WBG Score: 9/10
Player Count: 2-4
Distributed in the UK by: Coiledspring Games
This is a review copy. See our review policy here
Downforce is one of my favourite racing games of all time. It is so simple to teach and play but has layers that feel so juicy! For my full review of the base game you can check here.
There are a few expansions for this game. First came the 2018 expansion Downforce: Danger Circuit which added two new tracks to race on and six new race powers. Then in 2020 Wild Ride was released, again with two new race tracks, and two new racer powers. And on these tracks we now have 3D ramps and animals! Let's get it to the table and see how it plays.
The first new track deploys 3D ramps! They are very simply popped out, folded together and placed onto the marked spaces on the map. They add nothing mechanically, you could easily play without them. The pieces are purely for table presence. But I love them and would never now play without them being added.
As players approach each ramp, you need to carefully consider which card you are playing as per all the usual parameters; but now also the size of the ramp. Each ramp displays a number, ranging from three to six. If you play a card with a movement score for the particular coloured car approaching the ramp with a number that matches or exceeds the ramp size you can then if you chose, take the jump! The landing space also must be clear and you must have at least one more movement left as you reach the ramps location. Using the ramps in the way, players can cut off a lot of the track and increase their chance of victory with particular cars a great deal. There is one ramp all players must take, but the others are all a choice.
The ramps also provide some very interesting ways for players to slow down other vehicles. If you drive deliberately around a ramp, avoiding the start, or use other cars to block either the access to a ramp or the landing space, you can significantly slow other vehicles down by forcing them to take the longer route.
Physically lifting your car after racing up to the ramp and making it fly through the air before landing smoothly with a skid in the landing area... well I defy anyone to not be taken back to their childhood and make a whooshing noise as they essentially play with cars again. What a joy!
There is some lovley detail in the art for this board. Sharks and Sting rays can be seen swimming through the water as you race around. It adds nothing to the game but looks great.
There is one final large jump on the home straight that allows players to miss three spaces. This can add a very exciting twist to the final moments of the game, with cars, previously languishing at the back racing up to the front spaces. A six for the orange or yellow car here changes everything!
The second new map introduces three wild animals into the fast paced race! A giant snake, an Elephant, and a herd of Wildebeest are now casually walking around the speeding cars!
They add a wonderful catch up mechanic and allow players some very interesting choices as they move each vehicle around the track. The snake is placed on each corner, four times, to force the lead vehicle to take a wider turn, thus using more movement and allowing the other cars behind to catch up. This works because as each animal is passed by the lead car, the animal is moved to its next location, freeing up the track for the other cars.
The width of the Elephant taking up two spaces on the track means it creates bottlenecks, where cars can be blocked in quite easily before it moves on. The Wildebeest take up two spaces on the track and when moved are replaced by one space. Cars moving through spaces vacated by the Wildebeest can catch up with the lead cars using these short cuts.
I love the design on this board, and how the animal migratory paths are clearly shown. Are these animals really getting in the way of this race track, or has some idiot built a race track over a group of animal migratory paths?
You can see how the Elephants can be easily used to block other cars in. Here the green car has been placed behind the Elephant, and now cannot move until another car passes the arrowed lines behind the Elephant which would cause it to move onto the final space. Until that point, the green car has to sit and wait.
So we have one track with jumps that allows cars to race on ahead and catch up other cars, and another track with pinch points and animal blockades that allows for a more congested race. Both offer interesting choices and make for a very different feel as you play the game.
The game also comes with two new race powers. I am not sure I like Civilised much Personally I do not see why anyone would ever chose this one? Maybe I am missing something? Lucky is a lot of fun though, and one that if you are dealt a lot of low numbered wild cards could be a great addition to your strategy. Obviously there is a bit of luck involved but it creates a fun and quite separated moment from the rest of the game, that I think adds a nice little twist.
I would recommend this game to anyone who owns the base game. It does not change the game drastically but certainly adds some variation and small twists that will keep the game fresh and interesting for many more plays.