Web Posted September 06, 2003
Updated September 06, 2003
Hello fellow autoduelists. For unknown reasons, I am still here (working as editor and being alive), as my boss, Mr. S. F. Cthulhu, has not "terminated" me for the lateness of the newsletter this past year . . . yet. This issue would have been sent out yesterday, but I was preoccupied with other important tasks (i.e. watching Medabots, sleeping and playing Interstate '76).
This issue is short but it has a few gold nuggets. A new auto-combat board game is in development. Draft rules for Road-Kill Rally can be downloaded at this time from the Web, and its producer, August Games, has an active mailing list for the development of the game. Road-Kill Rally, like most games early in its production, has a few flaws but it should please many duelists, especially the "chemically imbalanced" ones. (Bonus points to those of you who know what I mean by that phrase.)
One of the Holy Grails for BattleTech players (such as myself) is coming. The 19-year-old gaming universe is finally coming to theater screens. Will the movies Interstate '76, Drive or even a Car Wars movie be close behind? (The idea of setting the film in the era of MechWarrior: Dark Age is cool, however I have always wanted to see the Clan Invasion brought to the big screen with Sean Connery playing ilKhan Ulric Kerensky).
The 2053 WADA Car Wars League is running strong. Once again, Edgar Lincoln and the rest of the Spokane-based AAIE gang are dominating the rankings. Get your lazy bodies out into the arenas and start racking up points!
Michael P. Owen
P.S. Can you believe you have endured reading this newsletter for six
years? Yes, six years ago this newsletter was started. In the words of
an commericial from 50 years ago, "Thank you for your support."
CRASH TESTS MAY MAKE SUVS EVEN MORE DEADLY
By Jayne O'Donnell
Posted 2/25/2003 11:17 PM
Updated 2/25/2003 11:17 PM
New evidence from the government suggests that key auto crash tests run by the insurance industry and federal regulators might make sport-utility vehicles deadlier to people in small cars. And USA TODAY research finds little proof the tests actually lead to vehicles that better protect their own occupants.
The findings call into question the crash-test ratings that millions
of consumers rely on when buying cars and trucks and could lead to an
overhaul of federal tests to make them better predictors of what really happens when vehicles collide.
New government testing shows that as automakers design SUVs and pickups to score well in insurance industry and government frontal crash tests, they are making front ends so stiff that they might be more dangerous to those riding in small cars.
Getting a good crash-test rating doesn't mean a vehicle will show lower rates of injuries and deaths for its occupants in a crash, according to separate analyses by USA TODAY and General Motors.
The issue of "compatibility" -- what happens when one type of vehicle crashes into another -- has become a growing safety concern, particularly with the increasing popularity of trucks, which sit higher and weigh more than cars.
Jeffrey Runge, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), says car-truck compatibility in crashes is one of his top priorities. Major automakers held a meeting this month on car-truck mismatches. The Senate Commerce Committee is expected to address the issue today at a hearing on SUV safety.
Safety experts say every crash is unique, so no test can accurately predict what will happen when a car or truck hits a tree or another vehicle.
"The inference that manufacturers design to the crash test is often true," says Miami trauma surgeon Jeffrey Augenstein, president of the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine. "But if it (the test) doesn't accurately represent what goes on in the real world, the cars may not do well in crashes."
What's at stake
At the center of the crash-test controversy:
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's "offset" tests. In such tests, a portion of the front end of a vehicle strikes part of a barrier that crushes as though it were another vehicle of the same size. The 40 mile-per-hour tests, which air regularly on Dateline NBC, are supposed to simulate how most cars actually crash, which is not squarely head on. Vehicles are given overall ratings -- from poor to good -- based on how well a crash-test dummy's head, chest and legs are protected and how well each car's structure and safety restraints perform.
Many automakers say these tests, conducted at 10 mph above government standards, force them to add stiff front ends if they want to score well against what is meant to be a vehicle the same size. But that stiffening, particularly in the case of SUVs and pickups, can make them treacherous in real-world crashes with smaller vehicles.
When NHTSA, for example, crashed a 2002 Chevrolet TrailBlazer SUV into
a 1997 Honda Accord as part of its compatibility research, the head
injury score for the Honda's crash test dummy showed a nearly 100% chance of death. It was more than four times higher than when the
predecessor Blazer model hit an Accord. GM told NHTSA that it had made the TrailBlazer stiffer partly to perform better in the insurance institute test.
Yet while vehicles that do poorly in the institute test might be expected to have higher injury and death rates, the opposite, surprisingly, is often true.
The Saab 9-5's predecessor, the 1995 Saab 900, "collapsed" in the institute test and was rated marginal. At the same time, it was ranked best among midsize sedans in insurance industry injury claim data that year and "substantially better than average" overall. The redesigned 9-5 has improved its crash-test scores while its injury claims remain about the same.
USA TODAY research found that two other once-poor crash test performers -- the Dodge Stratus and Mitsubishi Galant -- have improved their test scores but have seen worsening injury claims.
Insurance Institute President Brian O'Neill says insurers' injury claim data are dominated by minor injuries that are not the focus of his test, though he acknowledges that broken legs are.
But critics say that if the institute's test represents the most common serious crashes, evidence of its benefits should be apparent by now. "Nobody has that proof yet," O'Neill acknowledges.
NHTSA's New Car Assessment Program frontal crash ratings. In this test, vehicles hit a barrier replicating a brick wall head-on at 35 mph. They are given one to five stars (five being best) based on how well driver and passenger-side dummies withstand the crash. In 2007, the test is set to become law. It will have a minimum standard that all automakers would have to meet.
Some automakers say vehicles have to have either very powerful air bags or stiff designs to score well in this severe type of crash. NHTSA statistics show that of all serious two-vehicle frontal crashes, 52% are straight head-on.
Meanwhile, a new GM study, to be presented at an auto engineering meeting next month, concludes that vehicles with higher scores in the NHTSA test do not have fewer deaths and injuries than those that score poorly.
NHTSA would not comment for this story, but officials often cite a 1994 study it did that found fatalities were lower in vehicles that performed well in its tests. The agency is expected to do another such study soon.
Not 'a friendly vehicle'
The problem with crash tests, says Augenstein, who studies crashes with NHTSA and automaker funding, is that they are designed see how people inside the vehicle being tested are protected.
"So it's not surprising you don't end up with a friendly vehicle that way," he says.
O'Neill says it doesn't have to be so. He says that instead of making SUVs' front ends stiffer, automakers can make the trucks longer and add better-designed passenger compartments.
But GM safety chief Robert Lange says that while the TrailBlazer was made bigger and safer to satisfy customers, adding more length would have added weight, reduced fuel economy and likely offset any safety benefits.
Chris Tinto, Toyota safety regulatory chief, says consumers are demanding better interior space -- not longer front ends.
When NHTSA did a compatibility test between small car Dodge Neon and a Lincoln Navigator SUV redesigned to be safer for occupants and to score better on tests, head-injury scores for the Neon driver more than doubled from what they were in the same test with an older Navigator.
Saeed Barbat, a Ford Motor technical safety specialist, says the 300 extra pounds in the newer model might account for some of the increased head injury score. Safety experts focus most on head injury scores because they are the best way to gauge the likelihood of surviving.
Barbat acknowledges that many automakers, including Ford, make vehicles stiffer to improve crash test scores. But he notes that Ford has also done a number of other things to improve compatibility, including adding front-end beams that cut the risk trucks will ride over the tops of cars.
Lange says the TrailBlazer has bumpers that are level with car bumpers, and its weight is distributed better to reduce the force of impact in front and side crashes.
Barbat, Lange and O'Neill say each of NHTSA's compatibility tests represents just one crash, which might not be repeatable. But O'Neill has made a name for himself and the institute by providing TV networks with tape of tests that also represent just one crash.
Ford, more so than any other automaker, prominently advertises its star ratings in NHTSA's crash tests -- despite the fact that it and most automakers used to complain that the tests don't illustrate typical crashes.
What happens in crash tests is clearly important to consumers. Millions of people a year visit NHTSA's site to research safety ratings before they buy a vehicle. The Insurance Institute has recently had more than 8 million visitors a month to its Web site, most of them to check crash-test ratings.
Can tests be more effective?
Many automakers think NHTSA and the institute could improve compatibility and increase the tests' effectiveness by using a movable barrier that crushes just as vehicles do. The barrier could simulate one size of vehicle, and all tested vehicles would have to be sturdy enough to withstand a crash with it. That would force small cars to be made safer but wouldn't force stiffer large trucks.
O'Neill says he isn't considering changing the tests. He says it is the SUVs that are poorly designed for compatibility, not his tests.
NHTSA had been hoping to add a test similar to the institute's to its safety certification or to use as a replacement for its front crash ratings. But this spring, it is expected to announce it is delaying that effortwhile it continues to test the compatibility of SUVs designed to do well in the institute's tests.
The agency wants to figure out whether requiring offset tests would just shift serious and fatal injuries from one vehicle to another.
Runge doesn't appear to be wedded to any plan for crash tests at the moment. At the recent automaker meeting on compatibility, he challenged the industry to develop its own crash-test proposal for the agency to consider.
"Everything is on the table," he said.
ROBO-CAR RACE: GET TO VEGAS (DRIVERLESS), WIN A COOL $1 MILLION
By Bob Drogin and Aaron Zitner
Los Angeles Times
The Seattle Times
Saturday, February 22, 2003 - 12:00 a.m. Pacific
Think "Mad Max" meets Jules Verne. Or "BattleBots" hits "Cannonball Run."
Think winning $1 million for racing a robo-car.
That will be the Pentagon's unlikely pitch to more than 200 potential participants today in Los Angeles at the announcement of a public competition to build and race unmanned ground vehicles from Los Angeles to Las Vegas in March 2004.
The rules are simple. "No humans or other biological entities" allowed onboard. No radio or remote controls. No attacking other vehicles. And, please, no flame throwers or other devices that "clear a path by setting everything in its way on fire." Pretty much anything else goes.
The race, called the Grand Challenge, is the brainchild of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or Darpa, the Pentagon's $2 billion whiz-bang shop that helped create the Internet, stealth aircraft, smart bombs and the pilotless Predator plane.
The goal this time is to meet a congressional mandate, set in 2000, that at least one in three future Army battle systems be unmanned. Despite huge advances in civilian and military robotics, the necessary sensors, software and other technology for real robot-assisted warfare doesn't exist.
The Pentagon hopes garage tinkerers, junkyard warriors, off-road enthusiasts, robotics fanatics and anyone else will come to the rescue by building a fully autonomous ground vehicle -- any size, any shape -- that can traverse 300 or so miles of paved road, deserts and mountains in less than 10 hours. That would require an average speed of at least 30 mph.
"We look at this like (Charles) Lindbergh crossing the Atlantic," said Air Force Col. Jose Negron, who is running the Darpa race, referring to the $25,000 prize that spurred a shy mail pilot to make the first nonstop solo flight from New York to Paris in 1927.
"It's mind-boggling," Negron added. "This will be a spectacular event if someone builds an autonomous vehicle that can travel 300 yards, no less 300 miles. That will be inspiring. It's never been done."
The task is far tougher than building a ground version of the Predator, the missile-firing drone that earned acclaim for missions over Afghanistan last year.
"There's nothing to bump into up there except another aircraft," said Negron, who was a B-52 navigator. Plus, the unmanned Predator is electronically "tethered" to a technician who flies it by remote control.
The ground vehicle must be independent -- that is, all computing and other equipment must be self-contained and onboard. It can use satellite-based navigation systems, but no other external communication. The vehicle must control its refueling or recharging.
The precise course won't be revealed until race day, so each roadster
must be able to "read" the ground as it advances. It then must recognize
and negotiate over or around steep hills, rocky arroyos, desert sand, craters,
buildings and whatever man-made obstacles Negron and his team
can dream up.
"Suppose it comes across a pond or a stream?" Negron asked. "How deep is the water? As a human being, I can see tracks across the way and figure I can cross it. But can an autonomous vehicle see that? Or will it know to go around it? And can it go around?"
Los Angeles was chosen as the starting point because of its car culture, its defense industry and because Darpa will hold its annual tech conference in Anaheim immediately before the race, scheduled for March 13, 2004. Las Vegas was chosen as the finish line because, well, it's Las Vegas.
Early discussions at Darpa have focused on everything from super-charged Humvees to huge air-powered balls.
Whatever the final configuration, the Pentagon needs unmanned vehicles to "reduce the number of soldiers placed in harm's way and increase combat effectiveness," according to a report issued last month by the National Research Council, the operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering.
"Unmanned ground vehicles have the potential to revolutionize the capabilities of Army forces on the battlefield," the report adds. It cites their potential as scouts, as "donkey" units to move supplies and equipment, and ultimately as "a fully autonomous combat vehicle."
To be sure, other groups have tested and raced robotic vehicles. Carnegie Mellon University built a self-steering one that drove nearly all the way from Washington, D.C., to San Diego in 1995, using cameras to keep the vehicle on the highway and away from other cars. However, researchers controlled the brake and the accelerator, which won't be allowed in next year's race. Autonomous vehicles also have covered rugged terrain, though at low speeds. Carnegie Mellon's Nomad, built for NASA, scoured a moraine in Antarctica three years ago to discover meteorites.
But the Darpa race is so demanding and requires such high speeds that several experts said they doubt anyone will be able to clinch the $1 million prize for making the first robo road trip.
"This is a quantum leap in terms of difficulty compared to other competitions," said Ronald Arkin, director of the Mobile Robot Laboratory at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.
That's a problem. There is no charge to enter the race, but it easily could cost more than the $1 million prize to build the winning machine. Whether defense contractors, Detroit automakers or other corporate sponsors will step up remains to be seen.
"What if they enter and a small research company or a team of hobbyists beats them?" asked Raffaello D'Andrea, associate professor of engineering at Cornell University.
"I don't think they have a lot to win, and they have a lot to lose."
More than 200 people have indicated plans to attend the competitors' conference this morning to hear details of the race and to meet potential collaborators.
Only a handful of actual entries are expected to result.
Darpa plans to run the race again within two years if no one wins the first go-round. Chuck Thorpe, Director of the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, said it may take even longer for a winner to emerge.
"I wish I could tell you it would be soon, because that would be exciting
for the field," Thorpe said. "But I don't have confidence it will be soon.
It's a very tough challenge."
SEATTLE COPS IN HOG HEAVEN
The Associated Press and CNN
Monday, February 17, 2003
Posted: 1:01 PM EST (1801 GMT)
SEATTLE, Washington (AP) -- Police officer Jerry Hicklin was tired of catcalls like "get a real bike" as he rode his department-issued Kawasaki.
Now he's in hog heaven since the department's motorcycle unit switched to Harley-Davidson Road Kings with 1,450-cc engines. Seven of the new Harleys are in service and the rest are expected by this summer.
Seated on his new bike, Hicklin, a motorcycle officer since 1981, joked
about "pigs on hogs" as a small crowd gathered to admire his new
"They're gorgeous, aren't they? Man!" Hicklin said. "I've been waiting 21 years for this."
The brass is happy, too.
Officials estimate the city will save $40,000 a year by leasing Harleys rather than buying Kawasakis, which typically were used for three years and then sold at auction.
Then there's the morale boost.
"It's kind of like we just gave them a big Christmas present," Assistant
Police Chief Harry Bailey said.
Subject: General / OK, you're Steve Jackson for the week
Forum: Dueling Debate <http://forums.delphiforums.com/carwars>
Date: Feb 19, 2003 9:33 pm
I have just joined a modding crew for Battlefield 1942, so I can learn how to get a 3-D version going. The vehicles I have found are pretty good -- even an armed motorcycle -- but bringing the game into Car Wars-style is going to take some more learning on my part.
Sleepwalker, I'll check your link and see if there's anything I can
add to your version.
Date: February 20, 2003 12:58 am
In thinking about this, it comes to my attention that if you want to do a 3-D version of Car Wars, the game mechanics will have to change so much that you can get away without using the Car Wars name.
I found out about Cyberboard from the Ogre gamebox on the Steve Jackson Games Web site, so I thought that building a Car Wars one would be okay. You would still need the game rules to play it so Steve would clear it easier as there is still sales potential for him. On a previous discussion with another on this board, if we go down the way that I am looking at the moment then this would undermine SJ Games as the game would be self-contained and would not potentially generate sales for SJ Games, thus getting it cleared for release would be harder.
But as said going 3-D would create a point and shoot interface for "facing" weapons; targeting side, turreted or rear weapons would then take your mind off the driving and thus cause out of control vehicles (well, in a real time game it would) and going 3-D mass market people would not want to deal with the crash tables as all they want to do is throw the car around and shoot.
Take a look at Bandits: Phoenix Rising (I think you can download the demo from Adrenaline Vault this is quite a good 3-D vehicular combat game to get some ideas from.
Jaccuse, drop me e-mail if you want to discuss my ideas of pitfalls
with a 3-D game. I am not saying it won't work but as Car Wars stands now
it does not lend itself to a real-time, 3-D game, but that as said is my
Subject: General / Who here plays BattleTech?
Forum: Dueling Debate <http://forums.delphiforums.com/carwars>
Date: Feb 19, 2003 5:21 pm
Okay, as some of you know, I play BattleTech. And I like it a lot. But, with three little kids, I don't have time to play it much. It is the same situation with Car Wars but . . .
Someone built a Java based version of BattleTech called MegaMek.
It's neat. I played a game the other night against I guy I have never met, in less than an hour. If we had played head-to-head, it probably would have been four hours.
I know little about computers, so I am not the guy to build this type
of game for Car Wars, but I know the system is open source.
From: Jim Hintz <email@example.com>
To: Michael P. Owen <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Newsletter Submission
Date: Sun, 02 Mar 2003 11:58:35 -0600
Hi, Michael. I just wanted to congratulate you on another excellent newsletter, and to put in my two cents.
Clickbase Car Wars: I don't know why the click mechanism has to be on the car's base when a hand-held counter would eliminate picking up the car during game play. A bonus would be the idea may not violate Wizkids's patent rights.
I think its apparent to everyone (the Car Wars community) if Car Wars
is to survive then we need to step up to the plate and see that it
does. I myself would like to see it become GURPS on the table top for all genres of gaming that feature some form of a vehicle. If anyone agrees with me on this fact please feel free to e-mail me. Chat times can be arranged in my MSN group.
I was looking throught the Battle Cattle rule book and realized that its rules are a lesser form of Car Wars. All of the base mechanics are from the Car Wars system; only some of the wording/statistics are changed. If we can't get permission to use Steve Jackson's system mechanics, it may mean changing things enough to get around the problem.
May your guns always be full and you line of sight clear!
Jim "Napthyme" Hintz
MECHWARRIOR THE MOVIE
Devlin Readies MechWarrior
Sci-Fi Wire: Sci-Fi Channel News
9:00am ET, 27-February-03
Dean Devlin (Independence Day) will produce a movie based on the best-selling
MechWarrior video games, according to The Hollywood
Reporter. Paramount Pictures is in talks to option the property from Wiz Kids, a Seattle-based game company, for Devlin's Electric
Entertainment, which will develop a screenplay that Devlin will produce, the trade paper reported.
As with his last film, Eight Legged Freaks, Devlin told the paper that
his intention with MechWarrior is to make it look like a $150 million
movie, while spending less than $100 million.
The movie will focus on the Republic and the forces outside it that
are hoping to restart the MechWars of old, the paper reported.
Jordan Weisman, who created MechWarrior 20 years ago, will play a creative role in making the film, the trade paper reported.
From WizKids: Devlin To Lead MechWarrior® To The Big Screen
Action Figure Times
February 28, 2003 17:47 PST
(LOS ANGELES) -- WizKids Media announced today an agreement with Hollywood screenwriter and producer Dean Devlin to produce a movie based on the MechWarrior universe. Devlin has produced films such as Stargate, Independence Day, Godzilla, The Patriot and Eight Legged Freaks. Paramount Pictures is in negotiations to option the property from WizKids for Devlin's Electric Entertainment. "Whether I write the script, help with the script or direct, I'm crazy about the material. This is a real passion project for me," Devlin said. Devlin would like to get the movie into theaters within 24 months.
"The film, in many ways, will be a coming of age story," said Jordan
Weisman, WizKids CEO. "It's set 40 years after the 'Mech wars have
ended, and introduces a group of young heroes in their early 20s who have grown up in peaceful and prosperous times." Weisman said
the sci-fi universe he created 20 years ago was heavily influenced by the relationships that World War II pilots developed with the
fighter planes they flew. The movie will focus on The Republic, a melting pot of people similar to the United States, and how factions in
The Republic and forces outside of it are hoping to restart the 'Mech wars of old.
The film is being produced in association with WizKids Media, the film,
television and interactive media subsidiary of WizKids LLC.
Weisman and WizKids Media President, Marc Sachnoff, will serve as the executive producers along with Electric Entertainment's
Partner and COO, Philippe Maigret. WizKids Media has recently set up the Mage Knight(tm) franchise with Producer Mark Gordon
(Saving Private Ryan) and is currently shopping the Shadowrun® franchise with key studios and creatives.
The MechWarrior brand has had a successful retail run with its best-selling
novels, toys, computer games and last year's hit Xbox game,
MechAssault. Six months ago, WizKids released a MechWarrior collectable miniatures game that has sold five million units to date.
Penguin Putman has already released the first two of a series of 18 new novels based on the franchise, with the first novel selling out
and already into its second press run.
TSAR PBEM DUEL #4
Subject: AADA Events and Tournaments / New PBEM Starting
Forum: Dueling Debate <http://forums.delphiforums.com/carwars>
Date: Feb 20, 2003 9:32 am
Greetings, duellists. TSAR is adding another PBEM game to its roster, and is inviting duelists to enter. It will be held in the HUD, TSAR's latest 3-D arena. The center platform is 1/2 inch high with four 15-degree ramps. Jumping is possible, and is worth points.
TSAR PBEM Duel #4: HUD Arena
The following rules apply:
1) Duelists who have not competed in a TSAR PBEM before will be given preferred status (it's time for some new blood)
2) There is a limit of 8 positions.
3) The budget is $30,000 with standard AADA restrictions.
4) Send an e-mail to <email@example.com> to secure your position.
5) Send a valid design to the same e-mail address above. I will check all designs for validity. Using the most recent version of MADHAT (currently 01-30-2003) will expedite this procedure. (The MADHAT Designer is supported by TSAR. Look for a newer version soon.)
TSAR: MADHAT Vehicle Designer
6) Should there be less than eight new participants, previous duellists will be allowed to compete as well.
7) The deadline for design submission is March 7th, 2003.
8) Any invalid designs after March 7th will be discarded, along with
Good luck, good hunting, and drive offensively!
TSAR League Manager
Subject: CWIN Article: Road-Kill Rally
Date: Sun, 23 Feb 2003 02:07:15 -0800
From: Chris French <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Michael P. Owen <email@example.com>
At DunDraCon 2003, I had occasion to play a new automotive combat game by name of "Road-Kill Rally", produced by August Games.
August Games: Road-Kill Rally
The plot of the game is straight out of Death Race 2000. Players race armed cars along public streets, scoring points for finishing races, slaughtering pedestrians, and whacking fellow competitors. Playing pieces can be cobbled up from Hot Wheels or other such die-cast cars (1/64-scale, athough I can see some maniac trying to use 1/24-scale car models on customized game boards).
The race course is randomly generated, and only deals with the actual road surface (game boards are simply stretches of road, either straight or curved).
I wish I could give this game a positive review, but it suffers from some serious flaws which render a positive review impossible.
There are some nice aspects to the game. All of the information for a given car is fitted onto a single side of 8.5" x 11" paper. The track generation tables, crash tables, and other necessary game information occupy both sides of another sheet of 8.5" x 11" paper. There is even space on the car sheet to pre-record speed- and suspension-modified handling rolls, thus alleviating the need to recalculate every detail whenever a control roll is needed. Unlike Car Wars, there is no need to keep track of events that happened several turns ago (except, of course, for vehicle damage).
But, sadly, there are several flaws in the game as well:
1) Too many rolls in this game result in Instant Death; that is, a car can go from Perfectly Intact to Smoking Hole In The Ground in one or two rolls. Whether as a result of a failed handling check at moderate speeds, or as a result of a Critical Hit (over half the kills I saw scored were the result of Critical Hit Table rolls -- in fact, a roll on the Critical Hit tables has a 1-in-6 chance of destroying the car outright!), there are simply too many Instant Death results lurking out there; one might as well roll 1d6 at the start of the event, and eliminate anyone rolling a 1.
Worse, the game is "balanced" to encouragecars to crash. My car had handling all but maxed out, and still could not survive a moderately-tight corner. Any time two or more cars came within a space of each other, there was a crash. There was no reason to try and drive fast; to do so meant Instant Death.
2) Passing is all but impossible; passing the leader is impossible. In the games I played, not one pass for the lead even came close to occurring; in fact, the only position changes which occurred were the result of cars being destroyed. I blame this on the narrowness of the track surface (it is only two lanes wide) and the excessively-effective nature of dropped weapons (see next section).
3) Dropped weapons. Is there no game designer out there who actually bothers to playtest a dropped-weapon-special car in the game? (What does Steve Jackson always say? Playtest the dumb strategies, to make sure they can't work.) The dropped weapons in this game are horrifyingly effective, due to the narrow racing surface (dodging is impossible), the low cost of the weapons (I have yet to see an auto-combat game that does not make this blunder), and the excessive emphasis on crashing (see #1).
These three aspects combine to render the races predictable and boring -- basically, whomever gets the pole position wins. There is no place for actual strategy in this game -- just "get up front and stay there." On that basis, I have to give this game a massive thumb down.
NEONTRIBE'S CAR WARS PAGE
NEW OMAHA VEHICULAR ASSOCIATION
Arena Watch: Drop Dead Arena, Biloxi, Mississippi
NEW OMAHA VEHICULAR ASSOCIATION
From: Donald Jacques <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Michael Owen <email@example.com>
Subject: Jan. Duel Write-up
Date: Sun, 23 Feb 2003 20:54:26 -0600
Hi, Michael. Here's our write up on the January duel. Just trying to keep it up.
The first duel of NOVA's 2053 dueling season was held at the Bill Grush Memorial Arena. Attending were Andy Koehler, Don Jacques, Marty Koehler, Norman McMullen, and Nick. Vehicles were inspected and gates were chosen. Prompted by the starting buzzer, the duelists entered the arena.
Andy entered from the northwest gate, Don the southeast, Marty southwest,
Norman south, and Nick from northeast. Andy turned to engage Nick while
Marty turned for the jumps. Norman angled for Marty and fired a round from
his blast cannon, but missed. Don went straight and fired at long range
at Norman, doing only minor damage to Norman's right side with VMGs. Marty
turned to go in-between the jumps and was followed by Norman. This time
Marty's right side was hit by Norman's blast cannon, doing moderate damage.
In turn, Don scored another hit on
Norman, but the metal armor on Norman's side deflected the potential damage.
Norman followed Marty in-between the jumps and scored a hit on Marty's
back armor for moderate damage. Meanwhile Andy fired his blast cannon at
Nick's front for some damage. Nick replied with a laser-guided heavy rocket,
rubbing off some of Andy's front armor. Back at the
jumps, Marty turned northwest at the center, still followed by Norman and got more damage to his back armor in the process. Don circled the jumps from the west, building up speed.
Andy completed his circling maneuver and re-engaged Nick. Marty, emerging from the jumps, went for Nick as well. The rate of closure was great, since Nick was planning on entering the passage between the jumps that Marty just used. Shots were fired and Marty t-boned Nick.
The sonic cannon on Marty's car did full damage to Nick's left side, and in turn took minor damage to his front from Nick's recoilless rifle. Not far behind, Norman scored another hit on Marty's back armor, but the blast cannon shell inflicted only minor damage. As a result of the t-bone collision, Nick's driver was killed and the vehicle spun down the passageway between the jumps, becoming the first kill in the arena.
Maneuvering at speed, Andy got behind Marty and fired his blast cannon. The shot got through the remaining plastic in the process, and what was left went on to kill Marty's driver.
Avoiding the debris left from the earlier fighting in the area, Norman
west to engage Don.
After passing Marty's vehicle Andy went west as well. Don and Norman trades shots, resulting in moderate damage to Don's front while Norman's front metal armor shrugged off VMG rounds.
Don turned east around the jumps and was followed by Andy. A blast cannon shell did some damage to Don's back armor. In reply, Don fired his left-rear paint-loaded gas streamer, coating Andy's windshield with target-hindering paint.
Turning south, Don continued his trek around the jumps with Andy in
pursuit. Norman, after transiting between the jumps, emerged to fire at
Don's front, doing heavy damage. Again, Norman's front metal armor took
the return VMG fire with no damage. Turning left to pass Don,
Norman went head-to-head with Andy. Despite the penalty of his paint-coated sensors, Andy's blast cannon managed to hit Norman's front. The HESH-equipped warhead did heavy damage to Norman while the return shot did minor damage in reply. Don fired his right-rear
gas streamer, coating both Norman and Andy in paint.
Andy kept his focus on Don and followed him around the jumps, firing
and scoring another hit on Don's back armor for moderate damage. Norman
started to circle the jumps to re-engage Don and Andy on the other side
of the arena. Turning west, Don started a sharp circling
turn in an effort to get Andy in his sights. Still with his targeting penalty and coated with another load of paint, Andy managed another hit, breaching Don's back armor and killing the driver. With his second kill under his belt Andy was declared the winner.
January 25, 2053
NOVA Division 20 Duel
Bill Grush Memorial Arena
DM: Norman McMullen
1. Andy Koehler (2 kills: killed Marty and killed Don)
2. Norman McMullen
3. Don Jacques (killed by Andy)
4. Mary Koehler (killed Nick and killed by Andy)
5. Nick (killed by Marty)
Time Elapsed: 17 turns
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA AUTODUELING BROTHERHOOD
Subject: OrcCon Duel Reports
Date: Thu, 27 Feb 2003 22:49:15 -0800
From: Rob Hagmaier <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: SCAB Mailing List <email@example.com>
SCAB hosted a Car Wars tournament at the OrcCon gaming convention the weekend of February 15th and 16th.
Preliminary Round #1
1. Jeremy Alexander -- killed Rob, killed Paul, killed
2. Paul Kankowski -- killed Jeremy, killed
3. Aaron Cappocchi -- 0 kills, survived
4. Jarett Weintraub -- killed Tom, killed
5. Rob Hagmaier -- mobility kill on Jarett, killed
5. Tom LaLonde -- completed kill on Jarett, killed
Preliminary Round #2
1. Rob Hagmaier -- killed Gage and David, killed
1. Tom LaLonde -- killed Jeremy and Mike, killed
3. Aaron Cappocchi -- killed Jordon and Tom, killed
4. Vincent Weibert -- killed Aaron, survived
5. David Butterworth -- killed Rob, killed
6. Mike Heim -- killed
7. Jordan Pyles -- killed
8. Mike Hording -- killed
9. Jeremy Willis -- killed
10. Gage Lucas -- killed
1. Rob Hagmaier -- killed Jeremy Alexander and Jeremy Willis, survived
2. Aaron Cappocchi -- mobility kill on Mike Heim, survived
3. Tom LaLonde -- completed kill on Mike Heim, killed
4. Jeremy Willis -- killed
5. Jeremy Alexander -- killed
6. Mike Heim -- killed
We also played another event of my design called Midville Madness. Basically,
each player randomly drew a participant from the pile. Each
had unique victory conditions, which were secret to the others. The event was played in Midville (blown up to 1.5X scale). Among the various
* The Militant Streetsweeper (a little obsessive-compulsive as he likes to clean streets then blow himself up)
* The Tow Truck Entrepreneur (drove around blowing out tires to drum up business)
* The Carjacker (scored points by stealing cars, crashing cars and picking up pedestrians)
* The Racecar Cabbie (scores points by finding and delivering fares)
* The Litterbug Pyromaniac (scores points by dumping all his garbage and setting fires)
* The Vandal (scores points by setting fires and painting stuff)
* The Firetruck (I bet you can figure this one out)
* And of course, there were the cops . . . One good cop, and one bad cop, both out for justice, trying to enforce the laws and bring in the perps.
Basically, the cops didn't have a prayer. The police scanners started to go nuts right off the bat, as people began speeding, running red lights, making illegal turns, setting fires, dumping garbage and painting pedestrians. The good cop (Jarett Weintraub) tried to respond, but he was quickly taken out by Jeremy Willis as the Militant Streetsweeper, who detonated a huge kamibomb while right next to the cop.
Second place was grabbed soon after by Scott Lunceford, the carjacker.
After successfully boosting a "bitchin' Camaro" and promptly wrecking
it at 60 mph, he then jumped out, ran a short distance and jumped into yet another car. He was very lucky to immediately pickup a pedestrian
in his new ride, which he promptly wrecked, securing him second place.
Third place was nailed down by Joe Witt, the litterbug/pyromaniac, who managed to empty the "Clampett Mobile" and set numerous three-alarm fires.
The event lived up to its billing as being a totally unworkable train wreck waiting to happen. Early into the event, all in attendance decided to quit playing and take up Pokemon.
1. Jeremy Willis
2. Scott Lunceford
3. Joe Witt
4. Steve Sugars
4. Tom LaLonde
4. Jarett Weintraub
4. Peter Cossaboom
4. Nick Butler
4. Forrest Miles
4. Rob Hagmaier
Until next con,
Subject: Old Duel Report
Date: Thu, 27 Feb 2003 22:01:25 -0800
From: Rob Hagmaier <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: SCAB Mailing List <email@example.com>
Sorry for the tardiness on this one.
SCAB hosted an Unlimited BLUD duel on January 4th at Brookhurst Hobbies. We knew this was a bad idea, but we went ahead and did it any way. Tie-breakers would be based on vehicle cost, with the cheaper vehicle winning.
Aaron Cappocchi, in gate #1, brought a CA frame luxury sporting nine (9) laser-guided AP super rockets. His variety of accessories, including a Cyberlink, brought him in at a handsome $348,190.
Bob Steinke, in gate #2, showed up with a CA frame van. Like Rob (see below), he also elected to go with ANDICE for his Cyber-Driver and Gunner. His main weapon system was a heavy missile launcher with infrared telescopic controls and high-speed, pop-up AP rockets. These nasty little customers are partial to top armor. He also had the good sense to bring an armored beer fridge full of beer. He also brought another goody (see below). His total cost after tax, license and delivery was a staggering $11,416,853!
Mike Hording, in gate #3, also had a CA frame van. He had four gauss guns up front. The exact cost of his vehicle is unclear as his sponsors were Enron and Broadcom. According to their accounting department, they actually profited $1.4 billion building the vehicle.
Rob Hagmaier, in gate #4, in another CA frame van, had ten (10) AP super
rockets. But knowing that he was likely to run into laser reactive
webs, he also brought five (5) infrared military targeting lasers, and had both his Driver and Gunner wetwired with ANDICE. This, in theory, would allow him to fire multiple times per turn with the TLs, rapidly stripping off any smoke loads anyone might have, and leaving them
vulnerable to a final shot with guided rockets. All this technological junk ran the price tag up to $677,486.50.
Jeremy Willis, in gate #5, continued the trend of CA frame vans with
a spinal-mounted magnetic cannon. He waterproofed the thing, just for
good measure. Jeremy's monstrosity weighed in at $421,395.
Tom LaLonde, in gate #6, brought a loaded luxury with AP super rockets
and rocket magazines. Details of his exact design and final cost can be
found in the latest revision of the Presidental Tax Assistance Plan for the Ultra-Wealthy, which has been painstakingly checked for accuracy and fairness by Arthur Anderson, LLP.
Chris Ganiere, in gate #7, showed up with yet another CA Frame Van.
He also had a Super Rocket of his own, but in a surprise twist, brought
smoke load, good for a full 18" of smoke! His main weapon system, however, was a nasty customer . . . a 75mm tank gun equipped with beehive rounds. Sure he had to spinal mount it, but who cares when you don't have to roll to hit! This combo ran a modest $184,820.
We knew this couldn't end well . . .
Rob earned a full kill, taking out Mike Hording with a trio of super
rockets. Rob was the killed himself by Jeremy and Chris a fraction of a
later. Those Beehive rounds are murder on tires.
Tom managed to earn a full kill as well, but was eliminated a short time later.
Bob failed to connect repeatedly with his pop-up rockets. When the magazine
ran dry, he decided to unveil his Secret Weapon. He drove
towards the center of the arena, in what can only be described as a dash towards death. As he neared the center, he detonated the 1-kiloton
tacnuke that was in his vehicle. The resulting explosion killed everyone remaining, earning him 3 kills and posthumous promises of
1. Bob Steinke
2. Tom LaLonde
3. Rob Hagmaier
4. Chris Ganiere
5. Jeremy Willis
6. Mike Hording
7. Aaron Cappocchi
Note to self: No tacnukes or beehive rounds next time.