IntroductionIt's not often that I'm completely torn between 2 alternate titles for one of my battle reports. However, yesterday's club game is one such, where the action went completely against my predictions and left me wondering how to write it up.
Originally I was going to call this battle "A Game of Two Halves", alluding to the infamous soccer cliché, for an obvious reason. The setup is this: the small New Mexico town of San Fidel is divided between 2 rival, ruthless families and their employees. To the north of the main road, the Delgados have control, whilst south of the road is under the sway of the Maxwells. This is an unstable situation anyway, but the recent arrival of a Mysterious Stranger in town has upset the delicate balance. People are on edge; even the most trivial incident could lead to a conflagration...
This is a game for 3 players. Each of the 3 forces is potentially hostile to both the others, though there are reasons why they might forge temporary alliances.
- Delgados, Maxwells: Each family has 6 models with a range of capabilities from Legend down to Citizen. 4 of these start the game in play; the other 2 are potential reinforcements.
- Mysterious Stranger: 1 Legend. My version also had the Fast Draw and Luck skills.
Setup:Dice to see which family sets up first. The loser places 1 model anywhere they like as long as it's within their half of the town. The families alternate in placing the remaining figures, again within their own territory. Once all of the families' models have been positioned, the Mysterious Stranger player then places his/her figure anywhere desired.
ReinforcementsEach family has 2 reinforcement figures. One of these will come into play when/if one of the figures already in play is lost. When that happens, choose a reinforcement model at random and shuffle the appropriate action card into the deck. On their next activation, the reinforcement may be placed at the front door of any desired building within their own family's territory. The second reinforcement is placed in a similar manner when the family takes a second loss. After that, you're on your own!
VictoryEach of the families scores points for members of the other family who are dead, captured or have lost their nerve by the end of the game as follows. Note that it doesn't matter which force incapacitates their enemies, just that the hated rivals are cut down to size! In order to claim a victory, a family must score at least 4 points more than the other family:
- Legend: +4 victory points
- Shootist: +3 victory points
- Gunman: +2 victory points
- Citizen: +1 victory point
- Mysterious Stranger: -4 victory points!
The Mysterious Stranger is trying to play one side off against the other. He/she wins if the scores of both families are less than 4 points different. In other words, the stranger wins if neither family can claim an outright victory!
Juan, the rookie, ran up to support his boss, Black Bart's action card was turned over. He snarled at Tuco: "You yellow-bellied skunk! I saw you eyeing up my sister yesterday. If you know what's good for you then you'll leave town immediately!"
Tuco went for his gun, but Black Bart was faster: his shot caused a flesh wound and forced the Mexican to duck back out of sight. Jebediah joined in from behind his cactus and emptied his pistol firing at Juan, but only managed to graze his target.
Maxwells, though. Tuco recovered from the shock and popped round the tree stump.
He shot Black Bart, twice.
Emilio used his rifle to prevent help from reaching the embattled Black Bart. With an improbable series of action card draws, Emilio aimed and fired repeatedly at anyone who approached.
Tuco and Juan finally incapacitated Black Bart...
Emilio gunned down anyone else who approached.
A Saviour?Maxwells were pretty despondent by now. They'd lost 2 of their better men for not much gain and hadn't received any reinforcements yet. Then we drew an "Old Friend" bystander card.
Cole had just ridden into town and was unwittingly behind the Delgado lines. Perhaps this would even things up a little?
Tuco spun round and gunned the newcomer down.
Mysterious Stranger Decides to ActBlondie had just been sauntering up the street. He was now dealt a whole fistful of action cards at once and decided to join in before matters got too far out of hand. The loner ran towards the tree, firing as he came. Emilio took a flesh wound, but that was all. Juan, his gun empty, decided to charge the tall stranger in desperation, but Blondie had saved an action card especially for such a situation. He blazed away at the Mexican, hoping to use his luck to negate any possible ill effects. This plan went horribly wrong, as he threw 3 '1's out of 8 dice and promptly realised his gun was empty. Oops!
Juan did well to hold his own against the legend Blondie, until Emilio joined in the melee. Even then, the outcome should have been anything but certain, but Emilio gave the mysterious stranger an incredibly solid punch that knocked him out cold. Blondie still hadn't recovered by the end of the game!
Maxwell reinforcements were beginning to arrive, but Tuco wasn't going to wait for that. He turned his gun on the citizen Jebediah, who had been taking pot shots from behind his cactus all game.
Tuco's shot may not have been the most accurate, but the bullet went straight through the cactus and struck his target in the belly. Although Jebediah wasn't seriously hurt, he decided to cower in the dust and wait for help, rather than continuing to fight.
Delgado family was clustering around the tree, Injun Joe ran up onto the gallows and opened fire. Despite the large number of bullets, he narrowly missed all his targets [this is the first time in playing "The Rules with No Name" that I've felt it worthwhile to look up the page on "stray shots". The Mexicans were clustered very tightly together!]
Injun Joe wouldn't get another chance, for Emilio raised his rifle and fired.
Injun Joe then fell backwards, through the trapdoor in the gallows, and ended up unconscious in the dirt below.
Tuco then approached the badly injured Black Bart and executed him [this was only possible because of his evil attribute].
Delgados felt somewhat uneasy, but said nothing. The last remaining Maxwell (Emmett) was appalled at the despicable act; he approached with the intention of gunning Tuco down - though the bad guy had other ideas!
ConclusionAt this point, we ran out of time and had to pack the game away. However it's hard to see how playing on would have altered the result in any significant way. So, final scores:
- Delgados: +11 VPs. Incapacitated 2 shootists, 2 gunmen and 1 citizen. Also +2 VPs extra if the "Old Friend" is counted - I hadn't made a ruling on this.
- Maxwells: 0 VPs. Some of the Mexicans had flesh wounds, but nothing serious.
As it stands, it's completely academic whether the Delgados have this penalty or not. Their score is so high that they have clearly won a very major victory with or without the -4 VPs!
I cannot think of another game I've played, of any genre, where an arbitrary piece of terrain has played so prominent a role as in this one. I'm not counting the only bridge over a river, the one pillbox that is holding up an advance or a similar "designed" focal point. Rather, when I set the town out, I imagined that the old hangin' tree was just 1 terrain feature of many, yet as far as the game play was concerned it might as well have been the only thing on the board!