Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Nifty Car Wars Ideas from Mike Owen

Yep… I did meet Michael P. Owen.  I guess he’s the first person I’ve ever met via the internet.  It was kinda spooky: I mean… how can there be anyone that’s more into Car Wars than me?  Maybe it was someone pretending to be into Car Wars in order to lure 30-something geek types out into the open for their own nefarious purposes?

So I get to the Genesis Gadgets and Games in Redmond….  There’s a huge selection of games there, better than any other place I’ve been.  There’s several tables in the back….  At one there’s this creepy archetypical overweight gamer type… and at the other there’s a clean cut slim dude.  “Please don’t let it be the smelly looking one with hair coming out of his clothes in strange places… please,” I thought.


It was the clean cut guy after all. 

He had a huge erasable Car Wars map sheet and a giant box of counters.  He had really cool metal turning keys that he must have picked up from a con or something.  He had the usual tower o’ counters– but all meticulously sorted.  (I just stick with the most commonly used counters stuffed into a few little zip-loc baggies, myself.)  He had a little tin of mints full of tiny six sided dice.  “I use them for grenades,” he said conspiratorially in a hushed tone.  Instead of the usual white and red dice ripped off from Monopoly and Risk sets, he had 12 identical top-o-the-line marbled six siders.  He had ultra rare lead minis for my tractor trailor rig.  (I had some of those when I was a kid– the Hotshot and the mid-sized Courier miniatures.)  And to top it off he had these killer miniature matchbox cars mounted on the 1 inch counter bottoms.

While we were playing a couple of gamer geeks came up to us and asked what we were playing.  “It’s like Mad Max,” we said.  One of them nearly had a geekasm: “Dude!  I love Mad Max!”  They watched me blow up a car: “Hit… hit… uh… this one needs a 5 to hit… hit… that’ll be twelve dice damage.”  Love those blast cannons!  We probably blew them away with too many Car Wars factoids, but they listened appreciatively.

The guy at the store with the Formula De board was not quite as nice:

Us:  “Wow… you play Formula De?”

Him:  “Uh… actually I don’t.  I haven’t played in four years.” 

Us:  “I love this game… maybe you can get some other folk together at XYZ Game Store for a game some time.”

Him:  “I know about XYZ Game Store.  Actually, I hate this game.  I don’t know why I brought it out today.”

Or something like that.

Mike was totally prepared.  I still had to waste 30 minutes of our game time drawing up a vehicle sheet, but he had all his done ahead of time.  He’d forgotten to bring road sections, but I had some straight sections.  To do curves we just drew onto his giant map sheet.  No problem!

Oh yeah… one last Car Wars tip from Mike.  Use mini-dice to mark the location of grenades… with the number showing being the phase that they go off.  To determine the placement of grenade when it goes off… use an eight sided die!  Ha!  (I never thought of that!)  They even make directional dice just for this purpose.  Finally… to track the current phase during each turn… use an oversized six sided die.

Amateur night will never be the same again….


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