Formula D

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Formula D, by Asmodee, is a dice-rolling, grid movement game, with ongoing elements of press-your-luck. Up to 10 players take control of their own F1 car and race it around a multi-lane track. Laurent Lavaur and Eric Randall’s classic revolves around your gearbox, which is a physical, 3D device that even has a movable gear stick! At the start of your turn, you have to decide wheth…
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Awards

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Track recreations both factual and fiction.
  • Clever use of gears.
  • Clever use of damage infliction.

Might Not Like

  • Small cars can easily be knocked off their spaces.
  • That’s it, can’t think of anything else!
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Description

Formula D, by Asmodee, is a dice-rolling, grid movement game, with ongoing elements of press-your-luck. Up to 10 players take control of their own F1 car and race it around a multi-lane track. Laurent Lavaur and Eric Randall’s classic revolves around your gearbox, which is a physical, 3D device that even has a movable gear stick! At the start of your turn, you have to decide whether to stay in the same gear, or move up or move down. Depending on your current gear, you’ll then roll the corresponding die and move that many spaces. The higher the gear, the bigger the die. First gear is a four-sided die, with pips ranging from one to two, while sixth gear is a monstrous 30-sided die that ranges from 21-30. Players can’t just slam it up to sixth gear and then whizz around the track for the rest of the race. Thematically, it makes no sense… In real life, whether you’re Lewis Hamilton or the kid driving a go-kart, you have to slow down around corners. Happily, the same applies in Formula D – players have to stop a certain number of times in each corner of the track or face a penalty (they’ll lose ‘wear points’ from their car; either generic points in the simple version of the game, or specific points from different parts of the car in the advanced rules, such as tyres, brakes, the gearbox, and so on). You can also lose points if you collide with other cars. Run out of points? Your vehicle stutters to a halt and you splutter out of the race! Therefore, the crux of Formula D is calculating those gear dice and pushing your car to the limit – can you risk going up a gear and maybe rolling something that sees you overshoot the corner? Or do you play it safe and tootle along like the Safety Car, letting first place further extend their lead? Formula D might look like a roll-and-move game, a mechanic which some gamers look down upon. However, there’s actually quite a few decisions to be made here. There are also varying degrees of difficulty to pick between. As well as the specific wear points spread out across your car (which makes for a far more tactical race rather than having 18 generic wear points to blow away), there are also asymmetric driver abilities to experiment with. Also, if you decide to play two (or more) laps, players can nip into the pit lanes – this slows them down, but tops up their wear points, meaning they can drive reckless again! The board is double-sided, so you get two different tracks straight out of the box: Monte Carlo and an illegal street race. The latter track has debris to swerve around and other fun additions such as speeding past the police station. Also, great news for Formula D fans: there are lots of expansion packs available, consisting of many other tracks for hours of wacky racing. Player Count: 2-10 Time: 60 Minutes Age: 8+

As a Formula One fan, I was always intrigued to see how Formula D was going to work, and quite frankly I wasn’t disappointed. In fact I’d go as far to say this is a racing game where even those who don’t like Formula One will enjoy playing it.

Formula D is a game of two halves though, you have the ability to take on motorsport circuits, but flip over the board and you are transported into a fast and furious style world of street circuits, with various extra danger areas to contend with.

So, how does Formula D play?

As I stated above, you have two types of motor racing options in Formula D, either a street circuit or a motor racing circuit, with the base game coming with the famous Monaco Circuit on one side and the fictional Race City on the other.

The Monaco side of the board looks great, with the deep blue ocean and boats lining up in the harbour. There is even a darker shade of grey on the section of the track where the famous tunnel is in real life.

Setting up the game is simple, with the beginner’s rules getting you going almost straight away. Each racer taking part will be allocated a card with holes in it on one half, these will indicate how much damage your car has taken, as it makes it way around the circuit. In these you place a small black bolt to indicate damage, and a small black gear shift, for the purposes of beginners, or just wanting a simple one lap race, you are allocated 10 damage points (plenty for one lap around Monaco).

There is a gear shift panel on the other half of the card, to remind you which gear you are in as you approach that tricky corner.

Players choose a small car, there are enough for up to 10 players so plenty of options with 10 Formula One cars and 10 street cars/vans to choose from. All of the cars are colour coordinated if you wanted to create two car teams like in real life.

What makes Formula D more interesting is that you don’t just get your car, role a dice and move the car along, I’m afraid you are going to have to manage your car through corners and manage your car through the gear changes all by the throw of a die depending on what gear you are currently in.

Each gear shift has a corresponding number die, with six dice in the box in total. Each dice has a number of spaces for that gear, i.e. first gear has 1-2 spaces, second gear has 2–4 spaces and so on with sixth gear having 21–30 spaces.

The game ensures that you just can’t drive through hairpin corners without consequences if haven’t taken them seriously, so each corner or chicane requires drivers to stop within a red border, any overshooting without doing so will result in a bit of damage to your car depending how fast you were going through (i.e. how many spaces after passing through you finally stop on).

Other damages to your car can occur if you suddenly have to stop right behind another car, if your car finishes right next to another, with all damages are determined by the role of the 20-sided black dice.

Final thoughts

Formula D is great, it’s a fun game you have can play with the family and friends, the age range on the box is 14, but I have played this game with my 11-year-old with no problems. There are plenty of additional tracks you can purchase to enhance your gameplay, and of course with this being a dice rolling game, no game is ever going to be the same.

Speaking of additional tracks, there are some instant classics available in the various expansions such as the Singapore night race. Expansions include:

As with any game however there is always a downside and in my opinion it’s the small cars, not because they are small.. nope.. but because it just takes a mis-roll of a die, an accidental nudge of the board and your cars are no longer in the spaces you left them.. So when you play this game, get yourself something to roll the die into, and make sure that everyone’s hands and arms are in safe places as the cars go around the board.

Introduction

This is the conclusion to my how to play guide for Formula D. In part one I covered the rules and mechanics needed to complete a basic race. Here, I will cover the advanced and optional rules. Players unfamiliar with Formula D may benefit from reading part one first.

Setting Up

For an advanced race, players will need components used in a basic race, all additional pegs, and the damage/weather tokens.

Give each player one car, the matching driver card, and one dashboard. Players wanting to use multiple cars will need a driver card and dashboard for each car.

Have the dashboard insert placed with the yellow box face down. The insert side for advanced races has six coloured sections denoting zones on the car. Starting from the top, the zones represented are Tires, Brakes, Gearbox, Car Body, Engine, and Road Handling.

In a basic race a car has eighteen generic Wear Points (WPs). In an advanced race, cars have WPs assigned to each zone. Remove a car from the race if it would lose its last WP in any zone: Tires, Brakes, Car Body, Engine, or Road Handling zones.

A standard WP setup is: six Tires, three in each of Brakes, Gearbox, Car Body and Engine, and two Road Handling. Place a peg in each section to show the cars starting WPs.

Game Mechanics

The core game mechanics covered in part one of this guide still apply to advanced races. However, WP penalties now apply to specific zones on a car and will affect how you approach the game:

Losing Wear Points (WPs)

  • Braking

A player will brake to avoid moving the full number of spaces shown on the die. Braking reduces the cars Brake (and potentially Tire) WPs. Refer to the rulebook for a reference table.

  • Skipping Gears

Players can skip up to three gears to decelerate. Skipping one gear reduces Gearbox WPs, skipping two or three gears will also reduce Brake and Engine WPs. Refer to the rulebook for a reference table.

  • Colliding with other cars

A car ending its movement behind or beside one (or multiple) cars must make a collision check. The active player rolls the black die. The car loses one Car Body WPs on a roll of one. Each player with cars beside (or in front) of the active player must also roll the black die.

  • Overshooting a corner

A car overshooting a corner loses Tire WPs equal to the number of spaces moved beyond the corner - this includes the space the car stopped on.

  • Motor Damage

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 Engine WP.

  • Car Damage and Road Handling

Place a damage marker on to the circuit every time a car loses Engine or Car Body WPs (beneath the car)

If a car moves over (or stops on) a damage marker, the player must roll the black die. A roll of 1 - 4 denotes damage to the underside of the car, it loses one Road Handling WP.

Slipstreaming

A car can slipstream by ending its movement directly behind another car. Both cars must be in fourth gear or higher. Additionally, the car behind must be in the same gear (or higher) than the car ahead.

If the requirements are met, and the player elects to slipstream, they move their car forwards three additional spaces. A car carried into a corner by slipstreaming will lose one Brake WP.

Pit Stops

Players have the option to pit at the end of each lap. There is no speed limit in the pit lane; players must roll and move until they reach their team garage. A car reaching its garage regains all lost Tire WPs. The player then rolls the black die.

A roll of 1 - 10 denotes a fast stop. Divide the number rolled by two (rounded up) and move the car that many spaces along the pit lane. The car leaves the pit in fourth gear.

A roll of 11 - 20 denotes a slow stop. The car remains in the pit until the next round, then leaves in fourth gear (or lower).

Racing

Starting formation, movement, and turn order are the same in an advanced race, as with a basic race. The major difference is in the distribution of WPs and how WPs penalties will affect gameplay. I like to play with the advanced rules, as the game feels much more strategic with them. The optional rules are also fun, and add further depth to the game.

I recommend playing a few games with the advanced rules before adding these into the mix:

Optional Rules

The following are 'official' rules (included in the Advanced rules) that may be employed by players. Optional rules can be used singularly or collectively to add additional layers of strategy to the game.

  • Customising Your Car

A car can have a maximum of twenty WPs, distributed amongst the six car zones.

Players can opt to customise their cars, allocating WPs as they choose, within the following restrictions: 1 - 14 for Tires, and 1 - 7 for each of Brakes, Gearbox, Car Body, Engine, and Road Handling.

  • Three Lap Race

The race lasts for three laps. Players may pit between laps.

  • Technical Pit Stop

Players may make a Tire pit stop as described earlier. In addition, they can opt for a technical pit stop. A technical pit stop allows a player to regain all Tire WPs and regain 2 WPs to one (or two) zone(s) other than Tire. Players taking a technical pit stop will not roll for a quick stop bonus.

  • Weather Conditions and Tires

Introducing weather and tires will add a fun dynamic to your game. Each circuit has a weather chart, just beneath the circuit name. It has three symbols representing (from left to right) Rain, Changeable Weather, and Good Weather. The number ranges vary from circuit to circuit.

Before the race starts, a player rolls the black die to determine the weather:

Good weather has no effect.

Changeable weather has no immediate effect. When a player rolls a 20 or 30, they must roll the black die and consult the weather chart. If the result indicates good weather or rain, the rest of the race is completed under that condition.

Rain makes things interesting. Some WPs penalties (See 'Losing Wear Points') will change in wet conditions:

Collisions: A roll of 1 - 2 on a collision check results in a loss of one Car Body WP.

Motor Damage: A roll of 1 - 3 results in a loss of one Engine WP.

Road Handling: A roll of 1 - 5 results in the loss of one Road Handling WP.

Place a damage/weather token on the weather chart to track race conditions.

Tire Selection

Players can choose between Hard, Soft, and Rain tires.

Hard tires do not change the game rules. If it is raining, a car with hard tires will move three additional spaces on a turn - provided that at least one space is within the limits of a corner.

Soft tires allow a car to move one extra space each turn (optional). The penalty for overshooting a corner is doubled for a car using soft tires.

If the driver does not change tires after one lap, the movement bonus is lost. The penalty for overshooting a corner is trebled, if the driver does not change tires after two laps.

If it is raining, a car with soft tires will move three additional spaces on a turn - provided that at least one space is within the limits of a corner.

Rain tires will usually only be used if it is raining. A car with rain tires will move one additional space each turn - provided that at least one space is within the limits of a corner.

If the weather is good or changeable, the penalty for overshooting a corner is doubled for a car using rain tires.

  • Qualifying Lap

Each player takes one timed lap of the circuit, moving normally. Starting formation is determined by the number of dice throws - the player with the least starts on pole. Where players tie, the player who completed their lap quickest gets the position.

A player who does not stop in corners requiring two or three stops automatically starts from the back of the grid.

  • Team Racing

A team race plays according to rules explained above, but cars score points based on their finishing position. The team with the most points wins.

In a team race, each team has four WPs to repair cars during a pit stop. The bonus can be given to one car or split.

Road Races (GT)

I covered the basic differences for street racing in part one of this guide. The two notable differences between an advanced and basic street race are drivers and WPs mechanics:

The Drivers

There are ten unique drivers, found on the reverse of the driver cards (the other side will be a generic, helmeted driver). Each driver has a distinct set up for their car; players must set their dashboards up accordingly. Drivers also have a special ability, detailed on the back page of the advanced rulebook.

WPs Mechanics:

I covered these in part one. Here are the changes for an advanced race:

Angry Residents

The residents taking pot shots at drivers have slightly worse aim. Rolling 16 - 20 on the black die will result in a hit:

16 - 18 means the car loses one Tire WP

19 means the car loses one Car Body WP

20 means the car loses one Engine WP

Police

This is the same as in a basic race. Only the player receiving the two WPs can assign them to any zone on the car. However, the original WPs values set at the beginning of the race cannot be exceeded.

Multi-Lap Race

Each car regains all Tire WP when crossing the finish line. Players can also recover two WPs (in total) to other zones on the car.

Chequered Flag

That brings us to the end of my how to play guide. There are a lot of rules, but players can pick and choose them to suit their own tastes. Personally, I like to play with all advanced and optional (bar Qualifying) rules. I believe they make Formula D one of the best racing themed board games on the market.

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • Track recreations both factual and fiction.
  • Clever use of gears.
  • Clever use of damage infliction.

Might not like

  • Small cars can easily be knocked off their spaces.
  • Thats it, cant think of anything else!