Car Wars – A Trip Down The Memory Fast Lane, Part 8

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The Car Wars retrospective is back! ~

Michael Eckenfels, 3 February 2017

click most images to enlarge



Ah, good ol’ Uncle Albert and his catalogs ‘o death. If the ‘basic’ Car Wars rules just didn’t have enough creative ways to destroy, maim, and otherwise disassemble, the Uncle Albert catalogs certainly helped pad those needs, and then some.


The intro begins thusly:

Since 2027, Uncle Albert’s™ Auto Stop and Gunnery Shop has given autoduellists everywhere the state-of-the-art weaponry, defenses, and accessories they’ve come to depend on for success in the arena and survival on the road.

They had me at the Oxford Comma, to be honest, but there’s a lot of Car Wars goodness in the pages of this one catalog, alone, to really get you going.



First off, Uncle Albert gets right to the basics with the slugthrowers. The Vulcan MG isn’t in the basic Car Wars rules, I don’t think, and is a pretty nice addition to anything. Not to mention the heavier weapons such as the Recoilless Rifle or Anti-Tank Gun. Not pictured on the following page is the freakin’ Tank Gun, just in case your souped-up Prius has the room for it.



Lasers were some of the best, most reliable weapons in Car Wars, mainly because they draw power straight from the vehicle’s Power Plant, and therefore do not have to rely on pesky things like ammunition or reloads to keep firing. Of course, if your Power Plant starts taking damage or dies, you have a lot more to worry about at that point than just running out of juice for these weapons. Uncle Albert’s Catalog gives you three options, here.



Things like the Micro Missile Launcher might be a more viable alternative for the smaller vehicles out there, maybe even motorcycles.



Napalm Mines are a great addition, if you’re into being chased a lot in the game. For Arena combat, these are good choices for adding mayhem over and above what ‘standard’ mines do in the basic rules (you just need to be careful you don’t run over ‘em yourself). But, they’re better suited for defensive purposes on the open road. Basic, garden variety bandits would have a rough time running over these.



Offense isn’t the only option, and you can add wheelguards like these to help up the protection for your little rolling death machines.



Then, you have Ejection Seats, for when you want to pull a little Goldfinger action.


…though I imagine it’s a little more spectacular than a dude being pulled out of a car on guy wires.



And then there’s some things that just don’t really have an in-game effect, but DO have a role-playing element to it. Consider the hours of enjoyment you’d have at a gaming table, screeching out your favorite tunes for all others to enjoy! Or maybe playing elevator muzak at 200 decibels instead. The choices are literally endless.



If you’re more a fan of motorcycles, then perhaps a sidecar is a nice thing to have? Maybe better would be to have an actual turret on it, mounting something far heavier than a motorcycle could have? Heh-heh.



There are other neat add-ons in the catalog, as you can see from this picture. Some accessories actually have in-game use while others have more of an RPG element to it (or are just nice to have to brag about around the table, because apparently wasting pretend money in a fictional game on things that don’t actually have a practical use in-game are…bragable, I guess).



While some items in here might be snipe hunts, things like radar systems might make actual differences in gameplay. Corner-mounted weapons would arguably add a new dimension to the entire game, too.



Body armor is definitely a ‘need to have,’ especially if you’re driving a motorcycle or a tin-foil subcompact.



There’s even a bit of background on Uncle Albert himself.



The back cover doesn’t say a whole heck of a lot, and gives it a very Fingerhut/QVC kind of feel overall, but this was a nice little addition to the Car Wars universe back in the day.






The 2036 Update to Uncle Albert’s Catalog is pretty much more of the same…but instead this time, it’s NEW and IMPROVED more of the same!



The back cover hints at the content within (as these kinds of things are wont to do on occasion).



The start of the Catalog Update is pretty awesome. Like the last Catalog, instead of just listing out things on a page, the good folks at Steve Jackson Games decided to go with this more creative way of communicating all the cool stuff within.



Two items stand out almost immediately – the Flechette Gun and the Vehicular Shotgun. Oh, how I’ve dreamed of something like a Vehicular Shotgun mounted to my car. Both of these weapons are anti-pedestrian, not anti-vehicle, and are relatively tame in terms of the Car Wars universe – but the idea is legendary.



For those that prefer to run away, or defend something against bandits, there’s plenty of options to choose from normally. Though, I didn’t know too many people that liked adding mines or caltrops or other such things to their vehicles. Still, if you have to, they’re out there.



For twice the cost of normal armor, you can choose to put Radarproof Armor on your vehicle, instead. That is, if the bandits you’re up against are high-tech…or if you’re a bandit yourself.



You can also add Component Armor to protect vital parts of your beloved vehicle…including the driver’s compartment, if that’s what’s most beloved about it.



For those that love rockets, there are specialized ones that will go to town for you. The Anti-Power-Plant Rocket can short out a target’s systems if it damages the vehicle’s power plant. The Armor-Piercing Rocket isn’t quite as cool, only offering +1 damage per die for 1.5 times the cost of each rocket. I guess if you fired a lot of them and they all hit, that might make a difference.



Duuuuuude…Puff Dragon. Better buy…four hundred and twenty of them. A-huh. A-huh.



If it has a Viking on it, it has to be at least 1.3 times more awesome than normal versions.



2G of RAM sounds vaguely like it’s worse than 2K of RAM. But hey, at least the gunner looks friendly.



This is kind of a nice addition, especially if there are multiple players in the same vehicle. It’s also handy if the driver has a bad habit of getting himself offed.



I guess if you’re really, really paranoid about radar…



For those autoduellists that just can’t be without their BBS access when out in the world.



If you want options for powering your rig other than “power plant,” Uncle Albert has more than a few of them for you to consider.



I don’t know…”diplomacy” in Car Wars usually results in running gun battles. Looks and sounds kind of cool, I suppose. Kind of. The False Weapons thing, though…if your Car Wars campaign had a lot of children’s parties, then there was something inherently wrong with your GM, I think.



The Anti-Vehicular Rifle is pretty nice…for NPCs. If you’re a PC and you’re not in a car and facing down a vehicle or vehicles…heh-heh.



I guess the Nitrous had to come sooner or later.



There’s more than a few vroom-vroom upgrades, too.



And yes, drag chutes, too. Though how these would hold up after diving off a cliff…yeah, I know, they’re not meant to do that, but what if they were?

>>— in a few weeks? MOAR CAR WARZZZZ! –>>

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2 Responses to Car Wars – A Trip Down The Memory Fast Lane, Part 8

  1. John E. Boyle says:

    Back when it was first released, that 2035 Catalog of Uncle Albert’s was a fantastic addition to the Car Wars game.

    Not to mention being directly responsible for my long and tragic love affair with the Recoilless Rifle.

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