Archive for the ‘Miniatures Games’ Category

Making a 1:64 Scale track — Part 1 — Laying out the track

Friday, July 14th, 2017

I have posted recently about playing Speed Circuit (past) and Championship Formula Racing (present) on large-scale tracks that were painted on bed sheets. Some folks on the CFR forums at BoardGameGeek  (BGG) have asked me to show the process, so here goes. Disclaimer: Since I am in the United States of America, I use inches, feet, etc, and also relate car speeds as miles per hour. If you are in a metric system country, you will of course want to adjust the measurements for your system.

Select a Track Diagram

First, you will need a diagram of the track you want to make. I recently designed the Belle Isle (Detroit) track that is used by IndyCars. I did find that track had already been designed by someone else (I downloaded it from the Files section at BGG), but I didn’t like the design. Some of the straightaway sections were too long in that other design, so cars could use a high top speed in the game to go 200 mph or so. Watching the video of actual IndyCars racing on the Belle Isle track, I never saw any car get much above 160 mph at any time. That other track design also ignored some of the corners in the corners 7 through 11 sequence, and also treated corner 14 as just another straightaway space.

I first obtained the real Belle Isle track outline diagram from online. I used Wikipedia as a source, but there are alternate sources for tracks that you could use if you were designing your own track.

The Belle Isle track layout from Wikipedia.

The Belle Isle track layout from Wikipedia. Unfortunately, the diagram incorrectly calls one of the streets “Lotter Way” when it should properly be “Loiter Way.”

I then imported that track diagram into image editing software (I use Acorn from Flying Meat Software). I then erased everything except the actual track outline, scaled it to fit a poster board size space of 22″ x 28″ (in case I want to print out a board-game size map of that track). Then I changed the track color to red so it wouldn’t interfere with other colored spaces I would create. I created spaces that were 1″ long for a board-game size track, then placed them around the track for the straight parts of the track. I then “fudged” in the corner spaces. I then assigned corner speeds based on watching race video, and added cornering arrows. Here is the track with the original red outline, and gray spaces added:

Belle Isle original track in red, with gray spaces for the board game track.

Belle Isle original track in red, with gray spaces for the board game track.

Acorn is a layer-based program like Photoshop, so you can make layers visible or invisible, change which layer is on top, etc, so that made the above process relatively easy.

Next was to print the track the size of a poster board, and then I ran some solo races on it using the CFR rules and cars of different configuration. I did make a few changes to the initial playtest track, so the “playtest 2” track above is how I finalized the spaces and corners. Except, I’m not sure about the speed of the final slight right-hand bend at the upper left of the track, just after the entrance to the pits. I have 140 mph marked on it for now, but may change it to 160 mph after I get some other folks to playtest it.

Poster board size Belle Isle track.

Poster board size Belle Isle track.

You may already have a track diagram, so you won’t need to perform the above steps. In that case, you will start here:

Gather Items Needed to Build Your Track

Gather items you will need to build a large track.

Track building items laid out on the table.

Track building items laid out on the table.

  • A large table ( I use a ping-pong table that is 5′ x 9′ in size — you will probably need something larger than a 4′ x 8′ piece of plywood, as some tracks are larger than 4′ x 8′). You could also use a large area of the floor, if you are younger than me, and have good knees!
  • Track template pieces. I used to use poster board to create various sizes of straightaways (either two-lane or three-lane wide), but now I find it’s easier and cheaper to just print paper on my laser printer. I create spaces for straights that are 3″ long by 1.75″ wide, as that size space fits my 1:64 scale race cars well. If you make the spaces much smaller than that, cars will be too tightly spaced together if they are crowded into the same area of the track. If the spaces are too large, you might not be able to fit the finished track onto a reasonable table size. I also used to just “fudge” in the corners after laying out the straight pieces, but now I also print out some generic corner pieces. I found some generic track sections online, and printed them at different scales until I got the right size. I also tested the printed corner pieces to ensure my 1:64 scale cars would fit in the spaces on those corner pieces.
Older green poster-board track template pieces in the foreground.

Older green poster-board track template pieces in the foreground.

  • A pair of scissors for cutting the track templates.
  • Carpenter’s style tape measure.
  • A straight edge of some sort to help with marking straight lines. I use an old steel ruler from an old combination square.
  • A pencil to mark the basic outline of the track once you have completed the layout.
  • A black marker (like a Sharpie), used to go over the penciled outline of the track.
  • Clear cellophane tape. Use the tape to tack small track sections together to build assemblies, so there are not as many loose pieces to move around when you make track adjustments.
  • Masking tape. Used to mask the track so you only paint the track.
  • Miscellaneous newspapers, pieces of cardboard, etc. Use these to actually mask areas of the sheet that you don’t want to paint.
  • A can of flat black spray paint. You could also brush flat black paint onto the sheet, but I find spraying is easier, and doesn’t bleed-through the sheet as much as brush painting.
  • Different colored paint markers. I use black (preferably flat black), red, white, and yellow paint markers. Get oil based paint markers, as they won’t wash out if you ever have to wash your track. These markers are used to paint the lines for the spaces on the track, cornering speeds & arrows, and the red-and-white lines along the edge of the track to denote which side of the track is the inside to the next corner.
  • A flat bed sheet. Wait to buy the sheet until after you determine how big the track will be.

Laying Out the Track

Cut out the various straight and curved template pieces.

Cutting out paper straight-section templates.

Cutting out paper straight-section templates.

Then, tape together straight sections to make longer pieces. Do this so you won’t have as many pieces of paper to move around. For the Belle Isle track, I needed straight sections of various spaces long, such as 12 spaces long, 5 spaces long, etc.

Taping straight templates to make longer straightaways.

Taping straight templates to make longer straightaways.

After you have cut out and taped your various templates, place the various lengths of straight sections about where they should go. Use the track diagram as a guide. I also wrote the number of straight spaces in each area directly on that track diagram, so I wasn’t always re-counting the straightaways.

Placing the straight sections of the track.

The straight sections of track have been placed in their approximate positions.

In the above picture, the straight pieces are roughly where they should go. Don’t worry about exactness, as you will have to make adjustments. Then add the corner pieces, and try to “close the loop” of the track by making adjustments as needed.

Curves have been added to the track.

Curves have been added to the track.

In my example above, you can see that the track will actually fit on the table. Yay!

A view of the other side of the track.

A view of the other side of the track.

The next step is to measure the longest distance of the track’s length and width, and write down the numbers.

Measuring the track dimensions.

Measuring the track dimensions.

For my Belle Isle track, I found the rough layout was about 4′ wide and 7’6″ long, so the finished track should be able to be played on a 4′ x 8′ table size. This is now the time to purchase the flat bed sheet. I was able to purchase a flat sheet that is 66″ x 96″, or 5’6″ x 8’0″, for about $5 (US). For you metric folk, that sheet is 168cm x 244cm. Of course, before you can use the sheet, you will need to wash it, as the sheets are usually packed very densely, and the wrinkles will make it difficult to paint the track later. Also throw the sheet in the dryer (if you have one) after washing to “pre-shrink” it.

Continued in Part 2 – Marking the track on the sheet.

Also see Part 3 – Painting the track.

Championship Formula Racing at Imperium Games, July 7, 2017

Sunday, July 9th, 2017

We had our most recent demo race of Championship Formula Racing at Imperium Games in Wixom, Michigan, on Friday, July 7.  (Imperium Games was up until recently known as Flat Land Games. It had a recent change of ownership.) We once again used one of the magnificent large-scale tracks made by Richard White many years ago.

Spa-Francorchamps track (1981-2003 configuration)

Spa-Francorchamps track (1981-2003 configuration)

I lined up my available 1:64 scale IndyCars for drivers to use as Jack Beckman had not yet shown up with his many Formula One cars. Traffic was exceptionally bad on I-96 west of I-275. I tried to get to Imperium Games by 5:00 pm, but I didn’t arrive until around 5:45 pm. The Imperium Games staff were very helpful in converting one of the lower miniatures tables by removing the edge rail from one side of the table, and providing a plywood extension under the part of the track in the upper right of the above picture. In other words, the Spa track is wider than a 4 foot x 8 foot table — it needs about a 5 foot by 8 foot table.

Not too long after I set up the track, Jim Landis arrived, followed by Jim Robinson and Greg Lim. Jack Beckman got to the track around 6:45 pm. We got rolling a little past 7:00 pm.

Starting positions in Championship Formula Racing are handled on a “bid” basis. Each driver bids some of his starting Wear or Skill chits, with each Wear counting as one and each Skill counts as 1/2. Jim Robinson and I each bid 1.5 (1 Wear and 1 Skill each), Jack Beckman bid only 0.5 (a single Skill chit), and Jim Landis and Greg Lim each bid nothing. So then Jim Robinson and me had to roll dice for starting position, with Jim getting the pole, and I started on the front row next to him. Jack was 3rd, and Jim Landis and Greg diced for starting 4th and 5th.

The Spa race is on. Cars are just past the first turn.

The Spa race is on. Cars are just past the first turn. L-to-R: Jack Beckman, Garry Kaluzny, Jim Landis, Jim Robinson (Greg Lim Photo).

We got about a half-lap into our 3 lap race, when a sixth driver, Chris Mogle,  showed up. We paused the race so he could build his car’s specifications, then we placed him on the track just behind the 5th place car. We also deducted 3 Wear from Chris, as that is how much Wear the 5th place car had used up to that point in the race.

I had finally convinced the other drivers to use the Tire and Pit Stop rules for CFR. We also specified that each car would have to use both hard and soft tires at some point during the race. I started on hard tires, but switched to soft tires at the end of the first lap when I pulled into the pits. To my surprise, all five other cars also pulled into the pits.

Basically, if you use the pit stop rules in CFR, your car starts with less wear than it would have available if you weren’t using the pit rules. For example, I put +1 build point into my Wear when I set up my car. Without using the pit stop rules, I would have received 7 Wear per lap. Since we were racing 3 laps, that means I would have started with 21 Wear for the race, and once it was used up it could not be replenished. However, with the pit rules, I only received 4 Wear per lap, meaning I only started with 12 Wear. However, when you pit, you come out of the pits with your full complement of Wear. I was planning on pitting twice in the 3 laps, so I would theoretically have 12 + 12 + 12 = 36 Wear to use, instead of just the 21 Wear I would have had if we had not used the pit rules. Now, to balance all that, when you pit your car is stationary for two turns, so you would lose track position to other cars that stayed out on the track.

So, after burning through 10 Wear on my first lap (also having used one Wear in bidding for starting position), I pitted, but so did everyone else. Some drivers had not burned all of their starting Wear, so when they “topped off” their Wear, they effectively lost a couple/few Wear.

After pit stops, the cars are back on the track, starting their 2nd lap (of 3) on the Spa track.

After pit stops, the cars are back on the track, starting their 2nd lap (of 3) on the Spa track.

So, shortly after starting the 2nd lap, I failed a Deceleration dice roll, which reduced my car’s Deceleration from 40 mph to 20 mph. This wasn’t a huge handicap on the Spa track, as there are only a couple of places where you really need to decelerate by more than 20 mph, and when I needed to decelerate by 40 mph I could spend a Wear to slow down.

A close up of cars at the La Source hairpin turn at Spa-Francorchamps.

A close up of cars at the La Source hairpin turn at Spa-Francorchamps.

At the end of the 2nd lap, five of the six cars pitted again, and surprisingly, I was still in the lead. I held the lead all the way until the end. Then, on the next to last turn, I finished my move one space short of the finish line, but moving at 120 mph. For my next turn, I need to reduce my speed to 60 mph to avoid entering the slow hairpin turn which was only three spaces past the finish line. However, since I was out of Wear, I couldn’t use any Wear to slow down more than my damaged 20 mph Deceleration. I could only add a single dice roll to try to decelerate by a total of 40 mph. That would have left my car traveling at 80 mph, which would put me into the corner after the finish line. Since I didn’t have any Wear, I could only have entered that corner at 60 mph without crashing, and I would have had to take a Chance dice roll if I entered the corner at 60 mph. So, my car crashed, and according to the rules, if your car crashes after crossing the finish line, it is considered to have NOT finished the race!

That meant that Jack Beckman took the win, as he had been in 2nd place, very close behind my car. I believe Jim Robinson was 2nd, and Jim Landis was 3rd (or was it the other way around?), and Chris Mogle was 4th, and Greg Lim was 5th. I (Garry Kaluzny) was 6th, although I would not have received any points if we had been racing for points.

However, after we had all packed up the game components, and I was headed home, I realized that I totally forgot about “late braking”! I could have used a Deceleration dice roll to get down to 80 mph (from 120 mph), and then after I moved at least one space on the track, I could have used late braking to scrub off another 20 mph by taking another Deceleration roll. I also had a -1 and a -3 Skill markers, which I could have exchanged the -3 Skill marker for three -1 Skill markers, meaning I could have made both Deceleration rolls with -2 Skill applied, meaning I would have only failed either roll if I rolled a 12 on 2d6. Of course, if I had failed either of those Deceleration rolls, my car would also have been out of the race, but each roll had a 35 in 36 chance of succeeding.

It just goes to show that even us “experienced” Speed Circuit/CFR drivers can fail an internal “brain” roll and forget about applying a rule when it is vitally needed!

Jack and I were hoping to run a demo race of CFR at the Metro Detroit Gamers’ MichiCon at Oakland University in August, but that game con, tentatively scheduled for August 4-5, is not happening for certain. So, if MichiCon does not take place on August 4-5, I will probably have more CFR demo races in Canton and Wayne on August 5. And then we will probably have our final demo race at Guild of Blades on Friday, August 11. We then hope to start racing for points on Friday, September 8.

Check out our CFR-Detroit web page.

Posted by Garry Kaluzny

Championship Formula Racing demo races, July 1, 2017

Sunday, July 2nd, 2017

On Saturday, July 1, 2017, I ran four more demo races of Championship Formula Racing, trying to attract more regular racers for our upcoming season of races (that should begin in September). I ran two races at the monthly first Saturday boardgame Meetup group at the Canton Public Library in Canton, Michigan, then later in the day I ran two more races at the Warriors 3 game store in Wayne, Michigan.

I got to the Canton library just before they opened the meeting room for us boardgamers at noon. Meeting me there were Greg Lim and Jim Robinson. We quickly set up four folding tables together so we could place one of our large scale race tracks on that group of tables. I had just borrowed four more large tracks from Richard White on Thursday, two nights previous.

For our first race, we had eight racers, and we raced on the Monza, Italy track. This large track is based on the mid-1980s Monza track from Avalon Hill’s Accessory Pack tracks from that era. It has not been modified for the newer Monza changes. But we all race on the same track, n’est-ce pas?

Racing on the Monza, Italy track at the Canton Public Library.

Racing on the Monza, Italy track at the Canton Public Library. (Greg Lim photo)

After we completed the first race at Monza, I asked folks if they wanted to race the 2nd race on a different track, but they wanted to race the Monza track again. One of the drivers from the first race dropped out, as he wanted to play some other board games at the library, but we added two other drivers, so the 2nd race had nine drivers. That was the most drivers we have had (so far) for our demo races.

The last lap of the 2nd Monza race at the Canton library.

The last lap of the 2nd Monza race at the Canton library. Brian Robinson (center, in the gray t-shirt) comtemplates how he can win the race from his then 2nd place on the track.

Brian Robinson won that 2nd Monza race. Brian is relatively new to the Speed Circuit/Championship Formula Racing type games, but he is driving like an old pro. I told him at the end of the evening after the last race at Warriors 3 that I no longer considered him a rookie, but an “old pro” driver.

After that 2nd race at the Canton library, Greg and Jim and I went to a local fast food place for some dinner. (If you’re going to drive “fast” in racing games, you should eat “fast” food, eh?) Then we got to the Warriors 3 game store in Wayne, Michigan, in plenty of time to arrange four folding tables together to make room to set up another large track. I set up the Silverstone, England track.

The Silverstone, England track.

The Silverstone, England track.

While we were setting up the 1:64 scale race cars on the track while we were waiting for some other racers to arrive, a three-year old boy, Thomas, came over to our table. He was determined to play with our 1:64 scale cars! We first moved the cars from one side of the table to the other, but then Thomas tried to climb on top of the table to get to the cars. I was afraid of Thomas falling off the table and injuring himself. Finally, though, Thomas’ father called him away from us. The father was playing in a different game in a different area of the same large gaming room. Anyway, we were relieved, as our 1:64 scale cars are definitely not toys, and would not survive without damage from being handled by a three-year-old!

Racing on the Silverstone track.

Racing on the Silverstone track. Garry Kaluzny in the red shirt at left. (Greg Lim photo)

It should be noted that our race on the Silverstone track was also based on the mid-1980s configuration of that real-life track. In CFR game terms, I built my car to have 60 mph Acceleration and Deceleration, and a 180 mph Top Speed. You can pretty much drive either 120 mph or 180 mph every turn on this track configuration. Centered in the picture above is Ian, a young guy visiting the Detroit area from his home in Kentucky. Although he had never played CFR (nor Speed Circuit), he pretty quickly grasped the strategy to use. His downfall was taking too many early chances on cornering, and a spinout dropped him back in the race. If he wouldn’t have spun, though, he would have been a tough competitor.

After the Silverstone race was complete, we had time to race once more. We switched to the Monaco track for that last race of the evening. We had the same six drivers from the Silverstone race competing.

Half a lap left to race on the Monte Carlo track at Monaco.

Half a lap left to race on the Monte Carlo track at Monaco.

Ian took the early lead from the pole position, although I was hot on his heels from my front row position. The first time at the Casino/Station/Loews hairpin turn, I got the inside position from Ian, meaning I got to move first the next turn, so I took over the lead.

Jack stands to move the cars, while Garry tries to stay ahead of Brian's car on the last lap at Monaco.

Jack stands to move the cars, while Garry tries to stay ahead of Brian’s car on the last lap at Monaco. (Greg Lim photo)

On the last lap, I had to hold back Brian’s car. With about a half-lap left to race, I had only 3 Wear remaining, while Brian had 7 Wear. At the finish line, Brian pulled alongside my car, but I nipped him by a nose at the end. Whew! I had to make two cornering Chance dice rolls late in the race, using my two -3 Skill chits.

Although the day was long, I believe everyone had fun racing in the different races. We added another six names to our CFR email list. We now have about 30 names on the list, but not all of them will race in our upcoming season. Some folks, such as Brian, have been using the frequent demo races to gain a lot of experience in racing CFR. When the season starts in September, I expect some close competition!

We will have another demo race on July 7, 2017, at Imperium Games in Wixom. Imperium Games used to be Flat Land Games, but they had a recent change of ownership. That demo race will start at 7:00 pm, and will be a 3-lap race. All of the demo races on July 1 were only 2-lap races, as they were intended to be used for teaching the game mechanics. Shorter races mean you can run more races in a day, plus if someone were to crash out of a race, they wouldn’t have to wait as long to get back into the next race. Surprisingly, though, every racer (including me!) finished every race, in spite of multiple chances being taken by rolling dice!

Check our CFR-Detroit web page for more info about upcoming Championship Formula Racing races in the Detroit, Michigan, metro area.

Posted by Garry

Detroit Grand Prix at RIW Hobbies, June 9, 2017

Saturday, June 10th, 2017

On June 9, eight aficionados of the new Championship Formula Racing game gathered at RIW Hobbies & Games in Livonia, Michigan, to race the downtown Detroit Grand Prix. I just finished painting the track a couple of days before the race. We (actually, Richard White) used to have a large scale downtown Detroit track, but it was stolen from him at a game con a number of years ago.

Detroit Grand Prix track

Detroit (downtown) Grand Prix track, painted on a flat bedsheet.

Actually, there were seven of us ready to race, we had bid for starting positions and had lined up on the grid, and then Russ Herschler finally showed up at the last minute, so he got to start in the 8th (last) starting position on the grid. Jack Beckman and I had given some new folks to the game some instruction, and helped them configure their car specifications before we bid for starting position.

Detroit Grand Prix

The racers are ready to start the Detroit Grand Prix.

Detroit GP starting grid

An overhead view of the starting grid.

Jack Beckman had bid an enormous amount of Wear and Skill markers (mostly Skill), and so he had the pole position. Jack also brought his various 1:64 scale Formula One car collection, and most of us chose “vintage” 1960s-era F1 cars to race with. I used a green and yellow mid-1960s Lotus-Ford, while Jack went with a front-engined Ferrari roadster. Here’s a picture of Jack’s red Ferrari leading the race:

Detroit Grand Prix

Jack’s red Ferrari leads into the turn onto Atwater St, just before entering the Goodyear Tunnel. Richard’s car collection are all parked to the left of the track.

Unfortunately for Jack, his car was the first to run out of Wear, and he eventually crashed out of the race. Surprisingly, he was the only car to not finish the race. When the race was over, Jim Robinson took the checkered flag, Richard White was 2nd, and Garry Kaluzny was 3rd. It was a good race to help teach the rules, and even Richard White, who had a lot of previous experience playing Advanced Speed Circuit, learned the differences in rules between Advanced Speed Circuit and Championship Formula Racing.

Detroit GP finishing order

The finishing order of the Detroit Grand Prix. Jim Robinson’s car is at the left.

It was also cool to see Richard White’s Formula One car collection again.

Richard White's 1:64 scale F1 cars.

Richard White’s 1:64 scale F1 cars.

Richard’s collection is all the more remarkable because his cars were all hand-modified and hand-painted from stock Hot Wheels cars, back in the 1980s when you couldn’t buy “collectible” cars anywhere, much less over the Internet (as there was no Internet then).

We will have more Championship Formula Racing demo races on Saturday, July 1 at the Canton Public Library and at Warriors 3 in Wayne, Michigan, and on Friday, July 7 at Imperium Games (formerly Flat Land Games) in Wixom, Michigan. Come on out and join us!

Championship Formula Racing/Speed Circuit

Friday, June 9th, 2017

I was first exposed to the Avalon Hill version of Speed Circuit in the late 1970s, at a Metro Detroit Gamers MichiCon game convention. Someone (I can’t remember who) had made a very large scale track and used 1:64 scale cars. There were a number of us playing that game that day, but I don’t remember anything else about that race.

Speed Circuit large-scale track

Speed Circuit played on a hand-made large-scale track at MichiCon, circa 1978.

I then bought the Avalon Hill version of Speed Circuit, but couldn’t find any other folks to play it with. It seems none of my gaming friends were interested in auto racing games. About that same time, I played USAC Auto Racing at local MDG game cons. I believe it was Don Walker who made a large scale Indy 500 track and used painted Mattel Hot Wheels cars. Don stopped running those events, so then I built a large scale Indy 500 track and bought and painted some Hot Wheels cars, and ran USAC Auto Racing at cons a couple of more times.

Then in early 1984, I took the regular sized board game of Speed Circuit to the Michigan Gaming Center in Ferndale, Michigan (it was on Woodward, just north of Nine Mile Rd.), one day. Interestingly, several other folks wanted to play it. After we got done racing, somebody suggested that we should make it a regular game. Then we proposed a series of races, like the real-life Formula One race series. We posted a flyer at the Michigan Gaming Center that looked sort of like this:

Speed Circuit flyer from 1985.

Speed Circuit flyer from 1985.

A number of other guys then contacted me, and after having another demo race, we started our 15-race season on March 16, 1984, racing the Brazilian Grand Prix around the Jacarepagua track. Tom Kane took the first pole position, and was leading the entire race, only to have Tony Ploucha pass him at the last corner, and then Tony won the race! I managed to finish 3rd after qualifying 11th (out of 13 racers), mostly due to retirements of other drivers.

That first Speed Circuit season in 1984 was won by Ray Eifler with 67 points (we used the 9-6-4-3-2-1 scoring system at that time). Richard White was 2nd with 62 points for the season, and Steve Zack was 3rd with 35 points. Race winners were Ray Eifler (5 victories), Richard White (2 victories), Andy Balent, Mark Hesskamp, Tom Kane, Tony Ploucha, Jim Robinson, Jeff Schwartz, Don Woodward, and Steve Zack. I managed to finish in 9th place with 19 points. We had a total of 26 different drivers during that season, and we averaged 12.8 drivers per race. The most drivers at a race was 17, at both Italy and Brands Hatch, and the fewest was 8, at Detroit.

At that time, we were using the various Avalon Hill Accessory Pack tracks, in standard board-game size. We were also using the plastic cars from USAC Auto Racing that I had painted like the real Formula One cars of the mid-1980s.

Avalon Hill's Silverstone track.

Avalon Hill’s Silverstone, England, track from Accessory Pack I.

Starting in 1985, I had to make some tracks that were not available from Avalon Hill. In particular, I made the downtown Detroit, Michigan track:

Detroit Grand Prix track.

Playing Speed Circuit on the 1983-1988 version of the downtown Detroit Grand Prix track.

Avalon Hill had a Detroit Grand Prix track you could buy, but it was of the 1982 course that had the hairpin turn at East Jefferson going into Chrysler Drive. The west end of the track wasn’t totally accurate, either, for either 1982 or for years 1983-1988. I got data for tracks from Road & Track magazine, but then I started buying the Autocourse books, which had much more detail about the races.

Autocourse 1983.

Autocourse 1983.

It was also evident that playing on small tracks made it hard for everyone to sit around the table and be able to see which of the miniscule cars was theirs. So, we started making large-scale tracks on bedsheets, using 1:64 scale Hot Wheels cars. Richard White made most of the large tracks, and also made most of the cars. I helped cut off a few sidepods and wings, but Richard did a magnificent job of molding new sidepods, engine cowlings, and made new wings. He then painted the cars to look like the real Formula One Ferraris, McLarens, etc. Richard even painted the driver’s helmets to look like the helmets of the real-life drivers. This was back in the era when you couldn’t buy “collectible” cars that were molded and painted like the real cars.

So then we eventually started playing on the large-scale tracks, with the larger cars, and it was much easier to have a large number of folks sit around the table and see the track and where their car was on the track.

Suzuka, Japan, track.

Large scale Suzuka, Japan, track.

Alas, I can’t find any pictures of our old Speed Circuit races using the large tracks, so the above picture is of one of the large-scale tracks that was made in our Speed Circuit days. We are using that track with Championship Formula Racing, though. You can see some of the CFR driver and speed cards on the table.

Championship Formula Racing

I ran the Speed Circuit campaign from 1984 until 1991. The Detroit-area campaign continued on without me for a few more years, then sort of faded away. Then, when I was GMing the Gutshot game at MDG’s WinterCon 2017, I met Jack Beckman. He was playing a Formula One style game with someone else, and as I am interested in auto racing board games, I started talking with Jack. He told me that a new game had just been published, Championship Formula Racing (henceforth known as CFR) from Jolly Roger Games, and that I should check it out as it was just like Speed Circuit (SC). Of course, when we played SC, we extended the rules and called our version of the game Advanced Speed Circuit (ASC). I downloaded the CFR rules, and while reading them, I thought, “these are almost exactly our old ASC rules!”

Championship Formula Racing.

Championship Formula Racing.

I exchanged some emails with the creator of CFR, Douglas Schulz, and he said he was given a copy of some “advanced” Speed Circuit rules from someone in the Baltimore area in the late 1980s. I believe they were a copy of our Detroit area ASC rules, as I had given copies to some folks in the Baltimore area when I attended an Origins game con there in the late-1980s.

There are a few differences between ASC and CFR. For one thing, CFR uses a simplified qualifying procedure where you “bid” some of your Wear and Skill markers; the higher bidders starting in front of the lower bidders. Also, we had used an attribute called “-2 DRM” and CFR uses “Skill” markers, where you can pre-designate using Skill to modify dice rolls. In our ASC days, we had actual qualifying sessions that were somewhat time consuming, but ensured that the better (or luckier!) drivers would start in the front.

CFR also uses different (optional) rules for pit stops than we did. In CFR, you just move your car off the track and into the pits, whereas in ASC you had to drive down pit lane and into your numbered pit stall. Probably the most interesting rule in CFR are the hard tires/soft tires rule (which is used with the optional pit stops). If using the pit stop rules, your car will only start with about 40% to 60% of the Wear it would have received if you weren’t using the pit stop rules. If you are on hard tires, your car will regain a few Wear every time it completes a lap. But the coolest thing (for us maniac drivers) are the soft tires. Soft tires will enable you to use Wear for some things that you would have had to roll dice for. In particular, if you are on soft tires and are 60 mph over the speed limit in a corner, you can use 3 Wears instead of having to use 2 Wears and roll a Chance (to see if you might spin out or crash).

Doug has also designed a number of tracks, especially newer tracks that didn’t exist in Speed Circuit’s heyday, and they are available as 8.5″ x 11″ printouts (downloadable from the Lucid Phoenix web page). I believe that Doug has given too many tracks “three-wide” sections of track (and the Monte Carlo track that comes with the board game of CFR is way overly simplified), but all-in-all, Doug has produced a lot of good stuff for folks who want to race cars in a table-top board game! I believe Doug’s philosophy is to produce playable games, whereas our dedicated ASC group were more into an accurate simulation of tracks.

CFR Nurburgring track.

CFR Nurburgring track.

We have a web page for our new local races using the CFR rules. Anyone who wants to race with us in the Metro Detroit, Michigan area, is welcome to attend our races. We have a demo race on Friday, June 9th, 2017, at 7:00 pm, at RIW Hobbies & Games in Livonia, Michigan. We plan on having races in several different game stores in the metro Detroit area, to even out the traveling miles and times for folks. This is so west-siders won’t always have to drive to the east side of town, or vice versa.

–Posted by Garry

Playing Gutshot at MDG’s Wintercon – Part II (aka “Carnage Asada”)

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

After I got done playing in the Siege of Budapest game near 7:00 pm on February 11, it was time to set up the wild west minis game I was running, “Gutshot.” I laid out a sand-colored piece of felt, then placed some cardstock buildings on the felt. BTW, the Gutshot rules are from Hawgleg Publishing, some folks from down Texas way. There are many wild west style “skirmish” rules out there for using with miniature figures, but Gutshot makes for a fast playing game at gamecons. There aren’t a lot of modifiers to figure out, so with a minimum of time spent teaching the basic game, players can be blazing away at each other right away!

Game Marshall Garry at Whitewash City

Game Marshall Garry at Whitewash City

I built the buildings out of cardstock, using the Whitewash City buildings that were designed by Eric Hotz. After downloading and assembling the free Imperial Saloon, I purchased the entire “Mother Lode” of buildings  which was a PDF file with more than 40 large buildings plus a number of smaller buildings and other accessories you could print. Although the buildings are supposed to be for 30mm scale minis, the stock buildings seemed small, so I enlarged them to 125% of their original size, then they seemed better proportioned to the western minis I used. So far I have built: Bank, Cafe, Imperial Saloon, J.H. McFarland Blacksmith, Livery & Feed Stable, McSweeny Dry Goods, Medical Building (doctor & dentist), Pioneer Hotel, Sheriff’s Office & Jail, Small Building Set 1 (bath house, small log cabin, two small sheds, and two privys). I also built a few watering troughs, some corral fencing, and couple of piles of lumber and a couple of wooden crates.

Whitewash City Sheriff's Office

Close up of the Whitewash City Sheriff’s Office

While the Whitewash City buildings are meant to be printed on cardstock, then cut out, folded, and glued together, I also added balsa/bassword/poplar wood as reinforcements for the corners and bottom edges. I also added some roof supports for large roofs, like with the Livery Stable building. While the Whitewash City buildings are not meant to have removable roofs, there are floor plans you can print of the interiors, and you can lift the entire building off its floor plan. I also glued the floor plans to foam-core board to keep them from warping, plus they won’t get bumped out of position as easily as if they were plain cardstock.

I also purchased a number of western miniature (mostly 25mm & 28mm) figures online from Noble Knight Games. Before Christmas 2016, Noble Knight had a sale on a whole passel of used, already painted, western minis, so I bought more than 50 minis. Being already painted saved me some time putting everything together. I also found some horses in about the right sizes from places such as Michaels crafts and Toys-R-Us, and they filled up the corral. I also made some hay bales from the “pluck foam” I plucked out of the foam carrying trays for the miniature figures.

OK, so I only had three players show up to play, P.J., Cory, and a youngster named Bryce. The premise of the game was that four Mexican banditos came to town to rob the bank. The Banditos were controlled by Cory, and the Banditos were named Juan, Squelch, Jueves, and Eral. P.J. represented the law in town, controlling sherriff Kathleen and her deputies Hoss and P.J. Bryce only wanted to play a single character, so he controlled the bounty hunter Bat, who sported twin six-shooters.

Shootout at Whitewash City

Shootout at Whitewash City

So, the Banditos strolled right down main street of Whitewash City, heading towards the bank. As they passed the Sheriff’s Office (the building at the far left of the above picture), deputy Hoss fell in behind the banditos. Bounty Hunter Bat, who had been talking with the proprietor of the Livery Stable at the other end of town (off the right side of the above picture), recognized one of the banditos as being wanted. Bat then ran to intercept the banditos before they reached the bank. At the same time, sheriff Kathleen and deputy P.J. came out of the sheriff’s office and also followed the bad-looking hombres in the street.

Bat came right up to the man he wanted to claim the bounty on, then Bat pulled out both his pistols and demanded the man (Juan) surrender). Juan put his hands in the air, but kept saying, “Why you want me? I am just going about my business, and not bothering anybody!” But then the other banditos pulled their pistols, as did the lawmen and lawwoman, and the shootout was on! When the hot lead stopped flying, all of the “White Hats” (Bat, Hoss, Kathleen, and P.J.) lay dead in the middle of the dusty street, as did three of the banditos (Juan, Jueves, and Eral). Only Squelch survived the shootout, but he was badly wounded. (The townsfolk had no trouble capturing Squelch, then hanged him with some vigilante justice.)

Dead minis in the streets of Whitewash City

Dead minis in the streets of Whitewash City

Just when the first character was wounded, I asked the players if they wanted to play the game “gory, or non-gory.” As I had expected, they all answered “gory!” so I started placing the “blood splatter” markers (the yellow markers in the street) at locations where characters were wounded.

I hope to run Gutshot again at the next MDG con in the summer of 2017. I hope to build more buildings, and hope to get more players for the game.

Main Street at Whitewash City

Main Street at Whitewash City – Yuh have to admit, cardstock buildings look pretty durn good, don’t they?

So, why did I decide to run a wild west shoot-’em-up game? About 10 years ago, probably the last time I attended a local gamecon, some other feller was running a similar game. He had a western looking town with 20 or 30 buildings in it (I believe they were actual wooden buildings, not cardstock), and the premise of his game was that 8 different gangs (each with four outlaws) all arrived in town at the same time with the idea of robbing the bank! Needless to say, there were multiple crossfires and dead bodies everywhere. I had a hoot of a time playing in that game, and always wanted to duplicate the experience. Well, now I can run my own games.

Metro Detroit Gamers’ Wintercon 2017 Report – Part 1

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

I used to go to the local “GameCons” sponsored by the Metro Detroit Gamers (MDG) all of the time, although I haven’t been to one in about 10 years. So, I decided to go back to the local MDG’s Wintercon 2017 which was held at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, on February 11, 2017. I got to see some folks there I haven’t seen in years, I played in a miniatures game, and then was the GM (Game Marshall) of a wild west style minis game, Gutshot.

I wanted to get to the con early in the morning to play in the railroading game “Empire Builder,” but after having to get up early all during the week for my day job, and then volunteering at the Redford Theatre in Detroit on Friday evening, I was too whipped to get up early on Saturday. I did finally get to the con around noon, though.

I had planned on playing in an Age of Sail minis game, “Up Yer Six, Mate!” at 2:00 pm, but I was the only player who was there to play that game, so that GM (Game Master) decided not to run that game. I then moved over one table to where GM Vic Hiris was setting up a large castle (it was about 6 feet long by about 4 feet wide). He was running a minis game called “Siege of Budapest,” referring to the Mongols besieging Budapest in the early 1400s (not the later siege of Budapest from 1945). I was one of four Mongol commanders who were trying to take the castle.

Vic Hiris' castle used for "Siege of Budapest"

Vic Hiris’ castle used for “Siege of Budapest”

I had a blast playing the game! Vic has developed his own home-brew rules that make the playing fast and furious. We had our Korean archers try to pick off as many of the defending archers on the ramparts as we could, then we moved some spearmen up with scaling ladders to try to storm the castle. We also had some foot soldiers move up a battering ram to the drawbridge, as well as move up a siege tower to get our attacking troops on top of the wall. In all, our strategy worked fairly well, as we had pretty much disposed of any archers who could have fired arrows against us.

The Mongols storm the castle!

The Mongols storm the castle!

Some of our attacking Mongols who got to the top of the wall battled for control of the tower above the drawbridge, and eventually our attackers took control and were able to lower the drawbridge and raise the inner portcullis without us having to batter them down; however, we ran out of time for the game near 7:00 pm, and so we didn’t get to see whether or not the defenders could have survived our assault.

I understand that Mr. Hiris will be running another castle siege game at an upcoming Pro or Con in Livonia, Michigan. I plan on playing in that game, as it will no doubt also be a lot of fun!