Downforce Review - Racing To The Finish Line With An Old Classic
Quick Glance: Downforce by Restoration Games
Game Type: Racing; Board Advancement
Number of Players: 2-6
Mechanics: Bidding, Strategic Placement
Introduction/Overview: Vrooooom! The cars all line up, the tension is building, then the light turns green and they’re off! Downforce is the recreation of a game that has gone by many different names. Top Race, Daytona 500 have all used similar mechanics and have fine-tuned the formula over the years. But it’s back! The “I should of bet on that other color” racing game is now brought back to life thanks to Restoration Games.
Gameplay: The mechanics are quite simple. There are two phases, a bidding phase and a racing phase. In the beginning, racers will be dealt a number of cards with different colors and movement numbers. Depending on what cards are in their hands, they will want to bid on the color car that they think will get them across the finish line first. Additionally, a special power card is also revealed to see what extra ability is granted when the player selects that particular color of car. Some players may choose not to bid at all and end up with whatever color car is left for them to select.
Now it is time for the racing phase to begin. The cars line up in the order they were successfully bid upon, and cards are now ready to be played. Each card has a number of movement that moves hopefully their own color car around the track. The first player plays any card they would like and moves each color car listed on the card around the track in that order. Cars can be moved in any adjacent space as long as it is in a forward direction, parallel moves are not allowed. Cars must strategize which cards should be played at the appropriate time as curves and slimmer parts of the track could result in a car unable to play due to another vehicle that may be stopped in front of them. (Note: This is also a great strategy to force your opponents into an unwanted situation.) The first car to cross the finish line is awarded the highest amount of prize money, followed by the second and third cars. Every other remaining vehicle does not receive prize money. Bets and winning payouts are then calculated at the end of the game and a winner of Downforce is determined.
Rulebook: The rule book is a decent size with full-color pictures and clear instructions on how to play the game. It also includes customized rules for younger players as well. It is very easy to understand and there was no confusion regarding any of the rules.
Theme: It’s a high speed race and the stakes are high!
Set-Up/Takedown: It only takes a minute or two to shuffle up the cards and unfold the board.
Components: The cards are very colorful and I noticed not a single error or misprint. The cars are detailed plastic and move nicely along the board, however I did note that the wheels did not actually move. This is most likely by design, to keep the cars from rolling around on the board. The board itself is quite large and is double-sided, allowing for two different tracks to be played.
Final Thoughts: It’s nice to see classics get some love. Restoration games is known for taking classic boardgames and reimagining them and releasing for everyone to enjoy again. Fireball Island being their most prominent title, this early 1980’s classic had been out of print for decades. Copies on the 2nd hand market were fetching a great amount, and the price was gatekeeping people from actually enjoying the game. Restoration Games stepped in, grabbed the license and crowdfunded the redevelopment and design of a new version for all to play. The same goes for predecessors of Downforce such as Top Race and Daytona 500. It’s great to have an updated version of this one, as it’s an easy to learn game that just about anyone can understand and play. I predict that Downforce will be played many times for years to come in my household.