15 Mar

Formula D

Filed under: Boardgames 5 Responses

Take a look at all those sharp bends in this circuit!

Sean arranged for us to play Formula D apparently after reading about my wish to try out the game in my report about Um Reifenbreite. I was originally interested in this because from what I could see in various photos, the board looked huge and it has a bunch of very cute bits. But after playing the cycling game, I was also curious about how other racing games use dice to determine movement. We played a four player game including Shan’s niece, Xin, on the day-side of the board with one car apiece. We only did one lap though Sean told us that two laps would be more fun. He was probably right as only one lap didn’t threaten to cause enough damage to the cars.

Like Um Reifenbreite, Formula D is still basically a roll and move game. You don’t even get Energy Cards to use in lieu of rolling the die. A number of features however make this the more strategic game. First, each car comes with a cool-looking control panel that tracks what gear it’s currently in and how much damage its various components, e.g. brakes, tyres, body, body, etc. have taken. Your car gets taken out of the race the moment any of the components are gone. The current gear determines which of the seven different dice you roll to see how many spaces you can move. This ranges from a four-sided die to a ridiculous die with thirty sides, which is a die I’ve never seen before. Naturally, higher gears mean more sides for your die.

All cars of course start at first gear and can only move very slowly but every turn after that, the player can choose to move up or down a gear. The reason why you might want to move down to a lower gear is because there are special rules to handle the tight turns in the circuit. These force you to stop a specified number of times while inside the zone and failure to comply causes damage to your car. The tightest turn on the board forces you to stop no less than three times while inside the zone, so if you’re zooming into it in high gear, you’re going to overshoot and likely total your car. You can also choose to take damage to your gearbox to suddenly drop two or more notches in one go, making it easier to navigate the turns while maintaining good speed on the straight before it.

Look at all those dice! Buying this would be a nice way to start off a dice collection.

Another rule that we played with is that if two cars stop on adjacent spaces, both players need to roll a twenty-sided die. On a result of 1, a collision occurs and that player does one damage to the car’s body. This sounds unlikely, but Xin actually rolled 1 twice, meaning that one more collision would cause her car to blow up in flames. She consequently had to be extra careful in choosing which lanes to stop in to minimize the chances of future collisions.

In our game, I managed to lead for most of the game, due mostly to lucky die rolls. Sean took quite a few risks to close the gap, voluntarily taking damage to his car. I should probably have realized earlier that there’s no point in ending the race with damage capacity to spare and chosen to take more risks as well. In any case, Shan won the game, more through luck than design because she was in a fairly high gear while going into a tight turn, but successfully got out of it without any problems and proceeded to race to the finish line in a higher gear than either Sean or I could manage.

Despite my general dislike for games with heavy doses of randomness, I ended up liking this game quite a bit. We should have played two laps and used the pitstop rules to make it even more strategic, but I find that even the single lap game we played had a decent balance of randomness versus calculated decisions. It seems to me that the reverse side of the board would be even more strategic. It simulates illegal street car racing and unlike the day-time side, every driver has different damage capacities for different components, plus what looks like a special ability.

The cars. Notice the regular cars for the illegal street races.

One potential downfall is that counting the number of spaces is very important but also very clunky. There are printed numbers on the track to help with this but they’re not always in the right place. I can also see it taking too long to play if people tried taking it too seriously and took too long to take their turns. It’s best to take bad events in stride and play this game just for the laughs. But I also wonder how it would work if players took it ultra-seriously and played a full game, complete with preliminary lap to determine initial positions, pitstop rules, two cars per player, everything. It would be a heroic undertaking but it’s probably would be an experience worth trying once.

Written on March 15 2010 and is filed under Boardgames. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

5 Responses to “Formula D”


i would like to purchase this game too but it is quite expensive. this game needs as many players as possible to be fun, that is one of my problem too. hope i can play it soon.


In which part of Malaysia are you based, if I may ask? If you’re in KL, it should be easy enough to find a decently sized group to game with.


KL 🙂


Well, there are various boardgaming meetups based in KL. You should try connecting with them on Facebook if you haven’t already.


Wow, sounds cool! I would also want to have it, I am sure my friends would also love this game.

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