Philip Reed(PhilReed)United States
As part of our ongoing Pocket Box games campaign on Kickstarter, we've been slowly unlocking classic Car Wars expansions as add-on options for those backers who want to replace their originals with near-exact replicas. After all, your factory-fresh copy of Crash City absolutely needs a minty copy of Car Wars Expansion Set #3, East Midville, right? Thanks to the support of project backers, we've already unlocked several ziplock bag expansions from the eighties . . . and we still have three weeks to go before the campaign closes!
So far, for those of you who haven't been following along, the Car Wars expansions that are offered as a part of the Pocket Box games campaign on Kickstarter include:
* Convoy: A Programmed Car Wars Adventure - A perfect companion to the Car Wars and Truck Stop Pocket Box titles, this is a programmed adventure that can be played solo.
* Uncle Albert's Auto Stop & Gunnery Shop 2035 Catalog - When my friends and I would sit down to play Car Wars back in the late eighties, the Uncle Al's series of catalogs were always a must. So many fantastic memories!
* The AADA Vehicle Guide - Page after page after page of ready-to-go vehicle designs, we often used the cars and cycles from this book as target practice in our games. I cannot think of a single session where we used the cars for our own, but we did enjoy blasting them.
* Car Wars Expansion Set #1 - Possibly one of the most-useful expansons from the earlier years of Car Wars, if only because the road sections allowed us to construct larger maps.
* Car Wars Expansion Set #2 - Duplicate counters are always handy!
* Car Wars Expansion Set #3, East Midville - The first really big Car Wars ziplock bag expansion and the heart of many insane battles, this pack expands the city battlefield that's included in Crash City.
* Car Wars Expansion Set #4, Armadillo Autoduel Arena - Looking at this expansion now has me asking myself: What was our first arena event? If my memory is correct, it had to have been the Truck Stop map . . . though we did eventually work our way to playing in the Armadillo Autoduel Arena.
* Car Wars Expansion Set #6, The AADA Vehicle Guide Counters - This one was more of an oddity in our group than a vital part of the game, but I've since learned that many Car Wars fans found these color-em-yourself counters entertaining. I guess these were the gamer version of the adult coloring book movement?
Those eight expansions, alongside the three Car Wars Pocket Box titles, equals eleven Car Wars reprints that are being created because of the success of the still-active Pocket Box games campaign on Kickstarter. It is the support of project backers that makes all of this possible, and we're looking forward to unlocking even more Car Wars stretch goals before the project comes to a close in three weeks.
So far, almost 1,000 fans of these classics -- or those who want to experience games from the eighties -- have joined us in the Pocket Box games campaign on Kickstarter, and we're once again startled at how many of you remember and enjoy these older titles. If you're one of the (as of this writing) 990 project supporters, thank you!
And if you've not yet added your support to the project, please be sure to check it out. Your support helps us bring back even more classic Car Wars expansions . . . and we know there are favorite expansions that have not yet been unlocked.
Secrets from inside Steve Jackson Games.
Archive for Car Wars
- [+] Dice rolls
The new edition of Car Wars continues to come together, and this week Scott and I sat down on two different days to test out the head-to-head action. Both sessions went well -- the first was roughly thirty minutes and the second closer to an hour -- and we're still working toward releasing the game late this year.
Both games were played on a 3'x3' playmat to represent the arena. No obstacles or obstructions, the test was to see whether or not we should explore the possibility of publishing arenas as large playmats. Yeah, the playmat worked great and is an idea we're going to discuss with retailers and distributors.
Question: How many of you would be interested in an arena expansion that included one playmat and an assortment of chipboard walls that could be rearranged to create different arena designs?
As with earlier sessions, we started the game by designing our cars. The biggest change to the design system over the last few months was separating crew points from vehicle points; no longer are vehicles and crewmembers constructed from the same pool of resources.
For this session, we went with 15 build points and three crew points.
Scott grabbed a VMG for each side of his car, several accessories (including a fire extinguisher and targeting computer), and sunk his crew points into a talented driver.
I used my points for a VMG on the left, two heavy rockets on the front, a targeting computer, and a swarm of attack and defense drones. My crew points went toward a basic driver and gunner.
Absolutely. These semi-autonomous machines buzz and hover around the arena, swarming over a designated target and hanging back when necessary. Drones offer bonuses to hit, bonuses to defense, and some are armed with cannons and can attack enemy cars. Using an attack drone is a firing action, so where possible I was letting my gunner switch to the attack drone to harras Scott's car.
It is possible the attack drone's cost was too low; that's something we'll work at as testing continues.
Close and Attack
Scott and I raced forward, guns blazing, and were ripping chunks of armor off of each other almost instantly. The first few rounds were at extended range, but Scott's faster speed soon had us close enough together that my driver and gunner let loose with the two heavy rockets; nasty, but not overpowering. Almost instantly I regretted sinking points into the single-shot rockets, but if not for those rockets it's possible I may have lost the game.
We swerved around one corner of the arena for several rounds, each of us trying to keep our heaviest armor facing the other while taking shots. My gunner alternated VMG and drone attacks as Scott kept ripping my armor with his two VMGs. As soon as my left side armor and VMG were destroyed I found myself in a tough situation; drones are cool and all, but having only drones for offense was sure to mean Scott would win.
By the end of the game both of us were driving with zero armor on multiple sides, wounded drivers, destroyed weapons, and damaged power plants. My choice of a driver and gunner -- granting me two attacks each turn -- was helping me stay in the game, but sinking most of my points into drones instead of heavy vehicular weapons was starting to look like a mistake when a single lucky shot destroyed Scott's power plant and gave me the win.
But it was close. One more shot from Scott would have either killed my driver or knocked out my power plant, meaning that the game was tense and the outcome uncertain right until the last die roll. That's always an exciting way to end a game!
- [+] Dice rolls
Scott, Sam, and I sat down yesterday afternoon for another round of Car Wars, this time trying a couple of Scott's revised rules as well as the fire/internal damage deck. The game was roughly one and a half hours -- thirty minutes of which was discussion -- putting it at slightly longer than our goal of fifteen minutes per player.
How did things go? Keep reading and find out!
tl;dr - Still fast, still fun, needs more attention applied to collisions. Oh. And no more twin rocket launchers in a turret.
Turrets and Rocket Launchers
"How many weapons can I shove in a turret," I asked Scott as we were working on vehicle design. The response of "up to two identical weapons" had me immediately dump the majority of my 12 design points into a turret and two rocket launchers. I then applied about 75% of my vehicle's armor to the right and back of the car.
The plan? Drive straight out. Turn hard. Stop. Play bunker. And pray Sam and Scott never had a chance to get around to the sides of the car that had almost no armor.
Firing First + Twin Rocket Launchers = No Front Armor for Sam
The game started off as violently as we could hope when the very first barrage from my twin rocket launchers shredded the front of Sam's car. Sam, carrying a flamethrower on each side and with most of his armor on the right and left sides of his car, drove through the rest of the game with zero front armor. That made him a very attractive target.
How Many Collisions?
I lost track of the number of times Sam and Scott rammed my car. We tried the revised collision dice out, and a good part of our discussion turned to various ideas on how to keep collisions as simple as possible without completely ignoring what happens when two cars hit each other. The updated collision dice helped, but we're still working on this.
The trick is to make collisions fun and satisfying without completely bringing the game to a halt AND without making rams so powerful that everyone ignores the weapons.
Sam and Scott have ideas, I have an idea, and the next step is for the three of us to bounce those ideas around and try to streamline the system and make it fun and dangerous. I'm sure that between the three of us we'll have this nailed down over the next week.
Out of Control
Sam tested the maneuvering system by collecting out of control tokens. I mentioned these last week -- see https://boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/43804/vroom-taking-car-wa... -- and at one point during the game Sam had four of these which was not making life any easier. Scott's updated maneuvering system works quick and clean, but as we played the three of us discussed ways to make maneuvering just a little more dangerous.
Now we don't want everyone zigging and zagging randomly without worry, but there needs to be just a little more risk than there is now. Maybe revising the dice mechanic will help, or we could increase the challenge of various maneuvers. Needs more testing . . . aw, you mean we have to play Car Wars again this week? So horrible for us, right?
About Those Twin Rocket Launchers
Brutal is too weak a word to describe the damage caused by twin rocket launchers in a turret. The weapons took no time to reduce both Sam and Scott to cars with no front armor, and both of them were soon suffering internal damage as the rocket launchers just kept firing.
As Sam and Scott raced around -- their speeds were usually at the upper range of the system -- I rolled and stopped, rolled and stopped, doing everything I could to keep my strong right and back sides facing them.
When we sit down again I am certain that we'll tweak the way weapons and turrets work together -- I'll likely never again shove two rocket launchers into a single turret -- but we test these ideas for exactly this reason. It's better to have a few off-balanced playtests and try everything than it is to ship a game that has a weird loophole for someone to exploit.
Next Time I'll Talk Fire and Internal Damage
I forgot to explain the deck for fire and internal damage, didn't I? Well, we're scheduled to play again this week so I'll have to snap some rough pics of the deck and talk about how it works. It's not that we didn't use it during this session -- we drew several times; Sam and Scott both had flamethrowers and they weren't afraid to use them -- but I neglected to take any pictures of those cards during play.
Yep. Next time I take those pictures and tell you guys how the deck works. I promise.
- [+] Dice rolls
I sat down with Scott Haring yesterday to give the latest draft of the Car Wars game a shot. Scott has been working on the sixth edition rules for over a year now. I've already played the game a few times now, this time I wanted to publicly share a handful of my thoughts on the session.
NOTE: All of the components shown in the photos are Scott's very rough test pieces. Also, this is not a detailed, and complete overview of the current playtest set. This is a quick overview to give you an idea of where things are headed.
tl;dr - Faster and focused more on speed and destruction than on physics and math. Yay!!!
For the session, Scott and I each started with identical game components. We each had a nine-card deck for setting our speed each round. We each had a second deck of vehicle component cards. We each had a record sheet. And we each had a car counter.
Shared components during the game were the dice and the new maneuvering tool . . . more on those later.
Numbered zero to six, plus a minus one and minus two, these cards were used at the start of each turn to declare our speed that round. Basic vehicles may accelerate or decelerate by one each round; special vehicle component cards can modify that amount.
I started at a 6 (the fastest possible speed in the basic game) . . . but I was soon traveling in reverse.
Vehicle Component Cards
In the older editions of Car Wars, vehicle design was an exercise in mathiness as we calculated weight, space, cost, and did our best to cram everything into a car that we loved.
Yesterday, during the sixth edition playtest, all I had to care about was a single number: Ten. Each of the vehicle component cards has a number in the lower left corner and as long as all of my cards totaled ten then I was ready to go. Now some sessions will use a different number -- say "20" as one example -- but for our game, Scott and I were each limited to ten.
Armor, engines, tires, and other stock components.
Part of what made vehicle design so quick was that each car automatically started with some basic -- and vital! -- components. Scott and I each had the same baseline vehicle with 30 points of armor, basic tires, a driver and gunner, and an engine. We could modify those basics with the vehicle component cards -- Scott, for example, increased his armor total to 45 -- but every modification counted toward the target number of 10.
Starting with the basic shell of the vehicle reminded me a lot of an old Autoduel Quarterly article and of the original card-driven vehicle design system we tested during the fifth edition playtests. Scott improved on that older work, and the result left me happy with the ease and speed of the system.
Within five minutes, we were each ready for combat.
* Dice. There are two different types of dice in the Car Wars sixth edition game, basic play dice and special collision dice. The basic dice are for initiative, combat, control rolls, and just about anything else you'll ever want to do. When attacking you roll and hope for "hits" while your opponent rolls and hopes for "shields." When maneuvering you do not want to roll "skids" or else you will, as Scott put it, be the "proud owner of an out of control token."
I don't think Scott knows the meaning of the word proud.
The collision dice only come into play when you ram something -- which I did -- and are rolled together. One determines distance your car moves from the point of impact while the other shows your car's orientation after a collision. Extremely simple, and highly effective when my speed six car slammed head-on into Scott's speed five car.
* Maneuvery tooly thingy. Hey, we're working on the name! This was used both for straight movement and turns. The protractery edgy end of the maneuvery tooly thingy (yeah, words is tough when writing at 3 am) shows a number between 1 and 6. When making a turn check which number the arrow is pointing at and then roll that many dice.
NOTE: Rolling six dice + two more dice for going fast is bad. Don't do what I did.
Some of the vehicle component cards can help here -- a spoiler, for example, allows you to ignore one "skid" result -- and I suggest you take some of those gadgets if you plan to twist and turn and spin all across the event.
Our entire playtest session was one hour for two cars, with close to 30 minutes of our hour spent discussing the game and expected component costs. Actual play, including vehicle design, was in the 35 to 40 minute range . . . just slightly longer than our target. Fortunately, the actual play didn't feel like it was taking more than half an hour. So perceptions aligned neatly with our goal, even if the reality of time didn't match our goal. We'll work on that.
During this session, Scott and I were testing his rough component mix for the two-player introductory game. This rendition of the game, if it happens as currently conceived, would be an inexpensive introduction to Car Wars; everything is looking like the deeper box that supports four players (and have a lot more vehicle design options) will require a price point higher than our $25 to $30 goal.
So we adapt. And Scott's doing an excellent job of adapting . . . especially considering his very first draft of the new edition led us to a $100 game. Not quite the target price.
More playtesting. Scott is taking the feedback from yesterday's game and making minor tweaks to his playtest set. Next week we're scheduled for two sessions -- with more players -- and I can see we're close to shifting our playtesting efforts from internal testing to public testing at stores and conventions.
Will we run Car Wars playtests at Gen Con? Doubtful. I hope to have a set with me for private tests with select distributors and retailers, but things aren't quite at the point we're ready to open everything to a public playtest in the booth.
That doesn't mean I won't be convinced that I should run a playtest or two in an undisclosed location for special friends, but don't expect to see the game in our booth.
I'll try to snap new pics and share next week during our next playtest sessions.
- [+] Dice rolls