Championship Formula Racing Review

Championship Formula Racing is a modern take on the old game Speed Circuit, it’s a Formula One game for 1-12 players. If you have read any of my other reviews you will notice I love race games and the huge player count in this one really got me intrigued to see how this would play.

It’s a card driven game and although it does contain dice, these are used in circumstances that are few and far between.

What's in the garage?

When Championship Formula Racing arrived I couldn’t help but notice how heavy the box was, it's easily the heaviest game I own. The game comes (at least the copy I had, more on that later) with two tracks, 12 cars and a huge number of cards. Custom sleeves for the cards were also included and being manufactured by Ultra Pro these were of good quality.

The game is simple to play and set-up. Once you have chosen a track you then get a deck of cards called the driver deck. This deck has everything you need to play the game and consists of six stats:

  • Start speed.
  • Acceleration.
  • Deceleration.
  • Top speed.
  • Wear.
  • Skill.

These cards have varying values for all the above stats. The better/higher the value the more it costs (values from -1 to +2) to use and you must stay between a total cost of +2 or less. This leads to a tactical choice of what area your car will excel at.

  • Start speed.
  • Acceleration.
  • Deceleration.
  • Top speed.
  • Wear.
  • Skill.

These cards have varying values for all the above stats. The better/higher the value the more it costs (values from -1 to +2) to use and you must stay between a total cost of +2 or less. This leads to a tactical choice of what area your car will excel at.

Once you have chosen your car set up you place the cards in front of you in your tableau. You then take the wear tokens and skill tokens that your selected set-up allows. These tokens allow you to do a skill check (dice roll) to exceed certain car parameters like top speed.

Once this is done players enter a bidding phase. Players secretly select a number of their wear and skill tokens they wish to bid for pole position. The players then reveal simultaneously and the player with the highest number gets pole and you work your way back down the pack. The tokens players bid with are now removed from the game.

And They're Off

Each player has a second deck of cards called the speed deck and at the beginning of each turn they must select the speed of their car. The start speed, the rate of acceleration/deceleration and top speed are all confined by the initial car set up (see the step above).

Each car then moves in track position order the amount of spaces determined by the card (one space on the track for every 20mph). Each corner has a speed limit, taking a corner faster than this is allowed but costs wear tokens.

You can also take a chance and roll a dice and test (your ability), fail and you could spin off, succeed and you could gain precious inches which could give you victory. In fact, you can push your car to the limits and test all your car's set-up attributes, increasing your top speed on the long straights or testing that deceleration coming into a slow corner.

That is the main bulk of Championship Formula Racing and you play a set amount of laps with turns starting with the player in first position and working your way backwards. There are additional rules for slipstream and set dice rules for exceeding an attribute or taking corners faster than the allowed speed.

Action Replay

The game is great fun and it has been so well received by my group that we have started a tournament, but it does have some serious issues, ones I cannot ignore. I said above the copy I have come with two tracks; one track is unplayable with any more than four people due to the fact that the spaces have been incorrectly printed and the cars do not fit. Yes, a car game where a track is unplayable!!

Someone in our play group said its like playing an unfinished prototype. The gameplay is there, we had so much fun playing this game. But the lack of attention to detail really does let this game down. Game content on the box doesn't relate what's in the box and a quick check online shows I am not alone.

Put quite simply, the production is a mess….but we have had great fun and this brings me on to what’s good about this game.

Championship Formula Racing feels like a true racing game, you feel like you have total control over what you are doing, you decide when or if you want to test your car's abilities to their max. You decide on when best to use your skill. You decide when to push your car faster causing wear. You decide your own speed, when to slow, your track position, taking the correct line into a corner will allow you to go faster costing no wear, so every corner cars are fighting for the racing line.

It plays great with the most player interaction and engagement I have had from any game. Playing at four players or 12 hardly adds any time to the game too which is great, the game has never out stayed its welcome.

The fact you can push your car to the limit and put your fate into the hand of the ‘dice god’ is good but it’s also a dangerous tactic as failing to beat the die roll could see you breaking your car, spinning off or even crashing out of the race. You can mitigate these rolls by spending skill tokens to improve your chances. If you want you can go the whole race without ever rolling a dice.

The choice of tactics is yours, you can drive as reckless or as safely as you wish.

Closing Comments on Championship Formula Racing

Like I said above we have started our own league as this game is so much fun. Despite the terrible production value a group member has spent hours printing off new tracks and we have a full 12 players ready to go. The game is that good that if you can devote this time and effort you will be rewarded with simply the best racing game I have played.

Championship Formula Racing could have been a high 90/100 but I cannot ignore the production faults and for that I score it: 78/100!

The Good

  • Great racing feel.
  • Creates nice tension and some tough decisions.
  • Very little down time between turns.
  • Very little luck if you choose to play safe.
  • Lots of dice rolling if you want to be reckless.
  • Choice of strategy.
  • Fast flowing.

The Bad

  • The rule book isn't the best.
  • One of the tracks is unusable.
  • The art work is very bland.
  • The contents on the box is not what's inside.

The Good
Great racing feel.
Creates nice tension and some tough decisions.
Very little down time between turns.
Very little luck if you choose to play safe.
Lots of dice rolling if you want to be reckless.
Choice of strategy.
Fast flowing.

The Bad
The rule book isn't the best.
One of the tracks is unusable.
The art work is very bland.
The contents on the box is not what's inside.

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