Hit The Road, Jack

We all know I’m into my video games. I dabble with board games too, because I’m cool (“cool”) like that.

Recently, I’ve started getting my head around Car Wars, from Steve Jackson Games.

It’s all about vehicular combat in what is now the near future (but on release in the early 80’s, was still some time off). Dice rolls, number crunching and scaled down inch by inch movement – you get the idea.

The rule book’s fairly hefty, and number-heavy, but here I want to tip my cap towards Autoduel Quarterly.

In short, it was a supplementary magazine that supported the game’s community. And seems to be where the game’s character (or, dare I say it, soul) can be found.

What’s impressive in the writing is its commitment to the setting. It claims it was published in the 2030s. New vehicle set ups and number/ dice rules are cleverly embedded within mock adverts for car dealerships or mechanics. New scenarios refer to ‘historical’ events.

Its ability to stay in character, as it were, is impressive.

When I first picked the game up, I thought it was just a casual ‘turn up, play’ kind of thing. To an extent, it can be, but it turns out people would roleplay their way through lengthy campaigns with their local groups too. And I find the fact this supplementary material supports that so readily – and seamlessly – is impressive.

I guess today’s viral and social marketing has echos of it. Just look at the number of Hollywood blockbusters that have spawned fictitious company websites or Twitter accounts.

But Autoduel Quarterly just seemed to do it all with a little more… I don’t know… Love? Consistency? It’s certainly more immersive, even when reading the digital PDFs today. I can imagine that reading the actual magazines back in the day, when you were a fan of the game, was pretty damn fun.

So I know it’s about 30 or so years too late, but here’s to you, Autoduel Quarterly.

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