Brad Harmer-Barnes explains why stripping the crap away from a Steve Jackson game makes it work better.
Car Wars: The Card Game
(Steve Jackson Games)
The old hands and experienced gamers reading this will need no introduction to Steve Jackson’s Car Wars universe. For the rest of you: in the near future, combat between armed and armoured cars has become an arena sport. “Autoduellists” shoot at the other cars, trying to destroy their tires and armour. The last player with an operating car is the winner. If you play the full game, you can tinker with cars, motorbikes, hovercraft, helicopters, tanks, eighteen-wheelers….pretty much any vehicle. If you’re after a quick blast ‘em up without the mathematics induced headache the full game can engender, then Car Wars: The Card Game has you covered.
Car Wars: The Card Game is nicely packaged, and the new box art brings to mind the 90s video game crash-heavy carnage of titles such as Destruction Derby, Wipeout and Twisted Metal. The cards inside are similarly vibrant. You know straight away that you’re looking at game that’s going to be loud and over the top, with the physics eschewing Isaac Newton in favour of Wile E. Coyote.
Car Wars: The Card Game is – at its diesel guzzling core – a “take that” cardgame. In each battle, the players play cards to damage other players cars. When one side of a player's car is breached (the armor on that side destroyed), the car's driver may be attacked. If a car's driver is disabled and unable to operate his car, the player who disabled him scores a kill. When only one car is left (or when time runs out), the duel is over.
The gameplay is fast and furious, with players desperately trying to blast each other with increasingly powerful weapons, and increasingly devious tactics and countermeasures. The games themselves are relatively short, and this is certainly a good thing. They can be luck heavy, and sometimes you’ll feel like you’ve been pounded into submission without so much as firing your engine up. Car Wars: The Card Game is great for bringing out at the start of the gaming night, or if you’re waiting for the last couple of players to arrive before you can play something more substantial. It’s a fun filler, but it’s not going to be a title you play regularly, as if you make it the feature game of the evening, the cracks will start to show.
Brad Harmer-Barnes is a contributor to Miniature Wargames magazine, as well the editor of Suppressing Fire. He can be followed on Instagram and Twitter at @realbradhb