Tonight’s game at Farnborough Wargames was Gaslands, a post-apocalyptic vehicle game. It’s the sort of game where being fast isn’t always the best way to win. Sometimes just shooting up the opposition is the simpler option.

Car Wars it is not. It’s a lot simpler, and has templates for movement (much like X-wing). When you move, you put the template in front of the car, then move the car along it to the far end, hoping you don’t crash into anything. I totally failed to grab any photos of the templates, but there’s a few in the boardgamegeek link above.

Each car has a gear it is in, from one to five. The higher the gear, the more times you get to move each turn. Gear one, you get to move once. Gear five, you get to move five times. The types of templates available are limited by your gear, so at gear five you’re pretty much limited to moving in a straight line.

Turrets are good

Some movements cause hazards – get six and you wipe out. You can roll dice to try and get results to give you shifts (cancel hazards, or change gear) but with a chance of spinning or sliding. Everyone also had 8 hits – how much damage you could take from crashes and being shot at.

We all got to choose our cars, and I went for one with a turreted weapon, in the belief that it would give me more options to shoot people. Most cars had forward (or in one case rear) mounted weapons, so had to be pointing at someone to shoot them.

Out of the five cars, I started at the rear of the pack which meant everyone could race ahead of me and also keep me blocked in. The course was to get through three checkpoints, and we could only start shooting once we got past the first.

Coming out of the starting gate

Up ahead was an inconvenient rock formation, and four of us decided to head left, and one driver headed right. Or at least that was the plan. I got some bad dice rolls, made some bad decisions, and ended up wiping out before we’d gone anywhere. Getting a slide result meant the player to the left of me could turn my car to face any direction.

Spin and wipeout

So my blue car was now heading right around the rocks. There was also a minor dent with two of the other cars colliding. But after that it was a pretty straightforward race for the first gate. The lead car (white) raced ahead, going a bit too fast to turn, so tried a hand brake turn, putting themselves stopped but facing the right way. They were also in the way of the next car, which drove right for them.

The futuristic looking silver car was coming up in close third as well.

Ramming cars out of the way at first gate

The lead car raced off, leaving an oilslick behind, and the future car did some amazing driving to do a hard right out of the gate, weaving between the crates. However, red and stripes didn’t do too well. Not only had they crashed into the rock, they were blocking my route through.

Pile up

This is where my turret came in useful. I shot up stripes, taking it out, but it was still a wreck blocking the best route, so I went left around the outside of the rock. A feature of the rules is that if you crash into something, you can then ignore that obstacle on your next turn. So red managed to get past the rock by driving straight through. Not realistic, but from a game perspective it makes a lot of sense and keeps things moving. You take damage and are forced down to first gear by the crash, so it’s not really a rule that you’d want to abuse.

The lead two cars were far ahead, but the heavy machine gun on silver made short work of the leader. It still left them blocking the route, but a quite swerve was all that was needed to get between the burning wreck and the rock formation to the right.

Clearing the field. There are some templates top left of the table.

So we were down to three cars, with me still far behind. But I was moving at high speed, made a perfect turn around the outside of the rock and used my turret to make short work of the car in front.

This brought the race down to two. I did feel a little bit bad about taking two of the players out of the game. But only a little bit.

There was no chance however for me to catch up with the futuristic silver car which by now was coming through the second gate and should have had a clear run ahead of her to reach the finish.

Except the run wasn’t quite as clear as desired, and she was heading in towards the inconvenient piping rather than being able to do a hard turn to avoid them. The car spun out, and I got to select the facing after the move. Obviously they were now facing directly at the pipes and barely moving in first gear.

As I came up behind, I used my turret to take out my final competitor, and the game was mine.

End game

It was a fun game, with some good scenery and car models. The rules weren’t too complicated. The initial couple of turns seemed to go quite slow, and I was worried that it was going to turn into a bit of a slog. But once we had a bit of room between the cars, and people were more used to the rules, things sped up a lot.

Having a turreted weapon seemed to be a huge advantage, since it allowed me to take shots at anyone close to me without having to worry about lining my car up for an attack. I almost feel that it gave me an unfair advantage. Once I was clear of obstacles and on a straight with few hazards, I could opt not to roll dice. Which meant there wasn’t a risk of picking up more hazards.

I think that the game has a lot more options to complicate things if you want that, but it worked well without any of that. It also felt good to have a clear victory for once.

Though I do feel bad about shooting everyone. But only a little.

Samuel Penn

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