Surviving the Apocalypse

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Last time I was on here I probably disappointed some of those that care about Apocalypse Road by dashing their hopes that players could customize cars right from the start. Today, let me make up for that a bit by trying to provide you some strategies and tips I have noticed over a couple of years of testing.

Let’s start with the most basic of insights. Apocalypse Road is still a race. The idea is still to get your cars around the track faster than the other guys. Things that work in Thunder Alley and Grand Prix will work here as well. Try to put your cars in a position where one car’s movement will also move one or more others. Make it favorable for other players to push your cars. Leave opponent’s cars behind where possible. Use the convergences and divergences to the fullest to keep your cars moving forward and leaving the opposition in a dead space. Essentially, never ever forget that you are in a race first and foremost. This also works when tracking your opponent’s movements. Just like in the rest of the Thunderverse, any team that breaks away on their own will cause quite an issue since those are points heading off to the finish line and are targets that can’t be shot at. If people aren’t shooting at them, they are more likely to be shooting at you. So break that nonsense up right away.

A few Apocalypse Road Combat Event Cards (early playtest art)

The second most important thing to keep in mind is to shoot, no seriously, shoot. How many times have I seen people look at a shot and say, “I need a 3, so I’m just not going to shoot.” Wrong! Shoot! Guns don’t jam (yet), and ammo doesn’t run out (yet). Keep those guns trained and put your cars where they have an opportunity to hit targets. Take every shot you can. Even a shot on a 3-armor behemoth is worth it since nothing bad comes from a miss.

Sometimes you have to shoot whatever target presents itself, but if the choice arises, shoot the car that is limping around the track with 4 or 5 damage already inflicted on it. If you don’t shoot it someone else will. You might as well score that point. Surprisingly there is an alternate method to shooting that also works pretty well. Keep nicking other cars and getting their damage started. A little blood in the water can cause a frenzy and if it is others drawing the sharks as opposed to you, that’s good too.

On the other hand, when you have a car that is heavily damaged, you can bet someone at the table is looking to take it out. There are some things that you can possibly do, such as placing your cars directly in front and or behind it to reduce targeting opportunities. You can also try to hide it in a pack of cars that have already been activated for the turn. Both of these are temporary fixes only. The game is too fluid to lock into a defensive posture and those inactive cars will become active soon. That means the best thing that can happen is for you to “die at the line”. Do everything possible to get that car across the finish line before it gets eliminated. Score that point and be happy with it. The best thing you can do is score that point and have the car eliminated by a Movement Event after crossing so no one else scores the points for the kill. But that is very tough to orchestrate and in the end only luck of the draw can do that for you.

A few Apocalypse Road Move Event Cards (early playtest art)

Yes, ramming is a key action in the game and can inflict significant damage. No, it is not always painless. Remember that any car ramming or sideswiping an opponent will take some damage in the process. When using a ram attack do not use a crippled car, since losing it will award the target car’s owner a VP for finishing you off. Also remember that if you do eliminate an opposing car, you are forced to occupy its space.

The dirt and jump sections of the track are magnets for movement event nightmares. One of the key phrases to learn and avoid having applied to you is “the car furthest along the rough section…” Nothing good comes at the end of that sentence. How do you mitigate that issue? You keep one or more opposing car in front of you as you drive through those sections. If you are heading into the rough, a Pursuit Movement card is perfect to pick up some opposing cars and shove them in front of you as a buffer to the hand of fate. If you find yourself in the dangerous spot of leading through the rough, get that car beyond the rough as quickly as possible. More than anything else in this article, this is a ‘gamey’ trick but it is the best way to avoid these events so your job as a player is to understand the consequences and the possibilities.

The Essendarium (playtest art)

This seems so obvious that I almost didn’t mention it but AVOID THE CROSSOVER! When playing on the Essendarium, the only track with a crossover, just being in the crossover can be the most dangerous place in the entire Thunderverse. You can be shot at from multiple angles. You can be rammed and just jammed. And getting jammed once can lead to getting jammed again and again and, well you get the picture. Do whatever you can to get through the crossover, don’t come up short. Coming up short just encourages an opponent to push you just that couple of more spaces to put you in harm’s way.

Apocalypse Road is filled with ways to die. Ramming, Shooting, Events and Crossovers can all do you in. But the easiest way to lose is to forget how to avoid those hazards. Race like your life depends on it. Track who can shoot you and more importantly who can’t. Speed past the danger zones and always take your shots.

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