Thursday, September 20, 2007

Admin: This Guy Beat Me To It


Even though this is a blog about Car Wars, as the last post indicates, I am branching out occasionally to discuss cars and wars (well, guns). Most people who play CW like both component parts. And in my online research for car and gun pictures I come across wicked cool websites.

So, the great picture of the Mustang comes from this dude who not only restored an awesome 1969 convertible but added the necessary modern features (e.g. better seat belts, A/C, GPS). I've wanted to do this for years and probably would have if I had more: money or talent with cars. Or time.

Admin: Fun Links

Here's some fun links about cars and weapons (I'll put on the link roll soon):

Cars

  • Diseno-Art - nice info and pictures of sports cars (see inset of one of my favorites, the Lamborghini Diablo)

    Weapons

  • Defense-Review.com - Very nice collection of articles about current and future weaponry, body armor, military goo, etc. (The picture for 'future military systems' looks straight out of Car Wars).

    In fact check out this article of a military-vehicle mounted automatic shotgun - the AA12.

  • Gun (web)sites - Huge, tight fonted list of everything to do with guns, gun ownership, body armor, you name it.

  • Great discussion about the guns used in specific movies, e.g. The Matrix from the blog MadOgre.

  • Wednesday, September 19, 2007

    Admin: Better Counter Resources


    I'm doing my best to make counters for each of these cars but my tools are poor. And I'm a poor artist. All told, even in 2007 and a real job, I still lack the materials to make decent computer art.

    What I've been doing is using free art programs to manipulate scanned in images of car wars counters. Every once in a while, I'll find an online picture of a car and manipulate that (see the Gremlin and the Police Interceptors).

    Tonight a flash of duh hit me - why don't I search on google images. I did. And there seems to be a bunch of stuff. See here (search for 'car' and 'top view').

    Connery II - Div70 Luxury

    Updated here.
    Not to be confused with the Connery of 2057, or 2063.

    Luxury, C/A Frame, Xhvy Ch., Hvy.-Active Sus, Large PP (PC/SC), driver & gunner, 4 SD-FP-Steel-Radial tires, AC front (10/incen), VMG in turret (20/incen), OG (10/reg) back, IFE, 2 Hires. Comp., HD-Antilock brakes; no-paint windshield, 10 pts. FP-CA around crew, 2 10 pt. FP WG/WH front/back, blended BA & FP suit for crew; 185 pts. Plastic armor: F35 B30 R40 L40 T20 U20; Acc. 5, Top 92.5, HC 5, 6596 lbs., $69,025


    Design Notes - This is the original of the Connery, below, that I felt was a poor design, but I ultimately decided to post it because I hate seeing all my work go to naught.

    I'm just not happy with C/A frames anymore; but I was committed to this combination of weaponry, which a year ago was my quintessential favorite triad. Throw a Gauss-gun in and I'm in Car-Hog-Heaven.

    Chewer - Div10 Compact

    Compact, Hvy. Ch., Hvy Sus., 4 HD tires, Large PP (PC), driver, VMG front (20/reg), SD rear (10/reg), 2 Smoke Dischargers, 4 Sand Disch, ramplate, bumper trigger front & back (to all front & back weapons/dischargers), 147 pts. plastic armor: F40 (ram) B30 R30 L30 T5 U12; Acc. 10, Top 120, HC 3, 4067 lbs., $9,991.00


    • Div 15 Option - Compact, Xhvy Ch., Hvy. Sus, Large PP (PC/SC), 4 PR-Radial tires, driver, VMG front (19/incend), SD rear (10/explosive), same dischargers & bumper triggers, ramplate, HTM, spoiler & airdam, BA for driver, 180 pts. Armor: F50 (ram) B40 R32 L32 T10 U16; Acc. 10 (15), Top 120 (90), HC 4 (5), 4440 lbs, $14,987.50

    Design Notes - Ah... a nice modernized set of compacts. I'd drive these.

    Yes! Yes! Yes!

    Hotlinked from SJGames.com

    In a stroke of purest luck, I finally acquired a precious copy of the (arguably) most definitive, comprehensive, Car Wars book out there: Uncle Al's Catalog from Hell.

    I've been pining for this book for years and it arrived today in the mail. My first impressions: (1) the print is so big it gives me a headache; (2) MAN, the art is bad; (3) Surely this could be reprinted, at least the straight info, online.

    Now I can feel as up to date as I possibly can. Except, I don't see the hated stickyfoam anywhere in the book. Nor crystal spikes. Hmmm. What a letdown. But at least I can ask the forum dudes without feeling like a thief (i.e. trying to get free info from an available, albeit expensive, book).

    Monday, September 17, 2007

    Vespasian - Unlimited Pickup (Imperial)


    Pickup, Xhvy Ch., Hvy-Active Sus., Sport PP (PC/SC), driver, 6 SD (Steel-Radial-FP) tires, GG in turret, FOJ Discharger Front & Back, 3 SkD 1R 1L 1U, 2 IcD R&L (all bumper triggered), cyberlink, HD-Antilock brakes, HD shocks, spoiler & airdam, HTM & overdrive, no-paint windshield, 2 5pt FP WG rear, ramplate, bumper spikes, 10 pts FP CA around driver & 10 around PP, driver has blended IBA, FP suit, PFE; 200 pts. FP armor: F50 (ram) R40 L40 B30 T22, U18; Acc. 5 (10), Top: 110 (82.5/130), HC 4(5); 7798 lbs., $94,970

    Weapon-Switch Options, Instead of GG:
    • IR-Laser: remove 9 pts armor, 7799 lbs., $100,074
    • Pulse-Laser: remove 9 pts armor, 7799 lbs., $96,074
    • IR-Twin-Laser: remove 32 pts armor, 7796 lbs, $103,062
    • Pulse-TwL: remove 32 pts armor, 7796 lbs, $98,062
    • 2 linked HMG (20/HD): remove 46 pts armor, 7791 lbs, $89,496
    • VMG (20/Incend): remove 5 pts armor, 7793 lbs, $87,300
    • RR (10/HESH): add 4 pts armor, 7792 lbs., $86,671
    • RL (10/Incend) + IR-TL + LGL, add 3 pts armor, 7791 lbs., $90,952
    Design Notes - This is one of my favorite designs. The might of a pickup's chassis with one super accurate weapon and a cyberlink, and if that runs out of ammo, it becomes a nimble ram-car.

    Name Notes -  Part of the Imperial series, named after Emperor Vespasian also known as Titus, one of the bastards from the Biblical period: "(Titus Flavius Caesar Vespasianus Augustus; 17 November 9 – 23 June 79) was Roman Emperor from AD 69 to AD 79. Vespasian founded the Flavian dynasty that ruled the Empire for a quarter century."

    Master Rammer - Div80 Luxury


    Luxury, C/A frame, Xhvy Ch., Hvy-Active Sus., Large PP (PC/SC), driver & gunner, 4 FP-SD tires, GG in turret, HDFT-HT front, FOJ back (10 shots), 8 IcD (1F 1B 2R 2L 2 U, 4 sides linked to bumper triggers), fake ramplate & fake ram-blades, HD-Antilock brakes, HD shocks, roll cage, 2 safety seats, 2 hi-res comp., spoiler & airdam, no-paint windshield, HTM & overdrive, 9 pts. LRFP CA around crew and 9 around PP, crew each have blended-IBA, FP suit, PFE, 2 explosive grenades; 166 pts. LRFP armor: F30 B30 R35 L35 T19 U17; Acc. 5 (10), Top: 92.5 (67.5/112.5); HC 4(5); 6659.2 lbs, $76232.50

  • FP Option - convert armor to only FP, make tires FP-Radial, CA also only FP and make full 10 pts, add 11 pts armor, HC 5(6), 6600 lbs., $80,850

    Design Notes - This is from last year and I was fascinated by the new concept of the C/A frame. With the changed ramming rules the C/A doesn't seem as suicidal as it probably once was. But for design-freaks like me, it allows so much variation. And armor! I thought the best way to avoid the suicide of C/A was to advertise the car as a rammer. The original design had a lot of fake-weapons and blow-through concealments, but I dropped those in favor of a bit more armor.
  • Pluto - Div18 (15) Compact (Galaxy)

    Compact, Xhvy Ch., Hvy. Sus., driver, 4 SD tires, Medium PP (PC/SC), MML with mag (20/Incen) in turret with TL & LGL to all 20; SD rear; IFE, SWC, spoiler & airdam, 2 10pt WG rear, 2 10 pt WH front, BA for driver; 175 pts. Plastic armor: F35 B35 R34 L34 T20 U18; Acc. 5, Top 95, HC 3(4), 4436 lbs., $17,700
    • Pluto 15 - Remove IFE, SWC, mag from MML; add 10 pts. CA around driver and around PP, add Oil Discharger back, add 25 points armor (200 total); 4440 lbs, $14,975
    • Ram Pluto - 4 PR-radial tires, upgrade PP to Large (PC/SC), remove mag from MML, SWC is HRSWC, remove: SD, IFE, WG & WH; add: ramplate, safety seat, 10 pts. CA around driver and around PP, active suspension, HTM & Overdrive, IcD back; 170 pts armor: F50 (ram) B30 R30 L30 T15 U15; Acc. 10 (20), Top: 120 (80/140), HC: 5 (6), 4440 lbs., $24,785

    Design Notes - The 18 version is from last year and I made the 15 version now - which is a nice little car, well protected and nimble. The ram version is actually another car design I had in the coffers that shared that one characteristic (compact with turreted MML). This leads, naturally, to the philosophical question about what makes a car an option of an original or a whole 'nother car. In this case, I consider the size of car plus similar weapon system to be the same car. But it could go either way.

    In any case, the Ram car is more versitile than the original Pluto, and I guess if I took out the active suspension, it'd be a credible Div20. But I just love high HC.

    Tuesday, September 11, 2007

    Empyrion - Div15 (Div20) Midsized


    Midsized, Xhvy Ch., Hvy Sus., Large PP (SC), driver, 4 PR-Radials, VMG in turret (10/incen.), OG front, SkD back, 10 pts. CA around driver, BA for driver, 79 pts Composite Armor (40 metal/39 plastic); F:8/3 B:8/3 L:12/4 R:12/4 T:0/14 U:0/15; Acc. 5, Top. 97.5, HC 4, 5757 lbs., $14,999

  • Plastic Only - 239 pts. plastic (F50 B50 R50 L50 T20 U19 $16,599)

  • Div20 Option - Add HTM, Overdrive, HD-ABS, Targ. Comp, FP inner armor, FP CA, Platinum Catalysts for PP, FP Suit for driver; Acc. 5 (10) Top. 100 (75/120), HC 4, 5760 lbs, $19,823

    Design Notes- Since I'm a player from 20 years ago, the metal revolution passed me by. Here's an attempt to use a metal design. Is 40 pts of metal worth 200 plastic? In Div15, it may be.
  • Connery - Div25 Luxury


    Updated here.

    Luxury, Xhvy Ch., Hvy. Sus, Large PP (PC/SC), driver & gunner, 4 PR-Radial tires, 2 linked VMG front (10/reg), VMG in turret (10/reg), smart-link for VMG, OG (10/reg) back, FE, 2 Targ. Comp., HD brakes; BA for crew; 149 pts. Plastic armor: F30 B25 R32 L32 T15 U15; Acc. 5, Top 92.5, HC 4, 6600 lbs., $24,730

    Design Notes - My first born son's middle name is "Sean Connery." Actually, not really, but I wanted to do it before my wife got hold of the birth certificate. Anyway, this was an attempt (last year) to make a car that would live up to the Connery name. Too bad it's not the greatest. Where does the money go in this car, 25 thousand for this??

    Oilguns are fun, and 3 smart-linked Vulcans are nothing to laugh at. Before I get too disappointed, I should playtest (but 25 is a tough division)

    Image from http://www.bondmovies.com/

    Hotshot II 2057 - Div15 Luxury

    Luxury, Xhvy Ch., Hvy Sus., Large PP (SC), 4 PR tires, driver, 2 linked MG front (10/reg), 2 linked FT back, 1 FT right, 1 FT left, all FT linked; BA for driver; 43 pts. Sloped Composite Armor (19 Met/24 FP Plastic): F5/4 B4/4 R5/3 L5/3 T0/3 U0/3; Acc. 5, Top. 90, HC 3, 6600 lbs., $14,601

    Options
  • Laser Hotshot - Replace all FT with Lasers, $43601
  • All Plastic - No Comp. armor, now 119 pt. FP plastic: F25 B24 R25 L25 T10 U10, $17,736

    Design Notes - As I've written before, Hotshot is a symbol for the obsolescence for the way Car Wars was originally conceived. The car is a deathtrap and no matter how one tinkers (and the above is a thoughtful version) the car is a death-trap. And a worthless one at that. Who needs this combination of weaponry? And one decent shot with a rocket will blow this car to 15 thousand dollars worth of charcoal briquettes.

    Below is the true update - what the designers would have done with the Hotshot (I think), putting the FT in a turret and, with such a volatile


    Hotshot III - Div20 Luxury


    Luxury, Xhvy Ch., Hvy Sus., Large PP (SC), 4 PR tires, driver, 2 linked MG front (20/incend.), FT with mag in Turret, PGS back, FOJ-Disch back; FE, 2 SWC (to MGs), 10 pts FP CA each around crew & FT & PP; BA for crew; 173 pts. plastic armor: F33 B30 R40 L40 T15 U15; Acc. 5, Top. 90, HC 3, 6600 lbs., $19,560

    Options
  • Laser Hotshot - Replace FT with Laser, PGS with FCE, FOJD with FC-D (L & R), $27,670

    Design Notes - Now, isn't that nicer? The 4 FT in every direction replaced with 1 in a turret (which is why turrets were invented, to allow 4 way shootin'). Component armor for everything, if anything to prevent the volatility shots. A fire extinguisher. I'd actually use this car (with Gold Cross, of course).
  • Monday, September 10, 2007

    Killer Sub - Div20 Subcompact


    Subcompact, C/A frame, Xhvy Ch., Hvy Sus., Medium PP, driver (in BA), 4 PR-Radial tires, HMG (10/HD shots) front, 3 linked FOJ Dischargers (B, L, R), active suspension, HRSWC, HDHTM, Overdrive, spoiler & airdam, 129 pts. Plastic armor, F 30 B 25 R 26 L 26 T 9 U 13; HC 6 (7 over 60), Acc. 10 (20 hdhtm/5 overdrive), Top 120 (80/140), 2760 lbs., $19,694

    Design Notes - This would be good for a rally race where you can't use racing body cars. Speed and handling is outa-sight and decent armor for a sub, but its too 'niche' to be a useful stock car staple.

    Sanjero - Div40 Luxury


    Luxury, Xhvy Ch., Hvy Sus, Sport PP, driver & gunner, 4 PR-Steel-Radials, Pulse Laser in turret, VMG front (10/incendiary), OJ rear, SkD rear, active suspension, HD-ABS, IFE, HTM, Overdrive, SWC (gunner to laser), 10 pts. FP CA around driver & gunner and 10 pts. around PP, crew in BA, 144 pts. Plastic armor: F28 B26 R30 L30 T15 U15; Acc. 5 (10/2.5), Top 110 (72.5/130), HC 5, 6600 lbs., $39,955

    Design Notes - This is from last year and I reworked it a bit to make it into Div40 and away from C/A frame (which is a tempting design tool but I've heard it's the kiss of death in the ring).

    Little Lucifer - Div10 Subcompact


    Subcompact, Xhvy Ch., Hvy Sus., Small PP (PC/SC), 4 HD tires, driver (in BA), 2 linked MG front (20/Incend.), 3 linked Paint Dischargers (R, L, B), SWC, 105 pts. Plastic Armor: F25 B25 L20 R20 T5 U10; Acc. 5, Top 90, HC 4, 2760 lbs, $7,925

    Design Notes - This is from last year. I tried making it a Div5 version (at least as an option) but it sucked too hard to move. It was called 'Lucifer' because I had the great idea that it would sport a searchlight and then use that light to blind my opponents. But then I was told it was illegal.

    Reprisal 2057 - Div18 Midsized

    Updated again, here.
    Midsized, Xhvy. Ch., Hvy Sus., Large PP, 4 SD tires, driver, VMG (10/incen.) front, Rct Plt. with TL & MFR (LGL), LGL to 2 linked HR front & 2 linked HR back, front and back rockets linked with MFR, 2 10pt WG rear & WH front, BA for driver, 192 pts Plastic Armor: F40 B40 L40 R40 T17 U15, Acc. 5, HC 3, Top 90, 5756 lbs., $17,597
    • Flaming Reprisal - Switch MFR with 6 linked Mini-rockets, all rockets incendiary, add Flaming Oil Disch. back, remove 29 pts. armor; 5759 lbs, $18,733
    • Reprisal HESH - Replace VMG with RR (HESH), add SWC (TL), Flaming Oil Disch. back and 6 pts armor, 5759 lbs., $17,693
    • Incendiary HESH - Flaming Reprisal plus HESH option, 169 pts armor total, 5757 lbs., $18,329

    Design Notes - Updated from here. A number of decent options; low on accessories (as is normal for the low dollar stock-cars). Since FP armor is rare at these low levels, a good heavy dose of incendiary-ness can be a deal-maker.

    Quooze II 2057 - Div20 (25) Luxury

    Luxury, Xhvy Ch., Hvy. Sus., Super PP, 4 SD tires, driver & gunner, 2 linked RL front, VMG (10 shots) in turret, MD rear, FE, SWC (gunner to RL), 2 pairs BA for crew, 163 pts. Plastic armor: F30 B30 R35 L35 T18 U15; Acc. 5, HC 3, Top 100, 6600 lbs, $19,960


    • Guided Quooze - add TL front and LGL for RL rockets, remove SWC and 5 pts armor, $24,960
    • Fire Quooze - Incendiary in VMG & RL, Napalm in MD, remove SWC and 12 points armor (F30 B30 R30 L30 T16 U15), $19,950
    • Fire Guided Quooze - combine the two: 146 pts armor, $25,505  
    • Super Fire Guided Quooze - Replace VMG with RL, incendiary ammo for all, napalm in MD, TL in turret as well as TL front, LGL to all rockets, smart link for RLs; 150 pts. armor: $30,700

    Design Notes - This is updated from here. The Super option can be attractive except for low armor; and I'll leave it to duellers to shave the $701 to get it into Div30 (or the 506 for the fire-guided).

    [Updated: Nov 8, 2013]

    Lympite 2057 - Div30 Luxury


    Luxury, Xhvy Ch., Hvy. Sus., Sport PP, driver & gunner, 4 SD tires, Laser in turret, MF (napalm) with mag front, SkD back, bump. trigger front and back, IFE, 2 10 pt rear WG, 2 6 pt. front WH, 10 pts. Comp. armor around driver & gunner, 10 pts. FP comp. armor for PP, includes BA & FP suit for crew; 160 pts. Plastic armor: F30 R31 L31 B30 T20 U18; Acc. 5, HC 3, Top Speed 110, 6599 lbs., $29,670

    Laser Proof Option - 148 pts LR armor (F30 B28 R30 L30 T15 U15), 2 3pt WH front, 2 8 pt WG back, 6595.8 lbs, $30,398 (remove BA or FP Suit to get under 30)

    Spot Options
    • Pulse the laser - add $4000
    • IR the laser - add $8000
    • Fireproof tires - add $2000
    • Fireproof armor - add $3520
    • HTM-Overdrive combo - add $800
    • Modify the discharger (do the math yourself, SkD is $50)

    Design Notes - There was an original Lympite, I think, but I don't recall uploading it. Oh well. This is a nice 2057 design - a bit low on armor for Div30, and it may be dangerous to rely on a regular Laser in high purse bouts. I've never playtested mine-flingin' to see if it works, but it's how I like my dropped weapons: flung.

    Thursday, September 6, 2007

    Rant: How You Know Things Went Wrong

    I mentioned earlier a discussion on the SJGames Board about what is the most 'useless' weapon/accessory in Car Wars. Useless is the key, because many of the suggestions were for things that were rendered obsolete by later finagling. The following are quotes from that discussion (and then my commentary):
    Oil Jet - it's a classic, but the Flaming Oil Jet weighs about the same, doesn't cost that much more, does some tire damage, forces a control roll at +D2, increases the chance of catching fire, creates a smoke screen, and goes away before too long.
    He has a good point. The designers to make the FOJ more expensive, a twinge heavier, and more volatile. But it may need to be increased more to make the vanilla OJ more worthwhile.
    [Twin lasers are useless]. You'll be better off with a high intensity Laser.
    High-Intensity got renamed Pulse Laser; and he's really right. The Twin-Laser (also a late addition) was a balanced weapon - for a guaranteed +6 on damage you needed to sacrifice 250 more lbs. And as I've argued before, weight is *way* more important of a game balancer than cost. Cost means nothing in Car Wars design except at the very low levels. Weight is everything. And every change should have a weight component to it, or else it's begging for game-warp. And so instead of the TwL ($10000/750/2d+6) there's the pulse-Laser (12000/500, 3d+3 damage). Whoever introduced Pulsed lasers should have just gotten rid of the TwL, lowered it's weight, or raised the weight of pulsing.
    Ice vs. Stickyfoam: Stickyfoam gives all of the penalties of ice but also causes a point of damage to all tires, slows the opponent by 5 MPH, can't be removed by fire weapons, weighs less, and only costs $250 more? Poor ice dropper, you look so lonely.
    As I've mentioned before, a quick way to get me angry is to mention 'stickyfoam' (but that's because I'm old school). However, this discussion is my WHOLE POINT in a nutshell. Leaving aside the fact that ice-droppers are new equipment to my extreme Old School eyes, how can a new weapon like icky-foam be such an easy replacement for an old-school weapon? Just get rid of one or the other.

    These are just three examples of what happens when Feature Creep afflicts a role-playing game. Any new device needs to establish why it fits an unfilled niche - that can't destroy a previous device/weapon. And if it will make the other weapon obsolete, either the original weapon just wasn't useful - and so the new device is just an updating - or the new device hasn't been designed with enough disadvantages.

    There needs to be a real reason for new stuff that also preserves a real reason why someone would choose the old stuff.

    Rant: What Game Mags Should be Doing

    In my previous post, I ranted that game magazines have ruined many a game by Revision Creep: introducing new and niftier rules and items that are not fully playtested - quickly warping the original game.

    I think there are two reasons for Revision Creep:
    1. Laziness or Desperation in keeping the pages filled
    2. Irreconcilable debate over Game Source

    I. Laziness or Desperation in keeping the pages filled

    I understand the tyranny of deadlines. And even in a monthly magazine, there's probably very little time available to fill those many blank pages. So introduce a new character class or new magic item or new weapon and viola! So what if it makes an old play-system obsolete... the article was just a thought experiment, or whatever. Except that in Car Wars, these experiments were often introduced as street legal.

    My solution? There are three things that game magazines could and should do that would both fill up space and be invaluable for the player:
    1. Modules and Scenarios
    2. Split-level description of how a game scenario is played out
    3. NPCs (or for Car Wars - car designs)
    Modules & Scenarios

    Why do game companies create and sell these? Because newbies need them. So don't be cheapskates, we're buying the game magazines, fill up half or a third of the space for each magazine with scenarios. They require the time and skill and knowledge of the game that the game company employees are supposed to have in a greater amount that we players have. Making a new device takes seconds (e.g. here's a new weapon for car wars: Vehicular Staple Gun, $300, 50 lbs, 1 space, 1 DP, 2 dice damage, to hit 5... that took 10 seconds, including typing time). Scenarios take work and that's what the mags can do best.

    Split-level descriptions

    I *love* it whenever a game rulebook or magazine does one of these step-by-step background descriptions of how the die-rolls and the character descriptions translate into how you and your friends will play - and how the action would look were it in a movie. An example I can recall is from the d20 D&D Dungeon Masters Guide, p. 130-132.

    This is really easy to do. Just play a game and write down what you are doing - die rolls, rules consulted. A few of these in every magazine will both be good reading and will teach people how to play (and/or play better). It's especially good when illustrating difficult rules. And Car Wars has many difficult rules.

    NPCs/Car Designs

    Who doesn't like reading car designs? And I can design a car/NPC rather quickly. It doesn't have to be with new equipment. To make it more relevant, have the design be scenario based (like a 2057 police-cruiser). This category can also include new arenas, new adventure locations (sorta like modules-lite).

    With these three idea categories, game magazines would have pages filled with easy-to-write and useful pieces. Instead of the unplaytested 'nifty' garbage that mucks up game history.

    II. Irreconcilable debate over Game Source

    This is more fundamental to things that try to re-create the extant world. In a pure fantasy setting (e.g. superhero, magic) this is less of a problem. But as I've seen with D&D and Car Wars, there are two main sources for the design - reality or fiction.

    The D&D debate was over whether the source for the rules and the 'world' was (a) Thomas Mallorey's King Arthur or (b) Robert Howard's Conan. If it's the former, then there should be rules for how arrows were truly made in 13th Century France, how Bards were trained in Celtic colleges, and how there's no such thing as a martial arts Monk.

    If (b) then Barbarian warriors can defeat twelve men with one swing of a Tulwar, where devils take the shape of men and where a full life can be led adventurin' and wenchin.'

    The realistic school demands incontrovertible detail. There are 12 types of pole-arms in 1st edition AD&D because, hey, there were 12 types in Medieval Europe. Who cares if nobody used polearms; that remembering the names was ludicrous and that the damage difference was negligible. The details were there so all is right in the world. Note, this makes sense because D&D was a development of an actual realism school Medieval wargame (Chainmail).

    The d20 rejuvenation tries for the second school - that the heroes of D&D are mini-Conans with feats, critical hits, and superhuman capabilities. And the weapon list reflects this: there are different swords but only insofar as there are different uses. No more idiotic longsword/broadsword nonsense. A d20 longsword is just another name for "a one-hand d8 damage device with 19-20/x2 critical hit zone."

    The D&D Lesson for Car Wars

    D&D started as a realistic system and eventually evolved into a fantasy system. Car Wars appears to be the opposite. It started as purely fantasy and over the years became over-burdened with realism.

    For example, is the "MG" a:
    (a) .50 caliber, belt-fed, air-cooled, machine gun (like Ma Deuce)
    or
    (b) the basic model for an arbitrary system of gameplay - the MG is 1 unit of space, 1 unit of cost, 1 unit of weight, and 1 unit of damage with 1 unit of ammo that hits on the average unit of accuracy? It's not a fifty-caliber machine-gun, it's a 1-space-1-die gun. A Recoiless Rifle is a 2-space-2-die gun; an Anti-Tank-Gun is a 3-space-3-die gun.

    Naturally, given my ranting, you can tell I prefer the latter description. It's just how play-balance works. The playetesters found that a 3 die weapon needed to have a high to-hit to make it equal, so too how the 1 die weapon needed 20 shots.

    But we gave these units names (MG, RR) and the game itself is designed to fire up our imagination. So it was natural for there to be crossover into what a 'real' MG would be, what ammo it would take, what variations there would be.

    This realism direction is fine - because it's the seat of imagination - but it needed to be balanced with the internal game dynamics. And it wasn't.

    Next up, some examples of the broken system and what maybe can be done.

    Rant: Game Balance

    Those who play RPGs (which includes Car Wars, even though is more like an evolving board game) have witnessed Revision Creep - where every new issue of a game magazine needs to introduce new ideas, new devices, new rules. It is rare for these new things to have been playtested enough to preserve game-balance. They just look and sound nifty! And pretty soon, all games/characters/cars sport the new 'street-legal' devices and doodads that render the old rules obsolete.

    Revision Creep: D&D's Cautionary Tale

    Rampant Revision Creep can ruin a game. This is arguably what happened to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. Things got very complicated and the attempt to coalesce the new ideas (the 2nd Edition fiasco) just made things worse. The 3rd edition, the D20 rules, were IMHO a great improvement. When it started. But hoo-baby, the Revision Creep from Wizards of the Coast has increased at a bizarre cancerous velocity. It could just be me, but EVERY SINGLE BOOK they publish (and they seem to have a new book every few weeks) has 20 new feats, 20 new prestige classes and at this point the game is almost unrecognizable.

    This may be a bad test procedure, but in one of the D20 D&D books I have there is no listing for playtesters in the masthead (and no mention of them in the acknowledgements). It's almost as if the Wizards are trying to wring out as much money from their audience before nausea sets in. It's the Summer Blockbuster methodology - open with 3000 screens, make 50% of the gross on opening weekend before word of mouth renders your high-budget stinkeroo into celluloid oblivion, and then move on to the next blockbuster. No content, just flash.

    Grrrr.

    Revision Creep in Car Wars

    Anyway, this unchecked Revision Creep is possibly what happened to Car Wars. I'm not talking about 5th Edition... I have 100% no interest in a new play system. The old system would be fine with a little tweaking. But I think so many of the new devices that have been introduced have upset game balance in entirely preventable ways:

    1. All new devices must be *extensively* playtested (a few months, at least, just to see how they affect game dynamics)

    2. Until they're tested, they must be declared as optional and will not be arena/tournament legal

    3. One playtest test is to see if an older device becomes obsolete. If it does, fine, then REDEFINE the old device. A good example is RR HESH ammo. It doesn't weigh more, is crazy cheap (175$), and rips off metal armor half the time. And if it's not obviously unbalanced by a simple smell-test, look at car designs since the device was introduced... who DOESN'T use HEAT or HESH in their RRs?

    Same holds for HTM (which I've ranted about before). As I said:
    back in '37 you needed to have a big engine to get consistently high acceleration. In years hence they invented High Torque Motors and instead of balancing weight-space-cost in engine size you just pay $400 and viola! Grrrr. Yup, I think HTM is a bad idea. Massive changes in game dynamics require more than just a few hundred bucks! Space and weight are much more difficult to manipulate and have much more of a design "cost" (ironically). Once HTM was introduced was it any surprise that almost every duelling car had them installed. Heck, they didn't even make you enter a new price range!
    My Self-Applied Rules

    If I introduce new rules, rule-tweaks, new weapons etc (which I've done already on this blog), assume that they are optional and untested until stated otherwise.

    I enjoy Car Wars; it fires up my imagination like no other game and indulges two great loves (design creativity and violence). I want to help fix this game, the original game, that I played 20 years ago. I'm mainly introducing tweaks. But like any fanboy, I would like to see new equipment if it fits in.

    Next: what game mags should be doing (and why they get it wrong).

    Wednesday, September 5, 2007

    Rant: Grenade Launchers



    The GL is a tough fit in Car Wars. Grenades existed from the very beginning as a pedestrian equalizer - they did full, 1d6, damage to vehicles. They also defined pedestrians (your driver had skills as a driver and gunner and was equal to 6 grenades).

    It seemed natural to include the Grenade Launcher as both a weapon for pedestrians and for Vehicles as well.

    In a recent (May 2007) discussion at the SJGames Car Wars forum, there was a discussion about what is the worst weapon/accessory in the game. Grenade Launchers were mentioned, and I can see why. They seem oversized and underpowered - and overshadowed by the handheld version which seems to do the same thing!

    Yet this rule-warp is on purpose. See how this major (anonymous) question was fobbed off by SJ Dude Charles A. Oines in ADQ-Q&A 6/1:
    Q: 2. Why is it that the hand-held grenade launcher can only hold five grenades, but the vehicular model can only hold ten, and takes up 2 spaces? If the vehicular model was one space and held 15 grenades things would compare a little better.

    A: 2. Compare in what way? Personally, I'm happy with the numbers as they are.
    Great answer, Oines.

    I will restate the ADQ Question: a 5 shot pedestrian weapon (worth 2 GE in the hand) has the same to hit & same damage as a vehicular version - which is 10 shots and 2 spaces. No other pedestrian weapon is equally matched (which is why I always arm my drivers with Grenade Launchers when money is available).

    One difference could be range. I don't know if pedestrian weaponry is limited, but that could be a factor. [Update, pedestrians can throw 5", but does that hold for the handheld GL?]

    The reason for the rule warp could be the God of Game Balance. If so, it'd be the first time.

    I asked the SJGames thread a set of questions about the grenades, as follows, let's see what they can come up with:
    A few questions about a much maligned weapon, the Grenade Launcher.

    1. What is the range of a hand-held GL? Is it 5"? (which I've been told is the range of a hand-thrown grenade)

    2. If a (car) GL has impact-fused ammo, then does the fuse go off when the shot hits the designated target or do the grenade scatter rules apply first?

    3. If there are scatter rules, then what happens if the 'to hit' roll is under 7 - does that mean the shot went off into the stratosphere? And if so, this suggests firing the GL engenders two risks - whether you hit on the 7 and even then, you don't really 'hit'

    4. Does the 'to hit' of the GL, especially with impact fuses, allow using the GL like an Oil Gun? That is, by using the +4 to hit a patch of ground, the impact grenade with a Flaming Oil load is a smaller Oilgun and with a smoke-grenade load it's a 'smoke gun' (for point-shot smoke screens).

    5. According to this AADA News (Pyramid #30) article, NOVA has banned impact fuses because they can be used as a tire-eater. Is that a house-rule specific for NOVA or is that part of the AADA banned list?
    Ironically, the ADQ (9/1) introduced the military weapon, an "Auto Grenade Launcher" which has these stats:
    Auto-GL – To hit 7, damage by grenade type, 3 DP, $5,000. 250 Ibs., 2 spaces, holds 20 grenades (cost by grenade type +$20, 5 Ibs. each); loaded weight 350 1bs. ; loaded magazine costs $50 plus the cost of grenades and weighs 105 1bs. Different grenade types may be mixed in the magazine and fired in any order desired; rotary magazine effects are included in the price. The auto-GL can fire one, two or three grenades in one firing action. All grenades must be fired at the same target, and all grenades in a salvo use the same to-hit roll to determine the amount of scatter, but each grenade scatters separately. For instance, if a three-shot salvo misses its to-hit roll by 3, then each grenade scatters 2d-2 squares in a random direction.
    These seem like perfectly reasonable stats for a standard Grenade Launcher - yet the same logic that downgraded the standard version (play-balance? spite?) is the same logic that bans the AGL.

    Gremlin 2057 - Subcompact Hatchback (Concept Car)

    See below for design details and hatchback rules.

    Subcompact Hatchback, Std. Chassis, Improved Suspension, driver, Small PP, 4 HD tires, LMG (10 shots) in 1 sp. turret, SWC, 1 space cargo (25 lbs), 38 pts armor. F8 R6 L6 B5 T8 U5, Acc. 5, HC 3, Top Speed 92.5, 2275 lbs (unloaded), $4,468

    • Rocket Option - replace LMG with MML-AP (same cost, weight, whole shebang)
    • Duellers Option - 20 shots in LMG, 2300 lbs, $4,668
    • Rocket Dueller - rocket option with 5 pts more armor, 2300 lbs, $4,523

    Designer Notes : Why make a subcompact hatchback without using the turret? The non-duellers are for the RPG use of hatchback space (not much weighs 25 lbs but any heavier chassis and this won't be able to use a small engine (which would take up all the room).

    Here's what I would do if I wanted to make this a non-economy/Duelling car.

    Gremlins 2 - Subcompact Hatchback, Xhvy Ch., Hvy Sus., Small PP (PC & SC), 4 PR tires, driver, MG in turret, SWC, 112 pts. Plastic armor: F20 R20 L20 B20 T18 U14, Acc. 5, HC 4, Top Speed 90, 2760 lbs., $6,932

    Replica: Police Interceptor 2057 (Midsized)

    See the Description of design contest and the Pursuit Cruiser.


    Midsized (Streamlined), Xhvy Ch., Hvy Sus., Driver (Driver equipped with Blended, Improved Body Armor (Police Uniform)), Sport PP with PC/SC, 4 FP Radial Solid tires, Ramplate, Active Suspension, FPRP Spoiler & Airdam, Roll-cage, safety seat, IFE, HD & Anti-Lock Brakes, HD Shocks, No Paint/Tinted Windshield, HDHTM & Overdrive, Surge protector, vehicular computer, voice-control software, radar, radar detector, radar jammer, LDR, 10 pts. RFPF Component Armor around Driver. 2 10 pt. RFPF WG back, 4 10 pt. WH all wheels. 174 pts. Sloped FPRP Plastic armor: F50(ram) R30 L30 B30 T14 U20. Acc. 10 (20 HTM/5 Overdrive), Top speed: 135 (90 HDHTM, 155 overdrive), HC 5 (6 over 60). 5757 lbs., $64,786

    Design Notes: As I described earlier, the technique of Officer Max Rockatansky - Interceptor Expert - was ramming, no firearms. Interceptors in 2057 are made for speed, handling, and ramming.

    Tuesday, September 4, 2007

    Replica: Police Pursuit Crusier 2057

    See first, Part 1 - the design intro, and part 2 - the design discussion.

    Styx Motors Pursuit Crusier 2057

    Luxury, Xhvy Ch., Hvy Sus., Driver (in Police Uniform = Blended, Improved Body Armor), Large PP with PC/SC, 4 SD FP Radial tires, VMG with explosive ammo in UM turret, GL with 2 extra mags front (3 rotary magazines, 2 magazine switches; loads: 5 each of Explosive, Concussion, Thermite, Flaming Oil, White Phos., Tear Gas; all prox. fused). Hi-Res Comp., Active Suspension, FPRP Spoiler & Airdam, Improved Supercharger Capacitors, IFE, HD & Anti-Lock Brakes, HD Shocks, No Paint/Tinted Windshield, HTM & Overdrive, Surge protector, vehicular computer, voice-control software, radar, radar detector, radar jammer, LDR, 10 pts. RFPF Component Armor around Driver & around Power plant, 2 5 pt. RFPF WG back & WH front. 151 pts. Sloped FPRP Plastic armor: F30 R30 L30 B30 T15 U16. Acc. 5 (10 HTM/2.5 Overdrive), Top speed: 92.5 (67.5 HTM, 112.5 overdrive), HC 5 (6 over 60). 6595 lbs., $76,763

    Options
    • "Pursuit A" - Remove ISC, upgrade PP to Sport (PC/SC), remove 12 points of armor, Acc. same, Top Speed: 110/82.5/130, 6600 lbs, $76,907
    • "Pursuit B" - "A" with streamlining, no sloping; same acc., Top Speed: 122.5/90/142.5, same weight, $76,195
    • "Pusuit C" - remove ISC, upgrade PP to Sport (PC/SC), replace VMG with RR (HESH), Streamlined not Sloped, 159 Pts armor; Same Acc, Top Speed: 122.5/90/142.5, 6600 lbs., $76,420
    • "Pursuit Special" - "C" + remove 1 mag from GL, ammo now 10 Tear Gas & 10 Flaming Oil, 165 pt. Sloped armor; 6595 lbs., same Acc., Speed, Weight; $76,245

    Design Notes:

    I decided on only drivers for pursuit and interceptors. Also, I think the 4-wheel police vehicles will have no room for passengers (if it wants to survive on the roads, it needs speed, handling and armor). Passengers will be picked up and transported by small buses (tba) or choppers.

    Large plant - to save room; power can be picked up with PC/SC, HTM/Overdrive, and ISCC (which I think cops needs to catch rocket propelled bogeys)

    Solids for help with spikes and debris, and radials because pursuit needs higher HC.

    VMG for 2d6 and good accuracy & long lasting firepower; explosive loads to take out metal armor.

    Grenade Launcher - a much-maligned multipurpose tool. Here I give the officer a lot of variety - tear gas is just an extra, the smoke has a good defensive purpose, concussion grenades are the crowd pleaser, the rest are good offensive tire shredders.

    I didn't care about total cost because cop-cars are expensive (given their tasks); and RPG-wise I assume communities that can't afford a real cop-car will just deputize Autoduellers. I went for non-Laserproof armor so I could get more of it; Radarproof because (a) money was no object and (b) cops now and in the future would try to exploit radar detection, no?

    Postscript:  Note that this design concept has been discussed at the SJForum, which yielded this design from ShotGun_Jolly:

    Police Interceptor MK I by ShotGun Jolly: Luxury; Extra Heavy chassis; Heavy Active suspension; Sport PP w/PCs, SCs, Overdrive; 4 PR FP Radial tires. Driver. 2s Turret T. Vulcan MG w/20xHD, 1 Mag in turret Linked to SS; Smokescreen w/10xTear Gas Rear; 2xSpear 1000 MD w/10xTDX left and right rear corner linked to SS. Hi-Res Computer; Tow Bar; Safety Seat; Surge Protector; No-Paint Windshield; Vehicular Computer; Long-Distance Radio; Vehicular Camera; Winch; HD Shocks, HD Brakes, ABS. 135 pts. LRFP (F: 25 R: 24 L: 24 B: 20 T: 30 U: 12); 2x6 pt. LRFP Hubs, 2x6 pt. LRFP RWG F; 2x6 pt. LRFP Hubs, 2x6 pt. LRFP Guards F. Cost: $53,450, Wgt: 6,472, HC: 4 +1R, Top Speed: 125 (145), Accel: 10 (5).

    Replica: Police Car 2057 - Background

    This is part 2 of my Police Replica attempt (see part 1 here).

    As we all know, from Historical Films of Australian law enforcement, there are two types of police vehicles authorized to patrol the Car Wars type landscape: the pursuit car and the interceptor. Each have special versions. For historical footage (from Youtube) see the American dubbed version here and the original Australian here.


    Pursuit*

    Interceptor*

    Pursuit Special*

    V8 Interceptor**

    What is the Difference Between Pursuit and Intercept?

    Durn fine question. Not sure if the film makes a distinction. Both have a crew of 2 (except Max in his interceptor; and possibly the Pursuit Specials have a crew of one because the Night Rider stole his when he "blew away a rookie [singular]"). Max's interception tactic is to play chicken/ram so I'll take that as a tactic.

    I'll posit that pursuit is for speed and intercept for destruction.

    In game terms, Pursuit standard vehicles are for catching lawbreakers who will be expected to surrender and interceptors are for catching those who won't surrender. I'm arbitrarily deciding that the 2:1 ratio of Interceptor:Pursuit seen in the cruicial footage from Mad Max's opening scene applies to Car Wars America.

    For what it's worth, Wiki describes the Interceptor (Aircraft) thus: "An interceptor aircraft (or simply interceptor) is a type of fighter aircraft designed specifically to intercept and destroy enemy aircraft, particularly bombers, usually relying on great speed. [snip] [Interceptors] sacrifice performance in the air superiority fighter role (ie fighting enemy fighter aircraft) by tuning their performance for either fast climbs or high speeds, respectively. The result is that interceptors often look very impressive on paper, typically outrunning, outclimbing and outgunning less dedicated fighter designs. Yet they tend to fare poorly in combat against those same "less capable" designs due to limited maneuverability."

    * Pictures courtesy of http://www.madmaxmovies.com/
    ** Picture courtesy of here

    Sunday, September 2, 2007

    Suggested Rules: Hatchbacks

    Earlier, in my discussion about cargo spaces I suggested that new rules could be added for making a car a hatchback. Here are my suggestions (which are experimental as of yet; I will try to playtest it out).

    Experimental Parameters: Hatchbacks

    I am not applying some of my fanciful ideas to make cargo spaces actually important (I'll try to emphasize my case on the established message boards); these parameters are to apply the same rules that convert a luxury into a station wagon.

    A luxury has 19 spaces and is structurally equivalent to a station wagon which is 21 total, 17 usable and 4 strictly for cargo.

    1. The rule I will start with is that making a standard body style into its 'hatchback' version will add roughly 10% to size (10% of 19 spaces is 2 for this purpose) and the cargo space will need to be, exclusively, 20% of total body (e.g. 4 spaces of the 21 space station wagon).

    Body // Original Size // New Configuration
  • Subcompact // 7 // 6(+2)
  • Compact // 10 // 9 (+2)
  • Midsized // 13 // 12 (+3)
  • Sedan // 16 // 15 (+3)
  • Luxury // 19 // 17 (+4) - i.e. a station wagon
  • Pickup, Camper, Van, Trikes - does not apply

    2. Advantages of Hatchbacking
  • Even without my variant rules for cargo, hatchbacking adds space. Simple.
  • The duelling advantage is that with the elongated space, these bodies advance into the next higher body category for body accessories. So a hatchback subcompact would be the size of a compact for the purpose of 1 space turrets and a hatchback compact would now allow a 2 space turret.

    3. Other rules - hatchback cargo cannot be converted into passenger space.

    My test case will be The 2057 version of The AMC Gremlin.
  •