Sunday, February 18, 2018

Machinas - post apocalyptic car dueiing - two solo games report

Introduction
My first two games with the Two Hour Wargames Machinas – car racing in a post-apocalyptic world. Summary: Loads of fun but was looking fora shorter game.


Background
The 2017 6x6 challenge wass nearing an end and I was looking for a simple ruleset to play a few games and I was thinking spaceships.  I thought of X-wing, then onto Wings of War.  I remembered a boardless game of WWI aerial combat from Kaptain Kobold that I could maybe modify into a space game.  However, Spandau and Lewis does require measuring distances, bad memory..  While browsing for those rules I came across Kaptain Kobold's Machinas posts and  Warwell Wargames was playing these as part of the 6x6 challenge. The “boardless” bit of Machinas is very clever as it only concerns itself with the placement of cars relative to each other, rather than using a racing track.  I was a big Car Wars player for a few years when it first came out.  Wow - just remembered that!  I played that and Star Fleet Battles a lot (and I mean a lot) in the early 80's. I have not touched or really thought about post apocalyptic car dueling for 30 years.

So what did I do next?
I thought I would give them a go and see if I could either rework it for a space game, or play it with my children.  I promptly set about spending way to many hours writing a 1-page quick reference sheet and  moving onto writing an Excel car generation tool.  While playing the first game solo, I got tired of remembering the car features and dice rolls and auto successes so I spent many more hours wrote some formulas that calculate the number of successes for the possible actions of a car (passing, shooting, bashing, out of control) with all the modifiers included.  So when a car wants to do something look up the cell with the result for the primary and the target.  The manual bit is doing the compare and implementing the result.  The game is longer than I thought it would be - even with the formulas doing most of the work - so may not be suitable to play with the children (I was looking for something less than 30 minutes but maybe I could do one lap?).  But it is fun! 


Game One
This is a game with 4 Sedans, costing 17-19 and attributes adding up to 9.  I run one car (red) while other three are non-player cars.

I am going to play 2 laps.



Format - name (colour): Savvy-Tech-Speed, driver signature, car customisations
Rapscallion (Red): 4-2-3, Loner, Molotov Cocktails, Power Steering, Big Slab
Yeti (Yellow):3-3-3, Speedster, Tail gun, Tuned Up, Oil
Blazer (Blue): 3-2-2, Slow to React, Cluster Rockets, Leaky Fuel Lines, Oil, Spiked Ram, Anti-lock Brakes 
Gnasher (Green):3-3-2, Bumper, Twin 50s, Clunker, Oil, Spiked Wheels, Power Steering, Barbed Chains 

Here is the actual Excel generated cars:



Lap 1

Zone 2
Yeti starts in front, Blazer goes wide.  Rapscallion (me) ends up last.
Blazer attempt to pass failed, Gnasher bashes Blazer but no effect.  

Zone 3
Blazer attempts to paas Yeti but fails and Yeti gets a shot in with their tail gun!  Blazer loses a speed. Green bashes Blazer and Blazer drops back.

Zone 3
Blazer dropping back has blocked Rapscallions (me) chance to pass. 

Zone 4
Blazer passes Gnasher.  Did not expect that!  Blazer has taken some hits to speed.

Zone 5
Rapscallion goes wide - that way guaranteed of a chance to pass!  Random event sees Rapscallion having a chance to pass immediately, and passes Gnasher.

Zone 5
Rapscallion decides to keep going and attempts to pass Blazer.

Zone 5
Rapscallion passes Blazer!  Why not attempt to pass Yeti and get in the lead.  Using the rest of the bonus dice...

Zone 5
Success!  Rapscallion in the lead!

Zone 5
Blazer nearly loses control when attempting to pass Yeti; and the other pass attempts fail.

Zone 6
Yeti attempts to pass Rapscallion for the lead.  Successful!
Rapscallion attempts to pass Yeti.  Successful!  Rapscallion still in the lead at the end of the zone.

Zone 1
Yeti passes Rapscallion to regain the lead.   Blazer attempts to pass Rapscallion and fails badly, giving Rapscallion a chance to throw a Molotov cocktail at Blazer.  Direct hit!  Blazer loses speed and flips directly behind!  Blazer is out of the race.

Lap 2

Zone 2
Rapscallion gets to close to Gnasher, but both are OK.
All attempt to pass and all fail.

Zone 3
Rapscallion sees an opening opportunity and attempts to pass Yeti and succeeds

Zone 3
Gnasher gets too close to Yeti and both are out of control.  Yeti does nor get their car back under control and flips!  Luciky it flips to the side and so misses Gnasher.  

Zone 4
Gnasher attempts to pass Rapscallion but fails. 

Zone 5
Nothing, just cruising along.

Zone 6
Gnasher attempts to pass Rapscallion but fails.

Zone 1 - the FINISH LINE
RAPSCALLION CROSSES THE LINE FIRST AND WINS!.
Well, that was loads of fun, even if it took awhile.  The NPC cars and the odd random event really make the game unpredictable - each lap is very unique.  I immediately rolled up some more cars to play another game.

Game 2
I am using the same car models but they represent different cars. I am using the same Driver names, but this is from earlier in their careers (Wastelands) and so have poorer stats and different signatures.

The cars:


Format - name (colour): Savvy-Tech-Speed, driver signature, car customisations
Rapscallion (Red): 3-2-3, Slow to React, Tail Gun, Big Block
Yeti (Yellow):3-2-3, Slow to React, Spiked Wheels, Old Tires, Heavy Armour
Blazer (Blue): 3-3-3, Speedster,  Twin 50s, Old Tires, Oil 
Gnasher (Green):3-3-2, Faint of Heart, Grenade Launcher, Heavy Armour

Rapscallion is me and driving in a sports car, the rest are non-player characters and driving sedans.

Again, here is the excel sheet with the generated cars:



I am going to play 2 laps for this game, same as game 1.

Lap 1


Zone 2
The randomly rolled start sees Yeti in front and Rapscallion last. 

Zone 2
Blazer passes Yeti for a change or leader in the first zone of the game.

Zone 3
Rapscallion brakes lock and falls behind. Yeti attempts to pass Blazer and fails badly and loses control as Blazer spills oil on the track.

Zone 3
Yeti loses complete control and flips to the back left, missing Gnasher.  Gnasher moves up into the space now vacant.

Zone 3
Gnasher now attempts to pass Blazer and does so with ease.

Zone 4.
Rapscallion back in the race.

Zone 4
Blazer attempts to pass Gnasher to become the leader and just manages to do so.  Meaning the opportunity for Rapscallion to pass is lost.

Zone 5
Rapscallion sets up to pass Gnasher....

Zone 5
...amd succeeds!  But fails to pass Blazer.n

Zone 6 and Zone 1
Rapscallion manages to pass blazer to take the lead.

Lap 2

Zone 2
Gnasher attempts to pass Blue...

Zone 2
...and succeeds.  But fails to pass Rapscallion.

Zone 3
Blazer attempts to pass Gnasher but fails.

Zone 4
Gnasher sets up for a wide pass.

Zone 4
Gnasher's wide pass succeeds!

Zone 5
Rapscallion sets up for the pass, and fails.

Zone 6
Rapscallion sets up for the pass..

Zone 6
Rapscallion attempts to pass Gnasher, using all bonus dice and passes to take the lead in the final zone.

Zone 1
All attempted passes fail.  RAPSCALLION WINS!

Verdict
Machinas is loads of fun albeit longer than I wanted for playing this game. but that was only what I was looking for - a fast game.  Machinas delivers a great narrative experience (as do all Two Hour Wargames).  I did not even consider changing any rules but I can see that some rules about when NPCs use limited ammo weapons/defense may be needed if I played more.  Kaptain Kobold has some proposed house rules I may need to look at if I play this a lot more.  For anyone into post-apocalyptic car racing, Machinas is a great set of rules.  


6 comments:

  1. "However, Spandau and Lewis does use hexes, bad memory.. "

    Err, no it doesn't. I very specofically designed it *not* to use hexes. It's also designed that you don't have to track altitude, speed or pre-plot moves, nor use any game-specific components such as special cards or turning arcs.

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    1. Apologies - I meant to say does not measure distances, not hexes. I had thought that as it did not track altitude, speed etc that is also did not require measuring distances between the planes for manoeuvring. I will fix up the post so as not to misrepresent the rules.

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  2. Machinas doesn't play fast solo (until you get used to it). And races will take a long time regardless. The NPC rules slow things down since you have to test for when they use bonus dice before then resolving the check, and also because they tens to be much more aggressive than real players, often trying to pass when there's little chance of success. The latter could be dealt with by tweaking the AI a little.

    I find chases to be as much fun as the races, and they often play more quickly as well. They do need a few houserules. Drop me an email (address is in the sidebar of my blog) and I'll send you a link to my current Machines working house-rules file. I'd be glad of some other eyes on it.

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    Replies
    1. Another way to speed up rolling NPC bonus dice that I use and is hopefully just as good but faster:
      Roll all bonus dice. Look at each die - If a '1' count as a success and discard. If a "2" then simply discard. This is a combination of rolling all dice and only using the 5's and 6's to roll again to then count successes (the 1,2, and 3). Halves the number of rolls.

      I did not mind them being too aggressive but then I only played two games!

      Strangely, when I played Car Wars many years ago they were mostly chases on the open highway aka Mad Max 2. I have some cars rolled up for a further game. If it may be quicker, I may just have to try chases rather than the track. I will shoot you an email - happy to look over it, even if I have many less games under my belt than you!

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  3. Great write-up Shaun. From this report and others I've read on the Kaptain's blog, it sounds like Machinas derives from the same general rules as THW's boxing game "Friday Night Fights". Sometimes I'm rather dubious about how THW tries to cram similar rule systems into different genres but I love Friday Night Fights and Machinas' similar system seems appropriate. I might have to check it out.

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    Replies
    1. Machinas was derived from their Chariot Racing game; I have heard of their Friday Night Fights but know nothing about them. Regardless, the system works very well for racing/chasing games.

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