Car Wars: The Card Game
Car Wars: The Card Game Capsule Review by Shannon Appelcline on 22/12/01
Style: 4 (Classy and well done)
Substance: 2 (Sparse)
High quality components and a fun background offer hope for this card game, but the rules don't carry through on that promise.
Product: Car Wars: The Card Game
Author: Creede and Sharleen Lambard
Category: Board/Tactical Game
Company/Publisher: Steve Jackson Games
Line: Car Wars
Page count: 4
Year published: 2001
Comp copy?: no
Capsule Review by Shannon Appelcline on 22/12/01
Genre tags: Science Fiction Post-apocalyse
Cars Wars: The Card Games has three points going for it before you even open the box. It's based on a fun concept--blowing the heck out of each others cars'--the box design is appealing, and there's a matching Battle Cattle game that's compatible.
When you open the box, the good points seem to keep rolling in, because the cards are colorful and attractive, and the rules are a mere four pages long. Unfortunately, when you actually begin reading the rules and playing the game the product starts to lose its luster.
The basic gameplay of Car Wars: The Card Game is very simple. You play attacks upon other cars (machine gun, autocannon, etc), who may in turn defend against those attacks (swirve, spin, armor) and/or play a couple of different special cars (fireproof armor, machinegun jams). Attacks and defenses alike are mostly attuned to certain locations on the car (for example, you can attack a car's rear with the right card and attack the right side with a different card). Eventually you want to breach the armor in a location, then shoot there again to kill the driver. It's very similar gameplay to a few older games including White Wolf's The Challenge and Avalon Hill's Naval War.
Unfortunately, the basic gameplay is so simple that you can't do a lot with the game. The random factor is extremely high. Particularly as you get down to the last two players you'll be drawing in hope of picking the right card to finish your opponent off, with no strategy in mind--nothing more, really, then mindless draws and discards.
Even worse, the gameplay encourages strategies that aren't a lot of fun. The best thing to do, in a multiplayer game, is to sit around, drawing for high damage cards, while waiting for other players to breach armor--you then finish the drivers off yourself. If you had a bunch of players sitting around, all playing the best strategy, no one would ever attack.
The game also has one uber-card, the "fireproof armor", which totally off-balances the current round of play for whomever is lucky enough to draw it.
I'd deem Car Wars: The Card Game a two-drink game. If you have two drinks the silliness of the concept will humor you even more, and you won't really try to strategize, so you'll enjoy yourself. Without the alcohol, however, it wasn't worth a replay to me.
Considering the quality and variety of the components, I'm fairly certain there's a damned good game in this box somewhere, it's just not the one described in the rulebook.