Downforce by Restoration Games was released in 2017 and quickly slipstreamed by many games to move up on our favorite games list.
Downforce is a racing game. Simple. Right? Except you can win the race and still lose the game. Downforce has several cool mechanics at play to propel you into the winner’s circle. The winner is the player with the most money at the end of the game.
Downforce starts with each player being dealt a hand of speed cards. The speed cards say how fast and which cards get to move. They are very easy to read with colored lines for each car and the number of spaces that each car moves. White lines are wild. Some cards have all six cars while other only one car or something in between.
Each player also gets a special power card. The power gives you an advantage in the game if you remember to use it and the circumstances arise.
The first phase of the game is an auction of all six of the race cars (one at a time). The players use their speed cards to place a bid but the speed card returns back to their hands. If the bidding is on the blue car and you have a speed card with a blue line of 2 then you could use that card to bid $2 million on that car. Don’t spend too much on cars as your bids are subtracted from your winnings at the end of the game.
The main phase of the game is the race!
Racing is quick and easy. Players take turns playing a speed card. The active player moves the cars in the order and distance on the card they played. If a car runs into a log jam it can’t move any further. Remember your power card!
The last phase comes into play when the first car passes a yellow line. Each player marks on their score sheet a ‘bet’ on which car will finish first. There are three yellow lines so three chances to bet.
Ending the Game
Once all cars have crossed the finish line or all cards have been played then all players count their money = Money their car(s) won + Money from betting - Auction cost of their car(s).
The player with the most money wins.
We introduced Downforce this weekend to the grandkids and the first thing they wanted to do Monday night was play it again...pretty strong endorsement!
The base game of Downforce plays in 30-45 minutes and can have 2-6 players. Our 10 year old grandkid understood the game in about 5 minutes. The box says ages +14 but kids much younger can easily learn and have fun.
The three phases of the game: Auction, Race and Betting combine to make a fun, strategic race game. No dice. After the being dealt a hand it is pure strategy from that point forward. A well designed game.
The Good: Great fun and strategy.
The Bad: Don’t forget your power card!
The Dastardly: Remember...you don’t have to win the race to win the game! Our granddaughter likes to focus her speed cards on helping the car she bets on and using her car as a blocker.