Tournament Duelling Strategy

by David Wilson
HTMLized by Francis Greenaway.
The sport of autoduelling continues to grow in popularity. Car Wars tournaments are now offered at almost all major game conventions (and those that don't had better start soon - if AADA lobbyists don't convince them, angry AADA members will!). Duellists are also beginning to attend these tournaments in larger numbers. However, autoduelling at a convention is quite different from the average duel with friends. Usually much more is at stake than bragging rights after the game, such as your entry fee, trophies, awards and prizes. At a tournament, you have no idea who you will be fighting, what you will be fighting, where you will be fighting, or often what you will be fighting in.

Design Strategy

Be prepared! Don't just show up for your round with a pencil and some dice (although it is a pretty good idea to have these). Have your vehicle design ready to go. You ask "What kind of vehicles and what price range should they be in?" Therein lies the adventure of a Car Wars tournament. You never know exactly what kind of vehicle you will need, or what price limit (if any). It is very rare that the combat be something other than an arena or road combat (at least in the preliminary rounds), so your designs should be van-sized or smaller. The price range you select for your designs should be based on the AADA Division system. Division 5 (the cheapest) vehicles cost $5,000 or less. Division 10 vehicles cost $5,001-$10,000, and so on through Division 30. Above Division 30 is Unlimited Class, which means that you have as much money as you want to spend.

"But which Division should my designs be for?" you ask. Again, you don't know. You should have at least one design in each division, and a few extra in Division 15. Division 15 is a price limit where you can build a decent car, but it still presents a challenge. If you are really serious about your duelling, you should have several designs in each division. Have a variety of cars to choose from, such as a fast car with good HC for a racetrack arena, or a car with extra ammunition for scenarios with many participants, etc. Playtest your designs before the con to find their strengths and weaknesses. This may sound like a lot of work and bother, but to those who really want to win it won't be that hard. And it will be worth it when you watch your adversaries scramble to work up a design a few minutes before the round.

When you are designing your vehicles, be sure to make them ready for anything. Often when you only play with certain friends, your vehicle designs will be styled to fit how they play. For example, if your friends never shoot at turrets, you put very little armour on top. At the con, though, your friends aren't the only ones who will be there, and you may run across some character who only shoots at turrets. You should always carry a fire extinguisher or fireproof armour, because you never know if someone might be using flamethrowers or lasers until combat starts, and by then it is too late. Bring enough vehicle design material and sheets in order to be ready for any scenario that may be thrust upon you, especially in the later rounds.

Combat Strategy

You all know your favourite manoeuvres and tactics, so I won't tell you how to drive, What I will say is that some duellists tend to drive a little haphazardly when they are just duelling with friends, because if you crash, it's no big deal. You must remember not to carry this over to a tournament. When tournament duelling, remember: "There are old duellists, and there are bold duellists, but there are very few old, bold duellists." This doesn't mean to be too conservative - if you have to bootlegger, do it.

If you are carrying hand weapons, don't forget about them. A well-aimed blast from an SMG, grenade or even light pistol can save the day when your vehicle weapons are out, or can't hit.

If you are driving a compact or sub-compact car, don't forget the additional -1 for firing at the body of the car. This modifier is often forgotten but it can save a lot of wear and tear on a smaller duellist.

Dealing with Opponents and the Referee

How one talks to, and deals with his opponents and referees at tournaments can be just as important as how one shoots and manoeuvres. don't give away information about your vehicle before or during combat. Statements like, "One more hit on my right side and I'll be dead!" or, "I can't get near that car with the flamethrowere because I don't have a fire extinguisher" can lose a fight faster than a roll of 6 on Crash Table 1. On the other hand, such statements can be used to trick opponents. A statement like, " can't take any more damage on my left!" can cause someone to blast away on your strongest side. "I can't let anyone get behind me!" can influence an adversary to politely manoeuvre himself into your rear weapon's arc. Just remember that similar statements by your opponents may be tricks too...

Making deals or agreements with other players may or may not be allowed. Ask the referee if you can make any deals before you do. Also remember that there is no guarantee that your "partner" won't plug a shot into you when given the chance, or vice versa.

Unfortunately, there are a few dishonest duellists out there, and/or some who don't design correctly or keep proper records. During combat, keep track of everyone's shots and damage sustained. If you suspect someone of cheating, ask the referee to check it out, and don't get prematurely angry at anyone. Cheating and/or making mistakes during vehicle design is especially easy. At a well run tournament, the referee will check all designs before combat. If he doesn't, pay attention to your opponent's car during combat. if it has enormous amounts of armour coupled with heavy firepower and fast acceleration, you can bet there is something fishy with the design.

Your referee is the one who determines what is right and settles questionable situations. Before the round starts, ask any questions that you may have, such as if you can use weapons from ADQ, or if you can hide mines in smoke. Many of your favourite tricks you've developed in your home group may be illegal on other players' groups. If you have any doubts, it's better to ask the referee in private before the action starts than to get into an argument in the middle of the game. And be sure to carry the rulebooks with you, so you can quickly check things out for yourself.

Good luck, and may you always make your control roll!