Life is short, break the rules. Forgive quickly, kiss slowly. Love truly, laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that makes you smile. - Samuel Longhorne Clemens (Mark Twain)

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Wild West Rules - Gutshot - Hawgleg Publishing

I know that this set of rules wasn't on the initial list but I finally got around to ordering it and since it arrived in the mail on Monday I felt like I should include it in the list. So one more post after this one and then its off to the compilation post. I heard about Gutshot on TMP. It seems that every time someone asks which wild west rules are the best Gutshot gets a couple of shout outs. So since the wild west is going to be my focus for a while longer I figured it was about time I picked them up. I have spent a couple of days now pouring through the 175 pages that make up the rulebook but don't let that scare you off, like a lot of these wild west rules its not all rules on those pages. I should mention that Gutshot won the Origins Award in 2006 for Historical Miniatures Game of the Year (interestingly enough I have won an Origins Award as well, way back in the 80's when I did a line of 15mm buildings for Stone Mountain Miniatures). I should also mention that there is a lot of downloadable material on the Hawgleg Publishing website so after you have read this post wander on over to the website and see what kind of support you can get..for free! Gutshot Downloads

Hawgleg Publishing
In Print
8 1/2 x 11, Paperback, Perfect Bound, 175 pages
Original Price: $24.95

Movement: Moved is based on what kind of movement the character is performing and can be found on Table 6.1.1. Basically you can crawl, walk, trot or run during your action (a character will have three actions during the turn, one action each time their name is drawn from the hat, these are referred to as action slips). There is a section for character movement, mounted movement and vehicle movement but the basics can be had in Chapter 2 Quick Start Guide. There are plenty of rules to handle just about anything from jumping through windows, jumping off roofs and picking the lock on a door. All of these are based around the concept of a task. There are free tasks (just do it), fast tasks (combined with movement or an attack) and Full Tasks (these takes the characters full attention) and Multi-Action Tasks (will take more than one action to complete). For a straight up gunfight most actions taken will either be free or fast and the rest are more likely to come into play when called for by a scenario.

Combat: Basically each character and NPC in the game has a target number. If you roll your target number or better on 2D6 you hit your target. Of course there are modifiers to be applied to that based on the actions of the character shooting and his target. Rolling snake eyes (double ones) is a bad thing and you get the pleasure or rolling on Table 10.2 and see what wonderful thing happens to your weapon. If you hit damage is rolled and applied to the target based on the weapon. There are a whole host of other rules that can come into play and are all are described in Chapter 10. But you already have the basics down at this point.

Hand to hand is a bit different. The target number is based on the weapon being used and the defender has a defensive target number as well (but only if they have a free hand to defend with). There is a difference between fisticuffs, melee weapon and improvised weapons so Chapter 11 is a good chapter to read thoroughly. 

Wounds:  So damage is handled a little differently in Gutshot. Each character has 15 hit points. The number of points of damage a character has accumulated (either in one shot or over the course of a game) increase the severity level of the wounds. From 1-5 points of damage is a light wound level, 6-10 is moderate and 11-15 is severe. Different wound levels will have different effects on how well a character can perform actions. A character is dead when more than 15 points have been accumulated. In a campaign setting damage can be healed over time. Even dead characters can come back (referred to as knocking on Heaven's Door in the rules). At the end of the game all "dead" characters are checked to see if they can survive with proper medical attention.

Weapon List: While everything else is handled in extensive detail the weapon list is quite short consisting of; derringers, pistols, rifles shotguns and sawed off shotguns. This is deliberate to get you into the game quickly. It is the game I expected a more extensive list for though. They do recommend "The Knuckleduster Firearms Shop" book by Forrest Harris. Unfortunately that book has been out of print for some time. I have a copy and no I won't sell it to you. [At the time of this writing I do see a number of used and new copies on Amazon all going for at least $40 and 1 copy on the Noble Knight Games site going for $45].

Campaign rules: You can find just about anything in the campaign rules (although the campaign rules from SnS could be incorporated easily and really make an exceptional wild west setting). Like many of the other wild west rules Gutshot suggest tying scenarios together to form the basic outline of a campaign but that a more well thought out campaign will create a better experience for the players and the Game Marshal. I think an excellent resource would be watching episodes of the Wild Wild West and seeing what kind of adventures James West and Artemis Gordon managed to get into. Everything you need to start a campaign like this is present in this section of the rule book, especially on how to handle a mass of NPCs and playing with an unruly mob!

Rules Bling: The is nice rule book with a glossy full color cover made from a heavier cardstock and white pages on the inside. It is bit crowded with text and could use some white space to help make things less dense. It has a some really nice drawings and some odd ones that look like some kind of photoshop work. Its in a two column format and its strictly black and white on the inside. There are some nice call outs in the margins (typically the gutter margin) and charts and tables will span both columns on occasion. You will find all the charts and tables in the back of the book for quick reference as well. It has great table of contents as well as an index. I'm not fond of some of the organization but in the end it works especially with the a good ToC. To make the rules even more rule friendly the right hand margin is used to tell you what section you are in, so you can flip through the book and pretty quickly find what you are looking for in a broad sense like; 10. Combat: Firearms (starts on page 95 and runs to page 118).

Unique: Its hard to pinpoint a single thing that makes Gutshot truly unique because there are a number. The one item that really sticks out to me is the retaliation shot. Whether you hit your target or not, they get to make a retaliation shot against you (unless they are out of ammo). Its quite possible that both characters will go down in a blaze of glory just like it happened in so many western movies.

My Thoughts:  This is big book filled with a lot of information and its hard to distill it down into something as short as a blog post. While it can be a bit intimidating an experienced gamer can read Section 2, Quick Start Guide and be able to play Gutshot without much of a problem. Skimming through some of the other chapters for more detail during the your first game will help lock in the concepts established in Chapter 2. Everything else is nice detail that you may or may not need in every single game. So don't be intimidated by the length rules (the longest yet by page count) and just focus on Chapter 2. This is definitely not a posse style game, running one or two characters will give you plenty of things to do during a game. This one definitely shades the line towards an RPG and it definitely has some cross over. For me it really does a good job of bringing you into the old west as its can be so much more than just a running gun battle. Although you can definitely do the running gun battle and not get bogged down.

I'm going to nitpick on one thing, because references to scale can really set me off First let me say that this in no way affects how the game is played or in reference to a specific rule. During the description of buildings and how to dress up your western town there is a reference to Model Train Buildings. It refers to the "less popular O-Scale, which is about 1:64 (1/64) and is just right for Gutshot." My issue is that O scale is definitely not about 1/64 it is (in the US) 1/48 scale and its usually quite precise that is why model railroaders use actual scale as opposed to the gaming companies need to measure things in millimeters. Of course if you have read my blog or any amount of time you know the 1/64 is actually S Scale and its a bit on the small side for our miniatures although there are model railroad items that work quite well for gaming. O scale is a bit on the large size but is also usable. My preferred scale is 1/56 which seems to be the best compromise to match up with most lines of western miniatures. End of rant! Just buy the rules, I think its one of the good ones!

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