White Line Fever (2015-2019)

White Line Fever (2015-2019)


White Line Fever Rules (v1.0 – PDF)

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Also see the Original Brainstorm

White Line Fever is a Hot Wheels based car game. I had two goals in mind when brainstorming the rules:

  1. 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
  2. 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 core of White Line Fever is to tempt players to “push their luck” and drive further, faster, get more turns/drifts, and most of all shoot their guns more, all at the risk of spinning out of control (wherein the opponent moves you – normally face first into a wall). This is intended to feel more like recklessly driving a car.

Cars have a record sheet each, which allows for selecting weapon hardpoints, a unique Brand of car (that gives bonuses), and detailed Armor tracking (with some penalties as damage is taken). Eventually this might be expanded with more car building options and choices.

Players spend their round choosing a car to activate. They can do a single Maneuver for free, which requires moving a number of inches equal to their Speed (1-6, tracked on the sheet or beside the car with a D6). They can turn (up to 90 degrees) or drift once at any point during this Maneuver. And after all that is done they can do an Action (which is basically Shoot Weapons [like an Autocannon] or Drop Weapon [like oil slicks]).

The magic comes in that the player can choose to “Floor It” and try for another Maneuver. They roll a D6 Hazard Check, and need to get higher than the Maneuver number they’re attempting. So 2+ on the second Maneuver, 3+ on the third, and so on. Which means they COULD do a lot of extra stuff each round. Or they could fail, which ends their round after the opponent moves the car for them (as mentioned normally into a wall, off a cliff, or straight into a t-bone with an ally).

Shooting itself is simple: roll D8, have up to 2 modifiers, and check versus the target’s Speed. If greater than or equal to, the shot hits and you apply (flat) damage based on the gun used. Different guns have different ranges (Short – which gives a bonus to hit, and Max) and different damage, and may have a Special effect (like spinning the target around, pushing them, reducing their speed, etc.).

There are simple rules for Crashes (take D8 damage, minimum of your Speed) and cars are left as ruined wrecks (aka obstacles) when destroyed, and pretty standard stuff like that.

From this relatively light and simple core game I want to expand with a campaign system, because I’ve always loved the idea of playing on a real world roadmap. Rushing a load of high cost drugs across the United States from Miami to Los Angeles. Or braving the border crossing from Detroit to Vancouver, Canada. But that’ll all come later.

First Attempt

After a brainstorm I came up with some rules in ~2016 that I went through a few iterations of. They were…alright. The game felt like it was sacrificing a lot to try to be light and paperless. And generally didn’t feel much like driving an actual car would. So I got to the prototype stage, wrote up the rules, and kind of shelved the game. Then after a chunky 2 year gap I came up with the great idea of involving a “push-your-luck” mechanic into the core of White Line Fever. So I basically rewrote and heavily edited the game. But I for archival purposes I wanted to keep the “first edition” rules and notes, which are all here. But yeah, it’s not as good as the current stuff.

Old Rules
Old White Line Fever Rules (kind of a first edition, PDF)

Playtest Prototype Rules (PDF)
Notes from Playtest (PDF)
Unformatted Initial Rules (PDF)

Old Notes: 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.

car-wars-missile-launcherThe 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.

Lessons Learned
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.