White Line Fever is a Hot Wheels based car game. I had two goals in mind when brainstorming the rules:
- Keep the motto “Speed is Everything” in mind – ideally have a tradeoff of high speed making you a harder target, but less likely to maintain control of the car
- Create a game that is more complex than my Flickin’ Cars With Guns, mainly be removing the physical dexterity element, but still being less complex (and especially less fiddly) than Car Wars (any edition, but mainly 5th)
The game is meant to be played with half a dozen cars per player, instead of just one or two. So tracking/sheet management is almost non-existent. The tabletop used can have “terrain” of common household items (books, cups, etc.) or traditional foam terrain (since there isn’t the physical dexterity element of the terrain getting smashed into by a metal car). Setup is either play on opposite sides (“Arena”) or place cars alternating one at a time anywhere (“Highway”).
The current speed of each car is tracked by a D6, with each number representing 30km/h. So speed increment 2 is 60km/h, and 5 is 150km/h. The current state of a car is visible by the actual Hot Wheel, such as “Flipped Over” where you literally flip the car.
A template is used, which is more or less a rectangular piece of cardboard the same size as a car (3″x1″). This is vaguely similar to the turning template from Car Wars, except a lot less complex. Pretty much you can turn up to 90 degrees for a single maneuver.
The key concept of the game is you get 1 Maneuver per 1 Speed. Once per driving turn the opponent can say “Control Check!” after the player has finished a Maneuver. This means the driver rolls a D8, if that’s greater than or equal to their Speed they pass the check and are safe. Otherwise they skid out or have some other bad effect. Collisions are a simple roll off.
Shooting is done by rolling D8, with a few modifiers, and comparing to the target’s Speed. So a car with Speed 1 will pass all Control Checks, but is also automatically hit. If the roll result is exactly equal the target is Flipped Over, greater than target Speed means Spun Out (reverse direction), result of 7 or 8 Destroyed, and 9+ (thanks to modifiers) Explodes (in a radius).
The modifiers involved are simple: +1/-1 within template distance, +1/-1 if shooting target’s rear, +1/-1 if target is Flipped Over. The -1 could be useful if the target has a Speed of say 5 and you roll a 6 (which would Spin Out the target), but you instead apply the -1 to get the roll result equal to the Speed and the car is Flipped Over instead.
All in all the game plays quite well, and fast. Setting Speed is an interesting choice, the opponent(s) are involved at all times thanks to Control Check interrupts, and shooting does a lot from one roll (albeit being a bit hard to remember the “result table”). And I managed to keep to Speed being critical and affecting almost every mechanic.
This game was created “by the numbers” in terms of my design process. I thought of a few mechanics for a week, put down a brainstorm doc, did playtest rules the following week, and had a playable prototype soon after. I just need to polish a bit and create a formatted rulebook to finalize this game. Which I fully intend to do since it’s quite enjoyable. I also think the game is a pretty good core framework for extension with a campaign/map system, armor or weapon upgrades, driver traits, etc.
I also need to keep in mind to not be scared of non-D6 in a game. I kind of swung in a circle in regards to different dice. I used a TON of different dice in my games as a kid, then when I got older and tried to make them more accessible I’d stick to one or two types. I remember being very happy when I could get Dinosaur Cowboys to just a D12 and D6 (originally D4, D8, and I think D10 were used for a very narrow corner case).
In the case of White Line Fever requiring a D8 shouldn’t be a deal breaker, especially when it adds so much and keeps the odds in regards to Speed right where I want them.