Car Wars and Car Wars 6E, A Comparison

I played Car Wars back with the pocket edition and a bunch (not quite all) of the expansions. I even ran a AADA chapter in Virginia for a bit and when we got into a car accident one Sunday afternoon, the idiots who started the problem pointed to my AADA Autodueling bumper sticker to prove I was driving up and down I-95 causing trouble (with my wife, BIL, and two kids in the car of course).

For those who haven’t played the original Car Wars, it’s basically a Mad Max, Zelazny’s Why Johnny Can’t Speed, junkyard car battles, and Robot Wars mixed together.

Car Wars 1st Edition

Car Wars is based on a dystopian future with shortages and minimal government safety in the badlands. Much like junkyard battles with the addition of weapons like machine guns, rocket launchers, and recoilless rifles.

Basically you select a pregenerated car which has a chassis, body, wheels, engine, armor, accessories, and weapons (and a crew) and take the car to an arena and battle it out. Winner takes all.

To keep things fair, you set a price limit. For arena combat, you have ‘Division’ level combats. A Division level 10 area might mean you’re limited to a car that’s worth $10,000. There might be Division 12, 15, 20, 25, and even Unlimited arenas.

This also means you can build your own car (like Robot Wars). There are rules on how to build a car in the original Car Wars. To me, this was half the fun. My first ever computer program back in the early 80’s was a Car Wars Vehicle Generation Program. I recently found the source code and it’s up on my github site now 🙂 You had several tables with the things you need to build a vehicle. Chassis, body type, engine, etc.

For movement, there was a movement key. An ‘L’ shaped key with Difficulty (D) markings. D1 – D6. The sharper the turn, the more D you accumulated. This was compared with your speed to a table. The lower the speed, the less likely you’d crash. As you went faster, control was more easily lost when making maneuvers to the point that you needed to roll a die to see if you lost control. If you did, or if you exceeded your control value by too much, you went to the crash tables. You could skid, slide, or even roll the car over, one side for every 10mph you were going.

One of the very cool maneuvers was a Bootlegger Reverse. You’d use the key to turn your car sideways and then point back in the opposite direction at 0mph. Cool stuff.

Combat was basically you rolled two dice based on your weapon and getting under a specific target number means you hit the target. However there were a ton of modifiers. Distance, speed, cover, etc would increase or decrease the target number. If you finally hit, the target would take damage generally to the armor first, then to components or even crew killing the driver and/or gunner.

There were several rules on collisions, running into or over obstacles, pedestrians, plus lots of new vehicles over time like motorcycles, trailers, helicopters, boats, and even tanks.

Subsequent Editions

I didn’t continue with the game after the 1st edition. From what I can discover, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th editions were pretty similar if pared down. 1st had a ton of expansions and gear. Arenas, road sections, adventures, even books on background of various areas of the US and world. Subsequent editions just improved the rules but you could still use the old expansions.

5th Edition

5th Edition make some significant changes. You had a Division booklet with two pregenerated vehicles and fought each other. I looked at it back then and my preference was to create the vehicle, not use a pregenerated one regardless of who created it.

6th Edition Kickstarter

When the 6th Edition kickstarter was announced, I was skeptical. But in reviewing the information, it seemed like it was returning to the roots of the game to some extent. And it had vehicle miniatures. I put up my money and got everything I could. I like Car Wars and if it’s going back to where I can build vehicles, I’m in.

We received the first package yesterday morning and played last night. The first box is the Double Ace box.

  • Core game with two boxes of miniatures (red/yellow and blue/green sets) and a rules box with cards, 5 set of dice, chits, and pregenerated cars.
  • Miniatures Set 1 with 5 more miniatures
  • Miniatures Set 3 with 5 more miniatures
  • Dice Bag
  • Road Tiles with more chits (Control, Ace, and Damage)
  • Crew Pack with more crew options and weapons
  • Dropped Weapons pack with mines, paint, spikes and other debris you can drop from your vehicle
  • Linked Weapons Pack with 8 linked weapons and turreted weapons
  • Armory Pack with 8 more weapons like Gauss and Railgun and turreted weapons

We basically played just the core set last night. My wife playing green and me in blue.

The core game has a dashboard now. It has armor tracks for all four sides of the vehicle, a tire track, engine track, and speed track. Tires and Engine start at 10 points. Then you select a Build Point target for the game. On the tire track, there are control markers. You get a control chit for each visible marker on the dashboard. As you lose points, you get fewer control chits at the start of your turn. Four is max for tires plus if you’re going slower, you can pick up a control chit for a max of five. In addition your speeds are 0-5 and you can lost max speed depending on tire damage down to 1 max speed.

You have a set of cards for your vehicle. It has accessories, upgrades, weapons, and crew cards which also have accessories and weapons.

The vehicle cards have build point values in blue in the upper right of each card, from 0 to 8. And damage values in the lower right. Crew cards have crew points in red, from 0 to 8, in the upper right and damage values as well.

We selected 16 Build Points (BP) per the example in the rules, a small car setup. In addition to 4 Armor Points (AP) and 4 Crew Points (CP). You have to have two crew. Rookies are worth 0 so you can get two rookies; driver and gunner, or better crew with abilities.

There are 5 sets of dice. A yellow set, green, red, black, and white set. The dice have three types of faces. Damage (a star), shields, and mechanical. It can be 1 or 2 items (like 2 stars).

For movement, the turn key has five Difficulties or D maneuvers. D0 through D6. D1 is a green die, D2 is yellow, D3 is red, and d6 is white. For weapons the cards show how many of each die you roll for damage. Two yellow, 1 red, and 1 black (for example).

In maneuvering, if you turn, you roll your speed number of yellow dice (so if speed 3, you roll 3 yellow dice) plus the die for each of the D for the maneuver you’re attempting. For example, if you make a D3 move (45 degree turn) and are at speed 3, you roll 3 yellow dice for speed plus an additional green, yellow, and red die. For every shield face that results, you lose one control chit (remember you start with 4 or 5 chits each turn). If you run out of control chits and still have shields, you lose control.

For combat, I roll the dice as indicated on the weapon plus any additional as listed by equipment. The number of stars is the damage taken. If a mechanic face shows, if the weapon has extra abilities like explosion, fire, or tire damage, that’s taken. The defensive player rolls the number of yellow dice equal to their speed plus any additional dice based on upgrades if any. Any shields block the same number of damage points.

For every two car lengths, the defensive player can reroll their dice and if they have any Ace tokens, they can spend them to reroll any single die.


The original Car Wars had a lot of tables which added complexity to the game. What’s your Handling Class, speed, what difficulty was the move, look things up, okay roll the dice and check the crash table depending on your vehicle.

The 6th Edition has replaced much of that with chits and dice. It does speed up the game and my wife, who’s not really into the more complex table lookup type games, actually enjoyed the quick game last night.


The price will be the stopping point for all but the most fervent Car Wars fans. At $310.00 it might be just a bit out of reach. 🙂 You can get the starter sets without all the extra bits for much less though. For us fans though, I think this is a good upgrade to the original game. Especially if my wife enjoyed the game. That makes all the difference. I can’t wait to get more games going with her. I’m considering running a few games at my FLGS just to see if there’s interest. Maybe Jamie will stock a game.

Kickstarter vs Retail

Okay, I asked a question on the forums about one of my purchases on the and have compiled a list of what the Kickstarter stuff costs and what the retail cost is.


Kickstarter/Retail Price:

  • Double Ace – $200/375 (bought separately from the store, below items are 442.55)
    • Core Box – 75/149.95
    • Rules Box – /30
    • Miniatures Box A – /60
    • Miniatures Box B – /60
    • Miniatures Set 1 – 40/59.95
    • Miniatures Set 3 – 40/59.95
    • Dropped Weapons Pack – 20/29.95
    • Crew Pack – 15/29.95
    • Armory Pack – 10/24.95
    • Linked Weapons Pack – 15/24.95
    • Road Tiles – 30/49.95
    • Dice Bag – 10/12.95
  • Double Ace Upgrade Bundle – 165/ (bought separately from the store, below items are 199.80)
    • Miniatures Set 2 – /59.95
    • Miniatures Set 4 – /59.95
    • Vehicle Guide – Not available in Store
    • Wrecks – Not available in Store
    • Playmat #2 – /59.95
    • Dice Pack – /19.95
  • Two Player Starter Set – Red/Yellow – 70/79.95
  • Two Player Starter set – Blue/Green – 70/79.95
  • Uncle Al’s Upgrade Pack – 15/29.95
  • Playmat #1 – 45/59.95
  • Playmat #3 – 45/59.95

Not part of kickstarter (as far as I know of course):

  • Uncle Al’s Arena Supplies #1 – /10
  • Car Wars Clear Bases – /12.95
  • Car Wars Colored Bases – /12.95


  • Kickstarter: $610.00
  • Shop: $1,035.50

So I saved $425.50 by going All-In on the Kickstarter. Which only helps if I actually get folks playing it. 🙂

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