This game is fantastic, affordable and more fun than it has any right to be. It is excellent for adults and children alike and can be played using just the Gaslands Refuelled Rulebook and a handful of toy cars. Buy it. Buy it now.
The year is 2018. Earth has been under Martian occupation for 19 years. The war has left much of Earth destroyed and its populations enslaved by the corporations of Mars. The internet is gone but television remains under the control of a global network broadcasting ultra-violent bloodsports and death games (think the Running Man but more brutal). The most popular show is Gaslands, where amateurs and professionals race and battle in modified vehicles, vying to win a one-way ticket to Mars to make a new life amongst the rich and healthy elite.
How Does It Work?
Gaslands Refuelled is a car combat game which can be played on a tabletop using toy cars. Whilst the templates included in the rule book are scaled for standard Hot Wheels, Matchbox or Majorette vehicles, they can be adjusted to microscale or the other way to use 28mm scale vehicles or larger. We occasionally use the standard rules and templates with fighters and ships from the X Wing Miniatures Game – that’s how versatile the ruleset is.
In its simplest form you spend a number of points to create a single vehicle or a full team (cans of gas, or petrol, are the commodity in this alternative Earth). Points are spent on the vehicle itself; you can choose from motorcycles, sports cars, vans, trucks, etc. You may then buy upgrades for your vehicle(s) in the form of armour plating, weapons, additional crew, driver perks, etc. Once you have chosen your team the fun can really begin.
Players choose which scenario to play if they’re playing a one-off game and then they battle it out to see which team will be victorious.
To play Gaslands Refuelled you will need a tabletop, some vehicles and some items to lay out as a race track. If you already play tabletop games you will probably be lucky enough to have some scenery and maybe even a neoprene mat or similar. This is by no means essential but it does add to the experience. The minimum you will need are some tokens or coins to make race gates and some features to race around. These can be other cars or toys. Just use your imagination.
You will also need some dice, a pencil and some paper. The templates for movement can be cut out of the book or can be printed from the Gaslands Refuelled website. Of course, once you play a few games, you can always visit a third party seller to pick up some acrylic templates and Gaslands Skid Dice. To start, I printed out some templates & tokens and glued them to cereal boxes (it’s fine to use normal dice too but getting big chunky ones with symbols it nice). This was perfect for the early games and gave me an excuse to eat lots of cereal.
The mechanics of Gaslands Refuelled are refreshingly simple. The game is broken down into a series of rounds that are further broken down into gear phases. Basically, the higher a gear your vehicle is in, the more activations it gets. However, certain templates are only available to use in certain gears. For example to carry out a long straight manoeuvre a vehicle must be in gear 5 or 6. Conversely, a hard turn can only be made in gears 1 to 3. Undertaking certain moves causes a driver to gain hazard tokens which cause a vehicle to wipe out so it is important to drive to the conditions of the track!
The round starts with gear phase one. Vehicles are activated one at a time starting with the team in pole position. Once a vehicle completes its move, it progresses to the attack step where the driver and any crew look to take out the opposition with weaponry. Finally, after the attack step, a player checks to see if the vehicle loses control and wipes out… Once all vehicles have activated the round progresses to gear phase two and so on. Cars may only activate in a given gear phase if they are currently in that gear or higher. This means the faster the vehicle is travelling, the more activations it will have. However, the fastest vehicles are generally less armoured and are more likely to be accumulating hazard tokens as they try to outrun their more robust and heavily armed opponents.
All in all the simplicity of the game is its greatest strength. I have literally played this game with children under ten using the full rules and they have absolutely loved it. And, yes, they have beaten me too.
To The Gates Of Valhalla
To earn your ticket to Mars you will need to win more than a one-off race. You will have to embark upon a televised series of races and scenarios to outscore (and outlive) your opponents. This is where Gaslands Refuelled gets exciting. The campaign modes are ridiculously good. The customisation of the team continues as drivers can spend their winnings from each race to upgrade their vehicles, to draft in new vehicles entirely or to acquire skills and perks. Teams may also align with a sponsor to get access to special abilities and upgrades. It's like X-Wing, Necromunda and Mordheim came together to form a super band taking the absolute best parts from each.
There’re races sure, but that is only the start. You can opt to play from over a dozen scenarios including zombie bash where you get points for mowing down the infected, big game hunter where you try to fell mutated super-beasts, or even work as a team to take on the fabled Trukasaurus.
The campaign can be played out over a series of days, weeks or months and is ideal for a gaming group or a wargames club. Adults aren’t essential though. My ten-year-old absolutely adores seeing his team progress from week to week as he vies to snag that ticket to Mars at my expense.
Whilst you can use toy cars straight from the box in Gaslands Refuelled, there is a lot of fun to be had repainting and modifying your collection to try to represent the perks and upgrades you have selected for your vehicles. I must admit that it becomes difficult to walk past charity shops and the toy isle at the local supermarket without having a rummage to try to find that perfect vehicle for your next campaign.
I could honestly write about the pros of this absolute gem of a game all day. Instead, I will recommend that you grab the book and watch a couple of race reports on YouTube while you wait for it to arrive. This game is cheap, easily accessible and one of the most fun games you will find. I have bought copies of Gaslands Refuelled for friends and family since discovering it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.