racing game for me. I enjoy the whole game from auction to racing and even the betting. I like how players will be moving a bunch of cars during their turn and not just their own. The two tracks each have their unique qualities. I really like how hairpin turns are down to one car width and can cause huge back ups. Downforce is pretty simple to teach and play. Some race fans may not enjoy it as much due to the simplicity and that you can not take damage on your cars. Races are faster than Formula D and I feel like players are more invested in the whole game rather than just their turn. I would like to see some type of advanced rules that has cars taking damage or a season mode with more tracks. Quick note that Restoration Games has been working on more tracks that could see a release. The power up cards add a nice variable to each game and how they play. While owning more than one car may seem good because of the cash prize at the end, they have to place pretty high to make up for what you paid to get the car. This provides a nice balance of waiting out the auction for a cheaper car and only getting one car or maybe spending a bit more and having 2 or more cars on the track. Either way there are always 6 cars on the track and that provides for a more realistic race than just a car per player. I always have fun naming my racers, whether it be the mysterious Racer X or the 4th gen racer Junior Junior Jr. the 6th. There is lots of fun to have in the box and Downforce is a game that can be played with your game group or your family. I highly recommend this one due to the quality and fun of the game. Definitely at least give it a try when you can. Downforce is earning a high spot in my collection and I look forward to more races and hopefully more tracks.
+Excellent component quality
+Easy to understand rule book that is also easy to teach
+Fun for a wide audience range
+Even if you do not win the race, you could win the game
+Tracks provide interesting strategies
-No car damage
-Only 2 tracks
-May feel too simple to some