Wednesday 29 January 2014

TRWNN: The Magnificent Five. No, Six. Ah, Seven!


Time for another game of The Rules with No Name at my local club, this week.  Once again I was struggling to think of a decent scenario (Tuesday evenings come round frighteningly fast!), at least until my older son mentioned something.  I can't even remember what he said now, but it led down the classic Western route of a small band of heroes against huge numbers of bad guys.  So, how shall we do this?

The Scenario

The small settlement of Los Lobos has been overrun by banditos.  However, all is not lost: a small band of mercenary Americanos have been engaged to take on the bandits.  It's a matter of honour to them not to accept defeat, so they must succeed in destroying all the bad guys and freeing the town!

In this game, each player would take one of the Americanos.  As umpire, I controlled all the banditos.


 The Americanos have a small number of elite gunslingers.  For my game of TRWNN, they were all Shootist or Legend class and had a variety of skills and weapons.  Since we had 5 players, there were initially 5 models, though we had another 2 figures in reserve (in case of early casualties, so that none of the players would be reduced to spectators for most of the evening if their model was shot).

Because they're attacking the town, the Americanos may deploy on any edge of the board.  They must cover all sides of the settlement (i.e. they're not allowed to just walk down main street in one large mob!).  I told the players that the banditos would win instantly if even a single bandito managed to run off any edge of the table and escape.  This wasn't actually their victory condition, but it did encourage the players to spread their forces about.

The banditos were all Gunman or Citizen class.  I was planning to have their Legend leader arrive late, but we ran out of time before this happened.  Oh, well.

Initially there would be 4 banditos on the board.  Each time the Bystander card was drawn from the Fate deck, another bandito would arrive as a reinforcement.  Since there were 6 buildings on the table (excluding small sheds, privies, tents and the like), a dice would be rolled and the bandito would emerge from that building.  If an Americano had "searched" the indicated building by spending an action to look through the door then the dice would be re-rolled.  Dead banditos would be recycled as reinforcements when necessary, thus providing a potentially endless supply of bad guys; this would only be limited by the available playing time!

Because of the "all or nothing" nature of the game and the potentially large number of figures, we wouldn't use Nerve tests.  The Americanos are simply reckoned to pass, always.  Bandito Citizens will faint or run away after a single wound (assuming it doesn't kill them anyway!), whereas Bandito Gunmen will automatically be out of action if they take any 2 wounds (or a single Dead, of course).

Victory Conditions

For the banditos, this was simple: kill all of the Americanos!

I didn't really think too clearly about the victory conditions for the attackers.  Obviously I couldn't make it "Survive until the game ends", as this would have led to all the heroes just hiding!  Possibly it could be "kill at least 10/20/30 banditos"?  Or maybe it should have been "Search every building" (thus preventing any more enemy reinforcements)?  On the evening, none of the players actually asked what they needed to do in order to win, so I guess it doesn't really matter.

One thing that is important: they all win or lose together.  Even players whose characters are dead can still claim a win if the group is successful!

Our Game

As might be expected, there was no coherent flow to this game.  Rather, it developed from very early on into a series of small encounters and vignettes.  Here are some of the more memorable moments:

First blood went to Deputy Rex.  A hapless bandito stumbled out of the nearest house, fell over his own feet, stood up again and was then shot by the waiting Americano.

Retaliation was swift, though.  2-gun Rafael dodged through the tent city and blazed away at Preacher Adams, before the preacher even had a turn.  Only 1 of Rafael's many bullets actually hit the Americano, but it was enough to kill him.  Adams was replaced by Jesse as the 6th Americano.

Blondie ran up to shelter behind the horses that were tied up outside the saloon.  He hadn't realised that a bandito had just come out of the building, but when he heard a noise he spun round like lightning and shot the ambusher dead.  I think the horse he was hiding behind was taken by surprise too!

2-gun Rafael continued to make the running for the banditos.  He peppered the newly-arrived Jesse, wounding him multiple times but failing to knock the Americano out of action.  [That player still hadn't had a turn; all he could do was sit and take it (and look glum)!].

Sheriff Roberts and a bandito almost bumped into each other at the corner of one building.  All would depend on who got the first action card (and was able to make effective use of it, since the bandito's rifle wasn't a good weapon to have at this range).  The sheriff was the lucky one; he scored massive overkill with his shotgun!

Feeling elated, Sheriff Roberts strode out into the main street, only to be gunned down by Santiago.  He was replaced by Emmett, the 7th Americano.

The badly injured, but still terrifying, Black Bart came face to face with a poor bandito Citizen.  The two of them wrestled, trading ineffectual punches for much of the game.

Deputy Rex was taken by surprise when a rifleman appeared out of a house behind him.  Although the Americano turned to face the bandito, the bad guy still had enough time to take an aimed shot, which severely injured poor Rex and knocked him out.

As the rifleman ran up to finish Rex off, Blondie came running down the street (he gets everywhere, doesn't he?!) and shot the bandito.

The injured Jesse staggered towards the saloon and was hiding behind the horse that Blondie had used for cover before.  In a very unlucky sequence of Bystander cards, 3 banditos came out of the doors, one after another, before he could react.

However, it wasn't Jesse who was unlucky.  In the very last turn of the game (we'd run out of time), the drunken bandito Rico sobered up and fired at Blondie.  Despite the moderately long range for a pistol, he dropped the Americano, dead!


The final casualty list was as follows:
  • Sheriff Roberts: DEAD
  • Preacher Adams: DEAD
  • Blondie: DEAD
  • Black Bart: a single, serious head wound
  • Deputy Rex: badly wounded and unconscious
  • Jesse (replacement): 4 (!) flesh wounds, but still going
  • Emmett (replacement): uninjured
Against this, somewhere around 10-15 banditos had been taken out of action, either dead or severely injured.

I think if I was running this again, there would have to be some changes.  In essence, the heroes' moves were too unpredictable.  This was especially a problem for 2 players (Black Bart and Preacher Adams/Jesse), who didn't get to do very much as their character cards just weren't drawn.  I think that either a player should have more than 1 model to control (thus multiplying their chances of having something to do), or extra activation cards need to be added to the deck for the Americanos.  If the former route is chosen then it restricts the number of players on the "good" side to 3 or maybe 4.  On the other hand, I've always been wary of altering the balance too heavily in favour of already-powerful characters by allowing them more chances to take actions.  Perhaps this could be justified on the grounds that the banditos are taken by surprise and are therefore confused, unprepared and slow to react?

So, did the seven win?  I don't know - you'll have to decide for yourself!


  1. I love all your character and wound cards. Something I keep meaning to do!

    1. I could publish my character card template some time if it would help (I haven't done it so far).

      The wound deck is described here, including details of how to obtain the source file or a ready-printed set):

  2. I think the main problem is that they were all split up and not working as a team. If they had all been together any random Bandito would not have lasted at all long and would have become a bullet magnet. Which leads me to the curious notion of putting so much lead into a zombie and using magnets to control them!!!! Odd random thought of the day!

    1. Well, the whole point was to split them up and avoid a mob of heroes rampaging through the town and gunning down anything that moved!

      Your zombie idea won't work - lead isn't magnetic. Of course, you could use steel-jacketed ammo...

  3. Haing to cover all four sides of the town was a tall order, even allowing for the superior skills of the good guys; having the good guys on diagonally opposite corners (they could still be fairly well spread out) and the bad guys having to leave by either of the other corners may be a variation worth looking at.
    If I were you though I wouldn't be despondent about the scenario - you provided a game after all and probably a few laughs for the players along the way.

    1. Well, I'm not despondent about it - it's just that I think I could have done a better job of planning and writing the scenario!

      In the film on which this game is based, as I recall, 4 of the 7 heroes died - that's pretty close to our casualty rate. I don't really remember them working in teams during the final shootout either.

    2. Howdy, you recall correctly. 4 outta 7 died and they didn't work in teams as such; they all entered the "board" at strategic positions that accentuated their particular skills and/or personalities (in the case of Robert Vaughn's "yellow" character, Lee). I've read a couple of your narratives on this game now, and I'm thinking about downloading it. Do the rules have provisions for "exotic" weapons? Coburn's character Britt and his skill with a knife comes to mind, and would make an interesting twist for a hero.

    3. Wyvern Wrangler, I'm not sure how much is included in the free download of the rules (though it wouldn't take much effort to find out). However, the full colour, hardback rules have the following weapons:

      - Pistol (no distinction between large and small)
      - Rifle
      - Shotgun (both regular and sawn-off)
      - Musket
      - Blunderbuss
      - Le Mat revolver
      - Dynamite

      - Fist
      - Pistol
      - Clubbed pistol
      - Rifle
      - Clubbed rifle
      - Sword
      - Bayonet
      - Bowie Knife
      - Machete
      - Knife
      - Tomahawk

      In the "Indians" section, there are extra rules for:
      - Bow
      - Lance
      ...and rules for throwing knives, tomahawks and lances.

      Funnily enough, I can't see any mention of Derringers, though it wouldn't be too hard to come up with something.

  4. There's a popular set of Samurai skirmish games available now. Games could imitate art, by running a samurai scenario one week, and a spookily similar western one the next.

    1. Ronin, right? I got that for Christmas, though I haven't any suitable figures for it. Not yet, anyway...

      I do like the idea of the matched scenarios across Samurai and Westerns, though. Wonder if I could pull this off with other genres?

    2. Aside from Samurai films providing plots for Spaghetti Westerns. Hollywood has remade plenty of classic stories in a more modern setting. Extra credit for anybody who can link the events/films.

      A Danish prince seeks revenge on his usurping Uncle :: Big cat drama on the African plains.
      Star crossed lovers in renaissance Italy :: Gangs dancing in New York.
      The Persian Expedition :: Gangs (Not dancing) in New York.
      Carrier battles in the pacific :: Something that happened a long time ago in another galaxy..

  5. Interesting game . I have used duplicate character cards when the tough guys are really outnumbered, as well as the activations.. I found that works fairly well..

    1. Well, the good guys weren't really outnumbered (there were usually no more than 5 banditos on the table at any one time), but some of the players had to wait many turns before they received an action :-( !

  6. Hugh, your TRWNN games are always such a lot of fun. I think the fact that things don't work out as you envisaged is a good thing and just adds to the enjoyment. Tough call on deciding who won. I'd give the nod to the defenders. if the not-so-Magnificent Seven claimed victory then it was surely a Pyrrhic victory.

    1. Thanks very much, Bryan. It was indeed a Pyrrhic victory (if a victory at all), but it was always going to be that way, wasn't it :-) ?