Tuesday, August 18, 2009
The town of Whitewash, just outside Crater Lake
We played three games of PKowboys last week over at Andy's and had a great time, you can see his pre-post here, in fact I lifted these pics from his Flikr account, haha). If you haven't heard of PKowboys, it's not too surprising, it's a genre that's still got plenty of uncharted territory to claim, and the game itself (came out in 2004) wasn't widely distributed. Now, on the other hand, if you've ever heard of, played, etc. about Piquet, then you most certainly have heard of PKowboys. The latter was written as a skirmish level supplement to the widely (wildly?) popular Piquet system which is used from anything from ancients, through historicals, and up to the modern era. It's main draw is that is uses cards to represent actions that simulate the unpredictable nature of war, fog of battle, and all of that good stuff. You're not guaranteed to move every turn (or even in five turns), and things you take for granted like reloading your guns are also luck of the draw. In the end, a game takes on a cinematic feel and battles have brilliant narratives once the smoke has cleared.
Apaches in the midst!
There's not any factions or armies, it's just all "cowboys", what you do with the stats is up to you. Quality of figs on the table pretty much determine what they are. Low fighting ability but high morale might represent the townfolk; they're no gunfighters but they have heart and are defending their home. High skill and low morale on the other hand might be grizzled hired guns who might run off if the fighting gets too dangerous, not being paid quite enough to put their actual lives on the line. There's a ton of companies out there producing cowboys of all types and in all sizes. I'd like to paint up a troupe of Mexicanos myself.
My rolls were laughably abysmal. Although I'm not plagued too often by this malady, it can make a fun night quite frustrating. Throw in the fact that simple mechanics like moving and reloading are kind of random, well the night can quickly spiral out of control. Rolls aren't everything though (but they help). The game moves in "bullet time", where three hours around the tabletop might only represent three and half minutes in game. The placement of the figs is almost abstract too, you might only be two inches from your adversary, wanting to close the distance and brawl with them, but it could take you a while to actually engage. This might take a while standing around the table, but in game it could represent the two circling one another, waiting for the other to strike and see who would give advantage first.
Action inside and outside the saloon
For the buildings Andy used .PDF templates that constructed easily enough into a great looking town. The neat thing is that each building came with its own floor plan too. If your guys take refuge in the saloon (or general store, etc.) just lift up the building and reveal the detailed floor plan underneath. There's a lot of variety in what you can build as well.
You can get wounded easily enough, and each time you take a hit, there's a scary 1-in-6 chance that your wound will be the death of you! Like with the other stats of your characters, health (or wound) boxes vary from the puny to the very tough. Morale is another stat to track as well as leadership, and your fighting skills. Like I said, we had a fun time with it. We used to play a lot more in the past, but cowboys haven't been on the agenda the last few years. PKowboys did show its age just a tad however, and there's numerous things we talked about afterwards (we played over the course of two days) about what could improve, if nothing else, the speed of the overall game play. It's a good game if you like a unique system and are looking for a fun cowboy game played with as little as two or three figs per player.