I had the opportunity to learn a lot more about 6th Edition Car Wars a couple of weeks back at Nerdi Gras, from MIB Irene of Steve Jackson Games and a few of the old-school Car Wars fans.

Needless to say, I got my tail whipped something awful, and have a lot more to learn.

What is Car Wars? That’s easy.

Welcome to Autoduel America

North America, A.D. 2070. It’s a new American frontier. The collapse of the U.S. government plunged the country back into the good old days – days of wilderness, lawlessness, and banditry. Modern-day knights and gunslingers are in demand to combat regional dictators, but the automobile has replaced the horse, and the machine gun and recoilless rifle have made the sword and Winchester obsolete. Autoduelling emerges as the popular sport, and the American Autoduel Association is formed.

Car Wars is a game of the freeways and arenas of the future, where the right of way goes to the biggest guns. Players customize their vehicles and outfit their crews and either dominate the road . . . or crash and burn!

Starting out, you can play the game in two primary ways. By using one of the pre-determined car build mats, or by building out your car based on the available points. For a quick jump into the game, the mats were really the way to go, especially for training the newbies, just like handing the new guy a character sheet to play at a D&D session.

The basic play of the game goes movement, attack, and damage control. On your movement phase, if you take a turn too sharply with too high of a speed, then you can potentially skid out of control and be vulnerable to attack by the other players. Damage and skids are determined by the dice roll, where each weapon has a different number of colored dice with different odds of scoring a hit.

One of the cars that come in the 6th edition box set. (This one was painted by MIB Irene)

Tracking things like speed and armor or damage to your tires, power plant, and weapons is made easy by the dashboard and markers. (At the point I took the pic below, I was on fire, out of weapons, and my driver was already out of commission.)

Now, the major difference in 6th edition compared to all previous editions is the missing RPG aspect of the original game. This version of Car Wars is meant to be a tabletop combat strategy similar to Battletech or Risk that you can play in a few hours and just have some fun. It absolutely doesn’t diminish the combat play, and after years worth of math while playing Battletech, the simplicity of damage in the 6th edition of Car Wars makes me want to sit down and play it more.

And in my honest opinion, i don’t see why you couldn’t use this system at the combat element to the original Car Wars RPG, or as a car combat side of things for a GURPS or a D20 Modern campaign.

Now, on the writing side of things, this system is very nice for setting up a scenario and playing it out round by round in order to take outline notes for writing out a scene.

It took us roughly three hours to play out a match with five of us involved who were a range of veteran player to total newbs. And if you splurge for the larger Double Ace box set, you get a ton of extras to work with in your scenarios. To me the game has been very worthwhile for the price tag and will surely be a household favorite for a long while to come.

~William Joseph Roberts ~


William J. Roberts
William J. Roberts

William J. Roberts is an award-winning author, editor and publisher for Three Ravens Publishing.