Downforce Review

Downforce Review

Restoration Games bring a brand new Top Race style game to the table, working with Wolfgang Kramer to provide a racing game with a difference, Downforce! Read on to find out more!

Downforce, a game suitable for 2-6 players, designed by board game veteran Wolfgang Kramer, has players not only racing high-speed Formula One cars but also introduces high stakes bidding on these million dollar machines, while also frantically betting on who they think will be topping that winner’s podium!

A card based game, involving bidding, racing and betting, Downforce is based on the older racing game Top Race. Players must first bid on a selection of cars that are about to race around the track, the winner taking proud ownership of a car after each one is auctioned off. The race then begins, and players must play their cards strategically, especially since most of the cards in play will move not just their car but all the others too!

You will need to plan for just the right time to play your card, as if you run out of “fuel” for your car later in the race, you will be seeing dust! Don’t fret though! If you don’t think your car(s) are going to make it, you can always bet on the others! Put your money where your mouth is and if you manage to predict the winner throughout, you’ll be greeted by a sweet windfall at the conclusion of the race. Once the race is finished, your winnings are added up, your costs are taken from this and the winner is the one with the thickest wallet by the end!

Isn’t it just like Formula D?

The biggest mistake I made with Downforce when I first saw it announced was to compare it to Formula D. I recall telling my partner how I imagined it to be a copy of the ever popular Formula D. Of course, reading into Downforce and exploring what it had to offer quashed these thoughts swiftly and my interest peaked! It was a unique take on a racing game and the different elements it promised to offer intrigued me.

Downforce Review – Game Board and Components (Credit: jlele BGG)

How does it play?

So, how did it play? Did I feel like a big player in the Formula One world, or just a regular guy dreaming wistfully about owning my own F1 car? The game itself plays nicely, with a good flow about it. I was worried that it would be staggered, especially during the bidding and racing phases, but it kept things fairly streamlined with little downtime.


The bidding element is definitely a fun addition to the game, however I felt it can at times give others an unfair advantage, especially since the cards you use to bid with (each player plays a card for the coloured card on offer and the highest number wins) are randomly dealt, meaning someone has really rubbish cards, although the game states that everyone will end up with at least one car!

Once you have won a car, you gain the car, an “eight” card that is for that coloured car and can be used while racing and also a driver ability, which is another element I really liked, allowing players the chance to change up the gameplay. For example, one of the abilities allows the owner of the car to move their car when it moves, rather than the player who played the car.


Using a card-based moving mechanic was interesting, especially since I was used to the dice-rolling method used in Formula D. Each player will have a set of cards that lists various different cars, all with a set amount of spaces they can move forward. The key here is that if you play a card, you then move all the cars listed on that card from top to bottom. So, while you may take the lead, the others will be swiftly bringing up the rear, but you will also be at risk of running out of big move cards for your car! It kept the game interesting and definitely keeps players engaged throughout!


Finally, the betting element of Downforce adds another dimension to this already great game! Being able to guess who you think the winner will be is always fun but it can change the tides really quickly, especially if someone has found themselves behind in the race but has a hunch that one of the other cars is going to storm to victory.

All of these dimensions, when combined together, have produced a really smooth, streamlined racing game that will keep players interested and engaged throughout. The concept is incredibly simple as well, so you will find yourself teaching this to newbies in no time at all. Just be careful though, as they may feel like starting their own F1 team straight after playing! I definitely felt like that after my first game.

Downforce Review – Betting Slip and Racing Cars (Credit: The Innocent BGG)

Final Thoughts on Downforce

Overall, this game really appeals to the masses, both veteran board gamers and families alike! It is simple to pick up and great fun to play and it has definitely creeped up my list of favourite games!

The usual production quality of Iello helps this game shine and having Kramer as the driving force (pardon the pun) behind it has produced a fantastic little number. If you are looking for a racing game that is a little different from the normal racing genre then Downforce is definitely a game to try out! It will have you playing again and again just to try and reach the top of that winner’s podium! Just be ready because as soon as those lights go out, it’s anyone’s game!

Tom Gorner

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