Wild Guns (Version 2) Game Review

wildguns2_top

The Basics:

  • For ages 6 and up (game designer suggests 12+)
  • For 2 to 10 players
  • Approximately 30 minutes to complete

Geek Skills:

  • Counting & Math
  • Logical & Critical Decision Making
  • Reading
  • Strategy & Tactics
  • Risk vs. Reward
  • Hand/Resource Management
  • Bluffing and Misdirection

Learning Curve:

  • Child – Easy
  • Adult – Easy

Theme & Narrative:

  • The fastest and deadliest gunslingers in the territory have gathered to determine who is the best of the best, once and for all…

Endorsements:

  • Gamer Geek approved!
  • Parent Geek approved!
  • Child Geek approved!

Overview

Bat Masterson said, “Never run a bluff with a six-gun.” Life is too precious a thing to use like so many chips in a Poker game. But when the stakes are high, the reward sometimes outweighs the risk. In this game, you will either survive and claim the prize or be just one more Gunslinger dead in the dust. Speed does matter, but you need to be smart, too. Out-think your opponents as well as outdraw them. In the blink of an eye, you could be victorious or dead.

Wild Guns (version 2), designed by Avery Nubson, Adam Anderson, and published by Flying Octopus Games via the Game Crafter, is comprised of 18 Gunslinger Cards, 32 Cheat cards, 24 Gun cards, 24 Run cards, 70 Hit tokens, and 3 standard eight-sided dice. The cards are as thick and as durable as your standard playing card. The Cheat cards are half the size of the other cards in the game. Two blank Cheat cards are included and can be used to create custom Cheat cards. The artwork by co-game designer, Adam Anderson, is excellent and further reinforces the game’s theme.

Note: This is a review of the game’s second version. Read the original Wild Guns Game Review to learn about the game’s first version.

Game Set Up

To set up the game, first separate the cards into different decks. There should be a Gunslinger card deck, Cheat card deck, Gun card deck, and Run card deck. Give each deck a shuffle and place them face-down. One player should now become the “Dealer” for the duration of the game. The Dealer will be shuffling and dealing all the cards. It’s not a glamorous role, but it helps the game move along at a brisk pace. Note that the Dealer can play the game or not, but it’s much more fun to play. Being the Dealer doesn’t give the player any advantage other than having a semi-cool title.

Second, and depending on the number of players in the game, deal out a specific number of Gunslinger, Gun, and Run cards to each player, face-down. For example, in a 2 to 4 player game, each player would receive 3 Gunslinger cards, 6 Gun cards, and 6 Run cards. A table is provided in the game’s rules that shows the number of cards per player based on the number of players at the table. Players should look at their cards, but keep them hidden from their opponents at all times. Leave the decks of undealt cards to one side of the game playing area.

wildguns2_cardsperplayer

Third, each player should look through their Gunslinger cards and place them, face-down, in the order they want to reveal them. For example, placing the cards face-down, left to right, with the right most card being first. Or, if the player prefers, placing all the Gunslinger cards in a stack with the first card on top. Players should use whatever method makes the most sense to them, but they CANNOT change the order after the game set up.

Fourth, all players now reveal their first Gunslinger by flipping their Gunslinger card face-up and placing it in front of them. The Dealer now gives each player 1 Cheat card plus the number of additional Cheat cards indicated by the player’s selected Gunslinger. Each player looks at their dealt Cheat cards and discards 1. Note that some players will have more Cheat cards than other players. This is by design. They are “cheat” cards, after all.

wildguns2_gunslinger

Fifth, place the dice and the Hit tokens to one side of the game playing area and within easy reach of all the players.

This concludes the game set up. Time to see who is quick and who is dead.

Blazing Guns

Wild Guns (version 2) is played in phases, rounds, and turns. A typical game is summarized here. Refer to the game’s rule book for specifics and additional details.

Phase One

The first phase of the game begins with each player playing any Cheat cards they might have that they want to activate. Some Cheat cards last an entire “Shootout”, which is defined as the period of time when all the players are taking shots at each other. A Shootout ends when a Gunslinger falls. A new “Shootout” then begins starting with Phase One.

wildguns2_cheat

After players have revealed and activated any of their Cheat cards, each player then selects 1 Gun and 1 Run card from their hand, placing them face-down in front of them. The goal of each player is to attempt to select a Gun card that cannot be blocked and a Run card that will help their Gunslinger avoid being hit. Gunning and Running is very straight forward. Every Gun card has a title and every Run card has one or more titles of Gun cards that it blocks.

wildguns2_rungun

After all players have played their Gun and Run cards, all players flips over their Gun cards (NOT their Run cards). The player who played the Gun card with the HIGHEST Power Number goes first by pointing to the opponent they want to attack. The opponent then reveals their Run card. This is where things get interesting…

If the Run card lists the Gun card that is targeting the opponent, the attack fails. The opponent has successfully ducked, dodged, or jumped out-of-the-way. If the Run card does not block the Gun card, the player who is attacking then takes one or more of the eight-sided dice and rolls it. The number of dice rolled is noted on the Gun card. If the player rolls a number within their Gunslinger’s Aim Points, the attack hits and the targeted opponent places a number of Hit tokens equal to the Gun card’s Hit value.

Assuming the targeted opponent’s Gunslinger survives, the player with the next HIGHEST Power Number Gun card now goes. Any Run cards that were revealed stay revealed and active. In this way, players who go last have the advantage of knowing more information than the player who goes first, but runs to risk of being targeted by all the other players who come before them.

After every player has had a turn attacking another player, revealing their Gun cards, all the played Gun and Run cards, including any Cheat cards that only lasted one turn, are discarded. Players now select a new Gun and Run card, as well as any new Cheat cards, from their hand and play them.

Phase Two

When all the players have played their Gun and Run cards, the second phase of the game begins. Note that the second phase ONLY happens if none of the Gunslingers perished during phase one.

Phase two is played out just like phase one, with new Gun and Run cards dealt to each player, but not new Cheat cards. If all the Gunslingers miraculously survive phase two, return to phase one.

Dead Gunslingers and New Legends

When a Gunslinger takes a number of Hit tokens equal to or higher than the Gunslinger’s Hits value, the Gunslinger has perished. The player will then reveal their second Gunslinger. Remember that a new Gunslinger who enters the “Shootout”, always triggers a new hand of Gun, Run, and Cheat cards for all the players. All Gunslinger abilities are also renewed. Gunslingers who have survived stay on the table.

The game play continues until only 1 player has at least 1 Gunslinger left.

Game Variants

Phase Three: Deadeye

When playing with only 2-players, a third phase is introduced into the game. During the third phase, referred to as “Deadeye”, each player is dealt only 1 Run card and 3 Gun cards. The Gun cards are placed face-down in any order next to the Run card. Then the players reveal their first Gun card, then their second, and finally their third. If both Gunslingers survived, the winner is the Gunslinger with the most remaining Hits. The other Gunslinger, regardless if they are still alive, is discarded. The game then continues with phase one.

Adjusting Game Length

For longer games, deal more Gunslingers to each player. For shorter games, deal less.

For more information on Wild Guns (version 2) and a free pint-n-play version, visit the game’s web page on the Game Crafter.

Prediction

Nothing to really predict here. Wild Guns was enjoyed by all three of our groups when we first played it with version 1. This version has tighter rules and much better cards. The entire game feels refreshed, but I am sad to see the Crachshot rule removed. This rule essentially gave the players a “critical” on their roles. But that was also a problem at times since it tended to take out a player a bit too early in the game by luck alone (or “bad luck”, depending on your point-of-view).

Overall, I’d say the improvements to the game appear to be well-thought-out and the game is even more intuitive than the first version. Gunslingers are more unique and there is more variety throughout.

Teaching the game is straight forward. Players are attempting to play cards they don’t think their opponents can block. This means the players will need to bluff and do some critical thinking. Counting cards isn’t necessary (or even suggested), but players should pay attention to the Gunslingers at the table. Note that players do need to know how to read to play the game, but the amount of reading is limited. The artwork on the Gun cards helps players identify “what” is being shot at and the Run card artwork helps players identify “how” they are dodging. After teaching the game to my two oldest child geeks, I asked them their thoughts on Wild Guns (version 2) so far.

“Much better cards and the game sounds like it’ll play faster.” ~ Liam (age 9)

“I know I’m going to have troubles picking cards.” ~ Nyhus (age 6)

My 6-year-old makes a good point. There might be a little analysis paralysis in the game, but the Run cards cover multiple Gun cards. Pairing them with Cheat cards will help a player avoid most, but not all, the shots fired at them. For a short while, at least. Let’s play Wild Guns (version 2) and see if this is a game worth shooting and hollering about.

Final Word

The Child Geeks, once again, enjoyed themselves while playing Wild Guns (version 2). The typical problems found in all games where players attack each other manifested in full force while playing with the Child Geeks. No one likes being picked on, especially when that particular player selected a Run card that cannot block any Gun cards. Some feelings were hurt, growls of frustration were uttered, but in the end all the Child Geeks thought it was a pretty fun game. According to one Child Geek, “I like this game because you have to think about different ways to attack and different ways to defend yourself.” Well said! All the Child Geeks voted to approve Wild Guns (version 2), again.

My two little "gunfighter" geeks tag-teamed me right from the start

My two little “gunslinger” geeks teamed up against me right from the start – it was pretty awesome

The Parent Geeks were still not terribly pleased that the players were “attacking” each other and, of course, didn’t like it when their Child Geeks felt picked on, but they still enjoyed the game. According to one Parent Geek, “This is the only card game I have ever played that does a good job of actually feeling like a tactical and strategic gunfight at High Noon.” Another Parent Geek said, “I really liked the variety of Gunslingers in the game. Each one has their own pros and cons.” That is an excellent point. Each Gunslinger brings to the table a unique ability, strengths, and weaknesses. When playing with others, you have to exploit weaknesses and strengths constantly in order to survive. While some of the Parent Geeks didn’t care for attacking their children (even when their children were shooting at them), they all voted to approve Wild Guns (version 2).

The Gamer Geeks continued to enjoy and found Wild Guns (version 2) to be a light strategic and tactical card game. They thought it was still perfect as a game filler or just a quick game to pass the time. One Gamer Geek said, “The artwork and information on the cards is greatly improved. I cannot really tell if the game play has improved, but it’s still fast and you have to make some tough choices.” Another Gamer Geek said, “This game is perfect for two reasons. It’s fast and you cannot play dumb. I like games that challenge me but don’t take up a lot of my time. Plus, it’s fun.” All the Gamer Geeks voted to approve Wild Guns (version 2).

Luck continues to play a role in the game, but savvy players will see that every Gunslinger has a slight edge, Cheat cards can subtly adjust outcomes, playing Gun cards controls timing, and Run cards can be used to bluff. Wild Guns continues to be a fun game to play and this version makes the game play more enjoyable. Words cannot describe the joy one feels when they survive a round of rapid gunfire with 10-players! What little that has been removed from the original version of the game  has been replaced with tighter game play, better artwork, and cleaner card presentation. Most excellent.

Wild Guns (version 2) is easy to teach and easy to play with 2-players and all the way up to 10-players. The game play is intuitive enough for non-gamers to immediately grasp the game’s play, but engaging enough to keep gaming elitists entertained. It’s well-balanced, but still throws in some luck to make every virtual gun shot a possible miss or a hit. There is no such things as a “sure thing”. Players can tip the scales with smart card plays and exploiting Gunslinger weaknesses or leveraging strengths. The end result is a fast and entertaining game that is sure to make you sweat just a bit and smile a lot.

If you enjoy card games and are looking for a great Old American West themed game, do take a look at Wild Guns (version 2).

This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.

About Cyrus

Editor in Chief, Owner/Operator, Board Game Fanatic, Father of Three, and Nice Guy, Cyrus has always enjoyed board, card, miniature, role playing, and video games, but didn't get back into the hobby seriously until early 2000. Once he did, however, he was hooked. He now plays board games with anyone and everyone he can, but enjoys playing with his children and wife the most. Video games continue to be of real interest, but not as much as dice and little miniatures. As he carefully navigates the ins and outs of parenting, he does his very best to bestow what wisdom he has and help nurture his children's young minds. It is his hope and ambition to raise three strong, honorable men who will one day go on to do great things and buy their Mom and Dad a lobster dinner Cyrus goes by the handle fathergeek on Board Game Geek. You can also check him out on CyrusKirby.com. Yes, he has a URL that is his name. His ego knows no bounds, apparently....
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3 Responses to Wild Guns (Version 2) Game Review

  1. Pingback: In Review: Father Geek’s Monthly Newsletter (June 2014) » Father Geek

  2. Avery says:

    Thank you Cyrus for honest and fair review, Adam and I, as game designers took many of what you said under consideration and felt the benefits out weighed the risks. Especially the bit about the “Crackshot” crit special rule. As gamers, we felt it made sense, but many non-gamers or non-geek gamers it was just another new concept and was usually lost them. But don’t forget about the Crit, cheat card….

    I believe the redesign of the Gunslingers, Run and Gun cards made the game 110% more playable and fun… while the re-addition to the Cheat cards made the game that much more strategic and a little less luck based and more enjoyable overall. (Our very very very 1st edition had Cheat cards)

    Thanks Cyrus!

  3. Pingback: In Review: Father Geek’s Monthly Newsletter (July 2014) - Father Geek

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