Backfire

HTMLized by J.D Forinash.
There is a fine line between game enjoyment and adhering to the rules. It seems that with each issue of ADQ, I have one or more of my cars, drivers, or weapons scribbled from the tablet of reality. In the last few months, all of my character kills have been invalidated by virtue of the fact that we have revised such and such a rule.

While this may sell large numbers of the "up-to-date" version of Car Wars, and subscriptions to ADQ, it has made continuing characters almost pointless.

A specific case concerns the term "kill." In your Vol. 2, No. 3 issue of the quarterly, in response to Kirk Towner's letter you have chosen to say that a kill is a matter of stopping and disabling the firepower of a car. Mr. Towner's problem seems to be that any other way, all that is needed is to shoot a tire. I have several problems with this. First, one tire does not a kill make, unless the car crashes and burns. Cars have crashed and burned without a shot being fired -- these are still "kills" in one-on-one situations. Damaging only one tire merely reduces handling class. It does not "stop" the car. The purpose of wheelguards is to prevent the famous six-second "duel of tires."

Secondly, I'm sure many of the old school of autoduellists have any number of characters that have gotten kills through stopping or disabling firing systems. This has made it possible to not necessarily go for red blood in each duel. I would not want to have to change all my characters because of a change of rules three years late.

Another problem is that of common sense. If a car is not moving but has operable guns on one side, it is not a threat unless the opposing car cannot move, for that car could merely move out of the arc of fire. Having done so, the same car could a) park with his guns to bear on any of the other sides, b) ram him continuously, or c) blurp the disabled car with an Artful Dodger.

Case two would be a car that cannot fire, but can move. It may be argued that this car can escape or ram the other car(s) in the arena. However, as an effective duelling machine, it is useless. Such a car would be more appropriate to Chassis and Crossbow rules rather than standard Car Wars.

The most important problem is the continual revision of rules that seems to be going on. The first edition has become next to useless, and with this phenomenon the game has become less enjoyable. The original beauty of Car Wars was its simplicity. Where roleplaying games required hours of character generation and tedious adventuring, Car Wars merely r equired some paper, two dice and one -- count them, one -- rule book. I play Car Wars, not "Guess That Rule"!

-- Alexander Baxter
Portland, OR

You cover a lot of ground in your letter, Alexander, but I'll try to address all your points. First, my response to Kirk Towner's letter in ADQ 2/3 was not a new rule -- that's always been our interpretation of a rule that appears in the first edition and has never been changed. If you've had a diferent interpretation but didn't find out until reading that letter, that doesn't mean we changed it at that moment. Your examples are well taken. The car that cannot move and has operable weapons in only one arc of fire is most certainly a "kill, " for as long as the other cars stay out of that arc of fire. If it's obvious to the disabled car's occupants that no one is going to dance in pont of their guns, they'll probably surrender rather than die as target practice. And anyone who thinks a car that can't fire, but can move, is "useless" as a duelling machine has never been T-Boned by a luxury with a ramplate at 60 mph! As to your last point, I share some of your frustration about constant rule refinements, but please see my discussion in "Driver's Seat" for a longer explanation.

-- SDH

My letter is an answer to a challenge given by Benjamin S. Hay in ADQ 2/2, in which he stated, "I defy you to give me an example of an explosive that would not be set off by extreme heat." As I am currently a member of the US Army and employed as an explosives handler, I can give a little insight into this...

Most mines today (1984) use a form of plastic explosive, or even dynamite, none of which can be set off by heat alone. (We have even used it to cook our rations -- just don't stomp out the flame!)...

-- Michael E. Byrd
Milwaukee, WI

This is just to say good work on Vol. 2, No. 3. Those three mini-scenarios are great, especially "Rush Hour." After a couple of quick playings, we came up with an even more nerve-wracking variant: an all-out duel going against the flow of traffic. The set-up is the same as before, except that all the vehicles are placed facing the two duellists. (Don't ask me how they ended up going the wrong way on the freeway during rush hour...) Add the possibility that a berserk or irate driver may decide to play "Chicken," and see if your nerves aren't shot after one playing...

Also thanks for printing my Bumper Trigger design. I wasn't expecting it and it was a very pleasant surprise! Thanks again!... As usual, I've submitted a couple of other new items with this letter...

Is there going to be any change to the grenade overshoot rules? As they stand now, our group of players constantly toss their grenades about 3" short, knowing they'll probably miss their "to hit" roll, and the overshoot rules place the grenades right where they want them. It also seems too easy to toss grenades from firing ports of vehicles... If you miss, you simply overshoot. I'd like to see some rules that would make a miss a lot more inaccurate, or downright dangerous (i.e., if you roll a 2, you've dropped the grenade in your lap, heh, heh...).

Mike Emrick
Gainesville, FL

I have just received ADQ Vol. 2, No. 3, and I'd like to compliment you on an excellent issue. I particularly admired your selection of letters. I also recently purchased The AADA Vehicle Guide and would, again, like to congratulate you on a superb product. I only wish that the views of the vehicles had been done in standard Car Wars scale (or perhaps slightly smaller) to make it possible to photocopy, color with highlighter pens, and mount them to form a fascinating new fleet of cars, bikes, trikes, choppers, buses, and trucks. I hope that the next installment of this supplement will include vehicles equipped with autocannons and especially spoilers and airdams.

Speaking of spoilers and airdams, may I respectfully submit that they seem a bit too effective: I can't imagine myself designing a highway vehicle without one of the two. Maneuvers reduced to DO or less should require control rolls: Otherwise, there is never any reason not to perform bends and such, which make things a touch easy for my taste. Perhaps spoilers should restrict turret fire in some way and should be the first things to go in a roll.

I have a vehicle which is about to have a bumper trigger installed on its front and connected to an MFR pod. Bumper triggers are an idea whose elegance and beauty are matched only by the annoyance of the thought: "Why didn't I think of that?" My hearty respect for the genius who came up with them.

"All Fired Up" is marvelous. I've always felt that lasers were simply too powerful and gave too much of an advantage to those who were armed with them, especially with their ability to set cars afire. If lasers are so nifty, then why didn't the Dempsey XM-6 carry any? Might I also suggest that ignited pedestrians be allowed to put themselves out by "dropping and rolling." This counts as a fire action (sorry)...

About bombs. It's a pity you flippantly referred a gamer to Air War when the Car Wars scale happens to give such an elegant answer to his question. The time in seconds it will take a bomb to fall a given distance in game inches is equal to the square root of the distance. A bomb dropped from 17" (for example) will take 4.1 seconds to hit the ground. From this it's very easy to figure out how far forward the bomb will travel as it falls, and add a scatter factor some way proportional to the amount by which the to-hit roll is missed (Perhaps I should mention that I won our high school's physics award and so this may be a lot more complex than I think)...

-- John Nowak
LaGrangeville, NY

It is, but thanks anyway.

-- SDH