Strafing and Rockets in AERODUEL

By Stephen Beeman

Editor's Note: These rules (or rules like them) will be officially introduced in Aeroduel. For regular ground duels, consider these rules to be official variants - use them or ignore them at your leisure.

Multifire vs. Shell Weapons

With the exception of lasers, which will be discussed later, all weapons in Car Wars damage their targets by hitting them with ammunition. Some weapons, such as machine guns, throw a lot of small units of ammunition; these weapons are called multifire weapons. Others, such as rocket launchers, throw a single larger unit of ammo; these are called shell weapons.

Shell weapons are easy to use - the gunner points the weapon, pulls the trigger and the target either gets hit or doesn't. Multifire weapons are a bit more complicated. To get the full effect out of a multifire weapon, the gun must be held on the target. To simplify play, the game merely assumes that that's what the gunner does during the entire turn when firing a machine gun; thus, the machine gun's entire damage is resolved at once.

This system works fine for most situations. However, what happens when a multifire weapon is set on automatic? In regular Car Wars, the weapon simply does its damage at the end of the turn to whatever is in front of it. In reality, though, what happens is that every target that passes in front of the gun has a chance of getting hit by one or two rounds, and they'll take more damage the longer they stay in the line of fire.

The strafing rules below attempt to resolve this situation. They add an interesting dimension to regular Car Wars, and referees may feel free to use them in groundhog duels. They are a bit more complex than the normal automatic fire rules, but the extra complexity is necessary to simulate the effects of aerial strafing runs.


When an aircraft strafes, it puts multifire weapons on automatic and flies past its target. The line of fire from the weapons cross the target and, with a little luck, the hapless victim gets nailed. The following rules reflect this procedure in Car Wars terms.

Only multifire weapons can be used to strafe. When a multifire weapon is placed on automatic, draw an imaginary line straight out from the location of the weapon. At the end of every phase, the nearest target along that line has a chance of being hit. Determine the to-hit roll normally, with two exceptions. First, computers have no effect. Second, Gunner does not add to the roll. Driver (or Pilot) skill can be added to the roll against only one target per turn, although the bonus can be applied in multiple phases against that target; however, increase the difficulty of all hazards and maneuvers by 1 whenever this bonus is being used, since the driver's ability to swerve and steer is limited.

Strafing weapons cannot aim for specific parts of a target (such as a wheel or turret), although, at the referee's option, the height of the weapon may be taken into account - an MG strafing from the side of a tractor-trailer rig might have a chance to hit the turret of a compact, for example. Note that sustained fire does count when strafing - if an object remains in the line of fire long enough, it should get hit eventually.

If the target is hit, roll for damage. The result is divided by 5, rounding down, and applied to the target as usual. Continue with the next phase, and repeat this procedure at the end of each successive phase until the weapon is shut off.

Against metal armor, strafing weapons are treated a little differently. When a die roll comes up as a metal-removing result (before dividing by 5), a point of metal armor is removed as usual. However, further rolls during that turn will not degrade the target's armor. Under no circumstances will a strafing weapon remove more metal in one turn than it would when fired normally.

Ammo can be tracked in two ways. The easy way is to mark off one round at the end of each turn that the weapon is on automatic, plus an additional round when the weapon is finally turned off. (Only mark off one round if the weapon is turned off at the end of Phase 5, rather than one for turning it off and one for the end of the turn.) However, this procedure is inefficient. If a lot of strafing is going on (for example, in an air-to-ground combat), do the following:
Multiply the ammo capacity of multifire weapons by 5, and divide the CPS and WPS by 5 - i.e., break each shot down into 5 separate shots. Whenever such a multifire weapon fires in the regular Car Wars manner (either as a single shot or using the area effect rules), it consumes 5 shots; every phase of fire using the strafing rules consumes 1 shot.

Special Multifire Weapons

The VFRP is a special kind of multifire weapon. It may be set to fire one rocket every phase. Unlike other weapons, the VFRP does full damage when strafing - but it only fires one rocket out of the six it could normally fire. Strafing rockets may not be laser-guided. The MFR pod cannot be used in this manner, as it gang-fires its six rockets.
Lasers are normally multifire weapons - they put out a continuous beam of energy. Pulse lasers, however, use special optics and a capacitor to concentrate all the "zap" in one burst, and are shell weapons instead. A strafing laser cannot be used to laser-guide rockets, since the rockets need the beam to remain on-target until they arrive.
Incendiary Weapons
These are a special case. The complicated and realistic way to handle incendiary strafing is this: Whenever a target gets strafed by an incendiary weapon, it takes half (round up) of the burn modifier, with a burn duration of 0. On the second hit from the same weapon, it takes the remainder of the full burn modifier, and the burn duration goes up to half (round down) of the normal duration. The third hit and subsequent hits bring the duration and modifier to their normal levels. No single weapon may ever apply more than its normal burn modifier and duration in one turn to one target.
Example: An MG with incendiary ammo is set to strafe as the vehicle passes by a target. The first hit gives the target a fire modifier of 1 and a burn duration of 0. The second hit increases the modifier to 2, but since half of 1 rounded down is 0, the duration remains at 0 The third hit raises the duration to 1. That particular MG will have no further effect on the target's chance of catching on fire until the next turn.
Burst Effects
Certain strafe-capable weapons, such as the MG or AC, can be loaded with burst-effect ammunition. Assume that, when strafing with such weapons, the individual shells are spread too far apart to achieve significant burst damage, and thus in strafing mode, these weapons lose their burst effect.
Multifire Weapons
All area effect weapons except the VSG, the AC and the VFRP are capable of multifire.

Flame Clouds and Flaming Oil

Conceptually, flame clouds and flaming oil are very similar to strafing attacks. Basically, all three kinds of attacks apply their damage continuously over an area - a patch of ground for FCs and FO, a line for strafing guns - and any target that enters that area has a chance of taking damage. In the case of FCs and FO, this chance is 100%. With these new strafing rules, flame clouds and flaming oil can be treated with a little more (dare I say it?) realism.

Flame clouds and flaming oil do their damage at the end of each phase. If a vehicle passes through a FC or FO but is no longer touching the counter by the end of the phase, that vehicle is totally unaffected - it blew through too quickly!

If the vehicle is affected, it takes damage to every exposed location. A flame cloud does 2d basic damage, while flaming oil does ld+2. However, this damage is treated in all respects like strafing damage - i.e., it is divided by 5 (rounding down), and the fire modifiers accumulate slower.

Thus, you can see that a vehicle traveling at high speed doesn't have to fear these weapons. On the other hand, a stationary vehicle that is caught in the flames is in serious trouble.

Drop-spike plates are not affected by this rule, nor are any other dropped solid weapons. Only flame clouds and flaming oil are affected.

Advanced Rocket Construction Rules

Rocket Types
There are two basic kinds of rockets, self-launched and rack-launched. All rockets have maneuvering/stabilizing fins, a solid-fuel rocket motor, and a warhead of some type. Self-launched rockets also contain an avionics set (gyroscope and such) to stabilize and aim the rocket once launched. Rack-launched rockets don't need such gadgets, since they are stabilized and aimed by their launcher.
Guidance Types
There are several kinds of guidance/homing systems. The simplest is no guidance at all - the rocket goes in a straight line and the gunner hopes it hits something. The next step up is laser-guidance - the firing vehicle paints the target with a laser, and the rocket homes in on the brightest source of laser light it can see. Other systems involve the gunner steering the rocket himself via remote control, either along a wire or using radio.
A wide range of radar-homing rockets are available. The cheapest contains a radio antenna and homes in on radar signals; the antenna is not very sensitive, and requires the target to be broadcasting radar signals - reflected pulses won't work. The next step up adds a weak radar transmitter or ultrasonic movement sensor to the above. This system can only home in on targets within a very few yards, so it still has to be aimed normally - but there's a tremendous margin for error, since all the firer has to do is get the rocket close to the target. Because this radar set is not very sophisticated, however, it can be confused by ground-scatter, and, if the target is within a few yards of the ground, the rocket will often nosedive into a rock rather than the intended recipient. The best radar-guided rocket contains a very powerful, very sophisticated radar suite. These rockets see the target and hunt it down. They are "fire-and-forget" weapons - the gunner pushes the button and goes on to more important matters.
Rocket Speed
The basic rocket moves about 800 mph. Within the framework of the Car Wars game, this is treated as instantaneous, for simplicity. Some rockets, particularly radar- and tele-guided rockets, are designed to fly slower to increase their maneuverability and accuracy.
Rocket Range
All rockets have a maximum time aloft of five seconds.
There are several types of warheads available for rockets. The basic warhead is simply high explosive. Another common kind uses a shaped-charge explosive instead. Some warheads replace the high explosive with napalm. Flare, smoke-stream, smoke cloud and chaff cloud rockets are also available. One very rare warhead uses a special capacitor to short out vehicular electric power plants.
Launching Systems
Self-launched rockets don't need launching systems - the rocket drops off its mounting rails and fires. However, self-launched rockets are sometimes collected into rocket pods. The advantage of a pod is that it takes up less space than its component rockets normally would; the disadvantage is that all its rockets must fire at once, at the same target.
Rack launchers come in two types. The simplest type consists of a launching tube and an ammo feed; the stability of the launcher makes this system more accurate than other rockets. A more versatile type uses six launching tubes in a rotary arrangement. This system may fire all six tubes at once (requiring a second to reload), or it may fire one tube at a time, reloading each tube as it fires. However, this launcher is not as stable or accurate as the normal single-tube system.

Building Rockets

First, select the basic rocket frame - HR, RL round, whatever. Then choose one guidance system and one warhead type from the list below, applying the listed modifiers. Finally, choose the rocket's speed based on its guidance tele-guided and active-radar-guided rockets may only go either 200, 400 (-1 to hit) or 600 (-2 to hit) mph.

Self-Launched Rockets Cost Weight Spaces Damage Super Rocket (SR) $300 150 1.5 4d Heavy Rocket (HR) 200 100 1 3d Medium Rocket (MR) 140 50 1 2d Light Rocket (LR) 75 25 1/2 1d Mini Rocket (MNR) 50 20 1/3 1d-1 Rack-Launched Rockets Cost Weight Damage Super $75 15 4d Heavy 50 10 3d Medium (RL) 35 5 2d Light (MML) 20 2.5 1d Mini 12.5 2 1d-1 Guidance + Cost + Weight Notes Unguided $ 0 0 --- Laser-guided 200 0 + $500 to laser Passive Radar 100 0 Instant; hits like RGM Anti-Air Radar 200 0 +3 vs air/-2 vs ground Active Radar 2,000 25 TH 7; < 600 mph Wire-Guided 1,000 25 TH 6; < 600 mph Radio-Controlled 2,000 25 TH 6; < 600 mph Ballistic (artillery) 500 0 May be combined with other types of guidance Warhead Cost Weight Notes Multiple Multiple Normal x l x 1 --- Armor-piercing x l x l.5 --- Incendiary x 1.5 x 2 BM= dice+l; BD = dice HESH x 1.5 x l Spalling Flare x l x 1 Illum Smoke stream x 1 x l 2 cntrs/die Smoke cloud x l x l 1" x l" smoke cloud Chaff cloud x l x l 1" x l" chaff cloud Artillery loads x l.5 x 5 Only available for super rockets Launchers Cost Weight Spaces Shots Super Launcher $2,000 800 4 10 Heavy Launcher 1,500 400 3 10 Medium Launcher (RL) 1,000 200 2 10 Light Launcher (MML) 750 100 1 10 Mini Launcher 500 50 2/3 10 Rotary Launchers Cost Weight Spaces Shots Mini Rotary Launcher $1,000 100 2 30 Lt Rotary Launcher (VFRP) 2,000 200 3 30 Med Rotary Launcher 3,000 400 6 30 Hvy Rotary Launcher 4,500 800 9 30 Sup Rotary Launcher 6,000 1,600 12 30
Issue 7/3 Index

Steve Jackson Games * Car Wars * ADQ Index