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October 14, 2015 / Jett

The Corners in Formula D

Formula D is a board game that brilliantly captures the excitement of car racing. For a game where the only movement comes from rolling dice and moving your car a few spaces forward, it’s almost magical how the game can still generate the thrill of the chase. Part of that magic comes from a nifty little gear box and corresponding dice. As you switch gears, you’ll gain access to larger dice with larger values that will let you travel faster around the track. When you think about it though, it’s the corners that make the game truly shine.

Just like in real life, you can navigate through a corner at the same speed as a straightaway. Travel too fast, and you’ll fly off the road and probably die in a shell of burning metal. Formula D represents this dynamic with red outlines to denote the start and end of corners. When your car enters this zone, it must stop a certain number of times before leaving this zone. Short corners, for example, may require you to stop one time inside the corner in order to proceed without penalty. Bigger corners or zig-zags may require multiple stops.

With these rules in place, players can’t simply zip through a track on fifth gear. Instead, they must carefully plan their approach for each corner. This isn’t an exact science though, as dice rolls add an element of chance to each forward move. Before you roll, you’ll constantly weigh the pros and cons of shifting gears, as there rarely is a perfect answer. For example, rolling too high towards the end of a multi-stop turn can force you to hard brake at the edge of the corner, forcing your car to take damage. Meanwhile, rolling too low could position your car just outside of the corner range, forcing you to squeeze in extra stops at an even slower gear.

Best of all, the rules that govern corners make perfect sense within the context of real life racing. Attacking a corner at the wrong speed or angle can really set you back in terms of car damage, speed or positioning. With Advanced rules, one bad corner can wreck your car completely. As a means of mitigating the bad things that can happen, you can jam on your brakes to stop early, hard shift down multiple gears, or overshoot certain corners, though this damages your car. You might be able to get away with these tactics here and there, though the effectiveness of these maneuvers will likely disappear before the race ends. These also make sense within the confines of real life racing.

It’s always a thrill to roll the biggest die and hit a crazy speed, but the corners are truly the best part of Formula D. They add a great layer of strategy to a game that could have been overly simple. When you hit a corner just right, the satisfaction that comes with it is way better than simply going fast on a straightaway. Formula D does a lot of things right, but it’s the rules around cornering that solidify its place as a quality board game.

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