I In The Pyramid

Secrets from inside Steve Jackson Games.
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3x3 and VMGs in Car Wars

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.
From gallery of PhilReed


Playmat Test

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?

Vulcan Machineguns

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.
From gallery of PhilReed


Drones?

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.

Close Game!

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!
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