High-stakes bidding on million-dollar race cars. Frantic bets placed in secret even as the cars race around the track. And to the victor, the biggest purse of all. But, in the world of motor racing, the margin between victory and defeat can be a single moment: a steep banked turn, tires screaming and spitting out smoke, and the downforce, pressing you down in your seat and keeping you on the track as you make your move inside to pull ahead.
Downforce is a card game for 2-6 players based on Top Race, the award-winning design by the legendary Wolfgang Kramer. Players first bid to own the six cars in the race. Then, they play cards from their hand to speed them around the track. However, most cards will also move their opponents’ cars. So figuring out just the right time to play a card is the key to victory. Along the way, players will make secret bets on who they think will win the race. Whoever has the most money from their prize money, winning bets, and remaining bank wins the game.
Back in 1974, Top Race began as Tempo, a themeless race game on a straight track and Kramer’s first published game. In 1980, he brought it back as Niki Lauda’s Formel 1, now licensed and featuring the race car theme that would garner it so much attention. In 1996, he released the definitive version of his racing system with Top Race, recommended for the Spiel des Jahres (the same year he won it for El Grande). Over the next decade, it would see print under a number of different names and licenses, including a Daytona 500 version put out by Milton Bradley in 1990. It was this version that Rob had so much fun playing with his kids around the family table.
For this restoration, we were dealing with a game whose design needed no attention. Years of play and multiple versions have honed it to near perfection. On the contrary, one of our primary design challenges was figuring which of the many rules modules to incorporate to create the most fun version. We also wanted to add some variability to the play experience, so we incorporated variable player powers. But mostly, we wanted to bring the component quality up to a high level for a wider audience. Most of our time was spent polishing the look of the game to make it gorgeous and easy to play. We paid special attention to the colors, the layout of the cards, the design of the cars, the details on the board, and more.
Time: 20-40 minutes
Release Date: August 17, 2017