Hold onto your wenises (weni?) vaqueros, it's time for...
|The original game title 'Super Happy Adventure Race' didn't test well with the target demographic|
Deathrace 40,000 is a vehicle racing combat game currently being developed by me, your humble (but also handsome and smart) Captain. The game borrows freely from a number of sources including Warhammer 40k, Gorkamorka, Man O' War, Warmachine and full contact tic-tac-toe. The premise of the game is a three lap race where contestants fight and outmaneuver each other to be the winner. This is the account of the first playtest of the rules, where I was ably assisted by Count Von Bruno and Archaeopteryx from the Oldhammer forum...
|The starting grid. Fasten your seatbelts, it's about to get funky.|
|Pole position was determined by a number of factors, including fastest qualifying time, biggest bribe offered and most Luther Burgers consumed in one hour.|
The racers for this event were:
Codename Joker: human renegade (achieved pole position)
Brunork's Trukk Boyz: Space orc ruffians
Furiosa F1000: Captain Hematoma of the Blood Angels Space Marines
The Killdozer: Squat Heavy Industrialists Union
Hover Limo: Genestealer Cultists of the Four Armed Emperor
Hawkwind GT: Space elf ranger
Because there were only three of us playing, we each took two vehicles so we'd have a decent grid of six racers. The starting positions are determined by randomly dealing out the 'initiative cards' which for this event were face cards from a standard card deck.
|Fun Fact no.1286: Captain Crooks can't tell the difference between Clubs and Spades no matter how many times you remind him.|
|Fun Fact no.3,000,001: This is known as the 'Festival Of Rams' in Chinese culture, and is a traditional way to see in the Year of the Goat.|
|The Killdozer's rear gunner went off for a ciggie break while the driver, Smooth Stenbore, tried to negotiate the traffic with a reinforced spike-ram.|
|Friendly jibes in the form of small arms fire and molotov cocktails were freely exchanged between the racers, all in the name of good fun and sportsmanship.|
|Messy break-ups are the worst.|
|The space orc boys were into weapon activation before it was cool.|
Almost without exception, the drivers all headed straight for the Weapon Activation Plate, all but Codename Joker who headed for the Defence Activation Plate. He seemed to have something up his sleeve... an ACE perhaps?
|If that's an ace, then it's a smokin' one.|
No, actually, it was NAPALM. A big, slimy burst of the stuff that covered two vehicles in burning fury. We debated for a short while over what size template to use and determined that a regular flamer would be fair since the napalm dropper is a single use module. It turns out we were very wrong about that...
|The world's biggest cheese pizza suddenly materialized in the middle of the racetrack. And there was much rejoicing.|
With their engines and wheels aflame, and the whole caboose about to explode, the orc boys performed a slow maneuver to get them as close to the pit area as possible to enable the occupants to leap out and run to the safety of the garage where their backup vehicle was waiting. It wasn't a moment too soon - in the end phase of that same turn the burning vehicle exploded, damaging both the Killdozer and the Hawkwind GT in the blast.
|Say what you want about the space marines, when they run from an exploding vehicle, they still look straight chill.|
Having just activated his heavy energy cannon, the elf ranger in his Hawkwind GT lined up the brightest, reddest target on the road and sent a blast of starfire into the Furiosa F1000. The penetrating hit did a shocking three points of damage to the highly tuned engine of the F1000 and left it stricken and on fire. The Blood Angels, fearing their number would soon be up if they stayed in their smoldering wreck, also booked it out of there in the direction of the pits. It proved to be a wise decision.
|Just as the Squats had finished eating the first impossibly large pizza, a second one appeared in a puff of smoke to challenge them. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.|
With another massive blast, the Furiosa F1000 exploded, disintegrating in a shower of red shrapnel. This kind of massive carnage on the second set of corners of the first lap was totally not how the game of Deathrace was intended to work, but it sure was amusing. The deadly power of fire had shown itself all too well and CvB had now lost both his vehicles. The DR40K officials need to review their stance on the use of asbestos in vehicle manufacturing.
|The Dark Duo flee as their fellow racers are consumed by volatile marshmallow.|
Codename Joker didn't wait around to see the results of his napalm death, he had other prey in sight - but he had yet to activate his weapons, and so was unable to stick a rocket up the Hover Limo's socket.
|It turns out slamming into walls gives automobiles a mighty erection.|
The Hawkwind GT pursued the Hover Limo and Codename Joker, rolling a massive number for his nitrous boost. Unfortunately the elf ranger got too cocky and sent his ride slamming into a plascrete wall, immobilising his car completely. Well... crap.
|This is how pedal-cars are made.|
While the elf and the space marines struggled to catch up in their fresh vehicles, the space orcs pursued a racial vendetta, metaphorically speaking, by chasing down the squats in their Killdozer, literally speaking, and peppering their heavily armoured construction vehicle with high caliber rounds. The deadly shower of depleted gruetonium tore chunks out of the heavy tracks and killed the co-driver who was manning (Squatting?) the rear machine gun. Smooth Stenbore howled with manly grief and stepped on the gas, determined to stay in the race.
|Nothing is more frustrating than having nothing to stick your pocket rocket in.|
After chasing the Hover Limo round the whole circuit, Codename Joker finally had his rocket launchers online and the slippery genestealers in his sight. He let fly, hitting the sleek vehicle with an armour piercing warhead and taking two points off it's engine location, but the Coven payed it no heed, for the moment was approaching that they had long waited for...
|"The arrows are pointing this way, are we supposed to go this way?"|
Archaeopteryx had held onto the 'rocket jump' pickup card for basically the whole game and now had the chance to use it. The Hover Limo hit the jump good and straight and the boosters kicked in...
|Though it might seem like that model car is actually flying through the air, it's just the miracle of modern technology that makes it appear so.|
With a whopping huge jump, the Hover Limo landed just a few inches shy of the finish line.
|It's lonely being number one... actually, no, it isn't, that's a lie. Being number one is awesome. I should know.|
Not long after his epic jump, the Coven passed the finish line and claimed the victory, with Codename Joker taking second and the Killdozer rumbling in at third. Huzzah for the Four Armed Emperor! The End.
Wait a minute, I hear you ask, what is this crap? I payed to see THREE laps of Death-a-ma-thing and you call it done after ONE?
Well, imaginary question asker guy, first of all, you didn't pay a cent so stop your bellyaching. And secondly, yes, we had to call the game after one measly lap because we ran out of time and the game as it is currently written has a bunch of inherent flaws, which I will detail to you now with excruciating thoroughness.
1. The game is too slow. The movement rates were initially based on Gorkamorka, which gives vehicles a standard movement of 5" or 6" dependent on type, with a 'thrust till you bust' option that adds a random element of fun to the move phase. I bumped these move speeds up to 8", 9" and 10" dependent on type with up to 3D6" extra in 'nitrous oxide' boost but it's not nearly enough - in order for any of the rules to work as intended the base speeds need to be around double that figure. The length of the track and the fact that noone could complete a PASS maneuver really bogged down play. Additionally the system of nudging and ramming needs some streamlining as it was confusing the players and again, bogging things down.
2. Fire is too potent. The act of setting fire to a vehicle is a death sentence that is detrimental to play. I wanted the racers to have a better than average chance to make it to lap 3 before going up in smoke, and we lost three vehicles in the first lap, two on the first set of corners. This isn't so devastating when each player has two vehicles but in a proper game we're looking at several miffed gamers punching out too early and missing out on the fun. This wont do.
3. Weapons in general are too potent OR the armour values are too low. I based the armour values on Gorkamorka, forgetting that most weapons in that game are strength 3 and the trukks still go kaboom a lot. This is problematic. Heavy machine guns are supposed to have a high rate of fire but low penetration, but they were chewing up vehicles left and right. In all likelihood one value must change. In addition, there is an odd dynamic with the rolling of a D3 for damage that I should alter - namely, having to use a D6 means that if you roll a '6' (meaning a 3) then altering the outcome with a +1/-1 pickup card will still equal a '3' due to it only changing to a '5'. If I count the D3 as an actual three sided dice then the +1/-1 card would alter the result to a '2', reducing the high trauma of a rocket or cannon hit considerably.
4. The track lacked variation. This was mostly a constraint of space, but i'd love to have a whole section of just desert or rock-strewn canyon floor to really mix it up a bit. Maybe if we pushed two 6x4 tables together end-to-end...
There are some other small issues but these are the main ones. Some immediate solutions were apparent, some will require some more thought.
By speeding up the base speeds, and thus the game in general, the time it takes to complete a lap will obviously diminish. With luck, this will also mean less turns and less chances to shoot up other players, which ought to result in less death. This may be DEATHRACE but the crowd wants a good show, not a quick one.
I will experiment with weapon strengths and armour values to see if i can find a happier medium there.
The napalm template needs to be smaller, and flamethrowers as a weapon may be dropped altogether, unless the whole set of rules for fire get a rewrite. At the very least maybe fire should be easier to extinguish.
Interestingly enough a boy of approx. 10 or 12yrs was watching our game intently for some time and gave me a list of useful advice to 'make your game heaps better'. I have transcribed it for you here:
1. MORE weapons MORE often. People love to blow stuff up
2. Make the cars run out of fuel if they go too fast.
3. Special upgrades e.g. BOOST.
4. If a car is damaged debris may damage another car
5. Make victory points, e.g. Complete lap: 2pts, do a trick: 1pt, blow up another car: 2pts.
6. Different terrain, e.g. muddy areas, and mud gets stuck in your wheels.
7. Different types of cars, e.g. fast car but low armour.
It's actually quite remarkable how close his ideas are to the actual game. That's right vaqueros, a 10yr old could have written this game.
|Children and hideously be-weaponed deathmobiles go together so well.|
HUGE explosive thanks go to Count von Bruno and Archaeopteryx for all their help and solid advice, and endless thanks to my wonderful wife for helping me make the Deathrace 40,000 track pieces (and by helping me make them, I mean, she made them) I love you darling!
Stay tuned for more exciting Deathrace 40,000 news soon, vaqueros. Happy trails!