Vehicle Design Guide

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Basics

Vehicles are bought from Jake's((or the appropriate alternative franchise mechanic shop in other towns, but they're commonly all called Jake's by players anyway, talk about mindshare...)) which you can access from Gameplay -> Map -> Somerset((or the town you're in)) -> Jake's Car Sales and Repairs.

Vehicle ownership is restricted to subscribers only.

You should be ready to spend 20-30k on your first vehicle, prices tend to fluctuate quite a bit so it's difficult to give any more exact figures here.

When building your vehicle keep in mind that you'll need to have spare room for a driver, and one or two gunners (20 bulk per person) and reloads (bulk depends on the weapon type) for your weapons.

You need to have at least two gang members in a car for wilderness events because:

  • Drivers can't reload weapons without stopping and becoming sitting ducks
  • To loot cars after combat you need to have someone to drive the car back to town; with just one guy you'll be forced to abandon your old car which is very likely more valuable than any NPC car design.
  • Cars with more characters in them are less prone to surrender.

Chassis

The best chassis to get when you're starting out would be either a Chomper or a Pickup. If you have enough spare cash and there's an Apache or Landrunner available you could buy those instead as they're a bit roomier, and have a better armor rating.

However if you're into lighter vehicles, and want to try to beat your enemy by outmaneuvering and outsmarting them then you should keep your eyes open for a Moose, Spirit, Voyager, Mercenary, Windsor or Windsor II.

The Windsors are the best of the lot with strong armor, good handling and engine capacity, but it's also why they're very rare. Symphonies and Chevaliers also belong to the same class of light combat sedans, but Symphs are death-traps because of their weak armor and Chevaliers don't have that much bulk or engine space.

Engine

Usually it's best to go with the biggest engine your car can fit unexposed. Going with a smaller engine is only worth considering if you really need the extra bulk freed up by having a smaller engine for something else. I wouldn't advise putting in anything smaller than the maximum engine the vehicle can fit unexposed in heavier/slower cars that already have issues with acceleration and speed. An exposed engine will only take as much bulk up as the maximum bulk that the chassis can take unexposed.

Example: A Box Van has an engine bay that can take an unexposed engine of bulk 90 or an exposed engine of size 108. If a 5L V8 engine is installed in a Box Van, it will only take up 90 bulk, rather than the 100 bulk that the engine is listed as.

Armor

Armor Grade

  • A armor weighs half of what B armor weighs but costs four times as much
  • B armor is the normal armor in terms of weight and cost.
  • C armor weighs twice as much as B armor and costs half as much

It really comes down to a choice between B and C grade as A is much too expensive for anything but racing type events. C armoured cars will be slightly slower and if you're going with a smaller engine too much C armor isn't a very good idea. C armor will also be cheaper to repair and mean the cost of keeping your vehicle in fighting shape will be less - and this can add up quite a lot over time. The place you'll really appreciate having a lighter and faster car will be when running away from encounters you realize you can't win.

You can't get refunds on your armor so switching the armour type later will be an expensive and time-consuming process. I'd recommend dishing out the extra cash for B armor for your first car and C on your second to see which works out better for you.

Armor Facings

You should aim to put on at least 70-80% of the maximum armor points that the chassis can take. Bottom and top armor are less important as under normal circumstances those won't take damage so 4-6 points there is enough, more than 8 points would generally be too much.

Facings with weapons on will need more armor as they'll be facing the enemy and thus also very likely exposed to enemy fire more than other sides of your car will be. So if you have front mounted weapons, put less focus on the rear armor.

The sides of your car are also quite important as it's usually the easiest part of your car to hit so don't go light on those.

Weapons

Weapons would probably warrant a guide of it's own but I'll try to give out a few basic pointers for beginners here.

It's a good idea to have at least one weapon with a 20-round magazine so you can shoot for an extended period of time without reloading and with smaller, 10-shot magazines you'll have to plan on spending more bulk to bring more reloads along.

A Heavy Machine Gun or Medium Machine Gun would be a good choice on any type of car. The regular Machine Gun and Gatling Gun are a bit low-damage, but make up for it by only being 20 bulk. Machine guns are probably the most versatile of all the weapons for any situation.

Rocket launchers (and their smaller equivalent, the Micromissile Launcher) and Car Rifle, while having a smaller magazine are better at longer ranges. Car Rifles generally get outperformed by other weapons. Rockets on the other hand do splash damage, which can damage several cars if they're grouped tightly together. Being hit with several rockets per turn can cause a car to flip or at least lose control. Rockets are also decent at damaging the characters inside vehicles.

Vehicular Shotguns or Flechettes are mainly good at hitting characters inside cars (rather than the cars themselves) and are good for taking loot without killing the engines. They are horrible at damaging armor, doing only one point of armor damage with each hit, so unless you know you have enough firepower to blast anything that comes your way or have problems taking loot without damaged engines don't worry about getting these just yet.

Mounted Spikes and Rams are a bad idea generally because they will take damage when used (or shot at by enemies) and will take hours to repair when you get back to town (if they aren't completely destroyed). They also use up a weapon slot taking space that could be used for guns. However, when ramming your opponents without an intact melee weapon you'll take roughly as much damage as you inflict. The exception would be the Reinforced Ram, which is damaged like a normal weapon (after armor is destroyed) and is very effective when combined with a roll cage. Just remember that actively closing with your enemies will invite a lot of incoming fire!

Dropped weapons (Mines, Flaming Oil Jets, Dropped Spikes etc) can be unpredictable and hard to hit with if your opponents don't take the path you expect or manage to evade them. Mines or Flaming Oil Jets in the right place can heavily turn the tide of battle in your favour, but I'd suggest getting something that can deal direct damage instead.

The more expensive/rare weapons (Lasers, Car Cannons, Anti-Tank Guns etc) really aren't worth the investment when you're just starting out compared to the cheaper alternatives.

Tires

Choosing the best tires for the terrain and/or your situation is important. Sometimes it can save your life. While vehicles in Darkwind can continue driving after one or more tires are completely destroyed, the vehicle will move much slower and any kind of controlled turn becomes a challenge. You can read about the different tire types on the Tires page.

Misc. Stuff

Ammo

You buy ammo by going to Gameplay -> Map -> Somerset ((or the town you're in)) -> Marketplace Buying ammunition is done from the Ammunition link under the Buy/Sell Section from the right-side market menu.

You add ammo to your cars from the same place under the Load/Unload -> Ammunition section in the menu.

You should bring 2 reloads for all your weapons, possibly even more for weapons with 10 or smaller magazines. Dropped weapons usually don't require reloads since mostly they're used at the start of the encounter to get an initial advantage.

Passengers

Each passenger takes up 20 bulk, the 20 bulk for the driver is already subtracted when you design or view your vehicle. You should have a gunner for every gun, as mentioned at the start while your driver can also man guns while driving, he can not reload while the vehicle is moving and his accuracy will suffer. So you should aim for 3-4 gang members per car total.

You can add/remove passengers from anywhere you can view your vehicle, Jake's, the squad- and vehicle pages.

After adding passengers to your vehicle you can set who will drive by clicking the 'Drive' link next to the character's name. By default, the first character you put into the vehicle will be the driver.

Fuel

Fuel is the last thing you need to concern yourself with, after picking weapons, figuring out how much ammo you want to bring along and how many passengers will fit you'll probably have a few spare bulk you can't do anything with, which will be an excellent use for a slightly bigger fuel tank.

You don't need a big fuel tank unless you're traveling between towns and even if you don't have a big fuel tank you can buy units of fuel from the marketplace (10 bulk each) and add them to your cargo hold, it's slightly (~20%) less effective and gives you less distance than a bigger fuel tank would, but it gets you to your destination and that's what matters.