Saturday, 21 December 2013

Friday night firefight...

Now I've moved house (back to the Somerset, where I grew up) and have settled in, I've been hoping to get some RPG stuff up and running as quite a few of my old RPG gang are still in the area. As a sort of prelude to organising it all, I decided to try playing Car Wars (CW) with one of that gang, my cousin Marc. I say 'try' as neither of us has played CW since 1983 and were therefore a little rusty about how it worked...

Anyway, to start off with we made sure that we had everything we needed:

This obviously includes all of the important things - track, counters, dice, rulebooks, a turning key, and booze. We were using bits of the 1st and 2nd edition rules, but I'll get back to that point a little later on...

To start with we both chose the same vehicle, a Stinger sub-compact with default loadouts - small amounts of armour, two linked MGs up front, that's it. We laid out a strip of track and started at either end going 30 mph:

My car is the one closest to the camera
We soon close the gap without making any drastic manoeuvres, and as we both come into range the guns start blazing. We score hits on each other. Marc's first shot chews 9 points out of my Stinger's 10 points of frontal armour. Ouch. My MGs reply by gouging 6 points out of his nose.

Takka takka takka...!
As we draw even closer, we both start shooting again. This time Marc takes out my last point of front armour, wipes out both of my MGs and does 1 point of damage to my powerplant. Debris flies off my car. Oops. I try to keep in a straight line so that my nose isn't facing Marc's MGs. Marc does a hard turn...

 ...but then slightly misjudges the distance and ends up ramming me, doing 4 damage to my 8 point rear armour. Oh bugger. As I try to get away, Marc fires again, knocks out the remaining rear armour and my poor driver dies after being riddled with bullets.

So, after that little skirmish, we decide to start a new duel and pick some heftier vehicles. Marc chooses a 'Vlad The Impala' (2 linked autocannons in the front, recoiless rifle and flaming oil jet at the back) and I choose a Ventura pick-up (autocannon in the front, Vulcan MG in a top turret). Both vehicles have quite a lot of armour, so in theory this game should last longer:

It doesn't. Well, not by much. After closing again, Marc's first autocannon burst knocks large chunks out of my front armour. My autocannon doesn't do much in reply, but the Vulcan gets good hits. We then get in a pretty slow turning fight and both of us also end up having to stop and reverse to get our guns trained on each other. The damn track is too narrow! Luckily my Vulcan keeps up the pressure but Marc uses the flaming oil jet to narrow my manoeuvring options.

After lots more low-speed turning, I manage to get away from him but at the expense of losing all of the armour (30 points) on my left side. My Vulcan knocks chunks out of Marc's Impala but nothing that it can't handle. However, I misjudge a turn, end up stopping and my unprotected left side waves hello at Marc as he accelerates towards me:

I'm the guy in the green car...
My driver obviously doesn't survive the hail of autocannon rounds. Game over!

So, all in all it was good fun. But it did remind us why we didn't really get into Car Wars straight away. It also reminded me of the reason why my 14 year-old self decided to try designing a simpler car combat game back in '83 (as I've outlined in this previous blog post). Put simply, it's not really what I'd call a user-friendly game from the get-go. There was some headscratching about the rules in 1983, and the same was the case in 2013. I think this might be because the game doesn't give an example of play for different situations. Having to keep track of various different things at once can also be a bit fiddly until you get used to it.

However, it's still a great game. Maybe I'll get the most up to date version. Things seemed a little clearer in the 2nd edition rules than was the case for the first edition. I'm sure with more practice we'll (a) remember more and (b) get the hang of it...

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