“I’d really like to do a sort of car combat game”, said my good friend John Brindley. We were stood outside of Dark Sphere in London and had just walked away from a couple of tense games of Fantasy Flights X-Wing Miniatures Game.
John and I had been playing a lot of X-Wing, and were really impressed with the excitement it inspired in us, as we zoomed around, near-missing each other, looping around and playing chicken once more. We started talking about the what a really cool vehicle combat game would need, to capture the same sort of easy excitement, and my mind started racing. I tossed a few ideas back at him, and then starting making some notes.
I really love Thunder Road (although I didn’t owe a copy as a kid, I just discovered it a couple of years ago), and I never played Battlecars, Car Wars or Dark Future. My gaming pedigree has its roots in 1993-1998 GW, and John and I used to play some Gorkamorka and a LOT of Necromunda. My youth was also spent playing POD, Rush 2049 and F-Zero X. (Man, it really was the golden age of futuristic racing games, looking back now!)
About two years ago, I uncovered an unmarked folder full of my old games at my parents house. I looked over all the charts and templates and half-finished games and realised I had had a really passion for this as a kid. I wrote my first attempt at a futurist racing game, called “Speed Demon”, in (circa) 1996, aged 15. I’m not certain if we ever played it:
The reference to “Space Fleet” above does not make reference to GW game of that name, but another home-brew ruleset that we invented to play with the Space Fleet miniatures as we couldn’t afford the boxset on our pocket money income…
Over the last ten years, getting back into board gaming, I rediscovered this passion, and started to write games again: board and card games at first. When I got back into wargames after moving to Kent with my wife, I started to write those too. They were all terrible. I am a strong believer in the rule that, in all creative pursuits, you must write a lot of terrible rubbish before you write anything good. To this end, I set myself a goal: write one game every month for a year. Gaslands was one of them.
I jotted down some intial ideas, and then started writing them up into a short rules pamphlet on the train to and from work. They progressed quickly, and were easy to iterate, partly because the game was simple, but partly because I was enjoying playing with tiny trucks on the dining room table. We played the game back at Dark Sphere some weeks later and it immediately felt like it was going somewhere. Here’s a shot of pretty much the first ever game of Gaslands, on my dining room table:
Shortly after I got the news in August that Osprey were keen to publish Gaslands as part for their Osprey Wargames Series, John and met up again to play some X-Wing. I broke the good news, and as we chatted over a pint he floated the idea of each playing owning and controlling a sort of racing team across a season; blending the ideas of Gorkamorka with Bloodbowl. Some games would be for the glory and fame of the racing season, and others would be scraps over the resources you needed to keep your team in the running. It’s a superb idea, and I can’t wait to put it into practice as Gaslands develops over the next 18 months.
This blog post is sort of an apology to John. He had the original idea and then I ripped him off to write this game.