Revolver: The Wild West Gunfighting Game, from White Goblin Games
Designer – Mark Chaplin
Artist – Chechu Nieto
Thanks to White Goblin Games for providing a review copy of this game
Revolver, is a non-collectible card game for 2 players, playing Colonel Ned McReady or bandito Jack Colty, set in the wild west. Not the glamorized and pretty sanitized wild west of John Ford/John Wayne films (of which I am a big fan, however), but more like the gritty, nasty wild west of Sergio Leone/Clint Eastwood films with unsavoury characters on both sides of the law. Refreshing to have a self-contained non-collectible card game as well instead of yet another game system that sucks your life and funds away. Yes, I’m looking at you FFG!
Fyi, this is a reboot of Mark Chaplin‘s previous game, Aliens: This Time It’s War so if you like that game, purchase of Revolver should be a no-brainer.
Revolver is a no-holds-barred game for 2-player age 10+ (I would say that 13+ is more appropriate) where the players battle it out in a series of gunfights across 5 locations or “battlefields” which are arranged in columns, where cards are played as each gunfight takes place. There aren’t that many games set in the wild west so another take on the genre is welcome.
White Goblin Games have taken to producing a number of their card games in tin boxes and Revolver is no exception to this trend. Very nice it is too! Each player has a deck of 62 cards which include Firepower, Row-blocking and One-shot effect cards. Other cards are also included for other things such as characters, the 5 battlefields, etc. as well as tokens for tracking effects and information. The card and component quality is very good and durable.
The rules and cards are clearly laid out but of course, you will need to learn the card effects which is helped with use of icons. The artwork is quite evocative and very nicely done by Checho Nieto and there is a nice amount of flavour text in the rules which fleshes a thematic storyline that the players will follow as they try to effectively use their cards to take each other out. The backgrounds of McReady, Colty and his gang members bring the game to life. There is a variety of cards with various thematic events and special rules to be played for each player.
To win the game, a player must meet one of the following conditions:
♦ The Colonel McReady player wins if every member of the Colty gang is killed
♦ The Colty gang player wins if Jack “The Crow” Colty reaches and survives the 3:15 Express from Rattlesnake Station battlefield turn space “4”
♦ The Colty gang player wins if he manages to remove all twelve tokens from the Mexican Bordercard
The set-up has you setting out the five “battlefield” location cards where the drama will unfold.
The Bank at Repentance Springs, Whiskey Canyon, Buzzard Point, Rattlesnake Creek, and 3:15 Express from Rattlesnake Station. You also place the Place the Derail the Train card beside the 3:15 Express from Rattlesnake Station as there is a chance to do this action. True grit and power tokens are set out. The Colty gang player the sixteen bandit character cards, takes the Mexican Border card, and put twelve tokens on the card and places a token on the “Skinny” Landell card. Then both players shuffle their specific decks. Each deck is specific to each side which makes things very interesting.
A turn is divided into four phases:
1. Advance turn marker (only Colty gang player)
At the beginning of his turn, the Colty gang player, advances the turn marker one space forward. If the turn marker already reached the last number on a battlefield, place the turn marker on space “1” on the next battlefield. This marks the progress of the game story line.
2. Draw two cards
3. Play cards
You may put any number of cards from your hand into play on your side of the current battlefield card (the card with the turn marker on it). To play any card from your hand, you must pay the indicated cost by discarding that number of other cards from your hand.
There are 3 types of cards:
Firepower cards: These cards have a white or black poker chip in the top left corner of the card. The number in the poker chip indicates the firepower (attack) value of this card. Firepower cards are placed at your side of the playing area.
♦ Row-blocking cards:These cards have an orange border and are placed at a battlefield in your opponent playing area (maximum of 2 row-blocking cards per battlefield).
♦ One-shot effect cards:Follow the instruction on the card and place it on the discard pile.
The Colty Gang player has a three card limit. This means he can place a maximum of three firepower cards at each battlefield. The Colonel McReady player has no such limit.
Many cards have special rules described in their text. All text takes effect immediately when this card is p p These rules are applied to the current battlefield.
4. Attack (only Colonel McReady player)
During each turn that the Colonel McReady player takes, he can try to kill a bandit using his firepower. Each turn (not only in this phase) that the Colonel McReady player fails to kill a Colty gang character, remove one token from the Mexican Border card.
Revolver is a real challenge for the players in terms of which cards to play and when to play them to best effect. I do like the progressing through the 5 battlefields which l gives Revolver the sense of playing through a western film.
It’s basically kill or be killed to win the game. Or at least, stopping the Colty gang from crossing the border into Mexico. No mystical, magical missions here. No elves, dwarves, aliens or whatnot. Its all about how hard you are and how good you are with your six-shooter. This is a straightforward, in your face confrontation.
Each player has to consider how best to employ the different dynamics of strengths and limitations in their cards to deal an effect blow. The Colty gang has 16 desperadoes, all with a background story which adds to the theme and the Colonel Ned player needs to take them on in increasing difficulty. It is very interesting to see how the different decks are used. There is loads of replayability here and the background stories of the characters, the changing card availabilities, the strengths and weaknesses of each deck all add to my be very intrigued as to how things will play out.
The strategy comes from using your cards to best effect as they become available. No grand master planning here. Everything is very much in the moment and means you need to stay on your toes to make effective choices. The theme is good and comes through nicely. My only quibble would be that I would have liked a few more battlefields that could be used to freshen things up.
Did it work for me?
Revolver is certainly a challenging and really fun game, especially if you are a fan of westerns, and a nice change from the usual fantasy/sci-fi card games out there. It is great to have fixed decks and a complete game as well and the great backstory really brings the game to life beyond the mechanics which are pretty solid and easy to follow. The whole package looks excellent and again adds to the atmosphere. The rules are clear, the mechanics and structure effective and the journey consistently strong. The variety is enough to keep your attention and the turns of fate both frustrating and exciting in equal measure. The decisions about how and when to deploy your resources and firepower will keep you in the thick of things, trying to outsmart the other player. And, it plays pretty fast too.
For me though, the best part of the game is the tense storyline as the game progresses through the 5 battlefields. Essentially, you have a series of gunfights with the Colty Gang losing members of their gang as they race for the 3:15 Express from Rattlesnake Station or the Mexican Border. The Colonel Ned McReady player is under pressure to utilize attacks well and quickly kill off the Colty Gang members before they can get away. It all comes together and works very well.
Revolver is fun, easy to play, (although there is a bit of initial reading including backstory to get through) interactive, action packed, dripping with theme and a jolly good romp through a spaghetti western. It is limited to 2 players and not everyone may be interested in the theme but it is a well designed, strong addition to the 2-player card game category.
Boardgames in Blighty rating – 8 out of 10
Not intended for families
For more information go to – http://www.whitegoblingames.com/