Every year, villagers gather from far and wide for the harvest festival. They bring fine carpets to the market and share delicious mango juice while praying men honor the holy cows, and the children tease mischievous monkeys and gasp at the snake charmers. But the main event of the festival is the elephant race. Young men and women of the region spend days painting joyous and reverent decorations on their elephant partners for this one moment when they can surge through the crowds of festive villagers, push and shove their way past other racing pachyderms, and brave the tiger-filled forests to win honor for themselves and their proud elephant friends. The bell rings, the elephants trumpet their excitement, and the race begins!
Formula E is a game in which 3 to 6 players race their elephant pawns through an Indian village, over treacherous mountains, and across parched deserts seeking to be the first one to complete the course.
The primary game mechanism in Formula E is hand management as players use their hand of cards to advance their elephants through the course. Elephants move in a unique manner – they push elephants in front of them until those elephants hit an obstacle, then the active elephant pushes sideways until a path is clear for it to move forward again. Certain move-adjusting cards and tactical-screwage cards can be played to trigger events like diagonal movement, obstacle movement, and nasty little screw-your-opponents effects. Elephant racing is not, necessarily, a sport of honor!
During development, Bruno Faidutti, Sergio Halaban, and Andre Zatz called the game "Indian Derby". When Clever Mojo Games brought it in-house, the name changed to "Haathi" (the Hindi word for Elephant). Somewhere along the line one of us jokingly suggested "Formula E" as a play on that other famous racing game, Formula D. We thought the name was fun but were worried about what the publisher of Formula D would say, so Bruno, who has friends at Asmodee, wrote for permission to use the name. Asmodee gave its blessing, so here we are with Formula E.
Which side of the board to use
From Bruno Faidutti's blog:
Oooops ! We just forgot to label the boards to indicate which ones are for 3-4 players and which ones for 5-6. The shorter tracks, plain and city, are for 3-4 players, and the longer ones, mountain and palace, for 5-6.