The Rule of Carnage

True story: The first date I had with my wife was at the Undera Park Speedway one hot summer evening in the mid-eighties. Petrol fumes and dust hold a special place for me and Osprey have just released Gaslands, a game of dystopian car racing that speaks to that long-ago rev head.

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There is more than nostalgia going on, Car Wars could easily scratch that old time itch. Gaslands is a fun little game that brings chaotic, destruction filled death racing to the tabletop using matchbox (or hotwheels) cars.

It is hard not to enjoy this game. I’m told that the mechanics are reminiscent of X-Wing, which I’ve never played, so I can’t comment there.

Movement is governed by templates, with the choice of template restricted somewhat by your current speed. In higher gears you get to move (and shoot) more often, but only at a reduction in your ability to turn and with increased risk. Each time you move you roll spin dice that allow cinematic maneuvers but may also cause you to loose control of the vehicle. Crashing is not always fatal, so it is not just worth pushing your luck, but pretty much mandatory if you expect to have a chance of winning. It captures the mayhem of car racing very well, without becoming bogged in detail (or sometimes, even physics).

The game scales to multiple plays well. With players taking turns activating cars you’re never left spectating for long, which can be a problem with some multiplayer wargames.

Three hotwheels cars is all you need to start. With as little or as much pimping your ride as you like, you can be quickly at the gaming table and not stuck at the painting table.

For less than $50 and a visit to your bitz-box you can get into this game – rules, cars, dice, templates – which is a real plus around a stretched hobby budget. As a little bonus, there is an active FaceBook group, where even Gaslands’ creator Mike Hutchinson participates.

And the Rule of Carnage? In what may well be the best rule ever included in a wargame, the Rule of Carnage says whenever there is doubt, apply the interpretation that causes the most carnage. This sets the tone nicely. Gaslands is not a game of millimeters, it is a game that encourages mayhem and fun in equal measure.

If you have fond memories of Mad Max, Car Wars, or even Mario Cart, I reckon Gaslands is worth a go, who knows, maybe I’ll see you on the highways.

 

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