The editors at Robot Viking are hard at work on the first original Robot Viking game, a tactical game of automotive combat using Matchbox/Hot Wheels scale cars. Project: Death Race is intended to be a fast-paced, exciting game that allows players to perform the types of insane stunts usually reserved for Hollywood car chases. Robot Viking readers can take part in the development process, as we’ll be posting alpha and beta rule sets for comment and play testing.
Update: Download the alpha rules now and run your own playtest!
I know some of you are saying, “Original game? This has been done before.” It certainly has, with the most obvious inspiration being Steve Jackson’s classic Car Wars. Indeed, Car Wars has even been done at Matchbox car scale, including Rogue Judges’ giant 3D Car Wars variant, pictured above. But the rules for Car Wars have always been…well, unwieldy. That’s not even considering the rules for making custom cars. I have a headache just thinking about it. Beyond Car Wars, there are only a handful of science-fiction car combat games out there, and we think Project: Death Race (just a working title, by the way) will present a fast yet tactically interesting game that gives players lots of options for customization without the use of advanced calculus.
The most unique thing about Project: Death Race is that we’re designing it as if it were a collectible miniatures game. All cars and car modifications will have point values, and a given game will have a point limit. You can freely and easily swap out machine guns, targeting computers and ablative armor as long as your car stays within the point limit. This is accomplished with stat cards. Your basic “stock” car will have a card that explains the basic attributes: speed, handling, point cost, etc. It will have no weapons and only basic armor. Each modification will have its own card explaining how it affects the car it’s installed on and how many points it costs. So for a 100-point game, you might use your 50-point car, add a 20-point supercharger to increase speed, a 15-point armor plate, and a 15-point gatling gun. We’re even going to make templates for the cards, so you can design your own cars and weapons using a point derivation formula. Since this won’t actually be a collectible game (maybe someday), instead of buying booster packs, you’ll get your own cars at any toy store. Repaint them, modify them with extra model parts, and even take a photo to place in the template so your card represents your actual car.
Creating rules that are simple, yet still interesting has been challenging. We have a basic framework, but it needs to be refined and tested to see if we’re on the right track. The alpha rules should be available in a few weeks – we’ll post them for open playtesting and reader comment. Once the rules are in a workable shape, we’ll start thinking about backstory and possibly even adding RPG elements to the game. For now, we have a vague setting involving a near-future dystopia ruled by mega-corporations that sponsor bloody automotive death matches to boost television ratings and increase interest in the brutal military weapons they develop and sell to whatever dictator has the most cash.
So why am I announcing the game now, when the alpha rules aren’t even ready? To give everyone time to go out and buy some toy cars, of course.