Gaslands is a tabletop game written by Mike Hutchinson and published by Osprey Wargames on November 20, 2017. A second edition titled Gaslands: Refuelled released September 17, 2019.
Gaslands is a miniature game in the vein of games like Car Wars, Dark Future, or Gorkamorka, with elements of X-Wing. Gaslands has no set miniatures, instead requiring the players to use their toy car collections as units in game. Movement is conducted through the use of templates, much like X-wing Miniatures. What differentiates Gaslands from similar games are the Gear, Audience Vote, and Pole Position mechanics. It is fluffed as a reality-TV Death Race through a post-apocalyptic setting.
Gameplay and Mechanics
Gear can be best described as how fast a unit goes. Each turn is separated into 6 gear phases, or 6 potential times a unit can activate in a turn (this is similar to the "Impulse" mechanic grogs will remember from Star Fleet Battles). Shifting up to higher gears will let cars activate more often in a turn. The higher gears, however, begin locking out maneuver templates. Cars in higher gears also accumulate more "hazards". If you gain too many Hazard tokens, the car wipes out, loses its accumulated Gears, and potentially takes damage or even explodes. "Pole Position" is the game's way of handling turn order/initiative. Certain actions will trade off Pole Position between players; which ones it is depends on the scenario in-play.
For each car in a given gear phase, players select a maneuver template. The rulebook advises a "gotcha" system, where even touching a template means you have to use it. Many groups house-rule this to "once it's moved over the play surface, you have to use it". Then the player has the option of rolling "handling dice", which are set by the car type. These dice have 3 "shift" results, and 1 each of "hazard", "spin", and "slide" (as in "powerslide"). "Shift" allows the player to cancel a hazard or any other result, or to shift up/down one Gear level. Safer maneuvers will often grant free Shift results, while more-dangerous ones can cause automatic Hazards. Players can take an additional Hazard to re-roll any of their Maneuver dice. Spins and Slides cause the player to take a Hazard, but allow the car to maneuver differently on the battlefield. Once the car has moved, players can shoot with any one-board weapons. While simple guns like MGs have infinite ammo, howitzers and minelayers are limited. Having ammo left on-board makes your car more likely to explode if it's knocked out. This is not necessarily a bad thing.
Audience Votes represent the viewers at home being allowed to screw with the game. They're a simple currency players can use to "cheat": grabbing quick repairs, free gear shifts or ammo, and even resurrecting cars. Each scenario grants Audience Votes to players with cars in certain situations. For example, a player with all their cars destroyed will generally get enough to bring one of them back at the end of a given round. Each faction (see below) also grants special Audience Votes to players that role-play its goals. For example, Mishkin players can get Votes by using unusual weapons for the first time in any given game.
Each gang is given a limited number of points and a sponsor. Points, called Cans, are spent on everything from cars to weapons. Generally, 50 Cans will give the player a starting gang of 3 cars. Sponsors are the closest Gaslands comes to factions. Each sponsor offers perks and special abilities. These can range from special weapons and vehicles, to abilities that affect gameplay.
Car creation is simple in Gaslands. Each vehicle has a cost, hit points, a max gear, number of maneuver dice, number of crew, a few special abilities, and build slots. All the player needs to do is calculate how much upgrades cost and what facing the weapons are mounted on. The customization is not that extensive, but works well enough barring some... interesting concessions in regard to realism. For example, due to build points being designed with weapon effectiveness in mind instead of the physical weight of the gear, motorbikes can carry wrecking balls but can't fit a flamethrower. Note that there have been errata to rockets and buggy costs, among other things.
The "factions" of Gaslands, each sponsor offers different benefits to the gang. Some Sponsors, however, have requirements that prevent the player from taking certain vehicles. The Sponsors are as follows.
- Rutherford - The Doug Dimmadone (owner of the Dimsdale Dimmadome) of the game. Gangs sponsored by Rutherford specialize in causing large amounts of damage. If you are not using a ammo token with every attack, then this is not the sponsor for you. Gangs with his sponsorship can purchase a tank and helicopter, get more ammo for ammo weapons, and gain audience tokens for causing lots of damage. Rutherford's main weakness is that his gangs lack light vehicles. This means that aside from performance cars, Rutherford can't activate vehicles in the higher gear phases. Perk wise, his gang is powerful at causing damage and tanking hazard tokens. A good sponsor for new players.
- Miyazaki - The drift queen of the game. Gangs sponsored by Miyazaki are all about maneuverability. Perk wise Miyazaki is the only sponsor to use the daring perk list, which emphasizes movement. Her audience token benefit is conducting spins and slides with her cars. Basically Miyazaki can drive circles around her competition. However, Miyazaki lacks access to heavy vehicles like trucks and war-rigs
(though oddly enough monster trucks are ok)That got errata'd. Nothing Heavyweight, nothing with a handling value of 2 or less. If you loved Initial D and Tokyo Drift, than Miyazaki is the sponsor for you.
- Mishkin - Russian Mad Scientist, nuff said. Gangs sponsored by Mishkin have access to some bizarre weapons and perks that at times can be both a hindrance and a blessing. Mishkin weapons tend to attack indirectly (and at times indiscriminately as is the case with the arc projector and the thumper). His weapons also use ammo, though this is not so much a problem as he can reload by driving in higher gear phases. Perk-wise Mishkin is the only sponsor with access to Technology perks. Technology perks are all over the place in content ranging from regaining health, teleporting, and gaining random perks from other perk lines. Mishkin's strength is also his weakness. His weapons are not the most reliable in hurting the enemy. His technology perk selection is powerful, but too situational at times. Overall, Mishkin is unpredictable to both his players and opponents.
- Idris - Speed, pure speed. Idris is all about moving fast and covering lots of ground. With his cheaper nitrous and audience token generation from going the distance, Idris should always be moving fast. The problem with Idris is that he has difficulty with maneuverability. He can go the distance - though sometimes straight into a wall. Idris also can't take gyrocopters, but honestly that's not much of a hindrance. That being said, Idris has a easy time generating audience tokens, especially if motorcycles are involved. Always pony up for turrets - you can't reliably position enemies behind you, and no-one's suicidal enough to get in front.
- Slime - If reckless driving is your style, Slime is for you. His special ability pinball can allow for vehicles keep activating, allowing for multiple movements in a single gear phase. Perk wise, Slime prioritizes movement and close combat. You want to be up close and personal when playing as slime. Reckless driving is also how Slime gains audience tokens - you need significant numbers of hazard tokens to get one. Its here where Slime's weakness comes into view. Due to his method of gaining audience tokens, buggies are kind of the go-to vehicle for Slime (they're cheap and don't take damage when they inevitably Wipe Out). Problem is, while they can reliably survive wipeouts, their health points are poor. You could go for better vehicles, but those can't survive your constant wipeouts. Overall, players using Slime need to recognize what they can and can't get away with.
- Warden - Death Race: The Faction. The Warden relies on cheap cars that go boom. Her two abilities allow Warden to make her vehicles cheap by reducing their hull points, and generate audience votes if her cars blow up. Perk wise Warden emphasizes melee combat and hazard token manipulation (IE preventing a car from wiping out and to cause tremendous damage when the car reaches its target). The problem with Warden is her Audience token generation and her combat effectiveness. Remember, you need to destroy your own car to generate a audience token. Not only that, but your vehicles are weaker and more prone to exploding. Overall Warden is not easy to play, but rewarding if you can make your plans work. Note that the errata have changed which vehicles you can apply "Prison Car" to and tweaked the price.
The base game is a simple Death Race. Players must go through four "gates" in order, then cross the finish line. Your weapons don't unlock until you cross the first Gate, though..
- Saturday Night Live - a basic Deathmatch, but Audience Votes are also your VP. There's a "Special Prize" for meeting various semi-random conditions in a turn, which is re-rolled every time a player collects it. First to 15 VP wins.
- Arena of Death - Like Death Race, but with scattered auto-turrets firing machine guns at the players.
- Zombie Bash - Dump a sack full of zombies onto the table. Stand them up. Every time a car runs over a zombie, you collect it. When a car wrecks, put five zombies on top of/next to the car. Winner is the one with the most zombies collected once the last one standing is run over. Works well for demonstrating the game, especially using candy or small snacks instead of zombies. Works extremely poorly with shots.
- Monster Truck Smash - One player in a Monster Truck tries to crush the others before they can collect tokens from the board.
- Capture the Flag - Basic CtF. Not much to say, really.
Supplements and Support
Gaslands is currently actively-supported by Osprey. The creator puts out a small supplemental e-zine, called "Time Extended" a couple times a year with additional rules, scenarios, and custom car galleries. Notably, the creator uses a simple licensing system - kick him a few bucks a month on Patreon, and you're free to use his trademarks. This has ensured a pretty vigorous third-party support scene for terrain, templates, tokens, and dice. Or just search for some variation on "20mm death race/post-apocalyptic".
- Scenario: Savage Highways - a short Ladder Campaign loosely-based on The Road Warrior and Fury road. One gang tries to escape to the next race site with a War Rig, the other tries to take it down. Also adds a few War Rig options
- Stina's Stockpile - a bunch of experimental and primitive weapons, like Harpoon Guns, Wrecking Balls and RC Car drone-bombs. Most of what you need to play Ork gangs.
- Sponsor: Scarlet Anne - Pirates who can buy additional crew, but have to burn Crew to activate most of their special abilities. Can steal Crewmembers or Votes from enemy wrecks. They have the unique "Tuning" perk tree, which honestly fits Miyazaki better. It's based around fishtailing, ramming, and manipulating rams.
- Scenario: Flag Tag - Capture the Flag, but you don't have to get it back to your base. Every time one is captured, the owning player drops another one next to his spawn point in the next Gear Phase. Winner is first player to 3VP
- Scenario: Tank Commander - Each player gets 2 tanks with infinite ammo. Players can burn votes to rotate the turret and double-tap the main guns. Players gain 1 VP per kill.
- Errata: changes the perks of The Warden and Miyazaki. Tweaks "Crush Attack" and "Stunt Driver" a bit.
- Vehicles: Truckasaurus, Drag Racer, Sidecar Bike, Motorhome (a mobile repair bay), Jet Car, Jeep (cheap, robuster version of the Buggy without roll Bars), APC, Ambulance (ramming vehicle that manipulates gears and kills enemy Crew), and Heavy Truck (basically, a more-expensive truck that has more build slots and automatic Heavy Armor).
- Sponsor: Highway Patrol - Your basic Smokies. Gain Votes by running down a specific enemy vehicle and causing it to Wipe Out or destroying it. Adds the Pursuit perk tree, which mostly screws with the maneuver dice, Hazard Tokens, and templates of nearby players. Really, really annoying when played well, but has to hold their speed down and stay behind enemies to get the most out of their abilities. They have difficulty catching Idris or Miyazaki teams, and since most of their abilities rely on positioning themselves near one pre-designated car you can often bait a Patrol player with it while gunning the rest of your vehicles to safety. Or over the finish line.
- Scenario: Truckasaurus - a boss fight against a cobbled-together mecha with infinite health and ammo. Players can burn Votes to activate the mecha; they gain VP for every car it eats. Including their own.
- Scenario: Scavenger Party - players compete to pick up cargo from a stash in the center of the table and run it off the board through their deployment zones.
Adds the campaign system and several scenarios. Some of these block players from using Audience Votes (since they're not being televised). There's a basic Handicapping system that gives players bonus Votes for being behind in the Championship race. Each Season is a set number of "televised" games, with cars collecting permanent damage and perks as they go along. "Televised" games are held on a regular schedule, and grant Championship Points. Individual players can also choose to run side scenarios as a "Wasteland Skirmish". These grant bonus cash and experience, but don't contribute to the overall Championship Race, and players don't get Audience Votes in these games. There's also a goal-reversal system that means larger groups don't devolve into "the two winners and everyone else". Players can opt to turn coat and join The Resistance, which keeps them from winning the Championship but puts them in the running for a second prize and gives them a bunch of sabotage options to screw with other players. The season awards both a Champion (the player with the most Championship Points), and a Resistance General. Players can chose to get Resistance Points if they lose a scenario badly, or if they spend points to trigger the special "The Revolution Will Be Televised" scenario and fulfill its mission objectives.