Rebooting Car Wars
Why does it need an overhaul?
The first reason is accessibility. If you want to play it today, you have to buy it piecemeal on eBay, or back order the newer 5th edition from SJGames. It’s not available as a PDF, alas. Neither set of rules is really that accessible for gamers who weren’t raised on the game, though for different reasons.
Secondly, Car Wars was never really good at selling its best points. For a game that requires a lot of time and prep, it’s pretty easy to whiff on a session. Today’s gamers don’t have much patience with that.
So what would revive Car Wars?
The vehicle design rules as presented in the original are actually rather good, and stand on their own. 5th edition design rules were never published, which is a fatal flaw. We need robust, interesting design rules that are accessible, preferably available for free.
The maneuver rules in the original game are also very good. More abstract, streamlined rules would also be a great thing. Again, something available for free would be superior.
The game needs to tell the players how to get started having fun right away. There are a lot of small things that matter in making a decent Car Wars scenario. The community knows what they are, so we should mine it. 5th edition hinted at providing this, but didn’t achieve it.
Does anyone remember that Car Wars was an RPG? Car Wars as an RPG was a lot like old-school D&D. Everyone played it different, and it took some trial and error to make it work. We’re smarter than that now. Personally, I think the RPG rules for Car Wars were almost an impediment, and I’d like to re-write them entirely, but maybe that’s just me. I know that the way we played it, it was awesome fun.
I think there's room for multilpe Car Wars reboots. In fact, I know there are some projects out there already, like Joshua Newman's Burning Rubber, and Brent Newhall's autowar, and my own vehicle combat game, Alpha Destructicus.
So I'm tossing down a guantlet. I'm going to write my own Car Wars reboot. I'll post some design goals tomorrow. Maybe I won't finish it, but it's a worthy quest. I'm going to focus on the role-playing side, at least at first, and be relatively agnostic about the vehicle combat system, mostly because I think the existing system is really good, and I'd love to see SJGames revive it.