Western Legends - A Kickstarter Preview!
PUBLISHER: Kolossal Games
DESIGNER: Hervé Lemaître
PLAYERS: 2 - 6
TIME: 90-120 min
INTRODUCTION to Western Legends
Weary, you stop to rest at a secluded watering hole. The sun, blazing high above, is merciless. You’re a days ride from the nearest town, where you can revel with the best of them, drinking, gambling, and maybe getting in a fight or two. You remind yourself, every second you sit here, is another dollar wasted. You mount your steed, pull your hat over your eyes, and ride. You aren’t quite sure what you’ll do, or how you’ll do it, but there’s one thing you know for sure; you will become Legend.
From the publisher: In Western Legends, players will traverse the Wild West as one of the historical figures of the time (Billy the Kid, Doc Holliday, Calamity Jane, etc.), playing poker, robbing banks, and avoiding the sheriff to score Legend Points. The open-world, sandbox environment allows players to shape the landscape through their decisions and become fully immersed in the landscape of the American west.
These decisions can also lead players down the path of becoming a desperado. Once a player becomes "wanted" for their devious acts, the local sheriff will be in pursuit in order to make an arrest. Players can also attempt to catch desperados in order to claim the bounty placed on them.
The game takes place over four rounds in which each player has to play their 15-card deck in a real-time match-making showdown. After each battle, players have a chance to upgrade their cards and improve their deck!
I received a prototype version of Western Legends. Components may not be final and are subject to change.
This section is not a comprehensive rules guide. I will only highlight what's important to understanding the overall game design, and how it plays.
How to Play
At the beginning of the active player’s turn, they choose from 3 possible actions: draw 2 Poker cards, Draw 1 Poker card and gain $10, OR gain $20.
Then, the active player chooses three actions to perform from a variety of options. Unless stated otherwise, a player may take the same action multiple times in a turn.
Players can move up to their maximum movement. If you’re on foot, that’s 2 spaces. If you have a mount, you can use the mount’s movement instead.
Use an action on a card
Between Poker, item, and character cards, the active player may choose to use the listed action. These cards will say, “ACTION” on them.
Fight another player
There are 3 ways to fight another player. You can arrest, duel, or rob but only when you share the same space as your target. When the active player takes the fight action, follow these steps:
- Declaration: Choose your target (it MUST be another player), choose the type of fight (Arrest, Duel, or Rob), choose 1 Poker card from your hand, and then wait for your opponent to either accept or decline. If they accept your fight, they also choose one Poker card from their hand and proceed to the Reveal step. If they decline, the active player immediately wins and would proceed to their Reward step.
- Reveal: Both players simultaneously reveal their cards and resolve any Bonus abilities!
- Reaction: Both players may now decide to play Reaction cards from their hand. The active player chooses first, and then the target player may follow. This continues until both players decline to play Reactions.
- Reward: The winner is the player with the highest value card! Players receive any rewards based on the type of fight.
Regardless of the type, the loser always gains 1 Wound and draws 1 Poker card.
The rewards for fights are:
- Arrest: If the active player wins, they gain 1 Marshall point and their opponent is sent to the Sheriff’s office.
- Duel: If the active player wins, they gain 2 Legendary Points
- Rob: If the active player wins, they gain 1 Wanted point, and choose to steal half the targets gold or money, rounded up. They may also steal one cattle token from the losing player.
Take a location action
Players will predominantly take location actions on their turn. Through these actions, players can choose a myriad of paths to victory, and free-roam the Wild West towns of Darkrock, and Red Falls. The available actions to take are:
While in a neighboring General Store space, the active player may spend an action to purchase and/or upgrade items. You can only have one of each item, and you may purchase and upgrade items in the same action, as long as you have the money to do so. When you upgrade an item, pay it’s cost again.
Play Poker at the Saloon
While in a neighboring Saloon space, the active player may play Poker. To do so, they pay a $10 ante, and draw 1 Poker card. If any other players are in the same town (inside the black borders of Darkrock or Red Falls), they may also pay the ante to join. The Saloon always adds $50 to the ante
If no other players join, the player to the right of the active player becomes the dealer. They draw a new hand of 4 cards, then they reveal the top 3 cards of the deck. Players will attempt to make the best five card hand from the three revealed cards, along with two more from their hand.
The player with the best hand wins all money in the Ante. If the active player wins the hand, they gain 1 Legendary Point. All losing players draw 1 Poker card. All played cards are discarded.
Prospect for Gold
While at a mine space, the active player may spend an action and roll both prospecting dice. There are four possible results:
- Gravel: Gain nothing
- Gold Dust: Gain $10 and immediately re-roll the die.
- Gain $10
- Gain 1 Gold Nugget
Players may have a maximum of 4 gold nuggets.
Deposit Gold at the Bank
While at the bank space, the active player may spend an action to sell their gold nuggets. For each nugget sold, they gain $20 and 1 Legendary Point. A player may only carry $120 at any time. Money earned over this limit is lost.
Heist aka Rob the Bank
While at the bank space, the active player may spend an action to initiate a heist. They must fight the guard at the bank to succeed. This fight is resolved like a normal fight, except the player to the right of the active player draws 3 a 3 card hand, and chooses one face down. The active player is the only player who may play reactions.
If the active player wins, they gain $80 and 3 Wanted points.
While at the Doctor’s Office, a player may pay $10 to remove all wounds. They draw 1 Poker card for each wound removed.
Revel at the Cabaret
While at the Cabaret, a player may spend an action to gain 1 Legendary Point. For every $30 spend, they gain 1 Legendary Point.
While at a ranch space, you can acquire a cattle token. A player may wrangle: deliver the cattle to the rail station and gain the listed bonus, plus 1 Marshal Point, or they can rustle: deliver the cattle to the opposing ranch and gain the listed bonus, plus 1 Wanted Point.
At any location, you can choose to work for $10.
End of the Turn
Resolve all story cards, if applicable. Discard down to your max hand limit (5), minus 1 per wound. If they’re wanted, gain Legendary Points based on the row they occupy. If they reach the end game Legendary Point value, announce it, and finish the round. Then, play one final turn. If the end game was not triggered, the next player clockwise starts their turn.
These provide players a thematic look into the world of Western Legends. These represent Legendary feats and exploits. When a story card is completed, read the narrative text aloud, resolve the ability, place bandits, if any, and the active player moves the Sheriff.
Marshal and Wanted Points
While the Legendary track measures a player’s overall status as a Western Legend, the Marshal and Wanted tracks measure their actions as either peacekeepers or outlaws. A player may never own both Marshall or Wanted points at the same time. Wanted players may never gain Marshall points. However, a Marshal may choose to forfeit their good deeds to join the side of the outlaws.
There are multiple ways to gain Marshal points:
- Defeat a bandit in a fight
- Wrangle cattle
- Arrest a Wanted player
- Use the action on the Poker card, Living Legend
- Story card rewards
There are also multiple ways to gain Wanted points:
- Rob a Player
- Rustle cattle
- Use the action on the Poker card, Living Legend
- Story card rewards
At the end of the game, each Marshal player earns Legendary points equal to the row they occupy. However, at the end of a Wanted player’s turn, they gain Legendary points equal to the row they occupy.
Bandits and the Sheriff
When a player enters a space with a bandit, their movement ends and a fight is initiated. The fight rules are similar to fighting another player, except if the active player wins, they choose to gain 1 Legendary Point or 1 Marshall point.
As long as there is one Wanted player, the Sheriff will move every time a story card is resolved. The Sheriff may also be moved using the Manhunt Poker card. If the Sheriff enters the same space as a Wanted player, the Wanted player must discard one Poker card and an arrest is initiated against the Wanted player. If the Sheriff wins, the Wanted player gains 1 Wound, draws 1 Poker card, and is placed at the Sheriff’s office. The Wanted player also loses all Wanted points, all cattle, and half their money and gold nuggets, rounded up.
How to Win
The end of the game is triggered when a player reaches or exceeds the required Legendary Points for the determined game length: Short – 15 LP, Average – 20 LP, and Long – 25 LP.
Players gain Legendary Points for:
- 1 LP for each upgraded item
- 1LP for every $60, to a max of 2 LP
- The most Wanted player gains 3 LP, and each other Wanted player gains 1 LP
- Marshal players gain LP based on the row they occupy
The player with the most Legendary Points is the winner!
WHAT MIGHT YOU LIKE?
There’s very little about Western Legends to not like. It’s unique, exciting, fun, and it’s the only game I’ve played that truly feels “sandbox.”
The multi-use card design works very well, and gives players many decisions and opportunities on when and how to best use them.
The subtle change to simplify Poker works well, and doesn’t water down the overall feeling.
The component quality, and graphic design are fantastic, and every icon is clear and easy to read. The player mats are both functional, and thematic to the game. The miniatures are great and add a nice visual layer to the game.
While some players will dislike the vast array of options available for players, many others will love it. You can switch, compliment, or even disregard various paths to victory at any times during the game and it feels just as fluid as if you had started doing it from turn 1.
Western Legends scales from 2 to 6 players and ,depending on players, can play quickly.
Last, but certainly not least, is the art. Art is a very subjective taste, but for those that love this style, it’s exceptional. The character cards, Poker deck, and items are vivid, and beautiful, but again, I know others may not like the overall look and that’s okay.
WHAT MIGHT YOU DISLIKE?
Western Legends can open the door to Analysis Paralysis. There are many ways to score points, and many viable strategies and paths to victory, so each player will likely spend time planning how to maximize their efficiency for that turn.
There’s a fair amount of press your luck, whether trying to rob the bank, prospecting for gold, or hoping you draw that famed Ace Poker card. There are plenty of ways to mitigate this throughout the game, but there is still opportunity to just have plain bad luck.
There’s a TON of player interaction. I wouldn’t classify it as “take-that,” though some players may feel like it is. If you’re wanted, getting arrested can be nearly fatal, and if you’re just minding your business, prospecting for gold, getting robbed can be back-breaking. If you’re not up for shooting, robbing, or arresting your friends and family, and having them, in turn, do the same to you, well, this one may not be for you.
When playing with two players, you use a variant called The Man in Black. It's an automated deck of cards that control a third, "Non Playerable Character" that helps build interaction among both players.
It’s possible you may not like the overall graphic design and look of the game but I’ll be honest, “You’re a daisy if ya don’t.”
Western Legends fully immerses players in a world unlike any other sand-box game. It gives you the rules to govern how the game works and says, “Go. Become a Legend.”
Anything and everything is possible, within reason of the game’s landscape and structure, but how you accomplish becoming a Legend is completely in your own hands. Do you want to join the law, and become a Marshal? Or do you want to join the Outlaws, and become Wanted. Maybe you don’t want to choose sides? Or you want to keep the peace and then break it? Where there’s a will, there's a way in Western Legends.
Western Legends portrays the sand box feeling so well, that it’s reminiscent of Red Dead Redemption, and although it doesn’t own the IP, I would call this “Red Dead Redemption: the board game.” The fact that Western Legends incorporates real, American Wild West Heroes and Heroines ups the ante and easily makes this one of my most anticipated games of 2018.
Western Legends rides onto Kickstarter January 9, 2018!
Don't miss your chance to become a Western Legend!
You will like this game if you enjoy: Sand box experiences e.g. Xia, and Merchants & Marauders, Action Selection, Pick-up and Delivery, and gambling, drinking, stealing, robbing, and/or shooting your way to fame.
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