Race, Bid, Bet, Win in Downforce by Restoration Games

As F1 race fans we are always on the lookout for car-themed games and especially games that emulate our favorite race weekends. I had heard about Downforce for years but it was always just out of reach or out of print until I stumbled upon the Target re-release of Downforce on sale recently and thought the family might give it a try. While this mass market version of the game has some shortcomings like smaller box and smaller cards, I am thankful for the experience at a low price point.

Cars from Downforce Board Game

Downforce Board Game

Downforce is a racing-themed board game designed by Adrian Adamescu and Daryl Andrews that emulates the thrill of automobile racing. It was published by Restoration Games in 2017. The game combines auctions, betting, and racing mechanics to create a theme bigger than the elements. The game is for 2-6 players and each player takes on the role of a wealthy investor betting on a futuristic high-speed racing event. Players use their betting cards to control and maneuver their chosen racing cars, trying to win the race and earn the most money. The game features a double-sided track that allows for multiple race variations. There are random elements from cards like power-ups and hazards to keep the races exciting.

This title is based on the  board game Top Race which was released in 1996. Downforce changes the mechanics a bit by adding the auction element which creates more push and pull in the gameplay. This is the specialty of Restoration Games, who re-release  out of print games from the 1960’s to 90’s with updated parts and mechanics.

Downforce Board Game

How it Plays

DownForce begins with an auction for six racing cars, each equipped with a unique bonus power. Players bid on the cars they want using cards from their hand, with each card featuring 1-6 cars of different colors and a corresponding number. To bid, players choose a card with the color of the car they’re bidding on, place it face-down, and the highest bid wins. The winning player records their bid price on their score pad and the auction continues until all cars have been bid on. Players can only keep one power along with 8 movement cards for their racing cars.

Cars are then positioned at the starting line. On each turn, players play a card and activate each car listed on it, top-to-bottom, unless they have a power that allows reverse activation. Cars can only move forward and diagonally, and must move the number of spaces indicated on the card, unless there are no legal moves left. Play continues to the left after each player’s turn.

As the game progresses, cars will pass one of three yellow lines, signaling a betting phase. After a car crosses a yellow line, the active player finishes the card’s actions and players mark their predictions for the winner on their score pad. Players earn money based on their bets and the position of the cars they picked. The race continues until all cars cross the finish line or players run out of cards. If a player’s only car crosses the finish line, they’re out of the game and movements slow down. Cars that don’t make it across the finish line receive no reward.

Downforce board game cards

Auction, Racing, Betting Mechanics

The combination of Auction, Betting, and Racing really makes Downforce come to life. The racing is smooth and easy to play, with well-designed tracks. It moves quickly, with races lasting only one lap. The auction really sets the stage for the race. Smart bidding on cars that can be moved effectively is crucial. Winning the game isn’t as easy as winning th race. You need to plan your purchases and bets effectively to win at Downforce.

downforce cars

Family Impressions

This game was much more fun than anticipated for the family. The combination of betting, bidding, and racing creates just enough variables to keep you thinking throughout the game. Rounds are quick. Wins feel good. Playtime runs at about 30-45 minutes with three players. We had fun and will play again soon. Recommended for family game night as we head into F1 race season.


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