Preview: Death Races

Ahead of the release of Gaslands on 30 November 2017, we’re running down the coolest features of the game, hoping that you’ll see why this is a game you have to try. You can check out our previous articles on Skid Dice and Wipeouts.

In the wreckage of a world destroyed by the Martian Secession war, much of Earth’s population is trapped in poverty, forced to work for Martian mining and production facilities. The internet is gone but television remains, under the control of the sinister Network: a nest of Martian collaborators and sycophants.

The Network’s executive producer and chief anchorman, David Logan, is responsible for inventing a series of ultra-violent game shows and gas-guzzling death sports, of which the Gaslands death race is the most successful.

Now in it’s tenth year, this season is going to be the most spectacular yet. The prize is huge too: a one way ticket to Mars for the winner. Escape from the broken Earth to the Elysium of Mars.

Hopeful contestants battle their way through local death races, into the regional leagues and up into the televised grand tour. Audiences watch on in delight as their favourites compete to be the in the grand final.

Gaslands provides six scenarios in the rulebook, the first of which is the Death Race.

Death Races aren’t the only way to play Gaslands, but I very much hope they will become the iconic way to play Gaslands. A lot of the game is designed around maximising the awesomeness of death races.

Setting up a race in Gaslands is as simple as arranging some objects to form a series of “gates”. These gates can be formed with crates, oil cans, gantries, or wrecked cars. They could even be simple tokens or flags. There just needs to be a obvious gate through which the contestants need to drive their vehicles. Drive through all the gates in the correct direction, in the correct order, faster than the other guys and you’re the winner!

Gates provide a simple and flexible way to manage races. They essentially provide infinite track layouts. You set up your terrain and then place gates to guide the course around your terrain. That way you can race through any terrain you like: through ruined urban streets, docklands, industrial complexes, dustbowl wastelands or even across multiple levels.

You can find a bunch of suggested track layouts in our forums, and if you lay out a track that you find to be particularly fun, please share it in the forums!

Once you have set up your terrain and gate, the cars line up in the starting grid.

The starting grid is a just grid as wide as the number of players and as deep as required to deploy all cars. Starting with the player in pole position, players take it in turns to place a vehicle anywhere in the first rank of the starting grid, filling that up before placing vehicle can be placed into the second rank, and so on.

Death races provides players with very a clear win condition: first over the finish line. It provides natural tension as a leader breaks away from the pack and the rest of the players try to find ways to slow them down or catch them up.

Weirdly, you’d be surprised to learn the number of times during playtesting that a car crosses the finish line at the same time as being wrecked… winning the race but immediately exploding in a ball of flames! It’s developing into a Gaslands tradition.

If you are playing with the advanced rules, you have access to Audience Votes (more on them in a future blog post), which act as boosts for players that are getting stuck at the back of the race. As the lead driver clears gates, all the other players get the chance to gain audience votes, with the players at the back having the greatest chance of gaining them. As you’ll see, audience votes can be used to get you back in the game, and help close the pack in the later game, keeping the race tense right until the final turn.

The death race scenario also strongly suggests a campaign structure, as your teams can compete in various stages of a race season, vying for championship points. Perhaps you have the stages move from location to location, allowing you to alter the terrain to represent different environments.

I really hope that the community is enthusiastic about the death race scenario as I am. In particular, I think that a day of races would make an awesome one-day tournament format, and so we’ll be making an official Gaslands Organised Play document available in the downloads section to help people do just that.

What are you waiting for? Strap a flame-thrower to the roof of a car and preorder the Gaslands bundle from our store right now!