The Basics * Support * Rules *

The Basics

Q. Car Wars? I heard of that once. What is it?

A. Car Wars is the game of automotive combat in the glittering arenas, crumbling highways, dirt roads, and apocalyptic wastelands of a grim future. It was originally published in 1981. Players can custom build cars, motorcycles, trucks and buses, and more exotic transportation, like helicopters, trikes, boats, hovercraft, and even more. Players load their vehicles up with arms and armor, then take to the open road to see who is King of the Highway – and who's roadkill.

Q. Is it complicated?

A. It can be, but it doesn't have to. Movement and Combat play a lot like an old-school miniatures game. Designing your own vehicles can be just as complicated as you want to make it. The game provides literally hundreds of pre-designed vehicles to play with, though, so there are shortcuts.

Q. So how many different editions of Car Wars are there?

A. Good question. The game started in a small plastic bag, and then graduated to a black plastic Pocket Box. Deluxe Car Wars came out as a boxed set complete with maps, counters, road sections, and a comprehensive rulebook. A few years later, we put out Car Wars Classic, a simpler, low-cost version of the game. Then came the Fifth Edition (1990), with some major changes in scale and rules.

Fifth Edition

Q. What's different about the Fifth Edition?

A. Visually, the big difference is: the scale is three times as large, and there is no longer a grid (or a map). The Turning Key determines all movement.

In terms of play, Fifth Edition goes much faster. In the last office playtest, for instance, seven players, all of them new to this edition and some of them new to the game, finished a Division 15 game in 1½ hours. That's with six kills. It's fast because we dropped a lot of complexity. We went back to First Edition and redeveloped from there . . . though of course we did keep later editions in mind, because there WERE a lot of good ideas in the past 15 years.

Q. What are some of the other differences in the rules?

A. A few:

Q. So is this edition compatible with older editions?

A. No. You can adapt some cars, and old arenas are easy to scale up and use, but this is intended to be a fresh start. Compatibility was not a priority. Any time an old rule got in the way of fast play, we changed it or ditched it completely.

Q. What do I need to play?

A. You need to play Car Wars!

Q. No, no. What items do I require in order to play, other than what's in a Starter Set?

A. Oh. OK. You need a big playing surface, at least the size of a dinner table. You need a few 6-sided dice, some sort of writing implement, and scratch paper. Sticky notes are useful because they let you attach scratch paper directly to the vehicle Record Sheet. And a yardstick or tape measure is handy, though there are inch marks on the Turning Key.

Q. There are nine different Starter Sets! Do I need them all?

A. We'd love it if you bought them all, but no! You only need one for a two-player game. Each set gives you the basic rules, two more car counters, four Record Sheets, and some variant designs.

Q. Why do nine sets, then? What will I do with nine sets of rules?

A. If you plan to run any multi-player games, it is very, very nice to let everybody have their own set of rules. And realistically speaking, if you play this edition as much as people played the last ones, rulebooks are going to wear out! Nine sets might be overkill, but maybe not. Loan one to a spectator to drag them into the game . . .

Q. But you're not going to KEEP reprinting the basic rules, right?

A. Right. The basic rules will only appear in the Starter Sets.

Car Wars Classic

Q. Is this the new version that just came out, or the old one from 1990?

A. Well both, kind of. The new edition of Car Wars Classic is a reprint of the 1990 release with very few changes. But because it was out of print for so long, a lot of folks are treating the 2014 release like a new edition they have not seen before. And they wouldn't be far off.

Q. So what products go with Classic?

A. You must be talking about Car Wars Arenas, a collection of ten full-size arena maps, printed to scale, ready to pull out and play. They are totally compatible, as are the maps in Car Wars Arenas 2, which is a bonus product we gave to Arenas Kickstarter supporters. Arenas 2 will also be available via Warehouse 23 and at conventions, near the end of 2015.

Q. Where can I get Car Wars Classic?

A. Classic should be available at your local game store, as well as Warehouse 23. Unfortunately, the game is currently out of print. A reprint is on the way, but it's not here yet. Be a couple more months, and we'll definitely let everyone know when it's available again.

Q. Will there be more supplements for Classic in the future?

A. Maybe. No decisions on that have been made yet.

Car Wars Sixth Edition

Q. Sixth Edition? What is that?

A. It's an all-new version of the autoduelling classic. The elements of the game that everybody loves – driving fast, shooting at your pals, and blowing stuff up – is here at the heart of the game. But maneuvering through the rules will be just as fast as taking a tight corner at top speed. Move, shoot, destroy – that's all there is to it.

Q. And when will we see it?

A. Scheduling is an inexact science, but we're shooting at the end of the year, thereabouts. Still a lot to be done.

Rules Questions


Q. The text says a Drift moves a vehicle ¾" to the "D1" label. This works fine for the Luxury sized cars, like the diagram shows, but what about smaller cars? Should they move ¾" or to the D1 label?

A. Smaller cars actually move more than ¾" when they Drift. The leading edge of the vehicle should line up with the D1 mark for a normal Drift, or the D3 for a Steep Drift. All vehicles must move forward 3", then slide to the side. Vehicles moving less than 30 mph (or 3" per phase) may not perform a Drift maneuver.


Q. Billy just T-Boned me, and the resulting fishtails made me sideswipe him. How much damage does he take?

A. None. If the results of a collision bring the vehicles back into contact (or overlap), move them away from each other, displacing them an identical amount. The amount moved should be as small as possible.

Q. Well, maybe he didn't T-Bone me. Maybe it was a sideswipe. How do I tell?

A. Use the 30 degree rule: if the angle of impact was greater than 30 degrees, it was a T-Bone. If it was 30 degrees or less, it was a sideswipe. The Turning Key is handy to check the angle.

Q. Should I maneuver for a Head-On, or a T-Bone? What's the difference?

A. Well, with a Head-On, you're more likely to do more damage, as your speeds will be added together. On the other hand, a T-Bone to a breached (or nearly breached) side will be more likely affect the driver.

Example A. A Shrimp T-Bones an undamaged Stinger at 70 mph. Seven dice result in a total of 28 points of damage, breaching the Stinger's side. The remaining 8 hits are applied equally between all components on the side; in this case, the driver and Power Plant both take 4 points of damage. Hope someone's wearing their body armor!

Example B. The Shrimp and Stinger get into a Head-On, with a combined speed of 130 mph. 13 dice are rolled, and the grand total is 38 (almost a confetti!). The Stinger's front armor is breached, and 3 points are applied to the RR.

Q. I T-Boned my opponent, and lost half my speed. I was doing 70 mph. How fast am I going now?

A. Always round down – you are now moving 30 mph.

Q. We just had a head-on collision, and we both have ramplates. How is the damage altered?

A. The damage is calculated the same. If Car A has a heavy ramplate, and Car B has a light ramplate, Car A will add 2 to each die rolled, and inflict that amount of damage to Car B. Car B will add 1 to each die rolled, and inflict that amount on Car A. Both cars will then halve the damage before applying it to their front armor.

Hazards from Damage

Q. Someone shoots you and does damage, at some point other than your movement phase, resulting in a hazard. When does this hazard affect your movement? I couldn't find this in the rules!

A. The Hazard affects your vehicle as soon as you move. You must check the Crash Chart before moving the first inch of your next movement phase.

Combat and Weapons

Q. I just ran over a frag mine! What do I do?!

A. Roll 1d for each tire. No damage to Underbody, but any peds within 3" take 1d of damage as well.

Q. You run over a mine. All four tires are damaged. How do you compute the effective number of hits for purposes of determining hazard and deciding whether to drop debris? Damage to all four tires combined?

A. Use the total of all damage done to all four tires to determine the hazard, as well as the appearance of debris, if any.

Q. Do explosive spikes and fragmentation mines affect wheel hubs?

A. No. Hubs are only damaged by direct fire or maneuvers performed without a tire on two corners.

Q. On page 8, the description of dropped weapons mentions placing the counters "behind the dropping vehicle." Does this mean dropped weapons can be mounted on the back only?

A. Yes. However, Uncle Al may devise a variant dropper which allows the component to be side mounted in the future.

Q. When I target a wheel, what targeting modifiers apply?

A. In addition to the normal targeting modifiers (range, visibility, gunner), the size of the vehicle, as well as any profile option the vehicle may have, is included in the total penalty. For instance, if the target is a wheel on a cycle, the modifier is -6 (-3 for being a wheel, and -3 for being on a cycle). If the target is an Ultra-Low Profile compact turret, the modifier is -5 (-1 for size, -2 for ULP, and -2 for the turret).

– Updated May 21, 2015