As I’ve said, I had a blast at UK Games Expo 2018. Interestingly, for someone that has really only been to wargames shows before, UKGE didn’t seem to have too much focus on wargames. Apparently they are a relatively new addition to the show. Having said that, our booth was just by the enormous FFG organised play area, so there was plenty of wargaming going on nearby. (Although not very much Armada, he added in a surreptitious and meaningful aside).
With this being much more of a board game focused show, it gave me lots of chances to pitch Gaslands to non-wargamers and to learn some interesting things about what might be limiting it’s potential crossover success as an introductory light miniatures wargame experience for board gamers.
Gaslands’ crossover appeal really became apparent during UKGE. I hadn’t really considered it before, but here we have a miniature’s game that doesn’t really need miniatures. It doesn’t need huge armies, the extremely inexpensive models come pre-painted (by Mattel), and the racing theme is actually really accessible and family-friendly.
While there are no tape measures or slotta bases to scare people away, I did have the same experience a couple of times across the weekend. I would explain how the game works to someone, and they would get excited and want to have a go. Then they would sort of stumble and ask “so where do I get these rates gates and terrain from? Do you have to make these yourself?!”
I have been a model-maker since I was 10 and a wargamer nearly as long. I am familiar with the idea that wargames require some upfront work to get them to the table. One of the things I love most about the hobby is that wargames require a bit of imagination and invention (and elbow grease) before you can play your first game.
It became obvious that while this is very natural to me, the idea you can’t just play a game straight out of the box is actually quite alienating to some.
I believe there is an audience for Gaslands outside of the traditional wargaming crowd, very much like how X-Wing succeeded in creating a wargames starter set that felt like a board game.
Like the X-Wing starter set, which on it’s own functions basically as a stand-alone “fun with TIE fighters” board game; maybe there is a way to make Gaslands available in a format that is more easily accessible to a family that wants to play a racing game with their toy cars on a weekend afternoon and doesn’t need the whole hobby aspect yet.
My biggest takeaway from UK Games Expo 2018 is that I want to know what the easiest and lowest-barrier to entry starter experience might be. Getting that right might lead to the next big jump in Gaslands popularity as a game.
I should add: do not take this blog post of evidence that I am actually making a starter set. I’m just becoming aware that it might be an awesome idea…