Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Killer Kart Team Battle at Ardmore Arena

The face off!

The Ardmore arena has two different sections. Our random start positions gave us two types of symmetry on each end: a two-on-two face off and a four car conga line. The former lead to a high speed pass with no significant hits. The latter lead to a very early elimination due to a lucky shot. There were brief dog fights on either end until the action converged in the center.

Death Cha-Cha: The first kill occurred within three seconds game time.

On the right side, I managed to tail the car that had killed my teammate. A couple of shots on the unlucky vehicle’s side armor was enough to take out the driver in a clean kill. Coming around the TV bunker, my opponent had hunkered down at 5 mph so he could pivot. There was no way I could see to take advantage of my higher speed. I came at him head on to prevent him getting a hit through my side armor. As I passed him, he whipped his car around and shot me in the back. This could have been prevented, perhaps, but if I had also stopped to pivot we would have just slugged away at each other for several seconds in a pseudo stalemate. If only I could have landed that ram…!

Three critical dog fights are played out concurrently.

In the other arena section we had the high-speed double face off. My opponent drifted towards to the outside with both of his cars– that gave him a tremendous advantage as he had the option to try for a t-bone, but I did not! I wasn’t sure what to do. I sped up with my red Econobox pick-up counter, but slowed down with my pink Applause counter. My opponent (obviously smelling blood in the water) successfully whipped both his cars around to combine fire on my fast car. My slower car was then able to turn to the outside and repeatedly nail my opponent’s grey Texan counter.

Just moments before my red Econobox bites it. The grey Texan will pay for his greed, however-- he should never have turned his back on me!

My fast car died swiftly under the combined firepower, but I was able to even the score on this side with my continuous fire against an opposing car that was more concerned with scoring a kill than being killed. This left an endgame where I had a single car against two surviving opponents. Unwilling to surrender, I faced one down until I got seriously breached and then called it a game.

The Killer Kart is probably the least played CAR WARS vehicle on the table top even though (according to game lore) it is one of the most commonly used vehicle for amateur events. The cars that were designed for 5th edition are so heavily armored that they pretty much have to ram each other in order to finish the game. The Killer Kart’s three points of side armor means that even a single hit has a one-in-six chance of taking out the driver in a clean kill. This leads to a game that is more about driving and shooting than it is about anything else.

The stock cars that were prepared for the original edition of the game were almost universally hated by players that made their own custom cars back in the day. It turns out that those old designs were developed especially to fight against themselves in Amateur Night events! Surprisingly, they actually make for a better board game experience than a lot of the wacky stuff that came later.

Note: click the images to enlarge them.

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6 responses to “Killer Kart Team Battle at Ardmore Arena

  1. R. A. Louviere (Pentalarc) January 27, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    The problem: there is no variation. I always thought that the Killer Kart was designed specifically to fight in amateur night competitions. To me, if you are using prepared vehicles like the Killer Kart that are purposely flawed, you are only playing half the game of car wars, and half the strategy is gone. Why not put duellists in identically prepared King Dragons? It would be essentially the same thing.

    • jeffro January 27, 2013 at 9:53 pm

      It has long been a premise of the game that most duelists got their start in amateur night driving a Killer Kart. Earlburt and I just decided to start a bunch of characters off that way just to see how it plays.

      Whether anyone else wants to do that isn’t really the point. Play how y’all want! Just between me and Earlburt, we enjoy the way that identical vehicles focus on the game’s driving and shooting tactics exclusively. That aspect of Car Wars playing skill can get lost in the shuffle if there are custom designs in play and/or a lot of variation in the vehicles.

      (That said, I freely admit that five to eight players each with custom designs is probably the ideal way to experience Car Wars. Two player dueling operates under a different set of constraints, of course.)

      • RogerBW January 28, 2013 at 6:07 am

        I think that designing and fighting are two different games. In an ideal world, both should feed into the overall victory, but since no balancing system is perfect it’s almost always possible to have a vastly-mismatched fight coming out of the design gate, to the point where no amount of player skill will really make a difference.

        I like designing, but I can see the case for having at least some stock-design matches.

  2. R. A. Louviere (Pentalarc) January 28, 2013 at 12:22 am

    It’s one thing to do it optionally, and to do it as part of a larger thing. However, it still falls short of car wars, if that is the only thing available.

    • jeffro January 28, 2013 at 6:32 am

      If the game isn’t fun without vehicle design (due to a lack of tactical depth/nuance) then the vehicle design ultimately just lathers on an elaborate paper-rock-scissors component. From a game design standpoint… I think it is a good use case to make sure that your rule set and house rules make the killer kart game fun. (That one reason is why I accepted mid-turn speed changes: implemented right, they can kill people when it’s just killer karts.)

  3. R. A. Louviere (Pentalarc) January 29, 2013 at 12:09 am

    I just worry that the “play the identical cars we give you” attitude was one of hte things that resulted in the munchkinized 5th edition

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