I have been an avid fan (a rabid fan?) of Car Wars for over 30 years now. A friend of mine in the Air Force, stationed in Biloxi, Mississippi, came home over Labor Day weekend with a couple of his fellow Airmen and introduced us to this game they had been playing called Car Wars. That Friday night we played on his kitchen table, where we had played innumerable games of Dungeon and Dragons and Ogre in the years before. My first game of Car Wars was in the Buffalo Municipal Arena (still my favorite arena to play in). I took a basic Mini-Sherman directly from the pocket box, dropped the Smoke Screen, upped to a Super Power Plant, added Solid Tires, a Hi-Res Targeting Computer (we had a very generous budget) and maxed out the chassis and the armor. For personal equipment, I had Body Armor and three LAW rockets. (He only had the Pocket Box, Sunday Drivers and the Double Arena at the time.) With my forward mounted twin machine guns, decent armor and nice acceleration, I eagerly took to the field. My buddy, who was also being introduced to the game, took the City Cowboy option of the Vigilante pickup, reduced the armor slightly to give him enough weight allowance to replace the two Recoilless Rifles with Vulcan Machine Guns. For Personal Equipment, he took Body Armor, a shotgun and four grenades. Our host took a Subcompact with a forward mounted Laser. I do not really remember what the other two Airmen had. I think one of them had a van, though.
We started out the gates, everyone eager to engage and get the carnage started. I noticed every time I turned my guns toward someone, they would veer away, forcing me to take long shots and missing. After a while, I commented on this and someone said they didn't want to face my two Vulcan Machine Guns. When I said they weren't Vulcans, only regular Machine Guns, that sealed it for me. Everyone turned toward me and started pounding me with all their weapons. I tried to use my speed to keep everyone at bay while returning fire where I could, but eventually, I lost control and rolled the car and caught fire. I knew I was likely to die before the car slowed down enough for me to have a reasonable chance of getting out. I convinced everyone that in true A-Team fashion, my LAW rockets would cook off and explode my car in a spectacular fashion. I grabbed a handful of debris and obstacle counter, even adding a couple of mine and spike counters for fun, and scattered them where my car had been.
My friend with the modified City Cowboy fared better. He too, however, eventually lost control and skidded into one of the perimeter TV bunkers. Underestimating the thickness of his armor, he primed a grenade intending also to take himself out in a glorious manner. After the collision, he realized that not only did he survive the crash, his Front armor was still pretty sturdy. Rather than eat the live grenade, he threw it up into the TV tower. We decided he blasted a cameraman out of the tower and he landed in the pickup bed. We placed a pedestrian counter on top of his pickup counter. For the rest of the duel, he drove around with the body of the cameraman in the bed of his pickup.
The next day the five of us took a pontoon boat on one of the nearby lakes and enjoyed the sun. I spent most of the time studying and absorbing the Car Wars material. I was hooked. I realized that even though I had good armor and good acceleration, my twin Machine Guns were just too light of armament for the duel the night before. I also saw the effectiveness of the modified City Cowboy and everyone's reluctance to engage me close up when they thought I had a pair of VMGs up front. I felt that the Vulcan Machine Gun could rule the roost.
After the holiday, I spent that fall, in my Geometry class, transcribing everything I could remember from the Car Wars material. I guessed or extrapolated the data I could not accurately remember. I learned some rudimentary design strategies doing this - for example -I saw that the Rocket Launcher was cheap and light, but was inaccurate and only had 10 shots. I saw the Rrecoilless Rifle was effective, but again was restricted on ammo at 10 shots. I gravitated toward the Machine Gun and the Vulcan Machine Gun. That Christmas, my friend who introduced me to the game, gave me the Pocket Box, Truck Stop and the Double Arena. He gave my friend the Pocket Box, Sunday Drivers and the Armadillo Autoduel Arena. That was all it took. I started introducing Car Wars to our regular gaming group at school and have enjoyed the game ever since.