It’s lights out and away we go! Dutch Speed, leading the start of this race, is up to a good start but reigning champion Eddy is going even faster. They are racing wheel to wheel! They almost touch! Eddy goes wide! But no, Bjorn Hunter and Kimi Kaze have collided! It’s a massive crash! Is that a puncture for Hunter? Who will win this race of a lifetime in Race Pace!
Goal and setup
In Race Pace, players take on the role of team principal of a racing team in an undefined prestigious motorsport class that is very similar to Formula 1… Players try to be the first to finish all the laps of a race and be welcomed by the chequered flag. Will your team be the first to cross the finish line and earn the most points in the standings?
The game board is set up in the middle of the table. Players choose a grand prix with a corresponding track and place the appropriate card for it on the board. Depending on the grand prix, a specific number of laps are driven. As in Formula 1, not every circuit is the same length. Each grand prix therefore has a different number of laps driven by the driver. A lap/round marker/finish marker is placed on the track on the board so that players know during the game when the last lap has been driven. Each grand prix belongs to a specific country or location. These different climates have different weather predictions. Depending on the grand prix, certain cards are added to the weather card deck. In pitch-dry Texas, it is unlikely to rain, but at the Spa circuit, the chance of rain is sometimes almost a probability.
Besides weather cards, two stacks of race event cards are also prepared. Each round of play race two events are flipped open, these are cards that create new rules, odds and effects each round. Like the FIA, it sometimes seems like the rules are still being made up as the race is being driven….
At the start of the game, each player chooses a team and (depending on the game mode) one or two drivers. In fact, the game can be played in different compositions. Players can choose for each player to take on the role of a single team and single driver. Several players can also play as a team where each player plays with one driver of a team. Finally, players can also choose to all pilot a team with two drivers. Our personal recommendation: play with as many cars on the track at the same time as possible, with each team having two drivers. Indeed, this ensures the most interaction and more interesting choices during the game.
After players choose a team, they also choose a driver. You can use a drafting method where the player who was last allowed to choose a team has first choice of driver. It’s the start of the silly season! Each team and each driver has certain characteristics, weaknesses and also strengths. Each driver also has a unique skill. Perhaps a driver is less affected by rain or a driver can defend better. Depending on the driver and team combination, tokens are placed on certain positions on the team board to show the level of the engine, the aerodynamics of the car, the skills of the mechanics of the pit crew, characteristics of the driver, etc. Therefore, for now, these tokens show the starting position of the driver’s Race Pace. What does Race Pace mean?
Race Pace, as the title of the game suggests, revolves around the Race Pace of the driver. At the end of a game round, each player calculates the Race Pace for each driver. The actual Race Pace depends on several factors including the chosen tyre compound, aerodynamics, engine level, race events, weather and the skills and experience of the driver. Starting with the ‘fastest’ player, each player moves his or her driver around the game board equal to the calculated Race Pace.
At the start of each round, new race events are first opened and, in addition, depending on the track, the weather can also play a role. Then, starting with the ‘starting player’, each player chooses one of the available actions. Apart from the pit stop action, only one driver can use a particular action in a round of play (with certain exceptions). Some actions cannot be used in certain weather conditions or if a certain event card (such as the safety car) has been played.
When players play as a team, there is a ‘first’ and ‘second’ driver (just like in real motorsport where the driving is team-based. However, a team will never confirm that a particular ‘pilot’ is actually a second driver…). Some actions can be used in team mode only by the ‘first’ or by the ‘second’ driver. For example, you can ‘sacrifice’ the ‘second’ driver to defend against a competitor so that the ‘first’ driver can safely drive away from a particular difficult duel to drive off in the distance.
With actions, players can improve the ‘elements’ of their board to generate more Race Pace, recharge the battery of their energy boost system (inspired by the ERS from Formula 1), defend to lower an opponents’ race pace, grab the starting player marker and take a pit stop to change tyres, for example. Box box box!
After the actions, players calculate their Race Pace and move forward on the board. Many elements affect race pace such as the quality of the car and the ‘pilot’. On the board, some areas are designated as a free boost zone (inspired by the DRS zones) and sometimes players have to lap a ‘backmarker’ and take a race pace penalty. Some tyres are better in certain weather conditions. So on and so forth. With this, the game takes a lot of inspiration from elements that also affect a driver’s speed in real life. Talking about tyres, by the way: players also have to take into account the age and degradation of their tyres, if a tyre (starts to) wear out, they have to pit. Also, players have to use different compounds (compositions of the rubber) during a race. Soft tyres are a lot ‘faster’, but also wear out faster than medium or hard tyres, and in the rain it is best to drive with a bit more tread.
Race Pace is a game made by and for motorsport fans, but especially for fans of Formula 1. Players who have followed Formula 1 in recent seasons will appreciate many of the references and jokes contained in the game. Consider, for example, the various teams and their backstories. Red Bull Racing is very similar to Bad Rule Racing and the backstory of Bad Rule Racing makes a reference to an (in the racing spotlight) inexperienced fizzy drinks company starting a team. The various drivers also clearly take their inspiration from drivers who were currently or recently active in the sport. Our absolute favourite: Sebastian Schuberg who is an obvious merger of German-speaking drivers Sebastian Vettel, the Schumachers, Nico Rosberg and/or Nico Hulkenberg.
We therefore greatly appreciate the passion put into Race Pace and the amount of different details and elements of the sport that have been taken into account. Think, for example, of the different circuits, weather forecasts, tyres, apt race events and the aforementioned jokes and references to the different teams and drivers. This immediately makes it a game especially suitable for diehard Formula 1 fans, as newcomers might find it difficult to understand all these different concepts and rules.
By the way, we recommend players to play with as many cars/drivers as possible, as this will bring out the interaction and strategy best. With fewer cars, there are a lot more choices which may make the different choices feel less scarce and valuable. With fewer cars, it doesn’t really ‘reward’ to be the starting player, whereas with more players it is a must to ‘win’ the right actions. Depending on the track, the game can feel fairly long and, with fewer players, a bit monotonous at times due to the reduced interaction. With more players there is more interaction and this point of criticism is already less relevant, but of course more players often means a longer playing time. Players can easily mitigate this by calculating their race pace at the same time, and only if turn order is important (e.g. for defensive actions and special actions/features) actually move their cars using the turn order.
Race Pace is otherwise an ode to Formula 1 and will satisfy diehard racing fans armchair trackside team principals who are dying to run a race team’s strategy.