Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Formula E

Last week, we received our Kickstarter copy of Formula E, a game we'd Kickstarted.

The game funded by the skin of its teeth, hitting goal in the last few hours before time was up. It amuses me that a racing game barely made it across the finish line.

We had a chance to play it on Wednesday, and I enjoyed it.

It's a racing game. An elephant racing game, actually.  Each turn, you play a card (some cards allow a second card to be played, but most of the time, you'll only be playing one card).

These cards allow you to move your elephant, or re-arrange some of the obstacles on the board. Certain spaces on the board have additional effects as well, but they are mostly bonus movement.

When moving, your elephant pushes other elephants. But you can't push the sacred cows that litter the board. And it's very possible to push an opponent across the finish line.

You also can't really control your elephant when it's moving - in fact, you tend to have more control over the board's obstacles than over your own elephant.  The critical key to the game, therefore, is arranging the cows to slow your opponents down and get them out of your way.

There are cards that let your elephant fly, there are cards that allow your elephant to push cattle, there are cards that allow you to steal cards from other players, fish cards out of the discard pile, or force other players to discard cards at the end of their turn.

The game is surprisingly well-balanced and supports a number of play styles. The first game we played, I was way at the back for most of the race, and barely managed to come back and win it.  The second game was much closer through the whole game, and we all clustered around the finish line with everyone spending turns trying to arrange it so that either we would be pushed across the line or we'd be able to bypass the crush.

I want to play it a few more times before I pass final judgement on it, but the game was fun.  So at this point, I consider it a successful project - but ask me again in six months or so.

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