At its most basic, Formula D is a roll and move racing game that can accommodate up to ten players. It works well for large groups and/or players who enjoy a light game. However, by implementing the advanced rules, Formula D becomes a more strategic tabletop experience.
This is the first of a two-part how to play guide. I will cover both the basic and advanced rules. Here, I will introduce the setup and objective for a basic game and discuss core gameplay mechanics. I will finish up with an overview of a basic race in Street Racing (GT) mode.
In part two I will discuss the advanced rules and additional gameplay mechanics, for both Formula and GT game modes. I will also provide some custom rules and tips that may enhance your gameplay experience.
A basic race will be one lap of the Monaco Grand Prix Circuit. The game board is double-sided and presented in two parts; find and align the two Monaco sides. For reference, each Formula D expansion is a two-part, double-sided gameboard, with a different track on either side. When you're comfortable with the rules of play, a basic race can be played on any track in your collection.
Each player will need one car, a matching driver card, and one dashboard. Players wanting to use multiple cars will need a driver card and dashboard for each car.
The dashboard is made up of a plastic tray, cardboard insert, gear stick, and peg (plastic marker). For a basic game, have the insert placed with the side showing the yellow box facing up. Place the peg in the hole marked eighteen. The position of the peg represents the wear points left on the car. Place the gear stick in the section depicting the six gears. Cars start in first gear.
Place the seven dice within reach of all players. No other pieces are required for a basic race.
Formula D is a pure racing game - to win, be the first to cross the finishing line.
In this section I will provide an overview of the core gameplay mechanics needed to complete a basic race:
Formula D cars have six gears, shown on the dashboard inserts. Each gear is numbered and colour coded to match one of the game’s dice. Note: The seventh (Black) die does not correspond to a gear.
The numbers beside the gear represent movement. They state the minimum and maximum number of spaces a car may potentially move, whilst in that gear.
Order of Play
Track position determines turn order. During a round, players will each move once, starting with the player furthest ahead. If two cars are side by side, the car in the highest gear moves first. If both cars are in the same gear, the car on (or closest to) the inside lane moves first.
Dice rolls determine movement. The player selects a gear and then rolls the relevant die. The player will then move their car the number of spaces shown on the die.
All cars begin in first gear (with one exception, see ‘Your First Race’). Each round, players may shift up one gear before rolling a die. Players cannot skip gears when accelerating but may skip up to three gears when decelerating. Skipping gears will incur a penalty (see ‘Wear Points’), but this may be necessary to negotiate a corner.
Cars must stop a minimum number of times on each corner, as indicated by the yellow boxes on the gameboard. The limits of a corner are shown by red lines printed on the circuit. Overshooting a corner will incur a penalty (see ‘Wear Points’).
A final note on driving: When on a straight, a car can change multiple lanes in one direction, but cannot zig-zag in one movement.
Wear Points (WPs)
WP represent the capability of the car to continue racing. In a basic race, cars begin with eighteen wear points. If a car loses its last WP, it is removed from the race!
Cars can lose WPs during a race in a number of ways:
At any time, a player may spend WPs to avoid moving the full number of spaces shown on the die. One wear point is lost for each space the player does not want to move. This may be preferable to colliding with another car, or to overshooting a corner!
If a player elects to skip 1 - 3 gears to decelerate, they must lose WPs equal to the number of gears skipped.
Colliding with other cars
If a car ends its movement behind or beside one or more other cars, the player must roll the black die. A roll of 1 - 4 denotes a collision and one WP is lost. Each player with cars beside (or in front) of the active car must also roll the black die.
Overshooting a corner
If a car passes through a corner without making the required number of stops, it overshoots the corner. The car loses WPs equal to the number of spaces it moved beyond the corner, including the space it stopped on. If a car passes through a two-stop corner without making a stop, it is removed from play. The same is true for a three-stop corner, if the car passes through making only one stop.
If a player rolls a 20 or 30 in fifth or sixth gear respectively, they must immediately roll the black die. A roll of 1 - 4 denotes engine damage, and the car must lose one WP.
Your first Race (Basic Monaco Grand Prix Race)
Starting formation is determined by rolling the black die. The player who rolls the highest number starts on pole; remaining players line up in decreasing order.
Beginning with the player on pole, each player will roll the black die once more. This time, to determine how well they get off the line.
- Rolling a one stalls the car. The player cannot move until the second round.
- Rolling 2 - 16 is a normal start. The player will start in first gear.
- Rolling 17 - 20 is a great start.
The player moves their car forwards four spaces and may shift to second gear.
After the initial round of movement, play continues as described in the ‘Game Mechanics’ section. In each round, every player will select a gear, roll a die, and move. The first player to cross the finish line is the winner.
Hitting the Streets (Basic Race City Race)
A basic street race is played on the Race City Circuit, on the reverse side of the game board.
For street racing, players will use the GT cars and driver cards. However, in a basic race the drivers differ only in appearance. Players will setup their dashboard in the same manner as described earlier.
In terms of the race, basic rules and gameplay mechanics already mentioned hold true, with the following additions:
Once a lap, a player may engage nitro fuel injection for a movement bonus. This bonus is equivalent to the gear the player is in - e.g. a player in fourth gear will move four additional spaces.
To utilise the bonus, the play must first move as normal. If a player wishes to engage nitro, they must move the entire number of spaces granted by the bonus. Each GT driver card has a white box in the upper right corner. Place a damage marker in the box to show nitro cannot be used again in the same lap.
Race City Features
The street race circuit has a few additional features to spice up racing:
- Angry Residents
One section of the track is yellow - this is a dangerous part of town. Some residents here will take pot shots at speeding vehicles. If a car ends its movement in this section, the player must roll the black die. A roll of eleven or more means a resident has found their target, so the car loses two WP.
- Danger Zone
Black and red/orange spaces identify the danger zone. These spaces are sections of the road in poor condition. If a car ends its movement on one of these spaces, the player must roll the black die. A roll of 1 - 4 means damage, and the car loses one WP.
Police HQ is a corner on the circuit, with vertical red and blue lines running down the corner zone. Every time a driver passes the line, record their speed (to calculate speed, multiply the gear the car is in by ten). Once all drivers have passed the line, the driver with the highest record speed may recover two WPs. Where players tie, award the bonus to the player who first passed the line.
A car must enter and exit the tunnel in the same lane; the three lanes are clearly marked on the circuit.
- Multiple Laps
Players can extend the race to multiple laps. Each car can recover up to ten WPs, once a lap, when it crosses the finishing line. Each car can have a maximum of eighteen WPs at any one time.
That brings us to the end of part one of this guide. In part two we will look at the advanced rules.