My son asks to play CAR WARS occasionally and I generally try to oblige him. I run him under 5th edition because it’s so much more streamlined and easier to teach– plus, I think he likes the bigger counters. Getting burned to a crisp by his Division 15 Dragon is getting a little old for me though, so I talked him into trying out the Division 5 “pro” vehicles from the Division 5 Vehicle Guide.
I’d never tried this division before; it seems to be a new thing with 5th edition, though not much is said about the concept. Basically, you take a Division 5 vehicle and slap $2,500 improvements on it. These are usually not options that could be easily retrofitted onto an existing car, so it’s not something you can see successful duelists paying to have done to their winning wheels. Maybe the designers intended to eliminate the headache of retrofitting in the never-released design system for this version. Maybe they just figured that this was the easiest way to cram more variants into the book. Who can tell at this point?
My son destroys another perfectly good car....
On the plus side, they have a counter for both versions of the car. This is really nice. The only trouble is that they couldn’t fit in record sheets for them, so you’ll be drawing them out by hand before each game. Just think of it as a little extra old school slipping into the new game.
My son had the Mako-RL, an HC 1 compact with two linked rocket launchers and a light ramplate. I came in with the Manta, a Thresher variant: Accel 20, HC 4 low-profile sub with a spoiler and a single rocket launcher.
My agility and to-hit penalties fairly well countered my son’s second rocket launcher. Still, he quickly realized the efficacy of a shoot-ram tactic under the 5th edition rules. His low HC did not slow him down particularly much: he either made his handling rolls or else recovered from whatever mishaps the crash table threw at him. The fact that handling status resets at the end of each turn helped him a lot, but it appears that the to-hit penalties for losing control were dropped from 5th edition. (!!)
I could have held up a bit longer if I’d kept my distance. With only three phases, it is much easier to successfully ram someone in this game. Another thing I should have done was put all of the extra armor the pro-model gets on the sides… and then make sure my son cut his speed in half after each ram. (Note: I find it hard to track that sort of thing without a movement chart.) Still, in an extended game, I would have quickly run out of RL ammo. I would have probably been forced to execute a t-bone myself somehow in order to actually win. I don’t think that the Manta is a particularly competitive design….
Probably the best thing about the “pro” variants is that it forces a new driver to allocate his extra armor points. This is as good of a first nudge toward designing a vehicle as you’re liable to find, though I think Steve Jackson himself one-upped it with the Amateur Night rules for the original pocket box. There you got to pick among several option(s), allocate your armor points, and choose the facing of your weapons. Someday….