- wayne rUnited States
In the call for reviews of obscure games or games with little to no reviews, I have decided to do my part and review a game that I had obsessed about during its short life.
Range Wars, by Fantasy Flight, is a table top war game similar in vein to its parent game, Disk Wars. Range Wars takes place in the popular RPG setting of Deadlands by Pinnacle and is a spinoff of a popular CCG called Doomtown. The game is played with cardboard disks representing personalities and locations called dudes and deeds respectively in the game.
The setting is a place called Ghost Creek, a growing boomtown due to discovery of ghost rock. Eight factions or outfits, as is called in Range Wars, vie for control of this town:
Beuchamp's Rebels are Confederate soldiers occupying Ghost Creek trying to enforce martial law
The Morgan Cattle Company are cowboys who lived and worked there long before the discovery of ghost rock.
The Blackjacks are outlaws from the CCG who fled to this town from Gommora.
Sweetrock Mining Company, also from the CCG, is a ruthless company trying to claim all the mines containing a rich vein of ghost rock.
The Collegium, also from the CCG, wanting to expand, finds the perfect location in Ghost Creek due to mutating cows and the discovery of ghost rock.
The Whateleys, another carry over from the CCG, is a family of dark sorcerers, only in this case, an offshoot of the family, the DuPonts have much influence without the negative image of their Whateley cousins.
The Law Dogs are the typical sheriff and his deputies.
The Wretched are an alliance of Indians and those who have been displaced by society (think carnival).
Each outfit has a suit and color (black or red) and is printed on its home deed. To make an outfit, the players must agree upon size of army and 75% of the army has to be from the outfit you chose. The others can be from any faction or those without a faction as long as that dude shares either the same color or suit as the main outfit. Spells also add to the size of the army.
The town can either be setup in a row where the player's home and other buildings are on one side of the street and his opponent's home is on the other side of the street or the buildings surround a center structure such as the default well and radiate outward equidistant from each other. Placement of dudes depend on the scenario. The basic setup is that everyone spends 20 ghost rock (GR) worth of dudes and are placed on their home deed where they must be within the perimeter of their home (part of the disk must be touching the home disk.
Range Wars is played in a series of round and each round has 5 phases.
The Deal Phase. Each player , starting with the first player, deals three cards of his choice (These are small cardboard tokens representing a deck of poker cards) and places them face down on onto 3 dudes. This continues until everyone has placed all the cards they wanted. Each dude may only have one card placed and a player has the option of withholding a card. Also, cards cannot be placed on pinned dudes (If a dude is on top of that dude, they are pinned).
There are only 13 cards to deal out and one may have more dudes than cards. This is where one has to make a tactical decision of whom to activate and when and if to hold back a card.
High Noon Phase. This is the phase where each player's dudes start moving and shooting. Order of activation is determined by flipping over every card on every dude in play. Dudes are activated in the order of the cards from top down. Aces are low. Kings go first. If two or more have the same card, the one with the highest influence goes first. If tied, then look at Pace, then Brawl, then Vigor. If a dude with a card is pinned, he cannot be activated. Each dude may either (1) move and shoot, (2) cast a spell, (3) use a special ability, or do nothing.
Moving is done by flipping the disks end over end up to the number of pace listed on the dude. If you end your movement on top of another dude, the dude underneath is pinned and cannot perform an action. The dude doing the pinning must end his movement and is not allowed to shoot.
Shooting is done by targeting, checking for line of sight and range, and tossing bullet token(s). The range is determined by the dude's gun icon. A dude with a pistol icon has a range of 6" and a rifle icon has a range of 12". Damage is determined by tossing a number of bullet tokens equal to the dude's shootin' ability. Also some dudes are show a greater propensity for damage and this is represented by the color of the bullet. These dudes toss tokens showing 2 silver bullets. One side of the token shows the bullet icon and the other side is just the faction icon. Damage is calculated by the number of bullets showing when the tokens land on the table. Each silver bullet token does 2 damage and brass bullet token does 1 damage. If the dude has a joker icon then he also gets to toss 3 joker tokens. If all tokens land with the dead joker face up, the target is aced (dead) no matter what the damage.
Magic and some special abilities require a certain card token for it to take effect. There are three types of spells, huckster, shaman, and blessed spells and they can only be used by those with that subtitle in that dude's text. Spells are activated as soon as the dude's turn comes up and the player has spent the necessary card requirement. In the world of Deadlands, casting huckster spells requires dealing with demons and therefore there is chance that the dude will suffer a backlash. This is determined by tossing a number of joker tokens . If all the tokens tossed comes up with the dead joker icon face up, the spell is cast but the dude is knocked out and placed in the player's gang stack.
The only time a dude can activate out of turn is when a moving target is in range and he performs a Quickdraw. The moving target temporarily stops and the dude doing the shooting goes through the shooting step as mentioned before. Multiple dudes can quick draw but they must be shooting at the same moving target. If LOS or range is off, the dude(s) doing the Quickdraw action still is/are activated and their action is/are used up.
Brawlin Phase. When a dude is on top of another, they have to fight and is resolved similar to shootin'. The dude on top is the attacker and the dude on the bottom is the defender. In a brawl, if the dude receives damage equal to his Vigor, he is knocked out. If the damage exceeds his Vigor, he is aced. Next, the defender does the same.
Victory Phase. In order to win, the player must have at least 75% of the victory points, rounded up. Each deed has a certain number of victory points. The player gain's that deed's victory point if all his dudes at that location has a total influence greater than his opponent.
Economy Phase. Each deed also gives a certain amount of GR each round. Each player totals their GR produced from all deeds they control and can spend it towards recruiting more dudes from their gang stack. Unspent GR is wasted. A player may not save his GR for next round.
Deadlands was an innovative RPG when it first came out. Other products that have used the Deadlands setting have been no exception. Range Wars just oozes flavor with its many characters. locations, and game mechanics. It has taken the basic DiskWars mechanics and adapted it well to fit a Western feel to it but it is no mere copy of its parent like some other DiskWar variant (ahem!...L5R). The shootouts are fast and furious. Jockeying for better position feels just like a large shootout in town between gangs. The strategy, in my opinion, is much deeper than DiskWars. The activation mechanics reminds me somewhat of Diplomacy in which everyone has to anticipate their opponents' moves. Your reaction to your opponents' moves are limited due to having had to determine the order in which to move your pieces in the beginning of the round. I vastly enjoy the range combat of Range Wars more than DiskWars. There is no argument about how high from the table you have to drop the tokens and worrying about how many will land on the character or unit. It is a simple matter of how many tokens land with the bullet token face up.
One thing that drew me to DiskWars was that it had elements of Magic CCG in terms of how the special abilities of the character disks interacted. The same feeling is carried over to Range Wars. Many dudes and deeds have abilities you can pull off to do nifty things.
The artwork is very good overall and in style of Deadlands. The story, though short lived, was fun to follow along. The expansion had trains and that ramped up the fun factor and increased the number of possible scenarios.
The downside was that, at least for me, it was difficult getting spellcasters and some parts of the train. I had bought a pack of each faction for both base set and its expansion and only got a couple spellcasters. Another, was that although I thought this was a superior product from its parent, I had much more difficult time of finding someone to play this with. Finally, just when it was getting more interesting, it got canceled. I would have loved to see more Harrowed personalities and their abilities. I would have loved to see more wacky pseudo science inventions by the Collegium. I would have loved to see more locations which suffered from lack of variety.
In all though, just like DiskWars, I can't seem to want to get rid of my collection despite not having played it in a looong while. I just love admiring the disks and would say, "Hell yes!" instantly without thought to anyone willing to play this game with me.
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- Andrew Boer(Croesus)United States
Great review. I love the Doomtown setting; wish they would do something more than a disc game with it. I didn't know they came out with this...I'd buy it, but I doubt I'd find anyone to play it with.
If you like the steampunk western environment...try Bang Howdy online. (http://www.banghowdy.com)
You might notice there are more than a few Whateley's running around.
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- wayne rUnited States
I liked the Doomtown storyline so much that I bought the RPG supplement when it got released. I was hoping that when MageKnight came along, they would do a Doomtown clix.
You're in luck though, they are doing a non collectible miniatures game called Slaughter Gulch in which the figures are prepainted and takes place in Deadlands but I don't think it takes place in Gommora.
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