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Really fun racing game with an interesting bidding mechanism and works great with a variety of player counts! Approachable, attractive, and easy to pick up for new players or younger gamers. The quick playing time is perfect for families or when you're looking for a lightweight filler.
GAMEPLAY Players are both sponsors of racecar drivers and gamblers at a racetrack! Downforce happens in three phases. In the first phase, players bid on a racecar and a power card. Power cards allow players to break the rules in some way. Every player must have at least one racecar and power; they can end up with more than one racecar but they will have to pare down to one power. After a player wins a bid, they put the amount paid in the auction column of their betting sheet. In the second phase, players play cards to move cars. During the race, there are three betting phases where players secretly tick who they think will end up first on their betting sheet. When all of a player’s racecars cross the finish line, they can no longer play cards. When all cars have crossed or all cards have been played, the game is over. Players then tally the values for the bets plus the money earned from where their car placed, and then subtract the money paid in the auction phase. The player with the most money wins. THOUGHTS Downforce has a simple ruleset and is easy to grok. It’s so easy, in fact, that it felt a bit bland in its execution. Maybe this was due to the fact that I was playing with unfamiliar people but the game lacked the excitement of other betting games that I’ve played, like Camel Up. Another negative was the bland board art. On the flipside, the components were nice and good quality. The box art is really cool and, it was a pleasure to look at in the places it appeared in the game. Another positive is the power cards: they certainly don’t break the game but add just a bit of necessary spice. I think there are a lot of possible directions that expansion boards could go with the game so it’ll be worth watching if/how the game develops in complexity. As it stands, I don’t mind playing but I wouldn’t request it.
Downforce is a fairly lite racing game and not really complicated as some of the GMT racing games are. Downforce is a good weight game for family play, but is perhaps too lite for the board gaming hobbyist. That in mind, it should be considered a gateway or entry level game for newer gamer or for recruiting purposes.
(10/17) 7. I usually don't go in for race games too often, but this is such a cool, interesting design. I love that you're forced to help your opponents along based on the cards you play, but that you can win without your car even finishing if you gamble correctly using board state and the cards remaining in your hand.