Cowboys – The Way of the Gun



Available from Worthington Games

“Thrill to the days of the Old West……” these words and many like them invoke memories, for those of us old enough to remember, of hours sitting in a darkened movie theater, or sitting in the living room watching those American Western Movies and the inevitable gun fights.  We watched Wyatt Earp clear out the outlaws; Roy and Gene save the ranchers; the man with no name clean out the Mexican bandits, etc.  This simulation allows you to re-live those fights and come out the winner.

The game comes with six two-sided game boards, which contain such buildings as a saloon, hotels, a barbershop, etcetera.  These can be combined to set up small towns and some country scenes in which to conduct your gunfights. The individual boards are 8 squares by 11 squares.  The building walls cannot be seen through and only fired through at doorways and windows.  You have counters for ten cowboys each with a corresponding track for your weapons ammunition.  Each cowboy may be equipped with two weapons, only one of which is in operation at a time. The health of each cowboy begins at 4 points; each “wound” reduces that by one.  Movement begins at four squares, with each “wound” reducing that by one square.

There are horses and towns folk who can also aid or oppose your cowboy.  There is a booklet with 26 scenarios along with the game.  The rulebook is abundantly illustrated and easily understood.  A deck of cards is included to provide luck and twists of fate;  such things like the jamming of weapons, knocking down an opponent, looking at your opponents cards so that you can anticipate what he might spring on you.  Also included are critical shots, extreme accuracy, speed loading, and running, plus other items such as health, and an additional ally on your side in the form of towns folk.  There are shooting options so that you can recreate those encounters in the middle of the street between the hero and the villain.

Horses extend the movement range of your cowboy; a mounted cowboy can move eight squares. Your horse’s health is only two points so they are vulnerable.  The health of the towns’ folk is one, so the first hit and your auxiliary is gone. Movement is four squares; movement requires one point per square.  Diagonal movement is not allowed.

Movement through walls (heavy black lines) is forbidden. Movement through a window square requires the expenditure of an additional point. Changing the active weapon requires the expenditure of two movement points and weapons can only be changed during the movement phase.  When a cowboy is killed his weapon stays with him and can be picked up by another cowboy for his use at a cost of two movement points. To reload a weapon, your cowboy may not fire that turn, unless he has a “speed load” card in his hand.

The cowboy may start the game with a combination of up to three weapons.  This can be up to 2 pistols and either a rifle or shotgun.  Shooting requires you to be in range of your target, a clear line of sight and a loaded weapon.  The ranges of the weapons are: Pistol 12 squares, Rifle 20 squares and Shotgun 6 squares. Line of sight is determined by drawing a straight line from the center of the shooting square to the center of the target square.  Line of sight is blocked, if the line crosses a black line except at a doorway, where the shooter or the target is directly adjacent.  Line of sight is also determined by the facing of your shooter.

There are a number of Optional Rules which can be added to the game at the agreement of both sides, which add fanning of your gun, fist fights and additional luck cards that can be obtained at the beginning of the scenario.

This game is just plain fun.  The old west and its gunfights are part of our American culture since we were children.  Now you can participate in those actions and re-create those fights and the atmosphere of the gunfighter.

Cowboys II is due out shortly.  Look for a review of the next iteration of this fun and excellent game.

Available from Worthington Games.