Eric Randall &
Laurent Lavaur


No. of Players:
2 - 10



When talking about racing games, the name which is most often mentioned is Formula De by Eurogames. The easy-to-learn rules which nonetheless offer a high degree of realism and entertainment have found quite a huge crowd of fans and supporters, and thus nearly two dozen expansion sets have been released which feature over 30 different racing tracks from all over world. The quick manner in which each player conducts and finishes his turn makes the game quite entertaining especially with a larger number of players, and so it is quite understandable that ASMODEE has decided to offer a new release of this all-time classic in 2008 (now under the name Formula D).

However, as ASMODEE has chosen to produce "games of excellence", their designers have set down to the task to work their way through the rules and components once more, and instead of doing a simple new release of the old game they have added a bit of fine-tuning and a major overhaul on side of graphics and components. The new two-sided map now offers a racetrack of Monaco on one side, whereas the other side depicts a track for a street race which takes place at night time in a fictitious US city. Multi-coloured racing cars and tuned street cars are included to get the right feeling on the different kinds of tracks, and even more interesting a set of Driver cards is included to represent the different personalities of each driver especially in the street race.

The basic movement rules for driving, lane-changes and speed have not changed from older versions of the game, and they now are not only applied on the regular racetrack but in the street race as well. One of the most outstanding features of Formula De always has been the use of different shaped dice for the different gears which a car could use, and the higher the current gear of the player the higher the numbers which could be rolled with the corresponding dice. In sixth gear, a player may be lucky and roll a result which may allow him to move 30 spaces, but due to curves and chicanes there is always a risk of losing control when going at the highest gear. Depending on the diameter of a curve, the player will have to end one or more of his moves within the track spaces of the curve, and this can only be done at a moderate speed. Of course, there is always a possibility of braking or simply continuing, but this will have a negative impact on one of more crucial attributes of the car so that the danger of a terminal damage is increased.

The advanced rules for damage feature six different categories in which a car may suffer damage, and as indicated damage will be attributed if certain kinds of manoeuvres are failed. Tire damage is attributed if a car goes too fast through a curve, shifting down for more than one gear wears in the gearbox, the brakes and the engine, and even going at top-speed may mean unnecessary abrasion of the engine. Likewise, road handling deteriorates when a car is driven through debris, or the bodywork is damaged in collisions. If a car uses up all its possible damage points in one of these sections, it will suffer terminal damage and is removed from the game. However, the players who survives a lap on the track may chose to drive into the pit lane and have a pit stop. There tires can be changed, and even some lost damage points may be repaired at other areas of the car.

Although the advanced rules only mean a moderate complexity, the game also features a rulebook with beginners rules which offer a somewhat easier damage management due to the fact that damage is not attributed to different sections but as a total sum. However, once the advanced rules are mastered players probably will chose to include some optional rules for a touch of more realism, introducing changing weather conditions (and different sets of tires) and a training lap which decides about the start positions for the final race. The training lap actually is measured with a stop clock, and the player who rolls his dice fastest will be assigned the pole position. However, most interesting are the rules for customised cars, since players also may opt to distribute a certain amount of damage points between the different sections of their car. Although certain limits must be observed, this gives them more freedom to build a car to match their style of driving, and it certainly adds a nice touch of simulation.

The customised car also ties in well with the street race, since here the players chose between different personalities, with each of them offering its own, special car. In addition, each player profits from one special rule which will only be applied to his driver, so that one driver actually may go better through curves, whereas others may have better engine stats, skills for driving in bad weather or even an aggressive attitude so that collision damage has a higher probability. In the street race, the same basic rules apply as on the normal racetrack, but some special rules have been added for adding some specific atmosphere. Thus, the road has some bumps which give an additional damage risk, and the player who is fastest while passing the police station actually will get a small bonus for his daring driving. However, the city residents do not like these driving hooligans at all, and thus there is a part of the racetrack on which the cars actually may suffer damage from shooting.

As mentioned at the beginning, Formula D draws a lot of its attractiveness from the quick and uncomplicated way in which the race is performed. Decisions can be made rather quick while at the same time a notable degree of strategy and risk calculations remains in the game, and this easy going playing mechanism makes Formula D an outstanding game in the broad area of racing games. ASMODEE has done well when deciding to go for a new release of this old classic, and to my mind they have outdone themselves concerning the outfit of the new version. Especially the different kinds of cars and the driver character cards for the street race look rather cute and give this variant some attractiveness of its own, and I am quite hopeful that ASMODEE might follow the fashion of releasing new double-sided maps with a racetrack on one side and some kind of special race (stock-car, motocross etc.) on the other. All in all, the game certainly has re-kindled my fondness of racing games.

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

[Gamebox Index]

Google Custom Search

Impressum / Contact Info / Disclaimer


Copyright © 2008 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany