Friday, August 26, 2011

PKowboys Variant Playtest

Tuco and Rafael emerged from two days in the desert upon the unsuspecting town of [insert clever western town name here]. Between the two of them a machete, a lever-action rifle, and a terrible thirst were all they owned.

Little did the duo know that a pair of cow-hands had just arrived as well on the other side of town. A herd the two brothers had just spent their life savings on had died of Blackleg and the bank refused to refund their money. They would have what's rightfully theirs, one way or another.

During my "pre-blog" period we played a lot PKowboys, the Piquet rules variant that covers the wild west. We managed to get in one weekend of it a couple years ago, reported here. It's a good game, I don't need to go on about here suffice it say you use random action cards and it creates an unpredictable, but extremely fun game where cowboys, outlaws, and townsfolk are shooting each other up and painting the town red.

About four years ago a set of rules were written up as a "highly modified" variant of PKowboys called High Plains Drifter. They provide greater detail where needed, speed up some of the action as needed, and have a neat little "action counter" component where you pre-decide what your character intends to do and then hope they can still do it after the dust settles. I should point out that High Plains Drifter is not intended to be published or distributed. Here's a direct quote from the author that sums up what they're all about:
"There are huge differences between PKowboys and HPD. Actually there
is nothing similar about them except for some of the card names.

HPD is my attempt at writing skirmish rules the way I envision
skirmish, 1 on 1, combat. The requirements for my skirmish rules are
as follows.

1. Must play very fast compared to rules on the market today.
2. Little or no down-time for players. Skirmish games need to be high
[octane] and players need to be always thinking about their next
3. Game rewards folks that can think on their feet.
4. Has to be Fun!
5. Can lend itself to a campaign.
6. High drama.

I think HPD fits these criteria. HPD was intended for my club's
personal use, but after Historicon Jeff (PK Skirmish author) thought
he could use some of the ideas from HPD in PK Skirmish. So HPD is
still for personal use, but I will give it to PK Inc to take whatever
ideas they like and put them into PK Skirmish." -E. Burgess

We've had a lot of fun with Gutshot in the past, and sort of recently I picked up the Rules With No Name (which good a lot of good reviews). Andy has the Warhammer historicals lineup, and we always have the original PKowboys to fall back we're not hurting on cowboy rules at all. It is nice to try something a little new and different at the same time.

The game we played here, three players running two characters each, was a run-through for a larger follow-up game two days later. That next game is in the future as I write this, but in the past as this is posted...confusing, I know, but it means I should have the follow-up game written up and ready to post for you very soon.

HPD was fun, but as to being "hugely" different from PKowboys, I didn't see it. Then again I'm usually not big on details. It was solid, but seems exactly like what it was; a modified PKowboy game, nothing wrong with that. For long term cowboy shoot 'em ups I'd like to spend some serious time with Rules With No Name (hey, they're free!) and Gutshot (hey, it's cheap!) only because I feel they give a great variety of cowboy-ness between the two of them on the tabletop and each one deserves its legitimate shot at longevity. Really, having read through the Warhammer Historical Legends of the Old West, I'm sold, I just can't find a copy anywhere!

Looks like my "minis bought" stat is about to increase... [EDIT: Actually it just did, by twelve. I picked up three Cowboy Wars packs, more on those later!]


  1. Blackleg is a scourge. My favorite old timey human affliction is "The Jimmy-leg" which makes me laugh every time I think of it. Just the word, I imagine the Jimmy-leg isn't very nice.

  2. I honestly don't know much about it, other than I googled "cow diseases". Now "Jimmy-leg", that is a funny-sounding disease!

    Apologies to those currently afflicted by the Jimmy-leg of course!

  3. Wow! As always, amazing terrain!