Designer: Laurent Lavaur, Eric Randall
Expansions: Lots of new track expansions
This is a strategic analysis of the Formula D base game using the advanced rules. I know nothing about cars but I love getting in my little Formula D car and racing around with my friends. I’m not going to pretend to know what all these car pieces do in a real car because a long time ago I chose computers over cars, but I can definitely help with game strategy. I admit I frequently consulted Google for some background on what these parts do… (let’s see… G-E-A-R-B-O-X) I have heard from quite a few fellow gamers about how much they dislike this game because of how much luck is involved, so it’s not for everyone, and I was even hesitant to cover this one, but there are some strategic decisions you can make to give yourself an edge, so here we go.
Getting out ahead of your competition early is very important so they aren’t in your way. You can’t do anything about your pole position unless you’re Diane Montfort, but you can take some early risks to try to take the lead after the first few turns, so do it.
Take some risks early on to try to get in front and then get more conservative if they don’t turn out for you.
If you are behind near the end of the race, don’t be afraid to take some major risks by staying in a high gear on some turns as a nothing-to-lose last resort.
Use slipstreaming when possible because it’s a great way to tack on a few extra spaces. Just be aware that you lose a brake WP if you slipstream into a corner, but it’s optional so you can choose not to use it to avoid that.
In multi-lap races where the pit lane is a single lane, you can park your car in the first spot in the pit lane, which blocks anyone behind you from entering and forcing them to skip the pit. I know… pretty shitty thing to do but hey, I have no idea how honorable my readers are, so I thought I should mention it. This only stops the people behind you so anyone in front of you will get even further ahead of you if you do this, so it is only recommended if you are in the lead.
The key to this game is to come out of a corner having stopped the required number of times in the highest gear possible. Corners are an opportunity to make up ground if you take some risks but how much risk you take depends on the degree of desperation in your situation and how many tire/gearbox/break WP you have left. Usually, you want to assume you will be taking the corner as wide as possible and then cut toward the inside if you roll a smaller number. You want to be at the last spot of the corner in the highest gear possible. On the longer corners, don’t be afraid to start in a lower gear and work your way up to a higher one by the end so you are rolling a big die on the next straight. If you do the opposite, you will be limping into the next straight in a low gear.
Which driver you pick is very important to help you plan out your strategy for the game. I recommend distributing them randomly because some are better than others.
Li Tsu Sin
Each time an opponent (male or female) overtakes her on a straight it reduces their speed by one square for them to look at her.
Her ability is VERY nice at the beginning of a race when there is a lot of passing on the straitaways. This can be very annoying for opponents and adds up to quite a few spaces you are taking away from opponents. It’s awesome that it’s passive too.
Skidding pro: He can adjust his move by +/- one space in every corner, as he has perfect skid control. He loses 1 tire WP whenever he uses this feature.
His 9 tire points are very nice to let you take some risks on corners but can go quickly if you use his ability a lot. I recommend just using his extra tires to be more aggressive on the corners and only using his ability in an emergency.
Car radio: Once per race Stanley thinks his car radio plays bad music, and he throws it out of the window – onto a car on an adjacent space. This car loses 1 WP in a category to be defined by rolling the black die.
This works on a single driver so it is usually more effective in games with a smaller number of players. You will want to save it towards the end of a race so that you can hopefully finish off a driver with this ability. I am proud that I can say from experience that it feels GREAT to wreck a car with a radio. It almost feels like you’re driving around with a Mario Kart turtle shell throughout the race, just waiting for an opportunity to fire.
Little genius: The features of his car are extraordinary, and the engine is especially robust. In the event of engine failure, he only loses 1 engine WP if he rolls 1, 2, or 3 (1 or 2 if it is raining).
With only 5 tire points, you will have to be careful around corners and the stronger engine doesn’t make up for that hindrance.
Julien ‘Frogger’ Marcellin
Weather frog: Each time the black die is rolled to determined weather conditions (including the first time the weather is set at the beginning of the game), he is allowed to roll the die again, and the second result counts. If it is raining, he only slides one space forward (instead of three spaces) when he stops in a corner.
This guy is only useful if you are using weather, but he gains a big advantage if you do. He wants to re-roll if it is anything other than rain so he hopefully gets to slide around a lot less than the other drivers. It seems weird to have a special ability based on an optional rule, but they do say not to use him if you’re not using weather.
Experienced mechanic: She regains 4 WP instead of only 2 WP every time she crosses the finishing line. (However, the original number of points held at the start of the game may never be exceeded in any category.)
The additional 2 WP when moving to lap 2 can really help, but this is pretty useless in a single lap race.
Better nitro: If he so wishes, he may receive a bonus of 3 additional spaces every time he uses the nitro fuel injection
This dude has lots of brakes and nitrous boost to add 3 to a dice roll. Only having 5 tires hurts, especially in a 2+ lap race. You have to be more conservative with him in the corners, which doesn’t seem to go along with his rebellious-looking picture.
Aggressive: Every time he is involved in a collision, his opponent has to roll the black die twice instead of once. (treat each roll as a separate collision check).
This guy is great in any game, but even better with more players. If you play as him, you want to end as many turns as possible next to people who have taken a lot of damage, but don’t go overboard because you have to roll a die for each collision too. I usually see Manson take out a lot of drivers, but rarely survive a race himself.
Quick off the mark: If several drivers have the same position, Diane is always the first to move – even if one or more drivers are faster and/or are standing nearer the inside of the corner. She also wins if there is a tie when the starting positions are allocated using the black die.
This is an OK ability. It can be very useful or almost never used so you never know how valuable it will be, but at least it is passive. You can’t really use it very strategically either because if you can finish ahead of someone, you usually will and then you will go before them anyway, so it usually just happens. The best part about her might even be to increase your pole position in the event of a tie because jumping out to a big lead is so important.
Pile of scrap: Once per lap he can place a damage marker on a space as he leaves it. A damage marker is placed on the symbol of this feature to show that it has been used. In addition, if he lands on a space with a damage marker he only loses 1 road handling WP if he rolls 1 or 2.
He will want to put his damage marker in a 1 lane stretch or in a tight corner because other drivers will have trouble avoiding the damage marker and taking the turn efficiently. It’s nice that he doesn’t have to worry too much about running into damage marker as they only have a 10% chance of affecting him instead of 20%.
Since many drivers are taken out of a race from damage, it’s important to understand the likelihood that you will be damaged for each event. Following is a list of the common events that will occur throughout the game.
These are not standard dice and most new players wonder about the probabilities of getting each value, so let me shed some light on this mystery. Each value in the range of each gear (1-2, 2-4, etc) has an equal chance of occurring so the tables below can be used to calculate probabilities by adding likelihood percentages together for any values that will keep you safe. For example, if you are in 5th gear and need to roll a 18, 19, or 20 to be safe on a corner, you have a 10% + 10% + 10% = 30% chance of that happening.
The biggest key to success in Formula D is knowing how to take corners efficiently. I recommend doing a few trial runs by yourself and try to lower the number of turns it takes to get to the finish line while staying alive. In a real game with others, you will have to take into account the collisions and damage markers that will make it harder for you to survive the race so you might want to knock yourself down 1 in each category to simulate the damage you’ll take from others.
Formula D is good for large groups because up to 10 can play, but player turns are quick enough that people don’t get too bored in between. The largest source of delay comes from players not realizing it’s their turn, which happens more often the further they fall behind. The most unfortunate aspect of this game is that it’s hard to get back into a race once you have fallen too far behind. There’s no Spiny Shell, Bullet Bill, or Starman to help move you from last to first. It’s still a great game that I usually bring out along with Avalon when I have 8-10 people at the table.