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Old 01-03-2020, 03:07 PM   #1
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Join Date: Dec 2007
Default Odd Designs: The "Tail-End-Charlie" Cycle

This design appeared in the scenario "Nightstrike" [_ADQ 1/2_]:

Hv. Cyc.; Hv. Susp.; Su. PP [1,000 PF]; 2x PR tire; Dr. 2x SD [1 ea. L, B]; PS [L]. Armor: F: 15; B: 25. $5,330; 1,215 lbs. Acc.: 10; TS: 162.5; HC: 2.

Hv. S-car; Imp. Susp.; 1x PR tire. 2x PS [1 ea. R, B]; SD [B]; 4x Link [1 ea. pair PS-SD L, R, B; 1 all weap.]. Armor: F, B, R, T, U: 5. $2,900; 750 lbs.

Total: $8,230; 1,965 lbs. Acc.: 10; TS: 122.5; HC: 3.

Bearing in mind it's illegal (cycles have never been allowed to have weapons facing anywhere except F, or B): It's an interesting attempt at an ultra-low-cost convoy rearguard; and looking at the loadouts of most cycle gang packs, why shouldn't someone be thinking of "how do we dissuade The Law from following us"....

Part of the problem here is: At the time of _ADQ 1/2_, Trikes weren't available; so the only way for a biker gang to have side-firing weapons was to have a car -- with all the attendant problems which explain *why* bikers didn't use cars. :) That said, I ran this same design as a Trike, and came out with this:

Md. Trike; Hv. Suspension; Su. PP [1,000 PF]; 3x PR tire; Dr. 3x PS [1 ea. L, R, B]; 3x SD [1 ea. L, R, B]; 4x Link [1 ea. pair PS-SD; 1 all weap.). Armor: F: 10; L, R: 20; B: 40; T: 5; U: 9. $7,798; 1,999 lbs. Acc.: 10; Top Speed: 120; HC: 2.

The trike comes out somewhat cheaper, and *much* better-armored; but a bit slower, and lower in HC. Seems a reasonable tradeoff.

Other opinions?
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Old 01-04-2020, 04:05 AM   #2
swordtart
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Default Re: Odd Designs: The "Tail-End-Charlie" Cycle

There were a lot of illegal designs in that scenario (or perhaps they were legal at the time and our view of what should be allowed has evolved since then).

I don't have a quarrel with the trike design, but as you say they weren't available at the time of the scenario. If you are going to use a trike, your entire gang may as well use them and this wasn't one of those gangs.

Instead I offer the below for your consideration.

A single mine dropping bike is not really going to help much against a pursuit by the law. Mines are a bit too passive, a single string can be easily circumvented. You are going to need a few bikes to coat the road sufficiently to deter pursuit (assuming they and you cannot go off-road, which is your go-to escape for a bike). Fortunately you are a bike gang and you should have the benefit of numbers.

Dropping one counter in the middle of each 1" lane is enough to create a risk (each mine is 1/2" with 1/2" between them) - i'd probably have an extra bike so you could offset a little to cover the typical 1/2" shoulders as well. Your pursuer must either roll directly over a counter with a 4 in 6 chance of detonation or drive between them for two 2 in 6 chances of detonation (with the chance of a double whammy). Make the mines radio controlled or spiders and you increase the risk to unacceptable levels.

Your pursuer might risk a single row of mines like this but if you have a bike per lane you are looking at 10 rows of mines (for only 50% more mines than your single double dropper would use), most vehicles don't carry that much under body armour even if their tires could make it through.

If you accept this logic, you may as well go for several dirt cheap bikes (with a single rear mounted MD and plenty of sloped rear armour) with your worst gunners (prospects) as riders (as tail-enders they are most likely to get shot up and are therefore should be the most expendable ones). They won't even have to manoeuvre much so they could be poor riders as well. With the space and money saved you can link in a paint sprayer and cut down your pursuers fire arcs at the same time (for an additional 15" after your mines run out). Even if pursuers run the 1/2" wide corridors clear of paint and mines, some groups rule they will still "touch" the paint counters (and even if not, a single D1 drift by some of the droppers will create an unavoidable barrier).

You probably don't need a particularly good plant, since you are no longer pulling a side car and the other MD, and even if these guys are slower than the rest of the gang then they are just forced to do their job properly if they are to survive. If they get caught your pursuers may give up the chase letting your better gang members escape. If you plan right, you can get all but one lane of your exit route coated before you even begin your assault. You can leave a single bike ready to complete the job after the rest of the gang has cleared the first row on the way out.

Of course if you have planned that well, you will also have your support pick-up along to carry off the loot if you are successful in your raid. It wouldn't take much out of their space/weight budget to mount a couple of MDs (and they CAN mount them to the side) to cater for the possibility that you need to cut and run. With these you can coat the road completely and lay an impenetrable paint screen to boot without even requiring any jinking. Of course they might be a bit more expensive, but you benefit from the extra utility (and armour) and you can carry some infantry in the bed (even wounded or no handgun skill gangers can drop smoke or paint grenades over the side without significant risk). Properly tooled up and skilled infantry may be enough to deter pursuit in their own right.

You could use a minivan trailer instead of a side car and get side arcs, but I am not sure it is a better solution to the sidecar for various reasons and probably isn't worth the faff just to get side arcs that I don't believe you even need.
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Old 01-04-2020, 02:14 PM   #3
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Default Re: Odd Designs: The "Tail-End-Charlie" Cycle

Quote:
Originally Posted by swordtart View Post
There were a lot of illegal designs in that scenario (or perhaps they were legal at the time and our view of what should be allowed has evolved since then).
I have noticed: The most-common error seems to be "confusing the Light and Heavy Sidecar armor values" -- which isn't difficult considering LS is 5/5, while HS is 5/6. Second-most-common error seems to be "not keeping Cycle and Sidecar weight separate".

I have a file on my laptop with all the scenario designs, plus corrections where required, so I know all about this. :)

Quote:
Originally Posted by swordtart View Post
I don't have a quarrel with the trike design, but as you say they weren't available at the time of the scenario. If you are going to use a trike, your entire gang may as well use them and this wasn't one of those gangs.
I wouldn't be so sure -- Trikes have some of the same issues as cars. (For ex.: The whole "pulling maintenance" issue; a bike can be worked on without the need for a garage, where a Trike cannot.) I could see Trikes being used as "specialist units", like the TEC role, or for carrying really-big guns (see _Cratermaker_), but a whole gang of them is asking a bit much.

The tactics you described (edited for length -- apologies) are useful; however, I can see a far-simpler solution, borrowed from my days with NOVA: The cycle has B-mount dropped weapons; the sidecar has Outside-mounted dropped weapons; it creates what we called "the Checkerboard of Doom", where one creates a line of DW counters looking a bit like this:

XOXOXOXOXOXOXO
OXOXOXOXOXOXOX

X: DW counter 1/2"x1/2"
O: No DW counter

Trying to cross that line means hitting at least one DW at 1-4 roll, and at least two others at 1-2 roll. That's going to Hurt. :)
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Old 01-04-2020, 04:50 PM   #4
swordtart
 
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Default Re: Odd Designs: The "Tail-End-Charlie" Cycle

I was thinking of the more obvious stuff like a bike with a side car on each side ;)

In CW access to a garage only imposes a negative to the mechanics roll. No vehicle "needs" a garage and all vehicles benefit equally from them. In real-life this might be different, but we must assume vehicles are far more modular in CW than in real-life. For example to remove a small cycle plant is exactly the same mechanic roll and time to remove a large truck plant.

I fiddled with the mechanic rules to make maintenance a little more credible and practical (how does a racing team cope with tire changes when the best that can be achieved by even a master mechanic is 1/2 an hour). It did make distinctions between heavy components (i.e. man luggable vs hoist or jack required), components under armour vs exposed etc. but it required so much tinkering, I can't really claim it is CW anymore (more GURPSy).

I agree that trikes are a trade-off, however if you use a mixed bag of bikes and trikes you run the risk of having to accommodate all the disadvantages of both types and having fewer opportunities to leverage the benefits of either type.

I tend to stick to one or the other in my gangs. Support vehicles are off-table and thus tend not to figure in combats. Given the longest road combat I had was 25 seconds from first encounter to all the bandit bikes being scrap, there wasn't really time for the support vehicles to even get there from a standing start.

I think if you drove over only 1 half of the first counter, you only get into the danger zone of a single second counter. If we redraw as 1/4" squares (so each mine counter is represented by a 2x2 grid of "X"s).


OOXXOOXX
OOXXOOXX
XXOOXXOO
XXOOXXOO


The bold red route only goes within 1/4" of the second mine in the second row (actually it rolls over it). You have to gamble on whether you want a small chance of getting three mines detonated or a larger chance of just two. Some stats guru can number crunch it to see the optimum result, but I imagine it will depend on lots of factors, not least of which is "can I survive two detonations but not three".

Last edited by swordtart; 01-04-2020 at 05:01 PM. Reason: clarifying "drawing"
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Old 01-05-2020, 01:54 PM   #5
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Default Re: Odd Designs: The "Tail-End-Charlie" Cycle

Quote:
Originally Posted by swordtart View Post
I was thinking of the more obvious stuff like a bike with a side car on each side ;)
Yeah -- a couple of those turn up in the adventures. :)

I've seen pics of two-sidecar-cycles; it does require some interesting engineering to pull off, but it *is* possible. (I'd post pics, but I can't seem to do that on this forum.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by swordtart View Post
In CW access to a garage only imposes a negative to the mechanics roll. No vehicle "needs" a garage and all vehicles benefit equally from them. In real-life this might be different, but we must assume vehicles are far more modular in CW than in real-life. For example to remove a small cycle plant is exactly the same mechanic roll and time to remove a large truck plant.
This was covered in the _ADQ_ article on "alternate encumbrance". For ex.: The heaviest cycle plant (Super Trike) weighs 250 lbs.; the *lightest* car plant (Small) weighs 500 lbs. A biker gang having to pull engine maintenance on a bike can get the bike plant out with 2-3 guys and a couple 2x4s; the car plant will need twice that many; more, the bike plant is easily accessed through the open sides of the bike, while the car plant will need a hoist, and probably whatever bodywork is closest will have to come off.

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Originally Posted by swordtart View Post
(how does a racing team cope with tire changes when the best that can be achieved by even a master mechanic is 1/2 an hour).
_Dueltrack_ covered the "pit stop problem"; do you have a copy of that?

Quote:
Originally Posted by swordtart View Post
I agree that trikes are a trade-off, however if you use a mixed bag of bikes and trikes you run the risk of having to accommodate all the disadvantages of both types and having fewer opportunities to leverage the benefits of either type.
Noted -- as stated earlier: I could see trikes being used for "specialist" roles, like "tail-end-Charlie", or (for reversed trikes) "point-guard" (all those ram-equipped designs); or heavy-weapons-carrier (_Cratermaker_, my personal favorite among trikes), or even the "ash-and-trash" detail (I'll be covering that in a future post -- "Nightstrike" has another Unusual Cycle Design I want to discuss :) ).

Quote:
Originally Posted by swordtart View Post
[...]Some stats guru can number crunch it to see the optimum result, but I imagine it will depend on lots of factors, not least of which is "can I survive two detonations but not three".
That's if they're crossed orthogonally -- my usual approach was to come across the opponent's front at an angle. For ex.: In convoy, the TEC is on one side of the road, near the shoulder; when a threat approaches, the TEC hangs a D3, activates the "panic button" (all DWs) link, drives diagonally across the road until he reaches the other side, then hangs another D3 to straighten out again. If the threat wants to hit the fewest-possible 1-4s and 1-2s, he's going to have to cut a couple D3s of his own -- that coupled to the D hazard he's going to take from the DWs... well, if nothing else, it's going to soften him up for the "floaters" in the convoy, unless he's *really* lucky on his die-rolls.
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Old 01-05-2020, 05:14 PM   #6
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Default Re: Odd Designs: The "Tail-End-Charlie" Cycle

A Medium Trike with Spikedroppers L+R & 1 or 2 Mags each can cause havoc IF you mix Explosive/Incendiary with Standard Spikes . Std. Spikes hang around & can damage Tires on multiple vehicles , as well as being cheaper . The look on pursing players face as one car 'tries' to clear a path by taking the bullet & plowing through them , only for three or four of them to take multiple tires damaged is priceless !

SDs could be Left & Back as well & maneuvering diagonally across the road a couple of times is nasty too & also valid tactic for ambushes .

Unless it's very close range , Paint Clouds can be easily avoided by hanging back or going offroad for a short distance . Paint Sprays are very rarely seen in modern designs - outside of those for a specific scenario . On a Bike or Trike with very limited Spaces , I'd say it's a bit questionable . On a Hvy. Sidecar one could be useful .

Mixing in a few Chemical Paint Mines with Std. ones can cause huge constatation - particularly if it goes off in middle of of pursing pack & coats multiple vehicles ! Think Flame Cloud Chemical Mines for Spear 1000 would make a lovely Uncle Albert product !!
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Old 01-06-2020, 03:15 PM   #7
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Default Re: Odd Designs: The "Tail-End-Charlie" Cycle

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A Medium Trike with Spikedroppers L+R & 1 or 2 Mags each can cause havoc IF you mix Explosive/Incendiary with Standard Spikes .
If such rounds are available -- I forget when Explosive, or Incendiary, Spikes became available. At the time of the TEC Cycle design, they weren't available -- much the same as Trikes weren't available; this was the Only Way to build a TEC and not have to use a Car body.
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Old 01-06-2020, 04:19 PM   #8
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Default Re: Odd Designs: The "Tail-End-Charlie" Cycle

If you can go off-road, all DWs are nixed.

You get a lot of paint in your mag. It is as good as smoke for blocking LOS (and lasers) and if you actually drive through it without no-paint windshields it has a lingering effect.

If you force someone to stay back 2 seconds at highway speeds it will be over 10" and is worth -2 to hit. If any paint counters intervene it obviously becomes much more.

It also has the nice effect of clearing itself up and thus is a permitted weapon in less tolerant jurisdictions (where mines can cause collateral damage). Normally bike gangs wouldn't be bothered by such things, but they sometimes need to pass through law bound areas without stirring up interest.

43: If the pursuer fires on the dropper, they only need to cause a minor fishtail and the dropper will fishtail onto the mines they deployed from their side arcs. In our games we allow a grace period in that the 1-2 zone doesn't apply until the dropping vehicle breaks contact with it's own mines - otherwise they could never be deployed from side arcs. If a vehicle counter crosses one of it's own counters on the other hand regardless of when that occurs it runs the standard 1-4 chance of detonating - otherwise you have to start making up rules for when mines become armed.

The same result cannot occur if the mines are dropped from the rear only and parallel to the road (though the nice straight line might wobble a bit - a quick bend will straighten it out in short order).

I have been in a fight where the very tactic you described was used. The pursuer was able to watch the dropper loose all it's tires (conveniently clearing a hole in it's own mine field as it did so) before vaulting and destroying itself in the subsequent roll. The pursuer was able to pick a path through without even slowing down. An element of luck was involved, but it shows that laying a path obliquely is not a certain thing and slewing across the road is always risky.

Even if he is unlucky in the attempt to cause a HS loss on the dropper, the pursuer can pull a D3 immediately after the mines start appearing, he can run parallel for the width of the road without risk of hitting any mines at all. If he slows a little by the time he gets to the edge of the road he should have recovered any lost HS and can pull another D3 to revert to a parallel course and cross the apex of the minefield and potentially be clear of them thereafter as by now the dropper is likely to have crossed to the other side of the road and probably won't have either the munitions (you use 40% more mines running diagonally) nor the speed to get back in front.

The first vehicle though (whether it is intact or a rolling wreck) will clear a path through (with maybe one or two mines failing to detonate) if there is more than one pursuer you have shot your bolt. With parallel mines laid along the road as I have described, there is a much reduced chance of a line being cleared through as a fishtail is inevitable at some point taking the vehicle off the line of mines.

Lets assume a standard 4" road (3 x 1" lanes with 2 x 1/2" shoulders).

Assuming you managed to get two D3 diagonal lines across road it takes over 5.6 drops to get all the way . If you use 2 MDs you will burn through over 20 mines to get the coverage. Assuming you are lucky and I have to cross it twice, I need to destroy at most 4 mine counters to clear a path. In crossing 4, with 4 in 6 chance, on average only 2.6 detonate (leaving 1.4 for the next guy).

Using the same 20 mines laid in a 4 wide x 5 long grid, I have to destroy 5 to clear a path. If I thread the gaps I run the gauntlet of 10 x 2 in 6 chances, on average 3.3 detonate (leaving 7.7 for the next guy). If I go up the middle the average damage is the same (but the probability curve is steeper). I leave 2.6 for the next guy.

Either way a spread grid is more efficient for the number of mines (and doesn't require risky turns). I need 4 bikes, but for a bike gang this isn't so terrible. I can build a deluxe version for under 5K.

Gatekeeper by Swordtart:
Heavy Cycle; Improved suspension;
Medium Cycle PP;
2 PR Radial tires.
Driver.
Minedropper w/10xStandard;
Paint Spray w/25xPaint.
8 pts. Sloped LR Metal and 12 pts. Sloped Plastic (B: 8/12).
Cost: $4,900, Wgt: 1,297,
HC: 2, Top Speed: 112.5, Accel: 5.

The no frills version comes in at under 2.5K

Crapper by Swordtart:
Medium Cycle; Cycle chassis; Light suspension;
Small Cycle PP;
2 Standard tires with 2 x 10 point wheel guards.
Driver.
Minedropper w/10xStandard.
9 pts. LR Metal and 9 pts. Plastic (B: 9/9 );
Cost: $2,472, Wgt: 1,090,
HC: 0, Top Speed: 95, Accel: 5.

It is still fairly hard to hit and hurt and will do the basic job, but it is "kinda wobbly" as Thumper would say.

I would also add that bike gangs never play list price ;)
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Old 01-06-2020, 04:23 PM   #9
swordtart
 
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Default Re: Odd Designs: The "Tail-End-Charlie" Cycle

The longevity of spikes is a valid consideration, but spikes only remove tires, not wheels and have reduced effect on solids - most of my serious convoy designs rely on solids as otherwise the attrition from debris is just too much of an economic drain. Plasticores are probably too expensive and heavy, but they are capable of dealing with multiple spike counters for only a 1 HC loss. I have vehicles that are still driving on depleted plasticores as once the rubber is gone, they work just fine as wheels (and if our reading of the core is correct they are immune to weapons that cannot damage vehicular armour).

Tire loss is pretty bad, but nothing says "rethink your strategy" better than internal damage through the under body ;)

Last edited by swordtart; 01-06-2020 at 04:32 PM.
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Old 01-06-2020, 08:38 PM   #10
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Default Re: Odd Designs: The "Tail-End-Charlie" Cycle

Quote:
Originally Posted by swordtart View Post
If you can go off-road, all DWs are nixed.
How so? Last I checked the rules, most DWs work normally off-road; and any TEC driver who isn't covering the shoulders as well as the pavement ain't doin' his job.

Quote:
Originally Posted by swordtart View Post
In our games we allow a grace period in that the 1-2 zone doesn't apply until the dropping vehicle breaks contact with it's own mines - otherwise they could never be deployed from side arcs. If a vehicle counter crosses one of it's own counters on the other hand regardless of when that occurs it runs the standard 1-4 chance of detonating - otherwise you have to start making up rules for when mines become armed.
I'd have to archive-dive to be sure, but IMSMC the "official" ruling was a vehicle couldn't be affected by its own dropped weapons unless and until it was out-of-contact with same.

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Originally Posted by swordtart View Post

I would also add that bike gangs never play list price ;)
That's a game-balance argument -- where most games have "points" of some sort to keep forces balanced, _CW_ had "list cost". In all the games I've played, considerations like "secondhand" or "jury-rigged" were never allowed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by swordtart View Post
The longevity of spikes is a valid consideration, but spikes only remove tires, not wheels and have reduced effect on solids - most of my serious convoy designs rely on solids as otherwise the attrition from debris is just too much of an economic drain. Plasticores are probably too expensive and heavy, but they are capable of dealing with multiple spike counters for only a 1 HC loss. I have vehicles that are still driving on depleted plasticores as once the rubber is gone, they work just fine as wheels (and if our reading of the core is correct they are immune to weapons that cannot damage vehicular armour).

Tire loss is pretty bad, but nothing says "rethink your strategy" better than internal damage through the under body ;)
This assumes one has access to Plasticores -- which, at the time of this design, didn't exist. If one advances the tech base to where Plasticores are available, one also has *much* more devastating DWs available.

And "automatic HC -6 at highway speed" has always proved an effective deterrent for me. ;)
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