I know that this blog is primarily about indie games, but for a change this one is also going to be about Car Wars. Yes, that quaint little map game about gladiatorial vehicular combat. Sometime in 2007 I bumped into another Brisbane guy who likes to play the game, and now he's working on a kind of Car Wars revival. Cool. I always enjoyed playing that game. There's a lot of suspense and tension in it, and the deaths are usually a spectacle worth enjoying (in true gladiatorial style).
I think Car Wars succeeded in creating a sense of tension when it was played quickly. However, it's all too easy to get bogged down in a lot of extra rules and concepts. For anyone out there wanting to improve their Car Wars experience, play it fast. Plan your moves while the other people are taking theirs. The faster you take the move, the better the experience for everyone involved. This will happen more easily if you design your car with a strategy in mind. Take that strategy to the table and play it to the limit. Don't change your mind, just play the car for all it's worth.
This also applies to something like Spirit of the Century. When you design your character, it will have a small number of key strengths based on aspects and the top three skills in the pyramid. Play them. Play them hard. That's what your character is about, so ham it up and go for it. Is the apex skill Fists? Then punch the villains. Is it Science? Then make declarations about all sorts of things to do with the physics of the strange doomsday machine. A fast-paced game relies on minimalism rather than complexity. It may sound one-dimensional, but it's the sacrifice one makes for action. Even in film this is true. A complex story about complex characters will have a lot of dialogue and monologue. Not much action. However, make the characters simpler and you'll get more action in the film. Take this to your games and have fun.