Tag Archives: Downforce: Wild Ride

30th December 2021

It was a quiet night, but nonetheless very enjoyable.  Blue and Pink were just finishing their dinner when Lime arrived, and after some chit-chat, they were joined by Pine.  In previous years, we’ve held a New Year Party where we play the gorgeous puck-flicking, racing game, PitchCar, so in the absence of this, the “Feature Game” was another classic car racing game, Downforce.

Downforce
– Adapted from image by BGG contributor kalchio

We played this at New Year last year, but that was remotely (through Board Game Arena).  The online rendering of the game is really very good with lots of brilliant sweary graphics when a driver finds their way blocked and we all enjoyed playing it.  Although playing online is infinitely better than not playing at all, it is a poor substitute for the real thing.  So, Pink in particular, was really looking forward to giving an outing to his brand-spanking new Christmas copy, courtesy of the Board Game Geek Secret Santa (great choice Santa—thanks!).

Downforce on Board Game Arena
– Image by boardGOATS from boardgamearena.com

Game play is quite simple, but also very clever.  Players have a hand of cards and on their turn play one and move the cars shown.  The game begins with a car auction, so the card may show their own car, but more than likely shows several and may or may not include their own.  Starting with the fastest card (the one at the top) players then move the cars one at a time.  The player with the winning car wins money, but players also have three opportunities to bet during the race.  The player with the most money at the end of the game is the winner.

Downforce
– Image by boardGOATS

There are a lot of variants and “House Rules” for Downforce, including substituting the auction for random (secret) draw, changing or omitting the betting, and including special power cards (either drawn at random or included in the car auction).  There are also several maps available, two in the base game and two in each of the Danger Circuit and Wild Ride expansions (which also have special rules).  This time we played essentially with the “Rules as Written”, and included the special power cards (auctioned with the cars at the start) and began with the River Station track from the base game.

Downforce
– Image by boardGOATS

The first hurdle was everyone trying to think up a name for their team—there was a strong feline element with Nikki Meowda, David Cat-tard and Stirling Meowss all being suggested.  Dick Dastardly, Penelope Pitstop and Pat Pending came up as people reminisced about Wacky Races and Pine-erton Fittipaldi, the Green Cross Code Man and Staying Alive all raced too during the evening.  Blue and Pine put their paws in their respective pockets and bought themselves two cars with a choice of special powers, and hoped to dominate the race.

Downforce
– Image by boardGOATS

Blue had the Cunning power and made good use of it during the game, though in truth it was rare that she really had a meaningful decision to make.  Pink made better use of his Tricky power which enabled him to move cars in reverse order on his turn—he only used it a couple of times, but made them count.  Lime’s Determined power was also really helpful enabling him to move an extra couple of spaces when he finished on a straight.  Pine, however, was less fortunate and despite winning two auctions was left with an uninspiring special power.

Downforce
– Image by boardGOATS

Crossing the first betting line in front encourages people to bet on your car and then, invested in its outcome, they tend to help it along for the rest of the race.  This is a game where a little help goes a long way so a good start is really important.  Lime’s single car and one of Blue’s two cars got away well and competed for that all important early lead.  Blue led across the first betting line, but Lime was only just behind leaving it all to race for.  And they continued to battle for the lead, leaving the others to fight it out in their wake.  Lime was the first to the all important finish line, but Blue took both the remaining podium places with her two cars, which meant it was all down to the betting and initial expenditure.

Downforce
– Image by boardGOATS

Despite professing to have failed to understand the betting rules, Lime took the magnum of champagne and twenty million, just two million more than Blue.  Pink played a blinder to take the final place on the podium with seventeen million despite his car coming in last, a total helped by his minimal initial outlay and betting on the eventual winner at every opportunity.  It had been fun, and when Lime suggested playing again, everyone was quite happy to oblige, so the map was flipped over to give the Marina Bay track a go.

Downforce
– Image by boardGOATS

Pine again picked up two cars in the auction, but this time Lime joined him with Pink again taking the last car and getting the Determined special power.  Lime once again took an early lead and used his Tricky special power to great effect at key moments.  It was clear in spite of the hidden betting that Lime was likely to be the one to beat.  There was some discussion about whether he should be helped or hindered, but eventually he crossed the line first.  Pink’s solitary, but very Determined car made it home in second and with him betting on himself that left them both of them with a final purse of twenty million and a tie for first place.

Downforce
– Image by boardGOATS

Pine’s second car was still cruising round the final corner while a steward’s inquiry established that Lime was the winner by virtue of his higher placing in the race.  It had been a lot of fun, but undoubtedly, a car that takes an early lead has a big advantage.  There are lots of “House Rules” available to try to mitigate this effect (modifying the betting, blind dealing of cars, and restrictions on when players can play their super-speed card for example), so we might try some of those next time to mix things up.  That said, the expansion maps will change things as well, so we will see.  It is certainly a game that will come out again and again for some time to come.

Downforce
– Image by boardGOATS

Time was marching on and Lime was concerned that the drawbridge over the Thames might be raised if he left too late, but there was just time for a quick game of Ticket to Ride: Amsterdam.  Everyone in the group loves Ticket to Ride and the little city versions are great in that they capture all the flavour of the full versions, but in a smaller, quicker package.  As in every other edition, on their turn, players can take cards, play cards to place pieces (in this case carts), or take new tickets.  Players score points for placing carts and for completing the routes depicted on their tickets (with any unfulfilled tickets giving negative points).

Ticket to Ride: Amsterdam
– Image by boardGOATS

Each map has its own special little feature and in the Amsterdam version has extra goods cards awarded for completing specific sections of track; these give bonus points for players with more of these at the end of the game.  Pink, Lime and Pine started hard, but Blue soon caught up making for a tight game.  Blue skirted round the north leaving the others to fight over the city centre and particularly Lime and Pine to curse when Pink grabbed a singleton and obstructed their plans from the very first turn.

Ticket to Ride: Amsterdam
– Image by boardGOATS

Towards the end of the game, Pink started picking up tickets and was quickly followed by everyone else except Lime who stuck with his starting hand and concentrated on completing them.  Pine debated whether or not to pick up tickets and in the end went for it only for Blue to promptly trigger the end of the game.  Blue had a significant lead, but as always, tickets would be critical and everyone was in with a shout.  Sadly it was not to be:  Blue had completed all hers and also finished with the most goods cards giving her the bonus for that too and with it a total of forty-five points, eight more than Pink in second place.

Ticket to Ride: Amsterdam
– Image by boardGOATS

Learning Outcome:  Santa is Awesome.