Downforce is a Racing Game from Restoration Games. Downforce was released in 2017, and is based on the designs of some previously released racing games going all the way back to 1974.
So, why am I reviewing a game that was re-released 3 years ago, and originally created over 40 years ago? Simple … because me, my family, and my gaming friends all love this racing game. It’s easy, fast, and fun! It plays quickly, and allows you to change your strategy on the fly if things are going bad.
If we have 6 players sitting down at the table ready to play a board game, this is one of the first games we consider. There are not very many good board games that support up to 6 players.
What is Downforce?
From the manufacturer: “Downforce is a card game for 2-6 players. Players first bid to own the six cars in the race. Then, the players play cards from their hand to speed them around the track. However, most cards will also move their opponents’ cars. So figuring out just the right time to play a card is the key to victory. Along the way, players will make secret bets on who they think will win the race. Whoever has the most money from their prize money, winning bets, and remaining bank wins the game.”
What’s in the box?
- 1 Double-Sided Game Board (Giving you two unique tracks)
- 6 Race Car Tokens
- 54 cards (standard MTG sized cards) – (48 Speed Cards & 6 Power Cards)
- 6 Driver Plaques
- 1 Pad of Betting Sheets
How do you play Downforce?
Downforce is easy to teach, easy to learn, and fun to play.
First – All 48 Speed cards are dealt out evenly to all players. So, in a 4 player game, each player will be dealt 12 Speed cards to use during the game. Each player is also given their own personal score sheet (like in Yahtzee).
Second – All racing cars go up for auction. Players can bid $0 – $6M on each car. In a 6 player game, each player can only bid on 1 car. But if there are 2 to 5 players, then some folks will be able to own multiple race cars. All players mark their bids on their scoresheet. When you win a car at auction, you will also be given a special Power Card that makes driving your unique.
Third – Players take turns playing cards from their hand and racing cars around the track. This goes on until all 6 cars cross the finish line and/or run out of gas. Cards will usually not only move your race car, but they will also move your opponents race cars. So you can try to pin your opponents into corners, and stick them behind other cars if possible.
During the race, players will secretly bet on (predict which) cars they think will win the race. These secret bets occur three times during the race at about the 20%, 40% and 60% of race completion. Players mark their bets on their score sheets.
Winning the game:
When all six cars have crossed the finish line (and/or run out of gas) the race is over. The owners of each car will be rewarded with victory money.
- Players mark on their score sheets how much money they earn for each of their cars based on how they finished.
- Players circle any money they won through betting.
- This money is added up, and the initial bid money is subtracted from it.
The money remaining is their winnings. The player with the most winnings wins the game.
I hope that doesn’t sound confusion, because the game is NOT hard to play nor to understand. 😉
Above is an example of the finished race scoring sheet:
- I paid $2M to buy the blue car at auction.
- At the 1st interval I bet on my blue car to win
- At the 2nd interval I switched and bet on the black car to win
- At the 3rd interval I bet on the black car to win
- The black car won, and my blue car came in 2nd.
I collect $9M in Racing Payouts for coming in 2nd.
I also collect $6M + $6M + $3M for my Betting Payouts.
The final total for me is:
- $9m + $15 – $2M = $22M
I compare this against my opponents to see who wins!
Likes, Dislikes and Final Thought for Downforce:
- Easy to Teach, Simple to Learn. Restoration Games says ages 8 & up, and we agree with their assessment. The Rulebook is in full color, and very well written.
- The game looks great on the table. The game board folds out to a massive 22″ x 33″.
- The game plays well at all player counts. It doesn’t matter if there are 2 players, or 4 players, or 6 players. The game scales well for all player counts.
- Nice quality components. The cars, the cards and the board are all well constructed.
- Different ways to win the game. Depending on the hand you are dealt, there are different ways to try and win the game. If you have a lot of high red cards in your hand, you should try to win the red car at auction and race it to win. If you have a rainbow of colors in your hand, you can try to pick up any car cheap at auction and gamble on someone else’s car. You will try to secretly help them win the race, and try get your car to finish as high as possible.
- Short game times. This game can be played quickly if everyone knows how to play. You can crank through a game in 30-45 minutes, even with 6 players.
- The Special Power cards offer a little bit of variety. The Special Powers are not overpowered, but can be used to your advantage if you pay attention. Each Card is sold at Auction as part of the bidding price with each car.
- Two tracks in the box! The game board is two sided. One side has a track that is more wide open, whereas the other side offers more tight curves. And there are additional tracks available for purchase.
- Getting “pinned-in” early. It can be tough to win a race if you get pinned-in early. A couple of people might jump out to an early lead, and you might get pinned in the back. At the first Betting Line, people might already be changing their strategies and betting on the lead cars. And those other players might help the early leaders win the race so that they win their bets. You will be forced to either change your strategy early, or see if you can make a huge comeback from the back of the pack!
I think Downforce is a fantastic board game. It is great for families as well as adults! Whenever a new gamer asks me “What games should I have in my gaming library?” I always recommend Downforce, Ticket to Ride, King of Tokyo and KingDomino. All 4 of these games are simple to learn, but still fun for experienced gamers to play. I highly recommend this game!
Downforce also has two expansions: Danger Circuit and Wild Ride. Each adds two more racing tracks and six new powers. The expansions are pretty fun! Wild Ride adds in 3D ramps and wild animals to be used on the new tracks.
There is a even a homemade Mario Kart variant you can create as well by adding in Karts from Mario Kart Monopoly. This can make your game look even cooler. Here’s an article we wrote about customizing your Downforce Game.