Backfire

HTMLized by Gustav Dahlström.


It's Only a Game! A Reader Speaks Out

Sorry, I had to get that off my chest. I have acquired an incredible talent to overlook little things, a necessary talent when playing Car Wars. It started when all of the rule lawyers began going through the rules with a finetoothed comb . . . when grenade launchers were changed for the seventeenth time . . . when component armor and mini-safes were loopholed till the sun went down. Naturally, the traditional volley of rules changes followed, and all was well in paradise. Until plastique. And gas engines. So, I overlooked these things. I must admit, however, that I committed the Eighth Deadly Sin. I began to compare Car Wars game statistics with present military data. However, I was still able to overlook these little things. Like the fact that every gas car known to man could rocket from 0 to 60 in four seconds or less (Acceleration 15, figure it out), a feat matched only by the Ferran F40, Porsche 959, Corvette ZR-1, and Ford R~200. "Who cares?" I said. "It's only a game."

It was then that I realized that few people shared my opinion. This was especially obvious in Backfire, where I was subjected to endless debate over the morality of killing and the basis for the existence of cycle gangs. Call me a crazed, bloodthirsty, neurotic killer; but I have no more trouble offing an opponent than I do jumping a checker. And why? Because it's only a game. No one is trying to pass it off as reality because it's only a game. Most rules don't need a rationalization or a moral justification. They are there to make the game fun. I don't want to hear whining about X-ray lasers any more than I want to hear the slurping sounds of someone licking the pus from a dead leper's festering sores. And I'd also prefer not to read any more arguments between a Fish called Leslie and friends about who runs the RF. But hey! I can overlook these! just as easily as I can overlook the need for more than 40 different types of tires for cars alone. I also prefer to overlook the fact that you need a Ph.D. in physics to get behind the wheel of a hovercraft.

Now that that's out of the way, I would like to take this time to answer some upcoming Backfire questions now, before they waste space in my favorite magazine: To all of you who bought the Compendium:

1. The HDFCE has 10 shots, not 240;
2. A hovercraft with a power to weight ratio of at least one but less than two can't move at all, period;
3. And yes, some portions of the cover (helicopter weapons pods, motorcycle front suspension, turn signals, and rider) are cut outs from photographs, hats off to John Dismukes.

To all of you about to write in about loophole xyz: You cannot xyz, because x, y, and z are all mutually exclusive. To all of you who are about to write in again, having found technical justification for xyz: You can xyz, but only on alternate Tuesdays in May during leap years when the President is wearing a red hat.

To all of you writing in about an abstract moral issue: if you need moral justification, you take the game too seriously, have trouble differentiating reality from imagination, and will soon be visited by some nice young gentlemen dressed in white who will take you somewhere where you will be very happy.

To all of you writing in with any question beginning with "why": Because it's only a @%$#*& game, and I make the rules.

To all of you who still haven't figured out what happened at the end of "Challenge Night": I can't speak for David N. Searle, but as far as I can tell, he hit that son-of-a-... and was killed instantly. To all of you with any letter containing the word "anarchist": Kindly put your smartcards where the sun don't shine.

I hated doing that. Really, I did. But, I'm beginning to loose my ability to overlook things. I've managed, however, to overlook the exorbitant amount of tire types, now that our group has banned tire shots (hats off to Mitchell Goldman, who originally suggested the idea in Backfire, 5/1; directly beneath a brilliantly written opinion on tracked vehicles.

Now that I've shot down most furture Backfire topics, I have a civic duty to start up a few more. First, shouldn't mines be destroyed by flaming oil? (Yes, I know this has been done before; but when Benjamin Hay first suggested the idea, so many poison pens went to work, I couldn't resist bringing it up again.) Second, how about compiling all of the designs, weapons, variant rules, etc. that you didn't print, put them together in one big book, and publish it? Third, don't give in to religious fanatics any more and change the name of a product that's already out there. By the way, any bonus points to people such as yours truly who bought Sunday Drivers before it became Crash City? Fourth, have people vote on rules before they become official? It will save all of us a lot of pain. Fifth, publish as many rules for planes, surfboards, rollerskates, and any other type of vehicle you want, but don't take the car out of Car Wars. Sixth, print as much new equipment as possible (I may complain about too many types of tires, but it doesn't mean that I don't use them). Seventh, print my full address at the end of this letter. Eighth and finally, remember: IT'S ONLY A GAME!
-Stephen E. Mason

Thank you for sharing that with us. Your words echo the feelings of a lot of letters that we have received recently But some of what you said, Mr. Mason, is wrong.

First of all there are not 40 different types of tires, there are 75 different possibilities, not including cycle and truck tires, in which case there are 225.

We would like to print more variant rules for the game, but we want them to be playable. I enioyed issue 5/1 tremendously and another variant issue may be done, if we get enough submissions.

As far as voting goes, it would take an incredible amount of time, and make the time between new products much too long. We are making sure that all of our products get playtested extensively.

Mines and flame. . . okay, I checked with the resident military genius and got the answer of - no, although he feels that a burst from a rocket or other BE weapon would have a chance. This is how they do it now. Unofficially, if a rocket hits in or on the mine counter, it would have a chance to set it off. The chance would be equal to the chance a vehicle would have. Roll for each rocket that hits. Burst effect weapons would have a -1 to their roll needed. Example: a HR hits a spider-mine counter, it would have to roll a 1-4 to set it off; a blast cannon hit would require a roll of 1-3. So you want more equipment, eh? Well, Uncle Albert will again be appearing in the pages of ADQ.

In conclusion, we can't publish your address, but we will be more than willing to forward any mail to Mr. Mason. Address comments to Stephen E. Mason, to Autoduel Quarterly.
- DNS

I loved the Compendium, but I need to complain a little. The problem is the power drainage formulas. The helicopter formula should read: 'PV x Current Speed / l00 x Max Speed' or ridiculous results appear, such as a 200-mile range at top speed. Another problem is the car formula. Drainage could be simplified to PV x Speed / l00 x Max. Speed without loss of accuracy, and the range at max speed comes out as 112.5 miles. However, the new formulas allow some other new formulas to be written, figuring cruising speed and range. Cruising speed is calculated by dividmg the maximum speed by 2. Range is calculated by multiplying the max. speed by 100 then dividing the total by the current speed.
- Peter Eng, Seattle, WA

Feedback is the ability to send back a stronger signal to the sender unit, scrambling or destroying it. Scrambling an enemy unit creates snow (static), making their unit useless. Destroying an enemy unit is done by creating enough feedback to overload the unit, literally burning out the circuits or making them explode. Feedback scrambling is a base 8 to hit, and overloading is a base 10 to hit. A skilled EW operator (Level 3+) can make enemy units do some strange things, like drawing smiley faces on radar screens, switching radio frequencies, play a video game on a targeting computer, etc. Anyone facing an EW operator with the above abilities just better turn around and call it a day. Consider those ideas next time you play around with electronic warfare.

Craig Sheeley's articles were for the most part uneventful, either I heard the idea before or it was not worth mentioning. His Armored Beer Refrigerator addition to the bass boat adventure is obviously for the true bass fisherman. Perfect for beer grenade effects like paint grenades. If beer is all it can hold, what is its use? I can personally think of several uses for an Armored Refrigerator, but very few for an Armored Beer Refrigerator. I was also surprised that Sheeley does not know how to build a boat. Sorry, my average boat would sink the Referee's boat in one turn. Hint: torpedoes. Boats are not cars and should not be armored the same way.

I liked the microplanes, but was disturbed to read that you could not shoot through a propeller. This technology has been around since World War I. In World War II there were planes that mounted a gun in the propeller shaft. Where did all this technology go? Mounting weapons in the above ways should have no effect on the performance of the plane. When mounting a weapon inside the propeller shaft it can only be a single weapon, not multiple, but it will certainly surprise the enemy.

Don't get me wrong. I enjoy reading ADQ, but I don't like seeing holes you can fly through. Also, I like the new format.
- Norman McMullen, Omaha, NE