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Subject: Six Player Game - All first time players : Fast and fun rss

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John H
United States
Ravenna
Ohio
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At our yearly big gaming Sunday at the Game Zendo, we had a full house of 6 (2 hailing from CA, and 1 each from AZ, OK, NY, CT), so we busted out Lawless, which no one had ever played before. It is one of the few games that claims to scale well up to six. I had gone on BGG before and learned enough to know that the Mayor was a good card to remove from play, so I figured to get rid of it when it came up. We agreed to play the victory point ties by splitting up all possible points evenly (Thus if 2 players tied for 1st (5 pts) and 2nd (3pts), they would split and get 4 pts each. We agreed fractional points were fine in this method. It seemed to make more sense than the tie-scoring methods offered in the rules.

After a quick explanation of the rules, we were off and running. Sure enough, the mayor was in the opening town tableau! I removed it, and after the game ended, we revisited his powers and agreed he would have made the game run MUCH longer. For someone (esp. a new player) to get to adjust the tableau EVERY TURN would have been a complete game flow stopper, regardless of how balanced or imbalanced his powers are perceived to be.

Speaking of game flow, this game moved very nicely with six. We played at a large dining room table, so the tableau was passed around the table. When you were done with your turn, you could assimilate your new cards, look around at what everyone else was doing, and plot a course for your next turn by the time the tableau was getting close to you again. It flowed very well.
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I'll list each player in order of finish, with some observations on his game play:

Jack Prater won with 10 points. He is originally from Texas, so he may have had the best instincts for ranching He was burned early after taking the Saloon card. He saw the power that it allowed him to take cowboys away from every other player. He held it in his hand, and said "This will be perfect near the game end." Unfortunately, Nate at some point played the card which allowed him to look at another player's hand and steal a card. Guess what happened to the Saloon? Anyway, Jack recovered nicely. He benefited by being able to end the game running out the draw deck. He played a last turn railroad that wiped out my excellent ranch and gain an extra half point or point for himself. He was not balanced, getting 5 points in Herds and 5 points in Cowboys, but it was good for the win.

Kurt Storm came in a close second with 9.5 points. He also was not very balanced. Kurt had the most $ for 5 points, tied for first and got 4 points He picked up half a point tying for last in horses. Kurt was the master of purchasing AP points with cash! He was the only player to do so extensively in the late game, after earning some money from a gold mine and a robbery.

Doug Peterson came in third with 8.5 points. He was the master of balance, scoring 3, 2.5, 1.5, and 1.5 pts in $,horses, ranches, and cowboys respectively. The Sheriff was the dominating figure in his game. He was able to protect Doug's cash and prevent a lot of shenanigans in Doug's ranch holdings. Doug was the victim of an Indian Raid, and he was never able to bring in the cavalry, so this may have cost him the victory.

Nate Hieter missed 3rd place by half a point, amassing 8 points total. He got 4 for ranches, 3 for cowbotys, and 1 for cash. Nate stole the Saloon card from Jack, and used another good card play to amass a huge posse of cowboys. However, he had some bad luck and a ftal flaw. His bad luck was that my hired gun popped a couple of his cowboys, enabling Jack P to end up with the most cowboys at the end. Also, Nate had a chance to end the game by running out the draw deck; if he had done so, he would have won. He was not certain of this, and let the game go on, thinking it would end before Jack's turn. When Matt and Kurt did not end it either, Jack was able to play the final turn and attain victory.

Matt Maloney, from Oklahoma also showed some innate ranching skill, but his gambling nature cost him early. He rolled out some good ranches and herds, without enough cowboy support, and he lost at least 2 nice herds to cattle rustlers! He finished with 1.5 pts in ranches, 2.5 pts in herds, and 2 pts in cash.

John Haba (me) finished dead last with 2 pts total, 1.5 in cowboys and .5 in horses. The story of my game was written early on. After playing a trapper card, I also grabbed the first gold mine early in the game thinking, "I'll amass a pile of cash, which will allow me to seize that category and possibly buy AP when I need them." Well, the trapper card yielded a pitifully small amount of gold. Then, after spending AP to take the gold mine and then play it, it promptly BLEW UP the first time I tried to use it! At that point, it was hard to switch strategies, as there were no ranch cards to be had. I scraped by on scrub ranches until I revived my fortunes a bit with a hired gun. I was the only player to make good use of the hired gun, knocking off 3 cowboys to give me a cash holding and to hurt other players a bit. My hopes were pinned on a vulnerable excellent ranch with 3 herds. I was hoping the game would end quickly. Unfortunately, Nate did not end the game... he robbed me instead! Then Jack railroaded my excellent ranch on the last turn, and my position descended into a distant last place.
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Final thoughts: In a 6 player game, specializing seemed a better strategy than trying for a balanced approach. This game was very fun in that each player could pursue strategies and good card play, while also actively working against opponents. It flowed very nicely, and was fast moving, especially with six players. Having seen all the cards once, the next game should be even better as we know what to expect and plan for a bit better.

With our gaming time limited in our one big get-together each year, Lawless will most likely hit the table again next year, and that says a lot for this game.
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Coen Velden
Germany
Geldern
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Thanks for this article, gonna buy the german version soon because of your report!!
 
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