Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Machinas - The First Race

With a batch of cars completed, I decided to round off my long weekend with a game of Machinas. Two Hour Wargames games are designed to be easy to play solo, and Machinas is no exception. There are mechanisms for running the actions of non-player vehicles, leaving you free to concentrate on what you want to do with yours.

I generated four cars, for a three-lap race. I haven't printed off the cards (i'm not sure I will), so to work out the options each vehicle and driver had I drew up some tables, each featuring ten possible Signatures, Car Features and Weapons, plus six Defences. I stuck to ones that were relatively simple to remember; useful in a first solo game. Each vehicle rolled for two Signatures, two Features, two Weapons and a Defence, and could build a vehicle using any or all of them. I restricted all builds to a cost of 6, plus the cost of the driver. If you wanted to have more than six points of extras on your car, you had to roll, and use, something with a negative cost.

I chose the White car, and selected  Gearhead and Cool Driver (Signatures), Clanker (Feature) and Shotgun* (Weapon). I put extra points in Savvy, keeping my Tech low; the Gearhead signature offset this nicely, though.

The other three cars had the following traits:

Green - Scrapper (Signature), Big Gun (Weapon)
Blue - Gear Grinder (Signature), Big-Block Engine (Feature), Flamethrower, Molotov Cocktail (Weapon)
Red - Spiked Wheels, Fixed Guns (Weapon), Barbed Chains (Defence)

Green wasn't a car to be too worried about, so long as you didn't let him get a shot. Blue looked a tricky customer, with some lethal flame weapons to worry about if he got behind you, and a powerful engine to keep him in front. Red was a nice balance of attack and defence.

Here are the cars on the start-line ...

... and they're off! With his powerful engine, Blue shot into the lead, followed by Green and Red. I opted to hang back, hoping that the other drivers would weaken each other before I made my move.

Unfortunately my plan almost came unstuck at the start when Red swerved and almost collided with me. We bumped and bounced ...

... but some nifty driving saw us both survive, having swapped places.

Green made a move on Blue, attempting a wide pass.

It failed, but he tried again, going for the easier, but riskier, close pass.

Blue refused to be overtaken. I made an attempt on Green, opting not to overtake but to shoot. I inflicted damage on Green.

Undeterred, Green made another attempt to take the lead, but failed.

As I reloaded my shotgun, Red took the opportunity to slip past me.

He kept going and made a move on Green as well.

Like me, he took Green under fire, inflicting more hits and causing Green to swerve and drop back into third place.

Blue held off Red's attempt to take the lead, however.

I moved up on Green again, and let him have another shot.

Tyres shredded he flipped over, out of the race. The car was badly damaged, but the driver walked away.

Into the second lap, and there were three of us left.

In fact the second lap was relatively uneventful; there were some attempts at passing, bashing and shooting, but nothing of any significance. The positions remained unchanged as we went into the third lap.

Seeing an opening, Red roared past Blue to take the lead ...

... but Blue had fight left in him, and took it back.

Red closed up and starting shooting at Blue, who evaded the gunfire.

Red lined up for another pass ...

... the vehicles ground against each other, as Red tried to bring his formidable spiked wheels to bear ...

... but Blue saw him off again.

We were coming up to the last bend now. I had to make my play. By hanging back for a lap I had picked up a formidable collection of bonus dice, and now was the time to burn through them and take the lead.

I went for a wide pass on Red ...

... and easily took him.

Into the final bend, and I positioned myself for an attempt to pass Blue. If I failed this I had one more chance, but it would be on a straight, where Blue, with his big engine, was better than I.

Piling on the bonus dice I moved alongside Blue. I could have just overtaken him, but that would have left him in a potential shooting position next turn, and I was reluctant to risk coming under attack from the flamethrower. So I opted to ram Blue, using enough bonus dice to ensure that I could take him right out of the race.

Smash! Blue skidded out of control and onto his side. Both driver and car survived, but were out of the race.

Red tried to pass me on the turn as well, but couldn't. I was in the lead, with just the final straight to run.

Red poured on the speed as we raced to the finish line ...

... and I couldn't hold him off. Red won.

Holding back for most of the game is a great way to build up plenty of bonus dice for the last few turns, But it's a high-risk strategy. Aside from being the target for flying wrecks from the front of the pack, you have to judge your dice expenditure very nicely on the last two or three turns in which you make you run for the front, otherwise you can end up like I did - pipped at the post. 

The game ran very smoothly, and the rules played very well. The NPC cars behaved in a way that wasn't too outrageous, although there's no option for them to drop back (allowing a car behind you to overtake, so you can line up a shot on it). Actually this is OK at this stage, because of all of the rules in Machinas it's the one that's least clear. Obviously a live player would possibly use this option more freely. Keeping the car abilities limited to simple ones helped the game run more smoothly as well, and I'll probably use the same set for my first games with live players. A lot of the traits were never used. I never got to use my Cool Driver (fortunately), Green fired his Big Gun just once and Blue never fired at anything, being out in front for most of the race. Red used his Spiked Wheels and Fixed Guns a couple of times, but was never passed close enough for the Barbed Chains to come into play. Still, you never know when these things might be useful.

Anyway, it's been a fun weekend, designing, building and painting miniatures, then getting to use them in a game. A pity I have to go back to work now.

*This is a Weapon I have added to the game, after the realisation that a vehicle cannot shoot if it doesn't have a Weapon card assigned to it. All of the available Weapons have some kind of bonus above and beyond the ability to shoot, so I reasoned that there had to be scope for a Weapon which simple allows you the option of shooting, with no frills. Shotgun is it. It has a Cost of +1 and  weight of 1.


  1. Nice report, Kaptain! I didn't see anything in the rules which said a weapon had to be mounted on the car in order to shoot? I've always just played it that you are armed with hand weapons for 'free', enabling you to roll te basic dice.

    1. I was unclear on that, so I asked. It's also come up as a question on the THW forum. In both places the answer seem to be that you can't shoot *unless* you have a weapon. You don't get to shoot for 'free'.

      In fact as a weapon, Missiles don't make much sense otherwise; they can't fire at a car in the slot in front of them. but that's hardly a penalty if the car can always use a 'default weapon' instead. With no default weapons, a car armed solely with Missiles is actually penalised at one slot range.

    2. Thanks. I must have missed that on the forum. Useful to know.

      Oh, and I love the cars by the way!

  2. Those model cars look absolutely awesome! I would definitely be up for a game of this if you're looking for human players in future.

  3. I need to get on running another game of this. My first game was with my family as guinea pigs and I didn't have a handle on the rules. A bad back ended the game early and I haven't been back to it since.


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