This week we travelled out to the wild, wild west for a new game by Worthington Games, Cowboys: The Way of the Gun. This is a good old fashioned shoot-out where the last man standing wins. Chris joined us for his first session of 2007.
There are numerous scenarios included in the game but, basically, each player represents a cowboy or cowboys who are trying to survive by wandering around a western town and shooting any of the filthy varmints they come across. On a player’s turn, they can choose with each of their cowboys either to move, shoot or reload. Cowboys have a basic movement of 4 spaces, which reduces as they become more shot-up. When shooting, success depends on how far away the target is, whether any cover is provided by the likes of windows and whether the guy is facing the wrong way: Shooting in the back is no problem to these rough, tough frontiersmen. A die roll then determines whether or not you hit your target. Once a cowboy gets shot four times, he is destined for Boot Hill unless he is able to play one of the limited number of special action cards each player has to recover (he wasn’t as badly injured as first thought).
In our six-player game, Nige wanted us each to have two cowboys but there weren’t enough cowboy pieces so Chris played as Furunkulus and friend from Fearsome Floors. Now, I thought the game was a quick blast-each-other-and-see-who-gets-the-right-die-rolls type game so I wandered straight down the middle of Main Street waiting for others to come out and do the decent Clint Eastwood duel thing. Wrong, everyone else decided to play things much more cautiously and take pot shots at me from under cover. Having taken some hits, I was able to use some healing to keep me in the game but I was never going to be in contention. Nige and Steve managed to keep hold of two cowboys quite well whereas the rest of us soon lost one. Nige was wanting to finish me off, which he did do but at the cost of getting surrounded by four other cowboys smelling blood. Seeing this, he decided that discretion was the better part of valour and sneaked into the cover of the brothel. This led to the classic move of the whole game as Chris, to everyone’s surprise, sidled up to the brothel and promptly set it on fire! Nige’s days were then numbered as he decided perishing in the flames was not as good as rushing out all guns blazing. Meanwhile, Steve was able to keep two pretty healthy cowboys going – he was actually gutted when, right near the end, one of them got winged by a shot from Mark K. It eventually came down to just Steve and Mark G. Mark G had skulked around in the shadows with his second cowboy avoiding contact at all cost but Steve had to come for him sooner or later. Now, Mark’s cowboy was doing the right thing skulking as, by the looks of him, he had no arms and only one leg functioning so it wasn’t a fair fight and Boot Hill soon welcomed him, leaving Steve as gunslinger extraordinaire.
The Cowboys experience was ok and would have been much more enjoyable if it had lasted the 60 minutes I had been expecting. However, the game took 2.5 hours and with six players moving two cowboys, there was too much time between turns. I suspect some of the other scenarios where cowboys form teams would be better. Chris quite enjoyed it and getting in the character of your favourite bandido was good for a while. However, for me, this wasn’t enough to make me want to play repeatedly, although it may be worth trying with fewer players with a shorter scenario.