Monday, September 26, 2011

My Gutshot Con-Game

Hey, that looks official!

I can't really say "I" ran my first game of Gutshot, as last mentioned here. I borrowed all of my buddy Andy's excellent Whitewash City terrain, and my other buddy Chrispy was also on hand to help out with the rules, bring some more terrain (including cool terrain mat), and even cooler action markers. My name was attached to the table though, but of course it wouldn't have even had a chance without my friends pitching in.

There were four players signed up, each person getting two characters. Frankly the game could've handled a whopping ten, but each person would only run one character each. There's a ton of great resources on the official Gutshot page, including a bunch of pre-generated characters ranging from shopkeepers and gamblers to bounty hunters and Texas rangers.

Before the game began we rolled randomly for characters, which yielded a pretty good mix of characters across the board. Skill levels are determined by the target number (TN) of the character. Starting with the lowest skilled TN's, players got to dive into a bin full of LEGO pieces and build their characters. This also yielded a lot of fun results, and got the players invested right off the bat into the game.

Every turn each character gets three actions, but these actions are random each turn (names drawn out of a hat). This makes for a very fun game 'cause you know you'll get your three actions each turn, you just don't know when!

Another thing I like about the Gutshot rules is that you don't play unless your character has a name and if that name isn't suitably "cowboy/western" it doesn't count! In case you were wondering, "the Man with no Name" also counts as a name.

Ammo is tracked in game, and if you're empty you're going to waste valuable actions later on down the road reloading. But why reload when there's perfectly good (and loaded!) weapons just laying around for the taking! Oh, and you can "fan" your revolvers too, so expect to run empty quite a bit.

As all good western tales should go, the final actions of the game were decided on in the center of the town, probably at high noon to boot. Interestingly enough, the solid TN characters like the Texas Ranger had good longevity, but it came down to a low-skilled townsfolk running around shooting everyone at point-blank with a shotgun that won the day.

Sure, you could do slips of paper, but this is a cowboy game! We used spent .45 Long Colt cartridges to track character actions, drawn out of a small bag. Drawing these out of a cowboy hat would be even cooler, maybe next time.

All in all, I love Gutshot. It plays fast and loose but guarantees a good time had by all. The rules are great for long term play and offer plenty of details, as much as you want. They can also be played simple, like we did here, making it a great pick-up or low-prep game.

I've never run a con game before and I was pretty nervous leading into it, but once people started building their figures and having fun, I started having fun as well and forgot all about my nervousness. I would definitely run this game again if given the chance.


  1. Great stuff Mik. Welcome to the super elite club of convention GMs.

    Have you considered printing out a new set of Whitewash City buildings scaled for the Lego dudes? The Hotz PDFs are vector graphics and so are scalable (at least my boats are). You could print to 11' x 17" paper, then laminate to card using spray glue and cut and assemble.

    Sure it would take time, but would look even cooler.

  2. Nice touches, especially the chargen and the .45 cartidges. I'm sure everyone had a great time!

  3. @Brian: Thanks for the welcome into such esteemed ranks! As for scaling up the buildings, as usual, you've got an amazingly simple yet infinitely cooler idea on your hands there.

    @Spacejacker: I like to think everyone had a good time, I know I did, and it's been my experience that if the GM is having a ball, everyone else is too. Probably not the last you've seen of Gutshot either...