When attending Adepticon I briefly meet Travis and if I remember right he said he wanted the racing scenarios to feel more like Pod-Racing from Star Wars. Just wanted to give my two cents and see what the community thinks. I would also like to add, I have no vehicles or played any racing scenarios so this is all a thought experiment.
TLDR: Simulate Speed and use cards to create a more engaging map
Remaking the tracks:
My idea requires the planks that make the tracks to be 10in X 40 in, where each plank is divided into 10in x 10in sectors. Four planks would be laid out to make 40in x 40in play areas. For clarification, the backboard is the “Trailing Sector”, the one after is the “Chase Sector”, the next is the “Lead Sector”, and the next is the “Upcoming Sector”. Like normal when a racer enters the Upcoming Sector, the track advances, dropping the Trailing Sector, pushing back all sectors and a new Upcoming Sector. ( though of a cheap way to build a frame to make this easier to do)
My idea for this comes from restricting the racer’s movement depending on the kind of movement they want to make and entering a mechanic for increasing and decreasing the vehicle speed.
Speed Die: The Speed Die is a 1D6 that is placed on or next to the vehicle base when the vehicle “Accelerates”. The number present on the die is added to the vehicle’s speed, if the vehicle has no additional speed, the die is removed. Taking damage from an attack, hitting vehicles, Arc Vaccums (explained later), and Walls reduce the speed die. The reason for this will be explained at the end of the Simulating Speed section. Players are also not allowed to pre-measure when moving vehicles to simulate reacting to track changes and driver intuition.
Restricted Movement - This mechanic is in place to simulate the difficulty of piloting a vehicle at high speed vs at lower speeds. There are two parameters to movement, distance, and control. distance is the number of inches forward a vehicle can move, control is how far to the left or right a vehicle can move. Simply put the more distance the vehicle can move, the less control they have, and vice versa. The other important mechanic is that racers will NEED to use their full movement unless stated otherwise, usually denoted with the phrase " up to". Racers will typically have to move their full distance, but not use their full control.
Before a racer moves they will need to decide if they want to decelerate, and must reduce or increase speed die noted in every kind of movement they are performing. When decelerating reduce the speed die by 2.
Basic Movement options:
Accelerating: The Racer put the pedal to the metal and tries to gain as much distance as possible. The racer’s speed die increases by 1, and they must move their vehicle forward equal to their speed, and move within 1in control when steering. They can spike to increase their speed die by 2 instead of 1 before moving.
Turning: The racer makes a calculated turn to adjust their position. The racer moves their speed - 3, and moves within 3in control when steering. The racer can spike to increase their speed die by 1 or increase their control to 5in
+Drift: The Racer makes a sharp turn, usually to avoid a collision. Reduce the speed die by 4. The Racer must move a distance of 3in forward, and the remaining speed is added to the control movement. The racer can spike to move within their max speed when steering to the left or right. If they have not collided with an obstacle or unit, they can spike at the end of their unit to increase their speed die by 2.
Reducing Speed Die: Whenever a vehicle is damaged by an attack from another unit the speed die is reduced by 1. If the vehicle collides with a non-vehicle unit its speed is reduced according to the base size of that unit. 30mm reduces the speed die by 1, 40mm reduces the speed die by 2, and 50mm reduces the speed die by 4. If the vehicle collides with a wall or vehicle, it will lose its speed die and spin out (explained later).
The object of these movement changes, combined with adding additional track cards, would make racing more dynamic. The racer in front is more likely to make moves that will cause them to avoid obstacles, typically reducing their speed, and allowing racers behind them to catch up. The further a racer is from the front, the more time they have to plan an efficient route to 1st place.
My next idea is to have cards decide what obstacle will come down the track. Track cards are shuffled at random at the beginning of the same. When a new track Upcoming Sector is revealed the lead player draws 4 cards face down for each zone in the Upcoming Sector. The player in last place then selects a track card to discard. The cards are then flipped over, and that card is either placed in that zone, or a proxy can be used for more immersion. These cards’ effects are triggered when more than half of the racer base enters that zone. Note the names change depending on if the scenario is urban or in the wilds.
Track Card Effects:
Arc Fissure/ Speed Pad: When a race enters this zone immediately extend their distance by 3in and move continuously based on the direction they entered this zone from. Increase their speed by 3. This effect also triggers if a racer is slammed or spins out into this zone.
Arc Vaccum/Rough terrain: When a race enters this zone their speed die is reduced by 2, if they start the next turn in this zone their speed is reduced by 2.
Blockade: A wall or immovable structure blocks the track. If a racer enters this zone they will remove their speed die and spin out. The vehicle takes a POW damage roll equal to the speed they were traveling at.
+ + Spinning Out: When a racer spins out they are pushed away from the obstacle or racer they collided with and lose their speed die. When the collision happens roll a 1D3. On a 1 the racer spins out ~45 degrees forward, on a 2 the racer spins out either pushed directly left or directly right to the obstacle or racer, and on a 3 they are pushed ~45 degrees backward.
Ramp: The racer becomes “airborne” until the end of their next turn. Increase the racer’s speed die by 1, while airborne the racer can not trigger any track card effects, and can not collide with other units or racers. They must move their full speed in distance, but their control range is not limited.
Tunnel: This zone has a wall on its left and right boards. This zone can only be entered from below. While in the tunnel racers can not be attacked by units outside the tunnel. If a Racer collides with the wall whether inside or outside the tunnel they will spin out, and take a POW damage roll equal to the speed they were traveling at.
This is just a rough idea, map, plank, and zone size may not be the best size. I also left out special rules for using a “Jet stream”, a track card that you can not use a ramp on, and a few ideas had on unit deployment to compensate for the additional time setting up the new Upcoming sectors. Also the number for distance and control might need adjusting