30 April 2020
With exclusive scenarios! Interview by James Winspear and Pictures by Osprey Games
The roar of nitro, the glint of chrome, the smell of cordite: welcome to the world of Gaslands! Bringing vehicular carnage to the tabletop, Gaslands is the wargame where players use toy cars to duke it out in glorious post-apocalyptia. With the new Gaslands: Refuelled expansion hitting shelves this September, we ride shotgun with designer Mike Hutchinson to talk about kicking things up a gear, then buckle up for not one but two exclusive scenarios.
How did you ﬁrst get the idea for Gaslands?
I set myself a challenge of writing a lot of games really quickly - I was trying to write one game a month – and I’ve been doing that for almost five years. I’d been playing a lot of X-Wing with my friend John who came up with the idea. After we’d been playing a bunch of X-wing one evening he was just like, “you know what would be really cool would be if there was like a car version of X-Wing and you could use similar mechanics.” I didn’t have any game project I was working on that month so I thought, “yeah, alright”, so I knocked together a simple set of rules and had a demo game of it on my kitchen table the following week. From then it sort of tinkered along – I was playtesting it with friends at tournaments for Malifaux and other games – but it wasn’t until Osprey rejected another game I was trying to sell to them that things moved forward. I was trying to sell them a fantasy battle game three months before they published Dragons Rampant so they were like, “eh, we don’t really need this” but Phil at Osprey Games had a little sort through my website and Gaslands caught his eye. He and I had a bit of a chat over email and we both liked the idea of a game that used kitbashed toy cars, so he took a risk on a new designer and I got to obsess over making the best possible toy car carnage game for two years!
How did Gaslands: Refuelled come about?
I think two things happened. One is that when you don’t have a line of miniatures for a wargame you have to find some other way to generate interest at regular intervals. We had loads of ideas that didn’t fit in the original rulebook; one of the things that got cut that was completely ready to go was a Savage Highways narrative campaign with a war rig that would effectively allow you to play Mad Max 2 or Fury Road. So we thought, “let’s put that out as a free-to-download PDF”, and that sparked the idea of doing something regularly every two or three months. Throughout 2018 we were putting out free PDF expansions with new rules, scenarios, weapons and vehicles and so on, and people started asking whether there was going to be a print copy that would roll everything up into an expansion.
The second thing was that the game really did start to pick up momentum. It wasn’t an overnight success, but it’s been quite a slow and steady growth over the last few years. I think because it’s quite cheap to get into – you can use toy cars for miniatures - and it also seems to be doing well with the ‘parent and kid’ crowd. I think as well that for people who just play board games this is a good entry-level wargame.
Because of both these things I think it was an easy sell internally to Osprey to say, “Yeah, let’s put out an expanded and revised version of the game.” That’s what Gaslands: Refuelled is; it’s a sort of 1.5 version. Nothing’s been fundamentally changed, it’s just rebalanced and tweaked. From my point of view it was also a fantastic opportunity to actually edit the rulebook properly this time!
Above image: Players can outfit their cars with a variety of deadly weaponry
What are some of the new features in Gaslands: Refuelled?
So the main new features that you won’t have seen from the free PDFs are a bunch of new scenarios and weapons. For example, there’s a bug-hunter scenario where you have to go after giant radioactive lizards and insects! Then there’s another one called Desert Strike where everybody plays with helicopters, which was specifically designed to use a vehicle class not usually seen in normal games but that would provide an excuse for a hobby project. There’s also a scenario for using tanks – again, you might not want to use them in every game, but it’s fun to build them and get them on the table.
What was the most difﬁcult thing to design for Gaslands: Refuelled?
So the other main thing that’s new is that there are a couple of new sponsors, who are essentially the game’s factions. One faction revolves around Beverly, the Devil on the Highway and she ended up being the most difficult to get right. I knew exactly what I wanted in my mind; a sort of ghostly, demonic car that probably doesn’t even have a driver in it and goes around mercilessly killing people - the Gaslands version of Christine. When I was actually trying to make that work on the tabletop I bumped into all of the design challenges that rules writers face when dealing with necromancers in fantasy games: where are the difficult decisions if you can’t be killed or you always get reincarnated? Getting the balance right proved to be really difficult, and that was a place where the beta community on Facebook was hugely valuable. In the end I’m not sure if the result is perfect, but I’m really happy with where we got to because of all the community engagement in the development process.
Above Image: Much of the fun for Gaslands comes from converting your own toy cars
Was there anything you had to scrap (pun deﬁnitely intended)?
Yes! So one idea for the fluff was going to be that one of the horrible weapons that the colonists on Mars dropped on Earth in the interplanetary war was nanorobots that turned industrial equipment into grey goo. These nanomachines would start to group together like termites and become their own malevolent force in the setting, and the idea was that they’d start to copy cars and create car analogues . You might start driving a buggy and then spend some kind of in-game resource to turn it into a helicopter or a truck that would grow a machinegun or a flamethrower. This idea mutated into a perk for one of the sponsors, which has sort of a light version of this, but we just couldn’t get the nanomachines into the game in the time we had available without making them horribly broken.
What plans do you have for the future?
For me I’m working on A Billion Suns, which is the next blue book wargame for Osprey. It’s an interstellar fleet battle game with lots of extreme uniquely science-fictioney mechanics in it - it feels very much like Hollywood science fiction space battles rather than naval battles played on a black sheet. It’s similar to Gaslands in that the in-game physics engine in Gaslands was focused on making cars do the kind of things that they do in movies rather than what they ought to do in real life, and the same is definitely true in A Billion Suns; Hollywood physics are at the heart of the movement and combat engine.
Exclusive Scenario: 1
"Betting on Gaslands races isn’t illegal. Betting on Gaslands races without registering that transaction with the Martian Territorial Revenue Service… THAT’S illegal.”
This is a new wasteland skirmish scenario. You can play it as a one-off game, or during a campaign when not playing a televised event.
Set up exactly as the “Death Race” scenario in the Gaslands: Refuelled rulebook.
Roll off to determine who has pole position. The player with pole position deploys the first vehicle and activates the first vehicle in each gear phase.
Whenever the player with pole position passes a gate with any vehicle, excluding the Starting Line, they must immediately choose another player and pass pole position to them.
Deploy teams exactly as per the “Death Race” scenario in the Gaslands: Refuelled rulebook.
Wager: Before the game starts, each player must publicly declare either the total number of enemy vehicles that they will wreck during this game or the number of gates they will successfully pass with one or more of their vehicles during this game. This number is their wager.
Game End & Victory
When the first non-Helicopter, non-Gyrocopter vehicle has passed the finish line the game is over and the controller of that vehicle is the winner.
At the end of any gear phase, if only one player has vehicles in play, the game ends and that player is the winner.
The game ends after 3 game rounds, the game ends and the player with the vehicle that has passed the most gates (and has the shortest distance to pass the next gate) is the winner.
In Gaslands: Refuelled, you will find full rules for playing a Gaslands campaign, known as a “Televised Season”. If you are playing a televised season, then players can earn cans at the end of the game to rebuild and improve their team.
Cashing Out: If a player ends the game having met or exceeded their wager, (i.e. with a number of kills equal to or higher than their wager or having passed a number of gates equal to or higher than their wager), then that player rolls a number of D6 equal to their wager and gains that many cans.
On The Nose: The winner of this game gains 2D6 cans.
You Win Some, You Lose Some: If a player ends the game having failed to meet or exceeded their wager, they immediately lose 1D6 cans from their stash.
No player may gain more than 20 cans in total from this game.
Exclusive Scenario: 2
“It takes a particular kind of sadistic artist to plant themselves into the San Paola People’s Penitentiary and spend six months preparing a night-time prison break, only to lead the convicts straight into the waiting arms of floodlights, TV cameras and wheeled death machines. Who says television script writing is a low art?”
This is a new televised event scenario. You can play it as a one-off game, or insert it into televised schedule of your campaign.
Lay out some terrain to represent a dystopian demolition derby arena.
Make a fort in the centre of the table by placing barricades or buildings roughly double range from the centre of the table to form a circle. Leave two or three ingresses at least medium wide.
Place 6 gun turrets in a rough circle, with each turret exactly double range from the centre of the table, and equally spaced around the circle.
Players roll-off for pole position. At the end of each gear phase, pass the pole position marker clockwise.
Each player places a spawn point, which is a round counter no larger than a penny (20mm), on the table within medium range of any table edge and more than double range from any other spawn point. Starting with the player with pole position, players take it in turns to deploy all of their vehicles within short range of their spawn point (measured like a shooting attack). When using audience votes to respawn, a vehicle must respawn within short range of its controller’s spawn point.
Gun Turrets count as middleweight obstacles with 7 hull points. They may be targeted with shooting attacks. If a dropped weapon template overlaps a rocket turret, it will immediately affect them.
Auto-defence: At the start of each vehicle’s shooting step, every gun turret within long range of the active vehicle will automatically make a 3D6 shooting attack targeting the active vehicle. If the active vehicle is carrying a convict, ignore this rule.
Convicts are lightweight obstacles with 4 hull points. To represent a convict on the tabletop use an object or miniature approximately 30mm in diameter or smaller. You might use a token, figure, bottle cap or a little flag.
Fresh Meat: At the start of each game round, starting with the player with pole position, players take it in turns to deploy a “convict” marker anywhere within double range of the centre of the table, until there are at least 6 convicts in play and every player has deployed at least one convict.
Running Men: At the end of each game round, move each in play convict marker medium straight toward the nearest table edge, ignoring terrain and vehicles. If this movement would end with the convict touching an obstruction, move it the minimum amount backwards until it is not touching any obstruction.
Fireworks Jacket: When a convict is wreck, a player may spend 1 audience vote
to make a nominated convict immediately explode, and count as middleweight when it does.
Climb on board: If a vehicle’s movement template or final position overlaps a convict, the controller of that vehicle may declare that they are rescuing the convict. Place the convict marker on that vehicle’s dashboard. If a vehicle carrying convicts is wrecked, all convicts on board also count as wrecked.
Televised Justice: If a player causes a convict to be wrecked through a shooting attack, or because they are on board a vehicle which this player just wrecked, they score 1VP.
Give The People What They What: If a player causes a convict to be wrecked as a result of an attack made during a collision, they score 2VP and gain 1 audience vote.
Freedom Run: If the movement template or final position of a vehicle with a convict comes within medium range of any table edge, that vehicle may discard any number of convict markers from its dashboard to gain 3VP for each convict discarded.
Game End & Victory
The game ends at the end of any game round in which one or more players have 5VP or more, or after three game rounds. The player with the most VP is the winner.
This review originally appeared in issue 438 of Miniature Wargames. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
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