Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Amateur Night Variations

The Amatuer Night rules presented over the years in the various editions of Car Wars have all been a bit different.  In the 3rd edition pocket box rules, there was no limit on the number of times a character could try it and there was no suggested limitation of the dollar value of the cars.  (The Deluxe edition rules, however,  suggested that the cars rarely stray over $6000 or $7000.)  The cars would not necessarily be identical as the players could choose from a variety of options for their stock car.  If you could survive thirty seconds of chaos, you’d get to keep your car if you could still drive it out.  You could also salvage your kills.  Strangely, the winner was the character with the highest prestige– but there was no additional prize for “winning” and not even any additional skill points awarded for that back then, either!

Playing by the original rules, you’d probably have to play at least two or three amatuer night scenarios before you could graduate to “real” duelling.  Chances are you’d only get one kill and probably get your car “killed” yourself during your first time out.  Even if you survived three events, you still couldn’t count on going up a skill level in Driver or Gunner back then unless you had gotten more than 6 kills!  But you better keep returning to Arena every week– living expenses in the original game were $50 a week.  (You can’t eat Machine Guns….)  The Deluxe edition raised this to $150, but was much more liberal in handing out skill points and even rewarding “winners” a little extra.  Characters that dropped to less than zero wealth were out of the game permanently….  (Sissies!)

Note that Jim Gould observed in ADQ 2/2 that “few arenas can afford to run Amateur Nights with anything more expensive than a Joseph special, although second round Amateur contests occasionally use Vigilantes of Intimidators.”  So a possible first round event might use Stingers… second round contestents might use Joseph Specials… and third round contestants might get to use Hotshots or Piranahs!  In this series of games, several duelists could potentially earn enough salvage and vehicles to graduate to Divivsion 5– or at least have a nice car to take courier jobs in.

In the 5th edition rules, Steve Jackson simplified things greatly by eliminating the headache of calculating all of that salvage value.  Survivors simply got $500 a kill.  An extra $1000 in prize money is to be split among the most crowd pleasing duellists of the bunch.  The living expense rule was dropped in order have even less to bother with, and hand weapons were forbidden altogether!  (In the other versions, returning duellists could come in with an SMG and several grenades.  “A brace or LAW’s, however, is definitely not kosher,” as Jim Gould pointed out in ADQ 2/2.)

Aaron Allston had a slightly different take on Amateur Night.  His version stayed with the really inexpensive cars all the way through.  The winner is the last surviving vehicle– and he gets everything.  Hopefully he’ll be albe to salvage enough to repair a car and upgrade it a bit.  Of course, the other duellists earn nothing to pay their living expenses no matter how many kills they got!  In Aaron’s rules that appeared in Autoduel Champions and GURPS Autoduel (first edition), a character could go into Amateur Night events up to three times or until he won an event.

So theres a lot of variety in how you could launch a campaign with several Amateur Night events.  Do you want a little bit of reward being spread out to several duellists each game, or would you prefer a winner-take-all approach that forces the players to graduate the Divisionals immediately after winning their first duel?  Do you enjoy the finest detail of each bit of accounting, or would you rather streamline things so there’s time to squeeze in more events?  Take your pick or mix and match….  Me, I’m kinda inspired by a sort of “American Idol” approach were the dollar value of the cars steadily increases with each match and the contestants steadily dwindle as they die off or go broke.

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One response to “Amateur Night Variations

  1. Pingback: Typical Amateur Night Survivors « Jeffro’s Car Wars Blog

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