Gameday First Play – Race! Formula 90
I saw this at Essen and wanted to play it…
I got my chance.
Race! Formula 90 is a car-racing game simulating all the typical elements of a motor sport event: car strategies, weather changes, pit stops, tire management, overtaking, doubling, and of course damages and crashes.
So this is a racing simulator in the form of a hand management game. You don’t race laps but instead each ‘lap’ is one turn so after the final lap whoever is the lead car is the winner.
Now there are advanced rules and basic rules. As this was everyone’s (The full compliment of 6) first game we played the basic rules. We played on the Monza side of the board. The game comes with Hungaroring on the back.
Each player has a board for their car and you have 1 card each. There was also 4 ‘bot’ cars bringing it up to 10 in the race. I’ll show you the board so it’ll make it easier for me to explain everything.
There is a few things on there but I will point out the important bits. The space for Strategy is used and I will explain that shortly. The 4 red circles in the middle are for damage and those 12 wooden circles at the bottom represent your tyre wear. The ‘x6’ in the bottom left is the number of cards you start with and the card on the right that I used for qualifying only uses the number in the bottom right which (called the ‘Check Factor’ which in this case an 83) is important.
So lets look at qualifying. Each player chooses a card from their hand and plays it face down, the bots each get a random draw from the deck. Everyone reveals it and you are then placed in order from fastest to slowest. +4 is the highest, +1 the lowest and ties are broken by having a LOWER Check Factor on the card. I played +2 with a Check Factor of 83 so I qualified last.
This is how it looked…
Now you pick a strategy tile to put on that space on your board we saw earlier. There are 6 to pick from and they let you ‘Save Tyres’ by reducing tyre wear when you take it or ‘Lucky’ which lets you draw 2 cards and discard 1. Seeing as I qualified last I chose to go with ‘Banging Wheels’ which gives you a bonus to overtaking.
You also put a token on the turn marker for a mandatory pit stop. Pole is turn 8, 2nd turn 10, last turn 14 and everyone else on 12.
So then the race starts. Turns start with the current leader then they go back one car at a time until everyone has had a turn, the lap marker moves on and the leader starts their next turn.
You draw a card then play a card. You can play any one card on it’s own (+1, +2, +3 or +4), or any 1 card along with a ‘+1’ card or any 2 ‘+2’ cards.
The Purple ‘slow’ cars always move 2 spaces and the Yellow ‘fast’ cars move 3. They don’t have any overtaking penalties.
The card(s) you play will tell you if you need to take any tyre damage or vehicle damage. Vehicle damage is from a random draw of Red (Temp Damage) or Brown (Permanent Damage) tokens.
The board is only 22 spaces long so you end up having a few cars on the same space so they queue up in order unless they overtake. How you overtake depends on which type of space you are on. Generally it works like this for the 3 types of track.
Straight – Pay 1 movement point per car to overtake
Breaking Zone – Requires Late Breaking which I will explain in a bit
Corner – Requires a Contest which, again, I will explain in a bit
This also changes depending on your strategy and if you are lapping that car.
Late Breaking means you do a check, you compare the random ‘Check Factor’ score from the top of the deck and you want to get it lower than the one printed on that corner on the game board. This card is then discarded. If successful, you move into the next space of the corner.
If not you spin off and this happens…
There is my Pink car off the track. My entire next turn was used to just get back on.
Pass or fail, the card you reveal goes onto your board as your new ‘Check Factor’ so fail and it increases making your next check easier, pass and it decreases making your next check harder.
A Contest means the players in a corner who want to take part play two cards from their hand with the fastest total going to the front of the queue. The cards you reveal are frozen and you don’t get them back until the beginning of your next turn. Bot cars behind you always contest using a random draw.
At a certain point you need to pit. This allows you to replenish your tyre damage, remove temp car damage, refill your hand and move back 6 spaces.
That is most of how the game is played. After the last turn, whoever is the lead car wins.
This is a great game. I played Road Rally USA which is a hand management racing game but this is something different, more complex and thoughtful. It felt more like a racing game with risk vs reward a larger element. The realism added to the game helps a lot as well as playing it in good company.
The advanced game adds cards in the deck specific to the track, driver skills, car set-up rules, fuel management, weather and tyre types, a FASTER bot car, flags and the safety car… wow, would love to give that a go…