Because I’m an eternal tinkerer, I’ve been messing about with some of the areas of Gaslands: Refuelled that I’m still not 100% satisfied with. There are a few things about Gaslands that I wish were better, and over the next few months I’m going to share some experimental “R&D” rules changes to address some of them, and talk about the thought process behind them. I’d love your feedback on them.
To cut to the chase, you can download a set of experimental wipeout rules for Gaslands by clicking this button. Do it now!
Glenn and I spent some time on our Rule Of Carnage podcast talking about the thought-process behind these new wipeout rules, which you can tune into here:
Miss-a-turn is not a mechanic loved by all. Being told you aren’t allowed to play the game that you sat down to play, and have to sit out instead, isn’t a great design feature, but Gaslands does it a lot. The reason for this is simple: the push-your-luck reward cycle of collecting and managing hazards to unlock more activations needs a suitable punishment for messing up, or there is no peril.
The problem is that wiping out in low gears can feel very bad. Not only is it normally a result of bad luck or enemy actions (it’s very difficult to wipeout on turn one purely through your own actions), but it also results in a LOT of downtime for that vehicle, as it has to wait for all six gear phases to resolve before it gets another chance to activate.
Wiping out in higher gears rarely feels bad. It feels appropriate, and it feels like a fair punishment for pushing your luck and driving like a maniac. Wiping out in low gears isn’t exciting. It’s annoying. It can cause you to sit whole chunks of the game out.
The solution that Gaslands: Refuelled presents for this problem is Burn Rubber.
BURN RUBBER (1 AUDIENCE VOTE)
Select any vehicle you control. That vehicle may immediately change Gear, either one up or one down, gaining 1 Hazard Token as normal. Use of this effect can allow you to declare an activation with a vehicle that was previously unable to activate in this Gear Phase.
Burn Rubber provides a way for players that wipeout in lower gears to spend a small number of votes to bump their vehicle back into the right gear and get back in the action.
There are a few issues with this solution. One is that players rarely start the game with votes, and wipeouts in the first two gear phases of the game are pretty common, particularly in the Death Race scenario, and particular if people start brawling on the start-line. Another is that not all sponsors generate votes at the same point in the game: some generate them early, some late, some in a burst, some in a trickle. This is intentional, but iterates poorly with the problem of early-game wipeouts.
The last issue is that not all players play with votes. I understand why: I have linked the use of votes to the use of sponsors, and the use of sponsors to the use of perks, and that’s a LOT of rules to grok. I wish I had presented the votes in a more disconnected way, or provided ‘basic sponsors’ to provide simple vote generation mechanics that didn’t require the use of the full sponsor and perks system. I experimented with this in Gaslands: Legacy, in which teams all generate votes in the same ways. I’ll likely explore this in a future R&D blog post.
A Game of Two Halves
As part of the process of finding a better solution for the miss-a-go problem of early-gear-phase wipeouts. Glenn and I tried several approaches, which I shared with one of the playtesting groups. They included trying a new way of losing control, essentially handing an activation to your opponent. We tried not cancelling hazards, or cancelling fewer, and not dropping gears. None of them worked quite right, either leading to some nasty exploits or handing too much power to your opponents.
As we were discussing what was working and what not, we really agreed that wiping out in lower gears felt crummy, and wiping out in higher gears felt exciting. This led to the current experiment, which is to essentially make wipeouts more forgiving in gears 1-3, and more punishing in gears 4-6.
It does this by tweaking the ‘drop to gear 1’ step: forcing you instead to reduce your gear to at least gear 3, but lower if you wish. This essentially means that wiping out in gears 1 and 2 doesn’t prevent you from activating in the next gear phase (unless you are stuck against a rock and need to shift into first gear to reverse). Wipeout out in gear 3 is still a problem, if you have already activated, but if you are in Gear 3 and hit a wipeout before you’ve had a chance to activate, you still get to go. This means that most cars should get their first three activations, unless you are playing poorly and not shifting up successfully (which is fine, as there has to be some skill in the game).
The only other minor change I’ve made is I’ve changed the ‘roll under’ mechanism for the Flip Check to ‘roll a D6 and add your gear’ because I’ve always hated it for some reason. My brain always fails to remember how it works instinctively. It’s my game, so I’ll change it to suit me. 😛
Experimental Wipeout Rules
These experimental rules may be used if all players agree, and entirely replace the Wipeout Step rules on pages 34 & 35 of the Gaslands: Refuelled rulebook. The objective of them is to make Wipeouts less punishing, reduce player downtime, and make piling up silly amounts of hazard tokens less attractive. Download them here:
Please take a look and try them on your table. I’ve really been enjoying playing with this experiment rules tweak on my table, and I’d really love to hear your feedback on them.