Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Scorcher Duel at Kettering Arena

After the monster road duel we played the day before, we weren’t in the mood for a complicated, epic game session. Not surprisingly, digging through my entire game collection failed to turn up anything that we might want to play more than Car Wars. Earlburt suggested that we try a two-on-two team event at Kettering Arena… and I suggested that we try the Scorchers there. Earlburt didn’t want to mention it, but a quick look in Vehicle Guide I revealed that the car didn’t exist in 2029. Also, I was surprised to see that the vehicle was equipped with a fire extinguisher fireproof armor– which would have totally undercut the sort of quick violent game I was looking for. Sorting this out, we decided that we’d be driving Mitsui’s earliest prototypes… and that the model would ultimately not be allowed on the American market without that added safety feature….

Earlburt observed that this car required maneuver to use either of its weapons: the ramplate and the rear mounted flame throwers. Kettering was an unusual location for the car to  fight because the large amounts of gravel would put a huge dent in our maneuverability! I didn’t care– anything that ensured a quick, brutal, and decisive game was good to me.

Two of our vehicles threaten to ram each other as they make the first pass.

Rolling into the arena, I had the distinct impression that the most innocuous of decisions at the beginning could ultimately decide the game. We all headed more or less towards the center of the arena. It seemed impossible to get the flamethrowers into position to fire during the first turn or so– neither of us wanted to sacrifice our mobility.

Our closest cars angled directly toward each other and we were pretty well locked in. I was inclined to panic by attempting to bring my weapons to bear, but it actually made the most sense not to freak out. If I turned away much at all, I would probably get t-boned. I continued on, threatening a head-on collision knowing that Earlburt could see that “mutually assured destruction” would be pointless. Getting right up in his face like that… it became clear that even if he wanted to ram me, his only choices were between a head-on and a sideswipe. Earlburt chose not to ram at all and we exchanged fire just after we passed. He scored ten points of damage on me– causing a debris counter to come out and bumping the weapons fire hazard on me up another notch. Both of our cars had fire markers now… and our low handling statuses meant we could do nothing to safely change course.

Things unraveled quickly after this. I managed to get a shot onto Earlburt’s other car… and then followed that up with two combined shots from both of my cars on the next turn. Miraculously, I didn’t set him on fire. The damage hit the driver instead of the powerplant, so I ended up with an unlikely amount of salvage. (I’ve never been so glad to miss fire marker rolls like that!) Meanwhile, Earlburt kept his other car at 60 miles per hour and did some D3 maneuvers… successfully put out the fire on the second try… and then skidded into the arena wall at fifty miles and hour. While Earlburt’s first driver was well done… the second had to be hosed out of his car. (Modern medicine has its limits even in 2029.)

Earlburt clearly made a rare mistake there. Taking a few hits of fire damage is not the end of the world– especially when compared to completely losing control. It wasn’t clear to me what Earlburt had been attempting to do with his other car. But by the time it was obvious that he was sailing into some seriously troubled waters, he no longer had the required handling status to alter the situation or coordinate his vehicles. The gravel’s +1 difficulty on all maneuvers and hazards combined with the the limited handling recovery rules is just that brutal.

This was an interesting game… very much in contrast to the usual low end Stinger type event with their fighter-plane style tactics. Of course, I am pleased that my continuing characters will at least have some Scorchers to drive after they graduate from the Amateur Night scene. It’s a neat car that generates interesting tactical trade offs. While I didn’t do anything particular brilliant, I at least didn’t crack under pressure. (And I so rarely win against Earlburt that I’ll take what I can get when it comes to victories…!)

Not optimal: three flamethrower hits on an already damaged side that had started the game at 15 points of plastic armor.

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2 responses to “Scorcher Duel at Kettering Arena

  1. earlburt December 11, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    The surprise wasn’t that the Scorcher has a fire extinguisher– it’s that it has fireproof armor. But still, we thought that totally would change the tone of what we were trying to do.

    The Scorcher is a neat car. Very unusual by both Vehicle Guide standards, and what a normal gamer would build. I wouldn’t mind playing Scorchers again in a less-dogfighty arena. A more linear environment, that fostered lots of passes, might play out really different.

    • jeffro December 11, 2012 at 3:45 pm

      I think a Scorcher vs. a front-weapon oriented design would come off well for the Scorcher. Not being able to shoot at your target while closing is an issue, but in an arena with enough opponents, finding someone to shoot at shouldn’t be too difficult.

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