If you've ever played Car Wars, the pen-and-paper game of post-apocalyptic vehicular combat, chances are that you probably love it despite all its flaws. Now, imagine playing it on a 12' by 8' 3D city block filled with skyscrapers, ramps, an overpass and carnage, not to mention 15 other psychotic drivers. Scared yet? Drop your flaming oil and warm up the missile launchers - this is Car Wars: Rogue Arena.
I had a chance to talk with one of the Rogue Judges at Origins Game Fair this weekend; they're a gaming club based loosely in Chicago and Indianapolis, and they put on dozens of events at game conventions across the U.S. purely for the love of the games - These guys and girls are gamers who simply enjoy putting on events for others, and Rogue Arena is definitely their most famous event.
It takes about four hours to play (about two minutes in Car Wars time) and inevitably ends in a blazing, glorious crash of some kind. Using a slightly modified Car Wars ruleset, with movement templates scaled up to Hot Wheels size, the cars themselves have weapons and armor modded onto them, and various weapon effects like smokescreens (cotton balls) and oil slicks add to the overall mayhem. The judges goad and heckle the players, mocking anyone who dares apply brakes with comments like, "the management is not at fault if you forgot to take your anti-convulsants before getting into your car."
Rogue Arena is such a popular event at Origins that there was a line of people hoping to gain entry, even though all 16 seats had sold out four days earlier. This is the 8th year that Rogue Arena has been run at Origins, and the Rogue Judges plan on running many more. For next year, they're even considering expanding the city block, so be warned: Even more carnage is definitely on the way.