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News from a wargamer with a special interest in the military history of the Balkans. It mainly covers my current reading and wargaming projects. For more detail you can visit the web sites I edit - Balkan Military History and Glasgow & District Wargaming Society. Or follow me on Twitter @Balkan_Dave
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Saturday 1 July 2023

What a Cowboy!

 I gave in to these rules at Salute, even though I am not a big fan of Westerns, but I only got around to playing them today. I admire the Lardies work, even if I sometimes think they overdo the friction element.

The complete bundle is usually £51 (although currently on sale at £48.60), and you get the softback rulebook, the cards and tokens. A cheaper option is the PDF version, although you still need the cards, if not the tokens, at £29 in total.

The rulebook is high-quality full colour, which looks robust because you will be doing a lot of flicking through it. There isn't a QRF, which initially irritated me, but it probably wouldn't have helped much after playing a game. I will probably create one for some of the most frequently used tables. The rules are set out logically. You need to make record sheets for each character and populate them with buckets of action dice (D6). I copied these from the book, but I see Warbases is doing an MDF version.

The cards include the game deck, which decides the order of activation and Desperado cards for random extra abilities. The Bonanza tokens allow interruptions and some rerolling of action dice. There is a chapter on creating your gang, with a points system and random traits, all adding colour to the period. There are also townsfolk who marginally interact with the game.

The key mechanism is the six action dice allocated to each character, or groups called henchmen. You roll and use the outcome to move, spot, aim or shoot. A six (Aces High) can be turned into any dice number you need. You can lose dice as the game goes on to shock and wounds. Some can be recovered, but others can be lost permanently. If you run out of action dice your character flees. This happened more often than getting killed in our games. There are rules for mounted figures, hand-to-hand fighting (brawling), buildings, and obstacles. These are all straightforward, and once you have played a few turns, quick. As usual with Lardies rules, many detailed rules are spread around the rulebook. Easy to forget, which I am not a fan of. A flow chart is one way of dealing with this, and I hope someone does one.

There are several scenarios to get you started for a one-off game and a complete campaign system. This allows your characters to develop as they progress through the campaign scenarios. This looks comprehensive and a lot of fun.

For the playtest, we started with three characters per side. One gunslinger and two shootists. These are the middle two levels. I bought some cowboys at Partisan, but they have yet to get past the priming stage. Playmobil was an option (-:), but instead, I dusted down my Mexican revolution figures.

You need a bit of terrain for an interesting game, primarily for obstacles and cover. Getting high is an advantage, so buildings with different levels work well. I used a three-foot square table, but they recommend a four-foot square for larger games than this. Pistols are effective under 12", and rifles typically double that.

Pancho and his gang had a bad habit (pun intended) of using the priest and the cross for cover, which should keep them busy in confession. 

However, in the end, Lt. Diego was a bit too rash and got gunned down. You need to think carefully about finding cover to reload, as it can take some time. Also, to recover action dice.

Razzy arrived a little too late to help them!

Unsurprisingly, my mind switched to other uses for the rules. So, we switched to the Russo-Turkish War of 1877 for the second game. Lt. Mustafa and his men were protecting a camel train when they were attacked by the Bulgarian Legion. 

This looked like a swift game when Lt. Mustafa was martyred in the third move. However, the Ottomans rallied and drove the Bulgarians off.

Overall, despite a few niggles, this is a fun set of rules, which give a good flavour of the period. It is an investment if you are not into the Wild West, but you don't need many figures for a decent game.

1 comment:

  1. I’m not so sure about the rules, but your table, terrain and figures are lovely. Very nice indeed 👏👏