Thursday, 26 June 2014

Wollongong Death Race

Tonight Machinas made its debut at the Gong Garage Gamers.

I pre-generated thirteen vehicles, and Dave brought his collection along as well, using one of them as a proxy for one of my pre-designed cars. Everyone chose a car they liked the look of, I explained how the game worked, and off we went.

Although we had five players,  I added a couple of NPC cars to bulk out the numbers and to provide vehicles for people to take over if they were knocked out of the race early on. It was a good job I'd had that moment of foresight ...

The cars lined up at the start. From left to right:

Tom Sawyer (Dave) - An agile buggy with a well-aimed rear-facing gun.
A Farewell To Kings (Geoff) - Guns, molotov cocktails and lots of nails. Nasty.
Dreamline (Me) - A pure ramming car. Big spikes on the front.
Hand Over Fist (NPC) - Another ram car, with bonus spiked wheels and big chains hanging off the back to make it difficult to pass.
The Anarchist (NPC) - A flamethrower. Say no more.
The Fountain Of Lamneth (Caesar) - A big gun. Again, say no more.
Clockwork Angel (Marco) - Surprisingly quick for a car toting four machine-guns.

Photos are few, because I was tied up in keeping the game running.

Geoff roared off into the lead with A Farewell To Kings. He held off numerous passing attempts, some by judicious use of boxes of nails. At the start of the second lap Dreamline failed to negotiate them, and crashed. The Anarchist narrowly avoided being wiped out by the wreck.

I took over Hand Over Fist at the back of the pack. A couple of sections later The Anarchist tried to bash Marco's Clockwork Angel. Marco threw in a pile of bonus dice, and The Anarchist flipped out of the race as well.

We were now nearing the end of the second lap, and people were settling nicely into the tactics of the game. Geoff was maintaining his lead, but Caesar and Marco were wearing down his bonus dice.

At the end of the second lap Dave moved up the pack with the Tom Sawyer (who had acquired a gunner figure, for some reason). A random event saw him swerve too close to Geoff's car, and an appalling Out of Control roll saw A Farewell To Kings bounce off the track and out of the race.

As we neared the end of the third and final lap, this was the position. Tom Sawyer was out in front, with his rear-gun acting as a serious deterrent to any drafting. I had tried to use Hand Over Fist's ramming abilities to remove an opposing car, but kept missing the successful bash by one success. Caesar, in The Fountain of Lamneth, bided his time at the rear.

The finish! Marco used his greater speed to take the lead from Dave in the final stretch of track, but Caesar used up a big pile of bonus dice to hammer down the outside from the rear. He overtook my car and Dave's, and only missed overtaking Marco for the win by one success. A very close finish indeed.

This was a great race, with most of the players in it until the end, and enough decisions to keep it interesting. The few house rules I was trying (an alternate random event and an improved AI for NPCs) held up well. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, and soon picked up the tactics and possibilities - when to spend bonus dice, when to pass, when to shoot and which opposing cars to avoid.

I was so tied up running the game I didn't even get chance to make a cup of tea, let alone get pictures of the Command & Colours and 15mm Black Powder games.


  1. Thanks for posting and pass on an appreciation to one and all. Makes me smile knowing that the game is being played. Thanks again,

  2. Yes I didn't get a chance to take a gander either, except to marvel over Dave and Alan's lovely models - the painting and kit bashing has to be seen to be fully appreciated! But it sure sounded like they were having fun!

  3. Wicked car models! This game was a lot of fun to play. Plenty of randomness but enough decisions to make it tactically interesting. All five players were absorbed the whole evening. Machinas is my personal favourite of the racing games, for all the mean cars and weaponry. Quite different in game design to Car Wars back in the '80s but it still brings back fond memories without all the complicated setup. I too didn't have time to make a cuppa and can't wait to play again soon!

  4. Such great names for the vehicles! Wherever did you get your inspiration for those? :)

    Thanks for the AAR; I enjoyed reading it.

  5. I have played a lot of worse race-games, these are very clever rules with a lot of neat mechanisms. The bonus dice system keeps players active all the time deciding when to use them or store them as the cars interact. The balance between fighting other cars and racing lookd good.

    David B

  6. LOL! I'm laughing so hard at the title of this article! It must have been mad fun bringing the cars out of storage to have a little fun with eh? Keep posting about the races man!

  7. Any more of these races up on your page man? I've been rather inspired to put on my own version of the "death races" myself and I'd really love to see what other toy cars you have in storage!


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