Being an old school Car Wars fan I’m interested in any game that lets me crush some cars. Preferably with high powered weapons. So when I learned that Dice Fest Games is running a Kickstarter for Outrider, their autodueling game, I had to check it out.
Outrider has existed for a few years as a print-and-play and print-on-demand game available through Drive Thru RPG. The Kickstarter campaign will allow them to do a full production run complete with expansions. I own a .pdf of the print-and-play starter deck so I fired up the printer, grabbed my knife and glue, and went to town cutting out cards and counters.
And more counters.
There are a lot of counters. Most of them are small squares designed to be double sided. You could leave them single sided, but it’s easier in play if they are double sided and the added thickness of two layers of cardstock makes them easier to handle. It was worth it, but the counters will haunt my dreams.
Outrider is played using cards, but it is not a card game. Instead the cards are used as playing pieces on the board. One card represents your vehicle and displays its name, weapon arcs, and any special attributes like improved handling or armor bonuses. Another card represents your dashboard, tracking your cars abilities, damage status, actions, and skill points. Your car has four stats; Engine, Drive, Armor, and Weapons. You receive four different dice; a d6, d8, d10, and d12, and you use these to customize your vehicle by assigning one die to each statistic. The assigned die is what you roll during game play to take actions; maneuvers based on Drive, resisting damage based on Armor, etc… This offers a lot of customization options based on how you assign the dice each game, while at the same time balancing the vehicles nicely. Each car also has bonuses that add to different statistics, but these are not overpowering and are never more than a +2. This gives the cars an interesting variety without any vehicle being overpowered.
An interesting byproduct of this is that your dice allocation has a much greater impact on performance than car selection. A car whose image looks like a tank may actually have weak armor and great acceleration, while one that looks like a dune buggy may have the highest armor and biggest guns on the road.
You map out your car’s movement using maneuver cards which you lay in front of your vehicle’s card, building a track that shows where you are going. Each maneuver card has a difficulty number and once you’ve laid out the whole track you add up the total and that becomes the target number you need to beat. You then roll your Drive die and add any applicable bonuses. If you make the roll you move to the new position and if you fail you lose control.
The movement process goes quickly and we spent more time shuffling through the maneuver cards looking for the right ones than we did planning our actions. In the future I’ll try sorting the cards into different stacks instead of keeping them in a single deck.
Combat is also an easy process. If an enemy card is within range (three card lengths) and within the firing arc of your weapons, you hit automatically. Then your target rolls his or her Armor die while you roll your Weapon die. If you roll higher than your target, the target takes a point of damage. Each car has six damage points.
Outrider is fun, easy to learn, and plays quickly. Two of us were able to figure out the rules and play two games in about 2 1/2 hours.
It’s inevitable that I compare it to the venerable Car Wars and while both games will satisfy your autodueling itch, they each do so in a different way. Car Wars is more simulationist while Outrider is more of an arcade game. Movement, construction, and combat are all more abstract in Outrider, and it has less setup. When you want a meatier game go for Car Wars but if you want a quick shot of automotive adrenaline, Outrider is just the ticket. Both are outstanding games that bring different approaches to the genre and I’m glad to have Outrider sitting on my shelf.
There are still six days left on the Outrider’s Kickstarter and the current starter game can be found on Drive Thru RPG, where they have a sale going. The Print-and-Play version is on sale for $1.99 and you can get the combo Print-on-Demand and Print-and-Play games for $9.99.
Give it a look!