Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

7 CAR WARS Rules we Forget to Play By…

In addition to improving our game with a couple of well placed house rules, I imagine we could stand to benefit by playing a few more of the “official” ones…. Playing amateur night duels, we had cars that would take several hits from machine gun fire slowly whittling away at the power plant and ther driver’s body armor DP’s. This was especially frustrating if you were rolling one’s and two’s for damage. With chances to set the car on fire and consequences for getting wounded, both of these outcomes will be less likely to be shrugged off! Another thing was that we were perhaps a little overzealous with our rams. We might not have been if we cut the damage back like we were supposed to and also slapped a chance for concussion on the duellists, too. (Page numbers below are from Compendium 2e.)

1) Subcompacts and light-weight Compacts only do two thirds damage in rams. That includes Killer Karts and Stingers! [p 13]

2) Head-on, Rear-end, and T-bone collisions can cause concussions. Take the amount of speed change for each vehicle and divide it by 10 (rounding up.) In T-bone maneuvers use the ramming vehicle’s speed change for both vehicles. Roll two dice for each crewman. If the result is less than this target number, then they are unconscious for a number of seconds equal to the amount by which they missed the roll. [p 14]

3) Debris is produced when a vehicle takes more than 10 hits of damage. Don’t forget these when collisions occur! Hitting debris is a D1 hazard and does 1d-3 damage to each tire. Debris can only be hit once per phase; starting the turn on top of debris does not trigger damage or hazards. [p 15]

4) A vehicle takes a D2 hazard if its driver is wounded. (Hits to body armor do not count as wounds.) [p 31]

5) Wounded drivers have all skills at -2. [p 31]

6) A vehicle has a 2 in 6 chance of catching fire on any turn that its power plant takes damage from weapons fire. Roll at the end of the turn to check for this. If the vehicle catches fire, each occupant, component, and armor facing takes a hit of damage on that turn and on all subsequent turns until the fire is put out. Body armor protects against burning damage. [p 31-32]

7) Immediate medical attention can generally save the life of duellists knocked down to zero DP. Duellists that go to negative DP must roll 5+ to stay alive. To keep you alive, a paramedic must roll 8+ with -1 per negative DP and a bonus of up to +3 for the quality of his equipment. The paramedic roll must be made at the arena and every 15 minutes during transit to the hospital. Once at the hospital, the character must roll 2 dice and get result greater than the negative DP amount in order to survive. (A roll equalling the negative DP amount results in crippling.) The character must stay in the hospital one week plus one additional week for each negative DP at a cost of $3000 per week. [ADQ 4/4]

On that last rule there, we were playing a somewhat more forgiving rule for our last two games that we shamelessly pilfered from GURPS 4e. We declared that immediate medical attention could automatically bring back anyone that goes down to -2 DP. For every full -3 DP’s a character drops, he has to make a “health roll” of ten or less on three dice. (Missing that roll by one or two results in a crippling injury.) Characters that drop to -15 are too mutilated to have a chance of coming back into the game. We also played that hospitalization costs are paid for by sponsors. I haven’t decided which way I prefer better, yet. I think I would like the characters to have a better chance of staying in the game after going to negative DP’s, though. Amateur night characters certainly wouldn’t have the cash to pay for hospital bills the way that the ADQ article described…. (I thought we were insured?!)


11 responses to “7 CAR WARS Rules we Forget to Play By…

  1. Earlburt December 13, 2007 at 5:21 pm

    Though they’re easy to forget, I’m a fan of using the rules for– ram dmg mods for vehicle weight, ram concussion, debri, hazards and penalties for wounding. I am less a fan dangerous fire rules and harsh medical care thresholds. Let’s do the fire rules you suggest, but keep the lenient medical ones.

  2. Kizan December 28, 2007 at 3:18 pm

    Dear Jeffro,

    This an odd place for this question, but there’s no forum as I’ll ask. Is there some good virtual table top software for playing Car Wars virtually? (via the internet I would think). I’ve used MapTools and a few others but none do well with wargaming type play. I read that battelgrounds will have a “wargaming” edition “soon” and it should handle stuff like Car Wars. Any thoughts? PM if you want.



  3. Glenn Jupp December 30, 2007 at 9:15 am

    Hey, Kizan…

    Try Vassal, by Rodney Kinney ( )

    A guy by the handle of Shotgun Jolly has worked up a really good Car Wars mod for Vassal. Just started getting into it myself, haven’t even played a game yet, but it looks really good.

    To get Jolly’s mod you gotta sign up with his Yahoo group, at least for now. Um, just check the Car Wars forum at Steve Jackson Games. You should find Jolly and his links with no trouble.

    Glenn Jupp

  4. Kizan December 30, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    Thanx! I’ll check it out.


  5. ShotGun Jolly January 18, 2008 at 4:15 am

    Its a work in progress, but I hope you guys like it!

  6. Xero February 20, 2008 at 12:34 am

    Most of those rules are often over looked because they either don’t make sense or detract from the enjoyment of the game.

    1) small cars damage is adjusted by weight, why adjust it again because of the size of the vehicle.

    2) I actually like and use this rule, though rarely have I seen a vehicle survive a ram significant enough to have any real chance of concussion (dedicated ram cars are built for this and have the necessary equipment to avoid the concussion at least as of 2038 or some time around then).

    3) not all weapons should be capable of producing debris, this should only apply to burst effect weapons, and certainly not to lasers.

    4,5 and 6) These I actually agree with and nearly always used

    7) WTF, it’s a game, and no one wants to have the life of there long time character cut short just because of one simple mistake, or errant gun fire. But then again I always keep my DocWagon, Erm, Gold Cross, up to date so my clones are good to go. And other than that the vast majority of Car Wars characters are one shot throwaway’s anyway.

    Good to see some people still interested in Car Wars, keep up the good posts.

  7. Pingback: Four Killer Karts Set Fire at the Amex Proving Grounds « Jeffro’s Car Wars Blog

  8. Hosebeatings June 5, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    “3) not all weapons should be capable of producing debris, this should only apply to burst effect weapons, and certainly not to lasers.”

    Are you joking? Car Wars armor (except metal, of course) is ablative plastic. A burst of machine gun fire will blow pieces of armor off the vehicle, not to mention things like mirrors. Lasers will certainly leave debris as well — they’ll either be leaving globs of semi-molten plastic lying around to damage tires, and pulse lasers will blow pieces off a vehicle just like any other weapon.

    Besides, ten points of CW damage is a significant amount of damage. It will easily represent chunks of body panels being ripped right off the shell of the car.

  9. Pingback: Design Workshop: Is Game Blogging Good Preparation for Game Design? | Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

  10. Hernan August 20, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    Battlegrounds Gaming Engine ( handles playing Car Wars very well. There is even a free “Roads & Vehicles” artpack ( for BGE that provides ready-to-use high-quality graphics.

  11. Hernan August 20, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    Oops, that comment was intended to be a reply to Kizan’s question.

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