Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Car Wars Review Roundup

My latest monster post is up at Castalia House:

REVIEW: Car Wars Fourth Edition, 2nd Printing

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything on this one. Oh, and I should probably go ahead and mention that I’ve done capsule reviews of the original ten expansion sets over on Recommend:

Short descriptions of classic Car Wars products and how they fit into the overall evolution of the game.

(If you haven’t looked around that site, I think it’s worth a try. They are working addressing the problem of getting people in touch reviews that are more in tune with your actual tastes. At the moment though it makes for a snazzy looking list of games and supplements. I also write the sort of reviews I don’t tend to bother with on sites like Netflix and so forth.)

I have been unable to find any “real” reviews of the the new set, just this promotional bit from Game Trade Magazine, which has the iconic Car Wars art emblazoned all over the cover of the issue that recently went on sale. This part sticks out to me:

And if your local store has an open gaming area, your very best way to learn Car Wars is to post a notice looking for players. I guarantee you that someone who visits your favorite local game store is familiar with Car Wars…and who knows, your posting on the store’s bulletin board could uncover a local Car Wars group that’s operating underground. With hundreds of thousands of Car Wars fans over the years, it’s not at all unrealistic to think that there’s an active group near you right now.

Eh… no. That is a bit unrealistic. Maybe city slickers have a better time of it, but I have never gotten that much mileage out of the game store bulletin board. And the “Friendly Local Game Store” is generally not interested in creating a game playing scene— they just want to sell stuff unless they happen to be run by a hard core hobbyist. Leave the fourth edition set out with a few ADQ’s and Uncle Albert’s catalogs and there are few twelve-year-old boys that will make their saving throw against it. But don’t count on a heretofore unknown AADA chapter to still be going in your neck of the woods. (The AADA was disbanded back with the release of 5th edition years ago, so… BLUD is all you’ve got right now if you want to get technical.)

There really is not a lot information about this set out there. I’m surprised, really. There is a smattering of reviews up on Amazon, a but of early buzz over on Board Game Geek threads, and then that Scott Haring unboxing over on youtube. I did stumble across this one post by a guy with a serious case of Board Gamer Component Quality Obsession Disorder:

By ‘Classic,’ I guess they mean that the quality is as crumby as it was in the 80’s. I can understand making a classic version of the game, not doing a rewrite of the rules with new, color artwork, but this is on printer paper. At least print the rulebook on gloss. Print the maps on cardstock that pieces together, puzzle style, rather than a big piece of folded-up paper. And those lousy 12mm dice… nobody wants the dice in this box.

Seriously… there is not one word spent on discussion actual gameplay there. That is very typical of the board game scene today. Sort of like how a “component drop” sequence is a major part of a major board game review show on youtube. I don’t get it, really I don’t. Look back in the old issues of Space Gamer and it’s evident that it just wasn’t like that back then. Hobbyists were far more concerned with game design value than just about anything else. Bah!

When looking for information on the game, I stumbled across this piece which I had forgotten I’d written:

Car Wars in 1984: Characters and Role Playing

Some food for thought there.

Keep on duellin’!

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6 responses to “Car Wars Review Roundup

  1. Cirsova January 13, 2015 at 11:57 am

    I don’t know much about Car Wars, but I did see that the new edition officially goes with a default scale that allows use of matchbox cars. I only know because my first thought was “I wouldn’t mind having an excuse to bang toy cars into each other”, looked it up, and lo-and-behold!

    • jeffro January 13, 2015 at 12:00 pm

      5th edition was the one that was Hotwheels scale by default. Of course, upscaling the original game was always kind of a thing. I remember when MattV came to visit and I was ranting about how idiotic miniatures were as he was escorting me to his trunk. He opened it up… and it was is Car Wars minitures…! Doh!

  2. wolf90 January 13, 2015 at 5:12 pm

    Thank you for rekindling the love of this game I had. I gave my son a copy of this edition for Christmas, and it will be hitting the table soon! (Still working through a bunch of Ogre/GEV games…!)

  3. Astrodominant January 13, 2015 at 11:08 pm

    Great article and it reminds me of my early years of gaming. I have the Car Wars Deluxe Edition that I bought when I was in high school when it came out. Never got any one to play it with me but I loved the mechanics and making cars. May need to break that out.

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