Wednesday, 26 November 2014

The Road Warrior: Post-Apocalyptic Gaming And My 100th Blog Post

"...and the Road Warrior... He lives now only in my memories."

With this post I hit the big 1-0-0 of posts on my Bearded Quail blog.  I may not have painted or played as much as I'd like this year but it's been enjoyable to keep a written record of my nerdy thoughts and get some occasional feedback.

The statistics on Blogger suggest a bit of a mixed bag of people reading this - the inevitable British but some odder countries get a mention.  Who'd have thought my poor quality painting would be of interest to readers in Poland, Turkey, Russia and Denmark?

I should really write something more deep and meaningful - or at least connected to the Chaos Dwarfs, Emperor's Children and other recurring topics - but instead it's a piece of writing on a whole new topic for me.  It's my latest purchase: a 1980s Games Workshop boxed game which was dead before I got into the hobby but which has had my interest lately.  A game I've never played but I hope to try very soon.  A game whose only edition is almost as old as me.

I speak of the game of highway warriors, Dark Future.

"We do it my way. Fear is our ally. The gasoline will be ours. Then you shall have your revenge."

Like a lot of GWs 80 boxed games, Dark Future can be obtained on eBay but at quite high prices.  Consistently it would appear as a Buy It Now in the £80 region which seemed very excessive to me: like a lot of nerdy eBay Buy It Nows, the same two or three highly priced items would pop up month after month which rather indicates there's not actually the demand for the price in question.

Formerly available as a free download on GW's Specalist Games website, the Dark Future rules can still be found online as a PDF and I had read them before getting the boxed game - but I still wanted to get the boxed game if I could.  If nothing else, the PDF doesn't include the track sections and these actually contain some rules not listed in the book - to be exact, speed limits for safe cornering which vary depending on how sharp the corner is and how sharp you are taking it .  Without that data you can't properly play the game.

I also wanted to get some of the period figures, though that isn't actually as big a deal as it would be for some other games.  Dark Future is kinda odd in that Games Workshop purposefully chose their scale for third party computability -while they released two different kinds of plastic car and a sprue of weapons, they greatly increased player options by making them match up with Hot Wheels/Matchbox type diecast cars.

Non GW-figure-based conversions in White Dwarf?  Not Bizarro World, just the late 80s,

So what is Dark Future, you may ask?  Well, it's a post-apocalyptic game set in the early 21st century.  Players assemble collections of cars and bikes which are either criminal gangs, police forces, vigilantes or the like then battle with each other on the roads - mostly fighting for money, whether it's gangs trying to rob people or law enforcers trying to acquire bounties on outlaws.  You might think it sounds a bit like Car Wars: you'd be right, though it's got the distinctive GW approach to gamist rather than simulationist rules.

GW also did a line of novels to tie into the game - the game had vanished by the time I got into the hobby but I did have a vague knowledge of these books.  They even reprinted them in the 2000s
Although the setting is 21st century America, there's a major debt to Mad Max throughout the book.  This is all good with me, since Mad Max is one of my favourite film series and my preferred style of post-apocalyptic setting.  I'm not as keen on zombie apocalypse as other nerds seem to be and prefer a more grounded disaster where man makes his own life horrible: many moons ago I even mooted converting the sci-fi RPG Traveller to a Mad Max themed game I provisionally named Walkabout.

Anyway, the setting and aesthetic of Dark Future owe a lot of Mad Max and Mad Max 2.  The cities still exist and you still get people in jobs like policeman - so there's some sort of society - but the rules don't stretch far outside city limits and in the wilderness it's every man for himself.  Roving gangs clad in leather, chain mail, hockey masks, mohawk haircuts and tattoos drive ridiculous converted vehicles with various weapons strapped onto them.  The setting resembles a Wild West in which the outlaws drive V12s rather than ride mustang ponies.

Also, it's super super super gay, because Australians have retained the camp gene from their British ancestors even if it manifests in different ways.  Fetish gear gangers in metal studs, leather boots and whirling chains patrol the wilderness because after the bomb, you might as well stop pretending and just be outrageous.

....OK, not everything in Mad Max is gay, but this is something of a rarity.
After many months of hunting I lucked out and got myself a copy of the game which has whisked its way to Glasgow and now sits here in the Quailcave, where Sister Superior sighs and pats my head.  She was at least happy that I bought it for substantially less than the £80 normal.

I was very chuffed to pop open the box and discover all the gaming paraphernalia seemed to be there - the tokens, the range rulers and most importantly the road pieces.

All present and correct, including blank photocopies of the car stat sheets and the original "GM Screen" style packaging for the sole supplement "White Line Fever"
The rulebook was included, along with the supplement "White Line Fever" and almost all the articles from White Dwarf.  Although the game was only out for a year or so it did get a fair few WD articles, including campaign rules (distantly related to what eventually turned up in later games like Necromunda) and the original owner of this box had them all together in a big lever arch folder.  To get it to fit in the box I took them out of this and put them on treasury tags.

I may have already had this in PDF format, but it's still cool to have the "real" versions.

There was a goldmine of figures in the box, and considering how much some of the original items go on eBay getting the box for what I did was a steal.  There's all the original plastic cars and bikes from the game, as well as spare weapons; a metal bike and trike; five die cast cars converted for use; a die cast truck converted for us; and a good twenty or so 15mm figures of various types including gangers, police officers, paramilitaries and the inevitable Games Workshop cultists.

The contents of the miniatures box
But perhaps better than that was what the figures came in.  It looks like a generic green box, but it isn't....

This made my day
It's a classic 1980s Land Raider box, from the era of Warhammer 40,000 1st edition.  (I'd wager this is 1989 or so considering the vintage of everything else in the box.)  My love for Land Raiders and especially the older style Land Raiders is a matter of record so you can imagine how happy I was to see this little bit of GW history bundled in almost as an afterthought.

This purchase has made me a happy Quail, and best of all picking up new models for it is dead simple - any die-cast car in the generic Hot Wheels/Matchbox style scale fits up.  So while I will probably strip and repaint some of the items I got in this box, there's other alternatives available to me - even supermarkets have die cast cars for sale!

I popped into a Poundland in Glasgow and managed to pick up three interesting cars there - a T-Bird, a dune buggy and some sort of jeep/APC esque thing.  All three with just a little bit of work can be turned into viable Dark Future material - some mesh, plasticard, bits box raids and perhaps casting the Dark Future weapon sprue should do me right.  The smaller scale means what is an infantry weapon in 40K is actually a pretty decent vehicle weapon in Dark Future.

I think the right hand side vehicle would look with guns added to the top pintle and to the back section: the left with guns on the hood.  Not sure about the middle one as the body maybe doesn't suit guns all that well.
Of course, the real problem with Dark Future is.... is there any room on my Shelf O' Board Games for it?


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