Alittle prescript – If there is a rule conflict in my review, please inform me. As much as I like to think I and my group can understand any game put in front of us, we do make mistakes. When dealing with games, often these mistakes last for several months before I finally get a rules correction. Which explains why my gaming group started out hating some of the games we now love. Also, this will be updated as time goes on for grammar, content, and ofcourse updates. That out of the way:
Like many people here on BGG, and like most people who will probably end up reading this, I was first introduced to this game by the brilliant images posted by my good friend Yugblad. The concept of hunting dinosaurs with blackpowder rifles was oddly appealing and comforting in that the games end up sounding like something out of classic science fiction, or atleast an Arsene Lupin story. Well since I was looking for another miniatures game, and that I am a sucker for dinosaurs, I ordered one of the last copies that Amazon had in stock.
When I look at a miniatures game there are really only two ways I will approach it:
For hardcore gaming friends only
For more casual gaming
These could ofcourse be represented by mini’s grognard and everyone else, but where is the fun in that. When I look at casual gaming minis games I try to make sure that it is easy to learn, easy to moderate to play, decent level of customization/options, and ofcourse fun. Rarely do I find games that work well like this out of the box, but often a few house rules make it so.
Upon first looking at GASLIGHT I was disgruntled. Quite a bit of money got me a small manual with a really cool picture on the cover. However dismayed I was at this I got to work on it posthaste. Upon reading the manual, I realized that I was currently in over my head. Unlike the last two minis games I played, Sky Galleons of Mars and Armies of Arcana, this was more of a core ruleset with tables on how to build characters. More akin to an RPG, Car Wars, Cloudships and Gunboats. Some googling later and I had an idea of where I should be going.
Like most games, Gaslight is broken up into turns. However, unlike most games, there is a card mechanic to determine initiative. At the beginning of the round the Game Master (GM) flips over the top card from the “action card” deck (for lack of a better term) and whatever is show is what gets to move. Be that friend, foe, or NPC. Now I know what you are thinking, NPC? Yes NPC. You see your team is composed of only a handful of unit types; namely Heroes and Extras (also known as leaders and fodder). Extras are obviously the bulk of your forces. If you are a Trekkie, they are the Red Shirts. If you are a Timelord/Whovian, they are well anything that goes up against a Dalek. Simply put, they are the set of characters whose sole purpose is to die in almost every scene. Your Heroes however can take a bullet, knife, dinosaur, or giant spider’s venom with great resilience. Not only do they have a save they also have special abilities. With these abilities they can do amazing things like dive through the window of the truck driving toward them, jump through the air while firing two guns, or be drunk and get a plus or negative to their rolls for that turn.
I guess all of this would make more sense if you understood how the units work. The basic scenario allows you to have two types of units: Heroes and Extras. The units are rated in the following stats:
Shoot – Proficiency with projectile weaponry
Scuffle – Proficiency with hand to hand combat and/or melee weaponry
Movement - Obvious
Save – Neglect Wounds - Heroes/Characters only
Vehicles and other exotic units have their own sets of stats but you will have to buy the game for those.
So there are only four stats – that keeps down the record keeping and is easy to teach.
After playing a few games of Gaslight, it feels more like a tabletop RPG than a wargame. Not just because there are NPCs, but often there is a Game Master (GM). The GM is a referee but in many scenarios also controls the NPCs. Some people play with the variant that the NPCs move on a scatter dice or spinners direction every turn to make it fair, but I prefer GM method. Is the GM always fair, no, but aslong as its not obvious few will mind – it also speeds the game up with a GM controlling all NPCs.
The turn is categorized as such:
1. A card is flipped
2. Whatever unit is represented by the card gets to do its actions
3. Resolve combat
4. Flip next card
Morale test are taken before the unit is allowed to do execute their action, and can range from standing there in shock to disappearing off the battlefield to shooting wildly. Morale is also figure based, not unit, so sometimes some of your unit will scatter like marbles while others will hold their ground - more realistic than the bulk morale that is given in most games of this type (did I just say realistic in a game of dinosaur hunting?). Every roll you make is with a standard D20 and based on the principle that less is more. That's right ladies and gents, its a low roller. The best options are always 1's and to hit you must roll under your Shoot/Scuffle ability. Yes, it is a little awkward at first if you are coming from something like AoA or Warhammer, but it works out just fine.
So if my meandering writing has not lost you, let me explain a turn where I failed a morale test:
The card is flipped
It represents my unit, led by my Hero, who were firing at a dinosaur last round
I roll for a morale test, I fail
My Hero rolls a 12, meaning he shoots at a random enemy (in this case the dinosaur right in front of him)
Three of my infantry charge off toward the enemy waving their rifles like clubs (charging into said dinosaur)
Two disappear into the mist (run off the table)
One just stands there in shock at the size of the creature
While the other five run off in random directions
Since those three infantry just charged the enemy they are now in scuffle (hand to hand) combat with a dinosaur, and will get to attack when either their own or the dinosaurs card is drawn.
Now I know I laid heavily on the dinosaur aspect of this game, which is really only the begining of it. With a system this open ended you could recreate anything from Victorian Science Fiction with relative ease. As you can see from Yugblad's images, it is possible to have all sorts of mechanical men, steam powered devices, or even aether flyers, it all comes down to your imagination. It is a great system, and while it may not seem worth the somewhat hefty pricetag it is a very fun and filling minis game. I highly recommend it to both those who are already familiar with the genre and those just starting out. Though be warned the book's layout is moderately difficult to read the first few times.
Small enough that you could take it with you anywhere, easy enough that most anyone can play it, and meaty enough to keep you interested.
Edited to update the battle example so it makes more sense.
- Last edited Fri Aug 22, 2008 4:36 am (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Thu Jul 31, 2008 2:27 am
Less talking about games and more playing games.
Print-n-Play Wargames and Miniatures Rules www.wargamedownloads.com
I do not think you have to make a Morale check while in a previous scuffle unless you take a causality.
You are correct Mr. Moore. I should have specified that they were firing at the creature for their previous action. I will update it with that information as soon as I can.
Thanks for the review! This has pushed me a bit more towards buying the game...
Thank you Andres, I am glad I could be of help. I actually saw your topic after I finished writing my review.