Preview: Skid Dice

In the run up to the release of Gaslands: Post-Apocalyptic Vehicular Mayhem from Osprey, (which you can preorder here), I wanted to preview some of the coolest features of the game to help explain why I’m so excited about it.

Gaslands is a tabletop wargame in which you skid, blast and ram your way to victory in the burnt-out wreckage of a post-apocalyptic Earth for the entertainment of television audiences. The game is played with regular “matchbox” sized toy cars and is for two or more players.

I want to start this series of articles by introducing you to probably my favourite feature of Gaslands: the Skid Dice.

The skid dice are used to represent your drivers pushing hard and driving right at the edge of their ability and safety. Rather than boringly accelerating or braking without risk, the skid dice ensure that every activation comes with an element of uncertainty, and with surprising opportunities for awesome cinematic maneuvers.

Every vehicle has a handling value – for example a pick-up truck is two and a performance car is four. This is the number of skid dice they can roll up to during their activation. Rolling more skid dice is normally better but, as you’ll find out in play, sometimes rolling one die or rolling none at all is the right choice.

Once you roll your skid dice, you then have a sort of mini-game as you decide how to assign and spend the dice. You can place a hazard token (more on them in a couple of weeks) on your vehicle’s dashboard to re-roll any number of your dice once, if you didn’t quite get the result you wanted.

The skid dice have six faces: three SHIFT, one SPIN, one SLIDE and one HAZARD. You can use standard six-sided dice, and a conversion chart is provided in the book, or you can pick up some lovely official skid dice from our store. They are sold in packs of five and come with a free Gaslands dice game!

The hazard face is just bad news: it gives you a hazard token and that’s it. The spin and slide faces are a little deceptive. They give you a hazard token, which is bad, but they also change your maneuver and final position in interesting and often beneficial ways.

Spin is the more forgiving – it just lets you pivot about your centre once your in your final position, which can be very powerful for lining up a shot or setting up your next activation’s maneuver.

Slide can be more treacherous. Sometimes, a slide will be exactly what you need to deftly avoid an obstacle or end up in a position that your opponents were not expecting. Sometimes, a slide will just slam you into a wall at high speed, or off the edge of the table, causing you to be disqualified!

Shifts are the good guys. They are very flexible and powerful and you’ll want to be rolling mostly shifts in most cases. Shift results let you stick-shift up or down gear. Shifting up will allow you to activate more times in a turn (as you are moving faster), but shift down will provide access to tighter turns, and make other manuevers less risky. Shift results also let you discard hazard tokens from your vehicle, which is important because stick-shifts give you hazard token. Finally, shift results can be spent to cancel out other skid dice results that you don’t want, giving you a lot of control over what you keep or discard.

The skid dice also interact with the maneuver templates in a couple of interesting ways. Firstly, the skid dice allow you to shift gear, which changes which templates are available to you. For example, if you are in gear five or six, the long straight becomes available to you, but the sharper turns, such as the hairpin and hard turn, are no longer permitted.

The maneuver templates may also provide additional hazard and shift results, depending on your vehicle’s current gear. For example, the medium straight maneuver template provides a bonus shift result in gears one through four. This means that you could roll zero skid dice and just use the bonus shift result from the template to stick-shift up one gear and take the hazard for doing so. This can often be a smart choice, as there is no risk of rolling a bunch of slides and hazards and ending up out of position or covered in hazard tokens, when you really just wanted to accelerate gently in a straight line!

Skid dice are one of the hearts of Gaslands, and one of the reasons that every activation can feel like you couldspin out of control at any moment. Gaslands is not a game in which your vehicles will always end up where you intended them to be, but smart and tactical use of the skid dice is crucial to maximising your influence in the game. Buy your set now!

If you want to hear another perspective on the tactical options that the skid dice open up, check out this awesome video from Tracy George:

See you in a week’s time when I’ll talk more about how Hazards & Wipeouts work in Gaslands. Whilst you’re waiting, you can preorder excellent accessories, including the skid dice, from the Gaslands store: here.