Car Wars Internet Newsletter
Vol. 6, No. 4
April 01, 2053

Web Posted September 06, 2003
Updated September 06, 2003


Happy AFD, drivers and gunners. Here is my annual tradition of an AFDJ played on you: an issue of CWIN released on time.

This issue is short but it has several goodies. The largest diamond is from the sands of the desert known as the Google Usenet Archive, a set of Car Wars variants published by a Cornell University back in 1991.

Loose Cannon, the long-awaited auto-combat game that could be considered an unofficial sequel to Origin's Autoduel, is close to making an appearance on store shelves. SWAT member Sean Lambert has created a small site of arenas and other resources, NOVA has a new, customized Web address, and the Battlefield 1942 Car Wars mod project is still running at a slow but steady pace.

Many thanks to Dan George and Gary Brown for writing passionate but polite responses to Chris French's review of Road-Kill Rally presented last issue. It is nice to see differences of opinion presented in a professional manner.

Speaking of Road-Kill Rally, I would be glad to publish articles for that game in this magazine. I am also open to articles for KRASH, Overdrive Arena, Burning Rubber, Road Kill and Dark Future. If you have rules or discussions about these games, please send them to me.

Drive offensively,

Michael P. Owen



Cornell Car Wars is based on Steve Jackson Game's Car Wars, but contains many major changes in both game mechanics and game rules.  These changes are based on empirical curve fits to data gathered on real cars. These rules are the culmination of three years of extensive playtesting at Cornell University.

John Hwang
Cornell University
January 1991



Barbara Whitaker
The New York Times
August 14, 2002

LOS ANGELES -- They are typically referred to as the wrong-way drivers. But Raul Villarreal of the Border Patrol has another name for the drug and illegal-immigrant smugglers who barrel into oncoming lanes of traffic to evade capture or, under cover of night, even detection. They are, he says, suicidal.

"They will employ any means," said Agent Villarreal, a spokesman in the Border Patrol's San Diego office. "All they want is to get paid."

With the tactic in growing use at or near the San Diego border crossing, local, state and federal officials have announced a crackdown on the wrong-way drivers, promising stepped-up surveillance at the border and better barriers to keep drivers in their proper lanes.

So far, even multiple fatalities have not stopped wrong-way smuggling.

On the night of June 24, a van with its lights off and packed with illegal immigrants sped west in the eastbound lanes of Interstate 8 to avoid a Border Patrol checkpoint that sat only in the westbound lanes. The van sideswiped two cars, collided with a sport utility vehicle and then hit another van. The driver of the S.U.V. was killed, as were the driver of the wrong-way van and 4 of the 26 other people it carried. One of the 26, Alfred Alvarez Coronado, was arrested and charged with smuggling illegal immigrants.

The wrong-way tactic is being attributed primarily to a ring of drug and immigrant smugglers that the authorities learned of only after that crash. The Border Patrol reports at least 16 instances of wrong-way smuggling in the last year, 5 in the last month.

Surveillance cameras have captured such smugglers plowing north through southbound gates at the border, their vehicles occasionally pushing others out of the way and running right over spike strips before they can be intercepted. They then continue north in the southbound lanes of Interstate 5, which often carries heavy traffic.

Once the drivers cross the border, stopping them becomes tricky.

"We have a pursuit policy which impedes us from pursuing vehicles traveling against traffic," Agent Villarreal said. "It's too risky. We place more value on human life."

Border Patrol agents say the wrong-way smugglers, so far unique to the San Diego area, are increasingly sophisticated. The smugglers are filling their tires with a silicone gel, the agents say, so they can negotiate the tire-shredding spike strips and are using reinforced bumpers that can be used to ram oncoming cars. They tend to travel when traffic is light, usually during the week from midnight to 3 a.m.

Though declining to detail many of the steps being taken to thwart the wrong-way drivers, Border Patrol officials say they will be stationing agents on the southbound side of the port of entry to intercept them and using helicopters to help track vehicles as they approach the border.

The officials say that while it is hard to determine all the points from which the smugglers are setting out for their border crossing, a large taxi stand a few hundred yards south of the border is frequently used.

Mexican officials have pledged to take several steps, among them installing a second set of spike strips and redesigning the taxi area to eliminate access to the southbound lanes.


Motor Trend Online
January 22, 2003

Lincoln is entering the rapidly growing armored vehicle market with introduction of the Lincoln Town Car Ballistic Protection Series. Scheduled for production in mid-2003, the Lincoln Town Car BPS will provide a high level of armored protection at a competitive price.

A key goal of the Town Car BPS development process was to build a vehicle that sets a new industry benchmark in the areas of protection, affordability, driving dynamics, and noise, vibration and harshness (NVH). The vehicle is designed, engineered and tested by Lincoln to provide protection from powerful handgun and high-power rifle rounds. Historically, the top original equipment manufacturer (OEM) competitors in the U.S. commercial armored vehicle industry have only offered handgun-level protection.

About 300 OEM tests will be performed on Town Car BPS, including crash tests, which will make it one of the most thoroughly tested armored vehicles in the world," said Lauren Schafer, director, Lincoln Special Engineering Operations. "Additionally, we've conducted extensive ballistic testing at independent labs to validate the ballistic performance of our materials."

The global market for armored vehicles has grown rapidly in recent years. But nearly all protection vehicles in the marketplace today are up-fitted on an "aftermarket" basis often resulting in quality, vehicle dynamics, and customer satisfaction issues.

"Town Car BPS customers can be assured they are getting a high-quality product which is proudly backed by an OEM," said John Jraiche, operations manager, Lincoln Special Engineering Operations. "We've developed this product with the right blend of luxury, security and discretion."

Although the U.S. currently accounts for a relatively small percentage of the global market, demand is growing. Prospective customers include corporate executives, political dignitaries, government agencies, private citizens and leasing agencies.

"This vehicle has been under development for nearly two years and addresses the growing global demand for armored protection products," added Schafer. "With its body-on-frame construction and higher gross vehicle weight capabilities, the Town Car was a natural first choice for Ford Motor Company."



August Games: Road-Kill Rally

Date: Fri, 7 Mar 2003 22:40:28 -0800 (PST)
From: Daniel George <>
Subject: Re: Submission for Next Newsletter
To: Michael P. Owen <>

First of all I would like to thank Chris French for submitting his review of Road-Kill Rally. His opinons are valued. The game is still in beta test and we are traveling the convention circuits to collect valuable play testing feedback. I currently have four playtesting groups in California.

The game is at least a year from an official release and I am a big believer in testing a game as much as possible. I invite everybody to download the free rules from the Web site and try the game out. I am two to three weeks away from publishing a playtesting kit that will include directions on how to quickly put together a simple set.  I also have a forums section on my Web site for the exchange of opinions. I am a big fan of player input because no matter how good one thinks a game is it can always be better. Yes, Road-Kill Rally is not perfect.

Revisiting Chris French's review, I thought I would take the time to address a few of his points and give my point of view. I think he was
a bit off on a few points. This is not intended to disrespect or flame Chris's opinion. I just think that he overlooked a few things.

1) "Too many rolls in this game result in Instant Death (1 in 6)" -- This is simply not true. A critical hit occurs under the following two

A. Doubles are rolled on the ranged combat to-hit roll (2d6) where the total is under the required target number. Ranged combat target
numbers typically range from five to ten (5 = 5.6%, 6 = 5.6%, 7 = 8.3%, 8 = 8.3%, 9 = 11.1%, and 10 = 11.1%).

B. A vehicle takes chassis damage after all of its armor is gone. Most vehicles have an average of 20 to 35 points of armor. (This amount is about 10 points higher than the game's Chris played.)

Does a critical hit destroy a vehicle outright in a single hit (per Chris's review)? Absolutely not! There is only a 5.6% chance of an instant death on the critical hit table. Combined with the odds of a critical hit against an armored target, the percentage for an instant kill is a fraction of a percent.

Below is a brief summary of the critical hit table:

2d6 (%)      Result (summarized)
2 (2.8%)     FUEL TANK (instant death)
3 (5.6%)     ENGINE DAMAGE (16% change the engine blows each turn)
4 (8.3%)     AMMO EXPLOSING (lose 1 weapon and take damage)
5 (11.1%)    BRAKE LINE SEVERED (reduction in deceleration to 10 mph)
6 (13.9%)    ACCESSORY (one vehicle accessory is lost)
7 (16.7%)    NO ADDITIONAL EFFECTS (nothing)
8 (13.9%)    WEAPON (1 vehicle weapon is lost)
9 (11.1%)    TRANSMISSION DAMAGE (reduction in maximum speed and acceleration)
10 (8.3%)    BLOWOUT (reduction in vehicle suspension)
11 (5.6%)    CRITICAL VEHICLE FIRE (vehicle takes fire damage each turn)
12 (2.8%)    DRIVER KILL (instant death)

2) "Worse, the game is 'balanced' to encourage cars to crash . . . There was no reason to try and drive fast; to do so meant Instant Death."

You are correct that there were a few minor bugs in the way crashing was done. Also, driving fast is not Instant Death. Every driver has the information the need to calculate how fast they can safely take a corner.

3) "Passing is all but impossible."

This was a function of the speed discrepancy between the armored and unarmored cars. This has been fixed in the new version. Passing is hard, but certainly not impossible. I do it all the time. And you are right  -- some of that difficulty is caused by the two-lane highway structure.

4) "The dropped weapons in this game are horrifyingly effective."

I don't know how you can come to this conclusion. On the contrary, most players complain to me that dropped weapons are too weak. This is proved by the lack of dropped weapons at my regular tournament games. I personally feel that dropped weapons are balanced just about right. Don't take me wrong. Dropped weapons can be extremely dangerous, but it takes the right conditions to use them. I think you need to play a few more game before jumping to such a big conclusion.

5) "These three aspects combine to render the races predictable and boring -- basically, whomever gets the pole position wins."

Again, I am amazed that you can so confidently jump to such a conclusion. You correctly identified an issue where speed cars had a significant
advantage in the game, but your exaggeration puzzles me. I have played in hundreds of games and the speed cars win only about 25% of the races and the percentage. The majority are won by balanced and smart playing. Your statement also seems to contradict your earlier point that there is no incentive to speed (#2). Anyway, you did hit upon a known bug and it has been addressed.

6) "There is no place for actual strategy in this game."

Let me summarize the object of the game. The winner is the surviving driver with the most points at the end of the race. Points are scored by
killing pedestrians, crossing the finish line (1st, 2nd or 3rd) and destroying other drivers.

Condition         Points
1st                      200
2nd                     100
3rd                       50
Score Driver      200
Score Adult        30
Score Child         50
Score Elderly     100

There are a wide variety of approaches to the game, depending on the design of the car.  Unfortunately you did not have a chance to design
your own car, but I summarize them in the following manner:


These vehicles are all about speed and suspension. Their strategy is to stay up front and get first dibs on the pedestrians
while staying out of range of enemy weapons. They tend to ignore other vehicles and focus on killing pedestrians.

ADVANTAGE: First shots at new pedestrians and very fast.

DISADVANTAGE: High risk -- speedsters have a good winning percentage but a worse death percentage. Speedsters are best used by experienced players.


Tanks have lots of armor and weapons. They tend to hang back and pick off drivers from the pack, getting 200 points a pop!

ADVANTAGE: They have a high survivability percentage. Tanks are also fun.

DISADVENTAGES: Tanks are slow and handle like a sack of their odds are getting better with the new version).


Ramming cars don't bother with the ranges weapons and focus on hitting pedestrians and other players.  Typically they are armed
with roto-blades and all sorts of spikes.

ADVANTAGE: They are the best defensive vehicles in the game -- crashing into somebody takes away their combat action.

DISADVANTAGES: Rammers have to absorb lots of damage while making their attacks. They also specialized do not have a very wide variety of options.


Balanced cars are built to do a little bit of everything. They are neither speedster, nor tank, nor rammer - more of a mish-mash
of all three.

ADVANTAGE: Highest winning percentage in the game and a wide variety of options.

DISADVANTAGES: Can suffer from lack of specialization.

The tactics of play are the execution of your plan based on the vehicle design and the events that transpire during the race. That's the exciting part!

Thank you, Chris for taking the time to write about Road-Kill Rally. I would be lying if I said I was thrilled with your impression, but I do
value the input.  I hope you will continue to provide feedback in the future.

Again, I invite everybody to download the free rules from the Web site and try the game out. We are always looking for playtesters and opinions. I will help you in any way I can. Thank you.

Dan George
Founder, August Games

From: Gary Brown <>
To: Michael P. Owen <>
Subject: RE: Submission for Next Newsletter
Date: Sun, 9 Mar 2003 00:51:55 -0800

It was interesting to see Chris's review  . . . but I have to agree with Dan. I feel that there were a few inconsistencies that contradicted some of the observations made.

Having helped to playtest over 50 Road-Kill Rally games, there is one statement I can make about it: no two games are ever alike. In fact,
strategies and tactics that I have used to win one game will downright fail in a different game.  The reason that I say this is to point out that the
conclusion for speeding ahead and "obtaining pole position" is definately not a constant in the game as a requirement to win.

Remember, track layouts is random. Obstacles and pedestrians placed on the board are random. Events and car damage effects are random.  Each element maintains unique instances and approaches to a game based on the current game state. The tactic of obtaining pole position and speeding ahead to victory works when the track is relatively free of tight turns and obstructions. However, we have also played games where individuals in front were quickly impared due to tight maneuvering and turning. I guarantee that if a player plays three or four games, they will see that each is a unique game experience and requires quick adaptatation to the events that are presented.

This also leads to the tactic element. With each game being different, the player must also change their tactics to compete. There are many scoring opportunities in the game that establishing a car design and playing a game requires quite a bit of thinking on the player's part. Just when you think you have figured out the ultimate tactics and strategy, the game presents yet another perspective to play. The real beauty of Road-Kill Rally is that it is a completely different playing experience each time. The rules are the same, but the random elements I feel do a wonderful job for creating a fresh and unique gameplay experience each time. In fact, most tactics are valid, and truly most well balanced and designed cars can win.

From a game balance standpoint, I can honestly say that this game is very close. This is not to say that there is no more work that remains for
balancing -- Dan is very aware that there is. However, to give the design credit, it has had years of playtesting and balancing, and has come a long way. Professionally, I am a senior computer game designer -- I've been balancing and testing and creating games for over 12 years. I spend months at a time working out spreadsheet models that will perform the perfect gameplay balance for players. Road-Kill Rally has undergone more stringent testing and balancing than any computer game that I have personally worked on or seen. And that is saying a lot!

Again, I think some of Chris's comments are valid, and I am glad he took the time to write a review. I just wonder if the review would have been more positive if he had been able to play more than a few games. Road-Kill Rally is one of those games that is easy to grasp but difficult to master. The random elements certainly keeps one on their toes, which I feel is a phenominal element of the game. Cheers!

Gary Brown


WIL WHEATON'S FAVORITE GAMES,23102,3403254,00.html

Tech TV
October 23, 2002

Wil Wheaton is a gamer as well as an actor. Discover what classic games delight his inner and outer geek.

My top five role-playing games
by Wil Wheaton

5. D&D Basic Rules, color-them-in-dice, The Keep on the Borderlands module.

4. GURPS Autoduel, including all of the Uncle Albert's Catalogs.

3. GURPS Illuminatti, with a bit of Horror.

2. D&D 3rd Edition.

1. My friend Terry's GURPS Space adventure, circa 1989, when I got a critical success roll while trying to disguise myself as the President, who I was trying to assassinate. The critical success made my disguise perfectly match the person I was trying to kill, so I totally messed up the entire campaign by walking around firing the President's entire Cabinet.



Forum: Dueling Debate <>
Subject: General / Report on possible PC Car Wars-Based Mods
Date: Mar 05, 2003 4:42 pm

Hi, again. There have been no replies to this thread from anyone other than me, so perhaps I am writing this update for my own benefit...

1. I have been able to secure enough basic parts from the various Battlefield 1942 mods to create a Car Wars-style game.

2. Several issues are still plaguing me, as follows.

2.1. Independantly targeting tires is kind of tough, but I have had some suggestions from the leading modelers and its now a matter of trial and error testing. It is possible to have one tire blown out by adding an invisible other tire underneath which actually does the driving, but is deleted once the "graphic" object is destroyed.

2.2. Positional armour is another one that will be for trial and error testing, but there are code precedents for it.

2.3. Weapons are fine -- the Desert Combat modification provides the thievable codes for the VMG and RL.

2.4. Making drivers capable of controlling multiple position-weapons is also possible but this needs testing.

2.5. In a nutshell, I have located and researched sufficient elements to provide a Car Wars-style game, so long as there's a willingness to trial and error the modifications to the code to move towards a more complete and functional game.

If there is anyone in this forum who cares or would like to assist in testing, please post a reply and I will e-mail you the design specifications document and the setup necesary to test.





This game is expected to take a massive machine most likely above a P3 700 with 128MB RAM with a 32MB video card (Note: This is guessed by our staff, not what it really is). Release date is expected on March 25th, 2003 for the PC, perhaps April or later for the Xbox.




From: Patrick Gilliland <>
To: SWAT: Michael P. Owen <>
Subject:  SWAT, WADA and CWIN
Date:  Mon, 10 Mar 2003 11:05:17 -0400

The Miscellaneous Oddities Car Wars page has changed addresses.


New Web Address
Arena Watch: Jefferson City Racetrack