The Evade rule in Gaslands is sort of a joke. It’s there to ensure that both players are involved in the resolution of attacks, but it’s designed to be ineffective to ensure that combat is fairly powerful and the game is quite explody.
Here’s a new version of the Evade rule that you are free to experiment with at your table. It’s not an errata, just an optional rule you can use:
As part of working on Gaslands: Legacy, and some new material set for release in BLASTER, I’ve been reassessing some of my design decisions in Gaslands: Refuelled, and listening to feedback from the community about people’s first experiences when they start with the game.
A common comment I hear is that ‘we rarely finish a death race’. A lot of games of Gaslands end with destruction of vehicles, rather than the alternative end condition of the scenario. In the death race scenario in particular, this can be seen as an issue. Should vehicles be more resilient and last longer, and is a minor tweak to the evade rule all that’s needed to achieve this?
You can listen in to Glenn and I discussing the evade rule on our Rule Of Carnage podcast here:
More Faster Is More Better
One of the core (unwritten) design principles of Gaslands is that driving fast should be rewarded, and driving slowly should not. There are some exceptions to this, (such as the validity of the turn templates in lower gears), to create tactical tension, but in general speed and risk are rewarded.
The evade rule is no different. The faster you go, the more evade dice you roll. The problem is that it doesn’t matter: you rarely roll enough sixes to meaningfully reduce the incoming damage, and if you are receiving a lot of hits, the number of dice doesn’t proportionally change.
Whatever evade rule we have needs to reward driving faster.
Weird for the sake of Weird
For the latter half of 2021, I was mostly working on A Billion Suns: Warzone and Hobgoblin, and actually hadn’t played a game of Gaslands for a while. When I returned to the game after a bit of break, the rule that I only roll a number of evade dice equal to my speed, rather than rolling one evade for each incoming hit really stuck out as weird.
When asking players to run your tabletop game rules software on their meat-computer, you have to be really aware of the complexity or ‘cognitive load’ budget. Players can only remember so many rules, and their heads are likely filled with other games’ rules systems too. This is one reason that ‘copying’ rules from other games can actually be a positive thing. My instinct has historically been to reinvent every wheel, in search for the perfect wheel for the situation, but there is a genuine player experience benefit in just doing what players would expect from their experience playing other games.
If I shoot you through cover, I’d expect a -1 on my dice rolls. If I move though rough terrain, I’d expect to move at half speed. If I suffer a number of hits, I’d expect to make an equal number of saving throws.
You’ll see from the experimental evade rules, I’ve reverted to the accepted standard. This has the positive effect of resulting in more evade dice for more powerful attacks, which pulls back the more extreme weapons or smash attacks.
My first thought was simple to change the evade roll to a 5+. Simple, but doesn’t fix the cognitive load problem above. Then Glenn suggested the following:
To Evade, roll one dice for each hit being suffered. - For hits resulting from Smash Attacks: any dice roll that is ~over~ the vehicle’s current gear counts as a success. - For hits resulting from any source other than Smash Attacks: any dice roll that is ~under~ the vehicle’s current gear counts as a success.
While elegant, the reason I didn’t like this option is the massive variance. When you are in a high gear for shooting attacks, or a low gear for smash attacks, you have a huge swing in the odds of successfully evading.
The rewarding of going slowly for smashes is interesting, as it potential disincentivises ‘first corner pile-ups’ in the death race scenario, while keeping high-speed collisions just as deadly as they are today.
Aesthetically, I happen to hate the fact that sometimes you need to roll high to save, and sometimes you need to roll low, so that also drove me away from this solution. It’s also addition cognitive load, to remember which direction which type of evade roll goes.
To reduce the variance, but keep the reward for driving fast, I tried a different version:
To evade: the target’s controller rolls a number of Evade Dice equal to the number of incoming hits. The target number needed for a successful evade roll depends on the speed of the evading vehicle: Evading vehicle is in Gear 1 or 2: 6+ to evade Evading vehicle is in Gear 3 or 4: 5+ to evade Evading vehicle is in Gear 5 or 6: 4+ to evade Each successful evade roll cancels one incoming hit.
It’s a touch more arbitrary, but it has proven pretty intuitive to remember in play. It increases the effectiveness of evades, and removes the whole ‘you can only roll evades once’ complexity, replacing it with a totally standard ‘roll one saving throws for each hit’ rule.
Experiment Evade Rules
These experimental rules may be used if all players agree. The objective of these rules is to make vehicles slightly more durable, (as you will tend to roll more evade dice and have a higher chance of success on each), while still rewarding people for driving fast. I’d really love to hear your feedback on them.