The latest expansion adds a surprising amount of strategy to a game that is still accessible.
I have reviewed the base game for Downforce on the site, and you can check out the review here. Today though I am reviewing the second expansion known as Downforce: Wild Ride.
The Downforce expansions have just been adding small tweaks to the base gameplay. A new board, a couple of new power cards, and you are ready to go. I love this format, as everything fits nicely into the base box. Downforce: Wild Ride does add some extra components in the form of animal tiles and ramps, but everything still works!
So I won’t be talking a lot about the base gameplay, only making references to the map specific differences. Because the expansion boards are double-sided, it might look like I am reviewing two different games. This is a review for Downforce: Wild Ride, I am just splitting thoughts on the board’s two different sides.
So all that out of the way, let’s talk about the new maps!
Aloha Sands – Jumps Ahoy!
Downforce is a simple F1 Racing game. Well, simple in it’s not a simulation. Downforce: Wild Ride takes this in a new direction, adding what in video game terms would be ‘arcadey’ or just silly fun elements to the mix.
In Aloha Sands, this new element is jumping. And not little lifts of the ground either – flying over large sections of track jumps!
There are 8 ramps in the Aloha Sands map, and each has a number on them between 3 and 6. The rules of the ramps are simple:
The car’s movement has to be equal to or over the ramp number
The car must have 1 usable movement remaining
The ramps landing space must be empty
It’s hard to block ramp access, as the movement rules mean that almost all ramps have a space that a car can use to hit the ramp. Blocking happens more when a car lands, forcing other cars to take a long way around.
The feeling of playing a high-value speed card and hitting multiple jumps is incredibly satisfying. You can catch up quickly or take a commanding lead.
Aloha Sands adds a bit more fun to an already enjoyable game. While this map can be played as a bit of light fun, using the ramps effectively is quite the mental feat. I don’t mean actually playing the game. The challenge is planning so your car(s) leap ahead while causing congestion for your opponents.
Savanna Stretch – Turning F1 into a Rally?
My favourite of the two sides, Savannah Stretch, has you racing through a straight course, but animals have invaded the track!
Thre is an elephant, antelope, and python that block the shortest path until the race leader passes them. When all of the movement is complete, you then move the animals onto the next section to block.
While it can look like the more technical side strategy-wise, the tactics involved are a lot easier to come to grips with. You may not always want to be in the lead, as the shorter paths mean you can go further quicker. Unlocking these paths just lets your opponents catch up faster.
This makes Savannah Stretch a balancing act. You want to be close enough to the front to take advantage of short routes, but not so tight that opponents can force you onto the long path.
New players will tend to have tightly packed courses initially, leading to a runaway pack leader situation. This will only happen the first game though, barring smart power application.
The mental hurdle for Savvanah Stretch is for the first time, the path isn’t always clear before you. The track’s slightly changing nature does take one race to get used to, but then you are off and racing.
The new Power Cards (that aren’t new)
Depending on how lucky you are, you may already have the new power cards included in Downforce: Wild Ride. That is because the two powers were previously released as promo cards.
The new powers are Civilized and Lucky.
Lucky is probably my favourite in terms of sheer random shenanigans. If you were using a Wild to move your vehicle, you could choose to roll a die. As most Wild movement is 2-3 spaces, this is a great chance to zoom ahead of the pack! Or, you could basically stall your car.
Civilized is possibly the meanest Power to date. This lets you break your Speed card’s order, potentially causing a bottleneck for multiple turns that wasn’t possible before. Well, not that it was easy to plan for.
I do have one gripe with the new cards, and it has nothing to do with the powers. Why did they have to do a different back for them? When I set up, I usually like to shuffle and draw the powers as we bid. The different backing gives bidders information if they can see a ‘new’ card is coming. Even worse, it’s a 50/50 shot for a power they may really want.
This is easily fixable with opaque sleeves, but I don’t think you should have to resort to sleeving when the cards could have had the original design.
Interested, but don’t want to buy the game to try it out?
Downforce and all of the expansions are available on Board Game Arena. It is only playable if the host is a premium member, so it’s not exactly a free trial. But you can play multiple games with your friends (even if you are in lockdown) for very little, so it’s a great way to try Downforce!
Downforce: Wild Ride
Downforce: Wild Ride changes Downforce slightly in ways that only make it more fun. By adding some silliness to the Formula 1 base, freshness is added without changing the game overall.
The only real issue I have is the Power cards having a different back design. When that is the most prominent shade you can throw at a game, you know you are on a winner.
If you enjoy Downforce, then Downforce: Wild Ride is an easy recommendation.
- More Downforce without adding an experience wall
- Both expansions still fit in the original box
- Price is low as not paying for lots of extra fluff that gets disposed
- Playable on Board Game Arena
- Back of the Power Cards are different design
- Board Game Arena is Premium content
Until next time,