FORMULA MOTOR RACING - Reviewed by Mike
Category/Format: Sport/Card Game
Pleasant little filler game from the prolific Reiner Knizia, based on Formula One Motor Racing, which is for 3-6 players and takes about 10 minutes per race so 6 races should take you an hour.
Contents are minimal, consisting of a deck of 54 cards, upon which are depicted different types of events, 12 plastic racing cars in 2 each of 6 colours, a 12-sided die, a scoring pad and game rules.
Each player controls a team of 2 cars and their objective is to have those cars in the highest positions when the race ends, in order to score the highest number of championship points. This is achieved by each player playing a card from their hand in turn, replenishing it from the Draw Pile, and actioning the effect on the card laid down. When the Draw Pile is exhausted each player lays down one more card each and the race is over. Sounds easy doesn't it but the key to success in this game is in how you play the cards that you are dealt to maximise your position.
The 12 cars are laid out in a straight line, the car in 1st place being matched by the other car in 12th, 2nd and 11th and so on. The card deck is shuffled and 5 cards are dealt to each player, the remainder forming the Draw Pile. The lead player starts and plays a card from their hand and replenishes it back to 5 immediately. Then the effect of the card is actioned and the race order is changed. Play then passes to the players left.
The game revolves around the actions depicted on the cards and these fall into several different categories, these being either a specific colour of car, a car of the colour of the players choice, a car in a particular position or some other randomised event which is determined by the outcome of a die roll. I won't spoil your fun by listing them all here I'll just give you one to whet your appetite.
The card titled "Charge(Lose Gears)" enables the player laying the card to choose any car and then roll the die. If the roll results in 1-9 the nominated car moves forward one place; if it results in 10-12 the nominated car moves back to last place ! There's a certain amount of perverse pleasure when this comes off and stuffs the leader.
I'm not sure exactly how much control you've got with this game, but if you can keep cards which improve your position until right near the end of a race before playing them there is a chance that you could influence the scoring to your advantage. Suffice to say that it plays quickly enough to overcome any 'bad distribution' and that should even itself out over a series of races.
At the end of each race the scores are allocated Grand Prix fashion to the first 6 finishers and the next race starts in the same order of finishing. One word of warning. My scoresheets contain reference to a White car but I have a Purple car in my set. And also the scoring allocation shows 1 point each for 4th,5th and 6th place whereas I understand the GP scoring to be 3,2,1 respectively.
Not the greatest game in the world but then it doesn't purport to be. Just right if you want to fill that awkward 30-40 minutes at the start or end of a session.