3X Car WarsRules

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There are no real modifications to the standard Car Wars rules -- you just have to deal with the size increase. The only real trick is that every Car Wars inch (real-inch) is stretched to match the multiplier that you're playing with:

  • 1.5X Scale: a "Scale Inch" is 1.5 real inches long.
  • 3X Scale: a "Scale Inch" is 3 real inches long.
  • 16X Scale: a "Scale Inch" is 16 real inches long.

But don't get hung up thinking about it! You don't need to constantly be multiplying or dividing. Continue using the word "inch" to describe distances; but in the back of your ever-capable brain, remember that each of these "inches" is somewhat larger. This will save you from having to translate all of the Car Wars rules to the new scale. The tips that follow should help.

The Counters

Each Scale counter is will also be enlarged by the multipler, of course. So a 3X spike counter will be 1.5 X 1.5 real inches, but you'll refer to it as a "half-inch counter". A 3X standard vehicle counter will be 1.5 X 3.0 real inches.

The whole point is to mount actual car models on the vehicle counters, of course, not to just substitute larger cardboard pieces for smaller ones. See the Modeling section for details.

By continuing to use the word "inch" for measurements, you will never get confused when reading the standard Car Wars rules. If you fail a handling roll and you car goes into a Severe Skid, it will still skid one "inch" (Scale inch, that is) -- you don't need to multiply anything.

The Ruler

You will find it easiest to create a special ruler for measuring things. I bought a one-foot wooden ruler, and used a magic marker to mark off four 3X-scale inches on the back of it (each of them being three inches long, of course). Now, whenever the rules call for a car to move, say, two inches, the special 3X-scale ruler is used for the measurement: the player slides the car counter forward by two of the hand-drawn "inches" (a total of six real inches).

As an added bonus, the 3X-scale ruler makes it easy to measure ranges when shooting. In Car Wars, a range penalty is subtracted from the die roll for every full four inches the target is away from the shooter. By coincidence, this is exactly the length of the special ruler! So for every full 3X-scale ruler of range, subtract 1 from the roll.

You may even want to get a yard stick and mark off Scale Inches for long ranges, especially if you're playing at 16X scale.

Note that with the appropriate ruler, you never need to multiply or divide -- something that can be a little annoying when it's 2 a.m. and you've been playing Car Wars for 5 hours (I can hardly count up to three under those circumstances).

Turn Key

No matter what scale you play Car Wars at, you need a turn key. One way to make a large scale key is to sit down with a protractor and a piece of cardboard, and make one from scratch. The small, standard Car Wars key will show you the ordering of the angles around the outside of the key. Make sure each side of the key is one Scale Inch long, and measure the angles carefully. You'll do fine.

I found a great GIF image of a turning key in the "C.W. Play Aids" section of the HVD Magazine site. Printed at the recommended 150 pixels/inch resolution will produce a 1X (standard) turn key. But using an image editor to change the resolution to 100 pixels/inch will produce a 1.5X key, and a 3X key can be made by printing at 50 pixels/inch. Glue the picture to some cardboard, and you've got a great professional-looking turn key. I guess you could also print the thing out at 19 pixels/inch for 8X and 9 pixels/inch for 16X scale, but those won't print on a normal printer, and the graphic quality will be right out the door by that point.

HVD Magazine

Here's another option for the geometry-challenged: take your regular turning key to a good photo copier, hit the enlargement function, and pop out a turn key template. Use 150% for 1.5X, and 300% for 3X Scale. I doubt you'll find a copier that will let you punch in 1600% for 16X Scale, but maybe you can enlarge the image several times. Don't forget to do both sides. Then just mount the paper templates on a piece of cardboard, and you're done.

Grid Lines

I've been playing only 3X scale, but I haven't seen any paper which has 0.75 real inch square grids (tripple the size of regular 0.25 real inch grids used in standard Car Wars). But then I've never looked for any. The playing areas used by most players are typically large (at least 5 by 5 real feet for 3X, your whole house for 16X). I doubt that many folks would like to spread graph paper over that much area, even if the right scale paper were available.

It's going to be hard to find gridded paper exactly the right size, since most graph paper is the one-inch kind. The HVD Magazine site happens to have some grid GIFs which might be used though. Check the "Play Aids" section; you'll find images of grids for 1X scale. But using an image editor (as described in the Turn Key section above), you can print these grids out at any other scale.

HVD Magazine

I don't typically use any paper at all on the arena. Since this is more of a miniatures game than a board game, it's natural to use 3D models for the arena and other terrain features (check out the Modeling section). Walls are represented by boxes and other objects, ramps by actual cardboard ramps, etc. There's no real need for a paper bottom.

Rarely, this creates a minor problem when reading the Car Wars rules. Certain rules -- the fishtail and grenade scatter rules immediately come to mind -- measure distances in squares: as in "...move the left rear corner 1 square left." Just substitute 1/4 Scale Inches for square: as in "...move the left corner 1/4 Scale Inches left." It's a good idea to avoid using squares to measure things even when using standard Car Wars scale, since the distance of a square changes dramatically depending on how parallel your vehicle is to the grid lines.


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Copyright 1998 by Doug Maltais, All rights reserved.

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Posted by Doug Maltais, June 01, 1998.
Reprinted by the Seattle Washington Autoduel Team, January 25, 2011.

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