Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Category Archives: CAR WARS 5e

Doom Wheel and Roaster Trade Tire Shots, Collisions

My son asked for CAR WARS again and I wanted to try to avoid falling in a rut, so this time I randomly selected two “Division 5 Pro” vehicles from the Division 5 Vehicle Guide. This yielded the Doom Wheel (good acceleration, horrible tires, a wimpy incendiary machine gun and a gunner, fireproof armor) and the Roaster (poor acceleration, decent tires, two flame throwers, a flaming oil jet, and a fire extinguisher.) My son chose the Doom Wheel– I think because he wanted to go fast, control the tempo, and ram me to death. We both choose to allocate the extra armor to the front in order to make the vehicles into ad hoc ram cars. Here’s the complete play by play:

Turn 1: Accelerate towards the center of the table and take a pot shot at each other’s tires.

Turn 2: My son moved in and took his shot and I moved in just to the side of him to take a point blank shot to his front left tire. This killed it and put my son at -6… he failed the control roll, then fishtailed at a ninety degree angle… but this caused him to slam into the front of my car… which resulted in a T-bone! This brought his side armor down to a single point and caused him to pivot away from me. (In the heat of the game, I forgot to implement a similar pivot for my car and nearly forgot to halve my speed.)

A point blank tire shot is sure to hit, but the obstacle produced by hub getting blown off is sure to be a hassle-- so don't get too close!

Turn 3: My son slowed down and did lots of D0 Bends because his HC was so much lower. I had to roll over the obstacle and couldn’t get into a good position either.

Turn 4: We closed in for the second pass. My son had just enough speed to force a head-on collision before I could react.We traded fire and he wore me down to my last hub point while I missed a roll and took out his tire. The damage wasn’t enough to be decisive and we pivoted away from each other. My son maintained control and rolled past me.

Turn 5: We both pivoted and traded shots. My son lost his second tire/hub combination and was immobilized. I could easily drive to the side before he could immobilize me, so we called it a game.

A few observations about fifth edition CAR WARS based on this session:

  • The Division 5 Pro vehicles in this supplement have good armor, lousy weapons, and crappy tires. This means the game comes down to whoever can coordinate rams well– but the 3 phase system means this is kind of arbitrary. If a car has 4 DP tires and nobody has a ramplate, then the game comes down to a tire shooting contest and even rams don’t matter.
  • 5th edition is supposed to be simpler than Compendium 2.5… but if your vehicle designs yield a game that focuses on rams and tire shots, you will end up dealing with the most complicated and fiddly rules in the system constantly. A Compendium 2.5 game with Killer Karts is actually simpler and faster playing– and it allows for more player skill to boot.
  • Flaming oil slicks burn immediately and indefinitely in 5th edition CAR WARS. Heh.
  • The lack of a unified equipment list in 5th Edition is a big fat pain. And note that because the Gunner’s +1 bonus is sometimes incorporated into the stats on the record sheets, it isn’t immediately obvious what the base to-hit of a particular weapon is. Argh!
  • Maybe having five players would make it more fun, but… these tend to break into separate one-on-one duels that converge into feeding frenzies when one car suddenly gets close to death. That sort of thing is inherently fun, but the basic tactics (or lack of tactics) remain consistent.
  • Maybe making the arena layout more complex would make it more fun, but… in my experience, that just increases the number of turns between passes. More turns with nothing happening isn’t really fun. I’m not sure what the answer is here… but more passes and more players would maybe turn the game into a crazy duck duck goose kind of game….

I was looking at the Division 5 Vehicle guide again the other day and my son and my son immediately picked out the ram car loaded with six heavy rockets as being the best one. Based on how these games tend to go, I’d have to agree with him– especially for the one-on-one sessions we’re running lately.

More 5th Edition CAR WARS session reports are at the links below!

CAR WARS Designer’s Edition Planned

The Ogre Kickstarter has been so fabulously successful, not only will there be supplements released for sixth edition, but a Car Wars Kickstarter is practically inevitable now. The quotes below from Steve Jackson and Phil Reed bring together everything we know at the moment: it’s going to be a big deal, it’ll have a relatively huge budget, it will have lots of plastic toys, and it will develop from the 5th edition ruleset. If you’d like to see Car Wars make a comeback, please help by sending an even louder and clearer message that there is a market for really nice editions of classic microgames: make a pledge for the Designer’s Edition of Ogre today and let Steve Jackson know you want more Car Wars! (And go buy some Car Wars PDF’s from e23 while you’re at it!)

The first game that I ever designed was Ogre and… as originally published it was a very cheapie little three buck game. The new incarnation of Ogre will probably be $100, it will come in a box that weighs 12 pounds, and it will have 3D figures– not plastic, but constructible cardboard. But we’re going to give people beautiful toys because some people like beautiful toys. Although I freely admit that this edition of Ogre gets back to “it’s my company and I want to do a pretty version of the first game that I ever did.” I think I’ll make the money back. If I’m wrong, I’m not risking anything of anybody else’s. It’s not even going to take so much away from Munchkin that the Munchkin guys’ jobs will be in danger. But I really think that in a year I get to look at my COO and say, “ha! told you so.” And he’ll say, “okay Steve, can we do another one…?” And then I’ll say, “yeah… now let’s do Car Wars that way… only with plastic.” — Steve Jackson, March 15, 2011

A new edition of Car Wars will start with 5th edition. There are a lot of changes I want to make (that design was done a decade ago), but the starting point will be 5th edition. With vehicle design. And aim for removing some needless complexity and make the game even faster and more streamlined so that we can get to the good parts.Phil Reed, April 17, 2012

Car Wars is probably our #1 possibility for a Kickstarter treatment, but it won’t happen this year. However, Phil [Steve Jackson Games Chief Operating Officer] was a Car Wars fan growing up, and is wildly enthusiastic. It’s possible that when I come back from my summer vacation I’ll find out that he has run one already.Steve Jackson, April 27, 2012

Time to work on the game and a million dollar budget.Phil Reed, April 27, 2012

‎I have some specific ideas on how a Car Wars project could work and plan to work on an outline next week on the flight to Hong Kong.Phil Reed, April 28, 2012

Ogre is the #1 Board Game on Kickstarter with $348,910 in funding. You can follow the pledge history of the project at Kicktraq.

Mako-RL Smashes Manta in a Devastating T-bone

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….

5th Edition: Dragon Lightly Kills Light Strike

My eight-year-old son noted the other day that we hadn’t played CAR WARS in a long time, so this weekend we broke out the 5th edition tote to see how it would go over. He knows how to read now and actually understands the nuances of a game like Ingenious, so I was hoping he’d have a little more grasp of what was going on. I let him pick the cars for the fight: he chose the Dragon for himself and selected the Light Strike for me.

CAR WARS 5th Edition

Second pass: Lightstrike exchanges a blown tire for two fire markers and a chunk of front armor.

The fifth edition of CAR WARS was not well received, but really, if there was anything they could do to make the game more accessible or faster playing they did it. The movement chart is gone thanks to a switch to a three-phase upscaled system. The remaining charts fit on the turning key. Ram damage was changed to 1D6 for each ten mph of speed and weapons fire hazards were reduced to D1 for each full ten points of damage. It’s a lot easier to get around in the game because (as in the original pocket game) handling status is reset at the end of each turn and (as in ADQ’s Advanced Maneuvering System), 15 degree bends are lowered to D0. The delightfully clunky reflex rolls are gone… and to get people in play quicker, the lowest acceleration is now ten miles per hour. Any rule I ever had an argument about was eliminated in its entirety… including speed modifiers and penalties to to-hit rolls for maneuvering and taking hazards.

The Dragon is probably one of the best cars in the Division 15 sets. Twin heavy duty flame-throwers (which can be front mounted now) are pretty fearsome. The Light Strike has a pitiful medium laser… though it is harder to hit one. That’s really the only edge it has except for the extra armor. I chose to drive it as a tire shooter in order to spice up the game.

CAR WARS 5th Edition

Head on Collision: that "insignificant" fire damage means that the front weapon and driver are toast.

The first couple of passes were pretty tough for me. I took withering damage to my front and took on two fire markers that I couldn’t shake off. Against the tires, I missed once and rolled a two for damage another time. Finally, I took out both a tire and a wheel in once shot after blowing out one of his other tires. I figured I had the game in the bag at this point, but my son limped around and after we exchanged fire one last time, he managed to ram me for 43 points of damage. Thanks to his solid hits to my front and the five points of burn damage I’d racked up, I was toast.

So my son is back in the game with his new character “Bob Bob.” He’s got two driver skill points, two gunner skill points, and three prestige. He’s got a patched up Dragon ready for another round. (If someone ever reworks these 5th edition designs, the Light Strike needs to be seriously revamped if the Dragon is not toned down a bit. The Dragon really shouldn’t have that ultra-low profile, in my opinion. If my son saddles me with this car again, I think I’ll go with the Pure Energy variant for a little more of a slugfest.)

My son doesn’t quite have a grasp of how much to push his luck in the maneuvering system. He really liked being able to shoot something on the phase following a pass– not being able to fire every single phase is not something he’s taking to. Probably the perfect car for him would have a gunner, a turreted weapon, a ram-plate, and a variety of secondary weapons around the other sides. Rolling the big mess of dice at the end of the game was, I think, the highlight for him– especially since it won him the game…!

It’s hard to believe, but he is almost as old as I was when I first bought the CAR WARS black plastic pocket box. I used to feel bad about having bought it and then taking years to figure it out… but even with me here coaching him, he’s a good ways from being able to take it and run with it.

Womp Rat

New from Amex… the Womp Rat! 

Tired of your enemies chewing up your armor on the side of your car that your guns are mounted?  Feel like your division 5 car is a little one sided?  Not sure whether you want your opponents well done or blown up?  The Womp Rat is the answer to your duelling needs! 

Loaded with two complementary weapon systems on opposite sides, you can choose between rockets and flames any time you like.  If one of your weapons get shot off, just turn the other facing against your opponents.  No muss, no fuss.  Stay in the game twice as long… with the Amex Womp Rat! 

WOMP RAT — Compact, standard chassis, light suspension, medium power plant, 4 standard tires, driver only, FT with 8 shots ammo left, RL with 8 shots ammo right.  Armor: F 25, R 32, L 32, B 20, T 0, U 0.  Accel. 5, HC 1, top speed 97.5.  Weighs 3,654 lbs., costs $4,997. 

MML VARIANT — Change RL to MML, slope armor, and upgrade tires to HD.  Add two points of armor.  Top Speed 100.  Weighs 3,596 lbs., costs $4,998. 

[Design notes:  This vehicle was built with the standard design rules that remained consistent from the pocket box all the way to the compendiums.  If you are using it with 5th editions rules, you will want to revise the other designs as I described here so that the cars are all built according to the same standards.  The medium power plant used here has 8 DP in the original game, standard tires have 4 DP and the HD tires have 6 DP.  With those caveats for 5th edition, this vehicle can be used with every version of the game– but of course the sloped armor and the MML in the variant were not available from the very beginning.]