I am an old school gamer and played Car Wars back in the day. Car Wars more or less faded into obscurity over the years, but the demand for a car combat game was still out there. Osprey Publishing has answered this call with Gaslands, a Matchbox meets Mad Max cars shooting and crashing game. (That’s not the official title, but humor me.)
A few things about the game. One, the background is irrelevant and the book doesn’t bore us with a lot here. Let’s be honest, we just want to drive and blow things up. The things we can’t blow up, we want to drive into. Fortunately, that is the core premise of Gaslands.
Gaslands, as a game, is what Wings of Glory is to WWI aviation combat. If you are looking for a fast game that is easy to learn, without complex rules, then Gaslands is great. What I really like is that the game is designed for you to take Hot Wheels or Matchbox cars and modify them for gameplay. My grandson is eight and he enjoys this game – so the concepts are pretty simple to master.
I will say that the writing is not perfect with Gaslands. There are some important concepts that are vague in how they are presented and require re-reading sometimes to make sure you fully get them. On flipping, for example, I can’t tell for sure by the way it written if your vehicle is out of play if it flips or if it is pulling off some Dukes of Hazzard maneuver. The lack of an index makes it tricky at times to find what you are looking for.
Movement is done via templates. You roll dice, optionally, when you perform maneuvers. The results can be that you skid, slide, or have the ability to up or downshift. Weapons range from pistols to rocket launchers and oil slicks. If you pick a particularly aggressive template, you can pick up hazard tokens. The dice rolls are in your favor, you can shed hazard tokens.
Combat and collisions are straight forward resolved with dice rolling. This isn’t about tracking each dent and scratch location on your car, this is about wrecking them.
The gameplay centers around hazard tokens. When you gather six or more, you can lose control of your vehicle, even flip. The more reckless and fast you drive, the more you accumulate. Driving recklessly, if done creatively, is the key to many games of Gaslands. Skidding, for example, is a great way to shift your vehicle into a better positon.
The rules allow for big rigs, crews, and general chaos. There is plenty of room here for adding in your own RPG elements and expanding the rules for driving and shooting skills. Gaslands, as it stands is a good fast game that can be blown out any way you desire.
You don’t need the customer dice, tokens, or templates – but they do help (especially the dice). Shapeways has the dice if you want them 3D printed, or you can order them from the Gaslands website – https://gaslands.com/ I got the whole kit and kaboodle for around $50 US, a tad pricy for what you get – but still a pretty low entry point for the game. Not sure you want to jump in with both feet? You can order the book alone (which has copy-able templates, tokens, etc.) for around $15.00. YouTube has some videos which helped with my interpretation of some of the more challenging rules.
My rating on this is four and a half out of five stars. Pick it out and raid your kids old cars to trick out some rides.