If you’re ready to bid on the best racers around and help them cross the finish line, then it’s time for Downforce! Do your best not to get stuck behind your opponents when you come around the bends so that you can score big as you cross the finish line. But don’t worry, even if you don’t finish first, you may be able to earn a nice payout if you bet on the right racer to win! Ready? Let’s roll!
*Please note: This review is in reference to the Target Edition of the game*
What Is It?
A racing game with auctions and betting! In the first phase, players will bid on the 6 available racers and their special abilities. Once all cars are bought (every player is guaranteed to have at least 1) players move onto the racing phase where they will take turns playing speed cards from their hand (dealt at the beginning of the game) and moving the cars indicated on the card around the board. No matter who owns the car – the player who played the card will determine how each car moves. Cars must always move forward, never back or sideways, and cars may be unable to move if blocked by other cars who were not on the played speed card. There are 3 lines on the track which trigger a betting phase where players will select the car they think will win the race with correct bets paying out at game’s end. The game ends when all cars cross the finish line, or when no more cards can be played. Players then earn money according to their finishing place and correct bets, subject their initial bids, and the player with the most money wins!
Who Is It For?
- 2 – 6 Players (Shines at 3+)
- Ages 8+
- Fans of racing games
- Fans of lightweight / welcoming games
- Rules – small ruleset / rules are well written
- Components – Nice quality all around (cars/cards/board)
- Aesthetics – Simple but nice to look at
- 2 tracks available to add to replay value a bit
- Clear window on the front of box is a great way to display the cars, which is especially ideal for a big box store version of the game like this
- Little downtime between turns
- Very accessible to new gamers
- Insert – Cards sit slightly above the insert and can slide out, which is annoying
- Luck – You’re dealt a portion of the deck at the start which determines all the moves you could possibly make, but you don’t control your own cars, which can mean you end up in blocked spots, so you don’t have as much control as you may think at first
- Replay Value – The game doesn’t really change with each play
- 6 new players powers from the hobby version; I wish all 12 would have been included for more variety
Beginner – No auction, no powers, no betting. Cars are dealt randomly and players have a hand of 3 speed cards, and draw from a shared pile as they play. First to finish wins. It’s fine for younger audiences, or if you want just a basic, quick game. Not something I’d choose to play personally though.
2 Player – Speed-8 cards go in front of you, hand of 7 speed cards, and the rest in a personal deck to draw from. Definitely a neat way to change it up for 2-players, but I think in general the auction is very important in a 2 player game; if one player ends up with more cars than the other, they’re almost sure to win.
Long Distance – Ignore the finish line, play all cards, farthest wins. Cool way to change things up, and makes blocking cars (so that their speed on cards is less effective) much more important. Can definitely be frustrating too though if someone is able to get really far ahead and just can’t be caught up to.
World Tour – Play each side of the track and total your scores. Great if you’re a fan of the game and want it to go longer, and makes game 2 more competitive as players potentially try to sabotage whoever was in the lead. Cool addition to the game, but definitely might overstay it’s welcome if you’re not looking for something so light to be too long.
I teeter on this game a bunch because I always feel like I have control of my car(s) and how well I do in the race, but as I play and others move my cars I remember there is a fair amount of luck involved, and sometimes it’s out of your hands if others are able to just block you in a lot and keep you from doing well. Thus, a lot of your success comes down to good bets, which can also be difficult to predict at times, especially if you don’t have a lot of cards that can influence the early leaders.
That said, I do think that it’s a fun time every now and again if you’re just looking for a light, racing themed game that’s quick to set up, flows well, and anyone can play. Definitely recommend to players looking for a “beer and pretzels” type of game for a medium-sized group, but if you’re looking for something more strategic, you’ll probably want to pass on this.
My Final Rating – 6/10
Designers – Wolfgang Kramer, Rob Daviau, Justin D. Jacobson
Artists – Tavis Coburn, Michael Crampton, Jason Taylor
Publisher – Restoration Games
MSRP – $34.95
Purchase – Target
*I was provided a copy of this game to do this review*
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