Steve Jackson Games Car Wars

ERRATA – Car Wars Compendium (First to Second Edition Update) – Updated April 26, 2012

Copyright © by Steve Jackson Games Incorporated.

[Webmaster's note: The only changes in the April 2012 update are the inclusion of some missing content, as well as some formatting adjustments. No changes have been made to the original October 20, 1997 rules content.]



The most obvious change is the new Movement Chart. As in the first edition of the Compendium, the Movement Chart has five phases; however, the new Movement Chart changes the phases in which vehicles move. On the old chart a vehicle moving at 25 mph would move full inches in the second and fourth phases and have a half-inch move in the sixth phase. With the new chart a car moving at the same speed will move full inches on the first and third phases of the turn and a half-inch on the sixth phase.

The advantage of this new chart may not be obvious at first glance, but it is important. A problem that often occurred with the old Movement Chart was slower cars moving when faster cars did not, sometimes allowing impossible things to happen! With the old chart it was possible for a car moving at 10 mph to have a rear end collision with a car in front of it moving at 30 mph, because the 30 mph car does not move on phase 3. With the new chart, no slower vehicle moves when a faster vehicle does not, so the collision cannot happen, since, as with the first edition, a faster car always moves first in a phase.

The other, less drastic change to the rules concerning the Movement Chart is that when the chart calls for a vehicle to move a fraction of an inch on a given phase, the vehicle must make that movement in that phase. Before, if you had to make a half-move during a turn you could make that move during any phase.

Also in the "Movement" chapter, specifically the Maneuvers and Speed Changes section: "A vehicle may only make one maneuver per phase. A maneuver replaces 1" of ordinary forward movement. If a vehicle is moving at more than 1" per phase, the owner determines during which 1" move (if any) it will take place." While not directly in conflict with the first edition of the Compendium, this is in conflict with rulings that have been made in Autoduel Quarterly, which specified that, on a phase where a vehicle moved more that 1", any maneuver made that phase must be made on the first inch of movement.

The second paragraph of that same section, however, contains a major rules change which is in direct conflict with the first edition Compendium and every previous version of the rules to Car Wars. "Once per turn, at the beginning of a phase, a vehicle may either accelerate or decelerate any amount up to its maximum. This is done before any movement is made; the speed change is immediate. Any control rolls are made before movement as well; all Crash Table results are handled this phase." With this rule in place, speed changes take place during the turn, rather than between turns as has been done till now. Any vehicle may make one normal acceleration or deceleration every turn, on any phase the driver chooses. The speed change takes place immediately and the speed of the vehicle is adjusted on the Movement Chart immediately. This is the other advantage of the new Movement Chart. The old Movement Chart would not allow this type of speed change in mid-turn.

A vehicle may not do both an acceleration and a deceleration during the same turn. This applies to normal accelerations and decelerations. If a vehicle has accessories which will let it accelerate by using a firing action (Nitrous Oxide or Rocket Boosters) then it may gain an extra acceleration on a different phase of the same turn by using the firing action to activate the accessory. The same applies to accessories which will allow decelerations, like the Drag Chute.

Nitrous Oxide will, when activated by itself in a phase other than a vehicle's normal acceleration, accelerate the vehicle by a maximum of 10 mph. After the turn in which Nitrous Oxide is activated, the acceleration bonus is added to the vehicle's normal acceleration and must be taken in the phase, if any, where the vehicle accelerates normally. Rocket Boosters which burn over multiple turns, however, apply their acceleration on the phase in which they were activated in every turn they burn. The Hazard produced should be applied in the phase that they are activated and every additional phase that they provide acceleration. The same can be said for the deceleration produced by Drag Chutes.

These changes are also reflected in the Acceleration and Deceleration section of the chapter. Where the section says, "A vehicle may only change speeds once per turn," it is, of course, referring to the normal acceleration of the vehicle and not the acceleration/deceleration gained by accessories.

The other change to the section is in the Hazards produced by high deceleration. It's gotten a little easier.

Deceleration Hazard Table

DecelerationOld HazardNew Hazard
<10 mphD0D0
15 mphD0D1
20 mphD3D2
25 mphD5D3
30 mphD7D5
35 mphCrashD7
40 mphTableD9
45 mphOneD11

Greater decelerations are not possible without special equipment which modifies the Hazard. The Control Table has been changed in the second edition to smooth out some irregularities, which produced some strange results at times. The Chart functions the same way it always has, but some of the numbers have been moved around. Old copies of the Control Table may produce different results from the table in the second edition.

The Maneuvers section of the chapter also contains a major change in the way things work: "Any time vehicle weapons are fired on the same phase as a maneuver, the D value of the maneuver is subtracted from the to-hit roll." If a vehicle performs a D3 maneuver in the same phase in which it fires, then the vehicle suffers a -3 modifier to its to-hit for all fire in that phase. This modification only applies to the firing vehicle. If a vehicle which is a target of fire from another vehicle makes a maneuver in that phase, the maneuver has no effect on the firer's chance to hit. Also, any hazard suffered from acceleration (through rocket boosters) or from rapid deceleration, counts as a maneuver and will affect the fire of the vehicle in the same manner.

Bootlegger Reverse

The only other change made to the Maneuver section of the rules is how a Bootlegger Reverse is performed. The Reverse still takes two inches of movement to complete and the vehicle performing it must start the turn between 20 and 35 mph. The only difference is where the vehicle ends up after the first and second inches of movement.

Three changes have been made to the Crash Table section of the Movement chapter. In the section on Crash Table Modifiers, "Skill Bonus: The driver's Driving skill (or Cyclist, Pilot, or other appropriate skill) bonus is subtracted from all Crash Table rolls." This means that a Driver +3 who rolls an unmodified 11 on Crash Table 1 would have the roll modified down to an 8, resulting in a Severe Skid rather than a Roll.

"Difficulty of Maneuver or Hazard: The difficulty of a maneuver (or hazard) that caused the loss of control plays an important part in determining a crash result. Take the modified Difficulty rating of the hazard or maneuver, subtract 3 and add the result (negative or positive) to the Crash Table roll. Thus a D4 maneuver gives a +1 to the roll, while a D1 maneuver gives a -2." There are two reasons for this change. First, it makes sense that small, gentle maneuvers when you are in a bad spot should be less likely to produce a bad result than large, violent maneuvers. The rule rewards drivers for taking small maneuvers when their handling is low and penalizes them for taking drastic maneuvers. "What've I got to lose? I'll do a D6" was an often heard phrase around the gaming table. This rule should eliminate that.

The second change in the Crash Table section affects skids. In the first edition, if a vehicle suffered a Severe skid result, it would skid 1" on its next movement, ¾" on the next inch after that, ½" on the third inch and ¼" on the fourth inch of movement after the result. Now, instead of decrementing the amount the vehicle skids by ¼" every time the vehicle moves, decrement by ½". So, the same Severe skid result would produce a 1" skid on the first movement after the result and a ½" skid on the second movement. After the second movement the car would be back in control. A Moderate skid would result in a ¾" skid the first inch of movement and ¼" skid on the second inch. Minor and Trivial skids would only skid the car on the next inch of movement.

The last change to the Crash Table section is an addition to the Spinout result on Crash Table 1. This addition makes it possible for a driver to recover from a spinout before the vehicle comes to a complete stop. The driver may, once per turn, at the beginning of any phase he chooses, roll on the Control Table at Handling Class -6. If the roll is made then the vehicle recovers from the spin, at Handling Class -6. If the vehicle is sideways to its direction of travel, it must immediately perform an involuntary T-Stop. If it is backwards to its line of travel when it recovers, then it must decelerate until it is under its normal reverse speed. Of course, if you recover backwards and are traveling between 35 and 20 mph, then a Reversed Bootlegger is an option . . .

Two relatively minor additions and changes have been made to the Collision section. The first involves Ram Concussion. In the first edition rules the roll for concussion was figured by dividing the speed change after a collision by 5; in the second edition, mechanics work the same way, except the roll is figured by dividing the speed change by 10 (round up).

The other change involves Fixed Objects: "A fixed object will cause exactly as much damage as it takes, up to the point at which the fixed object breaks. All fixed objects have a DP rating, which is the number of Damage Points they can take before they are destroyed."

What this rule says, basically, is that an object cannot inflict any more damage to a ramming vehicle than the object has Damage Points. If an object had 3 Damage Points, like a lamp post, then a vehicle hitting it would take no more than 3 points of damage to the armor facing the object. If the object takes as many or more damage points than it has, then the object is destroyed. This rule applies to things like barricades, arena walls and building walls. When breaching a building with a vehicle, remember that the DP of the wall is for a single ¼" section of the wall. If a vehicle hits a 7 DP building, the vehicle must inflict 14 DP to the building to create a ½" wide gap in the building (two side-by-side breeches), and the vehicle could take a maximum of 14 DP from the collision. If the vehicle is more than ½" wide, then it must create more side-by-side breaches. For example, a Small Cargo Hovercraft is represented by a ¾" wide counter. For this vehicle to breach the 7 DP building mentioned above, it must inflict 21 points of damage to the building and would take a maximum of 21 points of damage in doing so (7 DP per ¼" of wall).

The last change in the chapter on movement is the reappearance of Steamrollering for ten-wheelers, big rigs and busses. This rule has been around for as long as Car Wars has had Oversized Vehicles, but was left out of the first edition Compendium. When a ten-wheeler collides with a motorcycle, roll 1 six sided die. if the result is 1 or 2, then a normal collision has occurred. If the result is a 3, 4, 5, or 6 then the ten-wheeler has steamrollered the cycle. The collision is figured normally for the ten-wheeler, but the cycle comes immediately to a complete stop and takes double damage from the collision. This is an additional D1 hazard for the ramming vehicle. Big rigs and buses may also steamroller motorcycles using the same method. In addition, these vehicles may steamroller subcompacts, compacts, light trikes and medium trikes. The mechanics for this are the same as for steamrollering cycles, except it is an additional D3 hazard rather than the D1 for steamrollering cycles.

The rest of the chapter, including all movement rules for the various vehicle types, remains unchanged from the first edition of the Compendium.


The first change to the "Combat" chapter is the removal of the fourth paragraph of the chapter, which said that a vehicle which fired could not maneuver on the next phase of movement. You are now allowed to fire and then maneuver on the next phase. The penalty for maneuvering and firing at the same time is being handled differently now.

This brings us to the first addition to the "Combat" chapter in the Determining Hits section. "If a driver has made a maneuver or suffered a hazard in the phase he fires a weapon, the difficulty rating of the maneuver or hazard is subtracted from his to-hit roll." Again, what this rule says is that the D rating of the maneuver or hazard is used as a negative modifier on the to-hit roll of any fire the vehicle makes during that turn. This includes any D caused by a maneuver, a road hazard, acceleration, or deceleration. It specifically does not include any hazards caused by enemy weapon fire, since all weapon fire is considered to be simultaneous.

The next addition follows immediately afterward. "When trying to hit a vehicle with a weapon's burst effect, or trying to place a burst of fire in front of a vehicle, the attacker gets the bonus for targeting the ground [+4], plus all applicable speed modifiers for both vehicles. Use common sense; the referee has final say; if the to-hit is missed while attempting a shot at the ground or wall near an enemy, use the grenade scatter rules to determine where the shot actually hit." What this rule is attempting to do is to give some mechanic for shooting weapons such as oil guns and spike guns so close to the target vehicle that the vehicle has no chance to avoid it. If this is the case – and it will usually be pretty obvious – then the speed mods of the target vehicle count against the to-hit roll of the shot. The referee's ruling, as in all other cases, is final.

The next change occurs on the same page, under the Targeting Modifiers section, and has to do with speed modifications. Long time readers of ADQ will recognize these new speed mods. The new mods take into account the angle of the target when figuring the penalty to be assessed to the firer. A target moving straight at you at 80 mph is a lot easier to target than one moving at 80 mph across your field of fire. The Compendium includes a chart:

Target is not moving: +1
Firer is not moving: +1
Firing pedestrian is braced against solid object: +1
Target is moving betwen 30 and 37.5 mph: -1
Target is moving betwen 40 and 47.5 mph: -2
Target is moving betwen 50 and 57.5 mph: -3
Target is moving betwen 60 and 67.5 mph: -4
Target is moving betwen 70 and 77.5 mph: -5
Target is moving 80 mph or faster: -6
Firer is inTarget is in Firer's:
Target's:Front arcBack arcSide arc
Front arc½ Target Speed½ (T Speed - F Speed)½ Target Speed
Back arc½ (T Speed - F Speed)½ Target Speed½ Target Speed
Side arcTarget SpeedTarget SpeedT Speed - F Speed*

* If cars are moving towards each other, the modifier is the target speed. If a vehicle is in more than one arc, rule in the defender's favor.

The number generated after you plug the speeds of the two vehicles into the formula appropriate to the situation, will be the speed that the target gets his speed mod for. Example: A Firing vehicle has a target in its front arc and is travelling at 20 mph. The target has the firer in its back arc and is travelling at 110 mph. Across the top of the chart we find that the Target is in the Firer's Front Arc, so we use the first column of the table. Down the side we find the Firer is in the Target's Back Arc. Cross referencing we find the formula (½ (T Speed - F Speed)). Plugging the speeds of the two vehicles into the formula yields (½ (110 - 20)) = 45, so the target gets a speed mod for 45 mph, or a -2. If the speeds are reversed (e.g. Target moving 20 mph and Firer moving 110 mph) the formula yields a negative number (-45), this will not help the target. Only positive results from any of the formulas will grant the target a speed mod.

In the situation where the target and the firer are in each other's side arc, there are actually two different situations that arise that must be handled differently. If the two vehicles are side arc to side arc and moving in the same direction (driving side by side), use the formula printed on the table. If, however, they are moving in opposite directions and are side arc to side arc, the target gets the mod for his full speed. The chart can be confusing without visual aids, so get out some counters and set up the different situations.

One other, minor, correction has been made under the section on starting fires, in the last sentence of the first paragraph. The first edition Compendium said, erroneously, that any Hit on a gas tank added +3 to the chance of fire. What it should have said, and now does say, is that any Breech in a gas tank adds +3 to the chance of a fire.


Many additions have been made to the "Characters" chapter . . . too many to cover here. The bulk of the additions are in the form of new skills, which will not be described in full, but simply listed with a brief description:

Animal HusbandryCare and handling of animals. LuckHelps in "Roll 2d and Pray" situations.
CommunicationsRepair and design of radio equipment. NavigationUsing stars, charts, satellites, etc.
Computer TechThe hacker's skill. PoliticsWinning votes, diplomacy, bootlicking.
EngineeringVehicle design and construction. SecurityConstruction and disarming alarms.
EspionageTricks of covert and criminal operations. ScienceBreak into specific areas of knowledge.
ExplosivesPlanting and detonating explosives. StealthThe ability to avoid detection.
Fast TalkWeaseling out of a sticky situation. StreetwiseKnowing who to talk to in low places.
HobbiesSkills studied for recreation. SurvivalTrained to survive all environments.
JournalismOperating cameras, etc. and interviewing. SwimmingSwimming.
LawKnowledge of general law. TeachingAbility to instruct another character.
LeadershipAbility to command a group effectively. TheftLockpicking, sleight of hand, etc.

The other changes in the "Characters" chapter are in the Pedestrian Equipment section. The Laser Targeting Scope (LTS) may no longer be used for laser guiding Bazooka or Gyroslugger rounds. The LTS may guide MPRL and PMML ammunition and tripod-mounted weapons that can be laser guided. Plastique has been added to the list and the damage has been changed. A full brick now has 2 blast points, a half brick has 1 blast point and a quarter brick only ½ blast point. The change to the Explosive Grenade has been mentioned above, but – the 2" blast radius affects non-vehicular components only. The burst radius for vehicular damage with an explosive grenade is now ½".


Cars are the heart of Car Wars, and any change made to them is bound to have an effect. They are also the most scrutinized aspect of the game, which is why there are so few changes in this chapter. The biggest change (and it applies to all vehicle types) is that there is no longer a maximum handling class for a vehicle. This means that a car with a Heavy suspension (HC3), Radial Tires (HC +1) and Active suspension (HC +1) would have a base handling class of 5, not 3, which was the previous maximum for base handling class. Any reference in the second edition to a vehicle's maximum handling class being 3 is in error, and should be ignored.

The other change that affects the Handling Class of cars is that sub-compacts now get an automatic +1 to their handling class with any suspension. Thus, a Sub-compact with a light suspension will have an HC of 2, 3 with an Improved suspension and 4 with a heavy suspension.

There is one change to the Gas Engines section. The cost of a variable-pitch turbocharger is now $2,000 plus one for every added power factor. The brings them back into line with the cost of standard turbochargers.

The Engine Critical Damage Table has been made more linear. Result #8 is now "Crack! The car suffers a transmission hit. Acceleration drops by 5 mph each turn (if it goes to 0, the car cannot accelerate) and the top speed drops by 10 mph each turn. If your car's top speed drops below its present speed, it will decelerate to the new top speed. Repair can only be done at a garage, and is a Hard job for a mechanic." Results 8-12 from the First Edition are unchanged, but have all been moved one number higher, so that "Radiator!" occurs on 9, and "FIRE!" on 13.

The only other change to the "Car Construction" chapter is the addition of the Racing Slick to the list of tire options. Slicks appeared in Dueltrack, but were, along with the racing car bodies, left out of the first edition Compendium. "Racing Slick (RS) Tires: any car, cycle or trike with racing slicks on all its wheels has its HC raised by 2. If they are only on two corners (front or back), then the vehicle's HC is raised by 1. The hazard for maneuvers on ice, oil water and the like is at a +D4. In addition, just hitting oil, ice, or water is a D3 hazard. Racing Slicks take double damage from spikes, debris and obstacles.

"Any non-oversized vehicle [that uses tires] can mount slicks, but these are most beneficial on a professionally-maintained, glass-smooth racetrack surface. On a regular street or highway, racing slicks take 1 point of damage for every ten minutes they drive on open road, just from accumulated trash.

"Making a tire slick adds 300% to the cost, 100% to the weight and adds 1 DP. An RS may be made fireproof or steelbelted, but not radial or offroad."

The only other change to any of the vehicle construction chapters is in the chapter on cycles. Cycles must pay 300% of their base frame cost for off-road suspension, just like every other wheeled vehicle in the game.

Racing Bodies

The racing bodies from Dueltrack have been reprinted in the second edition Compendium, with an additional body type, the Funny Car.

TypePriceWeightMax LoadSpacesArmor
Formula 1/Indy$6,5006004,00015$22/10
Funny Car$6,6007004,50020$26/13

The rules for these are the same as the rules in Dueltrack. Racing bodies may take all normal chassis, tires, engines and accessories, but may not have their suspension modified. The base handling class for a racing body is 5. There are a couple of extra rules to cover the differences of Funny cars. Funny Cars, like Can-Ams, may use wheelguards. There's also the following section: "Funny Cars are hinged in the back and the entire body shell is lifted off the frame hydraulically for easy access to the engine and weapons (which gives a +1 to all repair rolls). This is also the only way for the driver to get out of the vehicle, since Funny Cars do not have doors. It takes 5 seconds to raise or lower the shell. During that time the car is considered to have no front or side armor."

Weapons and Accessories

There are two important changes to items in the "Accessories" chapter. The first change is in the description of Armored Wheel Hubs. The cost of Armored Wheel Hubs has been lowered from $15 per point of protection to $10 per point, to bring them in line with Wheelguards. None of the other mechanics surrounding the hubs or guards have changed.

The other change is that, if a vehicle has a spoiler or an airdam, 1 is added to the handling class of the vehicle if it is traveling over 60 mph. If the vehicle has both a spoiler and an airdam, it may also reduce the D of any maneuver it takes by 1, if it is traveling 60 mph or faster. The rule in the Compendium is unclear on this point, but a vehicle with both a spoiler and an airdam gets both a +1 to its handling class and a 1 to the D of each maneuver. The rules for Helicopter Maneuver foils have also been changed to reflect the difference in how these items work.

Spoilers and airdams are no longer 100 lbs. and $500 for any vehicle. They are now different sizes for different vehicles, based on the armor weight and cost. Specifically, they cost the same as 25 points of armor, and weigh the same as 10 points of armor for the vehicle they are being mounted on. So, a spoiler or an airdam for a Luxury-size vehicle will weigh 100 lbs. and cost $500 (assuming normal armor). The same item for a subcompact, however, (again assuming normal armor) would weigh only 50 lbs. and cost $275.