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)

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Wild West Rules - Desperado - Knuckleduster Miniatures

Knuckleduster Miniatures enters the Wild West genre with Desperado. I'm listing these as third edition rules although I'm not sure that's really correct. As stated these are all the rules from Desperado I and II (which I do not own) along with the house rules that are used at Knuckleduster (I'm assuming Forrest Harris' house rules). However, Monday Knight Productions has a set of Desperado Rules that are specifically listed as 3rd edition but the author is not listed. I'm not sure if the two sets of rules are related or not. The original author of Desperado is Tom Kelly and Desperado I and II are credited to him with additional material by Forrest Harris. None of which actually affects game play or anything like that, I just find it interesting.

Knuckleduster Miniatures 3rd Edition ?
In Print
Standard US (8 1/2" x 11"), softcover, 59 pages 
Original Price $30

Movement: A "random" element is used for movement in Desperado. A character can crawl, walk or run. Crawling allows you to use 1D6, Walking 2D6 and Running 3D6. There are also dice rolled for mounted movement and wagons. You can only run for two consecutive cards (see the unique section for more on this) and then a character must spend a card to rest. Not my favorite style of movement but it gets the job done and certainly adds an element of risk when you are moving a character. Maybe you will make it into the Saloon and maybe you will be stuck in the street the door just out of reach.

Combat: Shooting and Hand to Hand combat are handled in two separate ways. Shooting is done using percentile dice with the percentage chance of a hit based on the weapon, the distance along with other modifiers. Generally modifiers will be a percentage change like -1/2% (or reduce the % to hit by 50% or halved). If you are shooting at a lawyer you get to add 10%. Hand to hand combat each character rolls a 1D6 and adds the appropriate modifiers with the highest modified die roll be declared the winner that round and the effect is applied to the "loser".

Wounds:  Wounds are definitely interesting. This is a deadly game! Each character has 100 damage points. When you hit 100 points the character is dead. First a roll is made on the wound chart. This determines the hit location and the severity of the wound. Then damage is rolled based on the wound severity. There are some additional effects that are applied as well. There are straight out kill shots (100 points damage), grazes (5 points of damage), heavy wounds (Full % roll with the number rolled being the damage dealt) and light wounds (1/2 % roll). There are more than a few unpleasant results on the table. Fun!

Weapon List: Another very small weapon list (which surprises me coming from Knuckleduster). There is only a pistol, rifle, shotgun and knife. As I have mentioned before there is a lot of difference firing a single action revolver and a double action revolver, although I admit that caliber is irrelevant based on the wound table.

Campaign rules: There are no campaign rules as such. Characters that survive a game are usually just given an additional card in the deck (see the unique section).

Rules Bling: This is another heavy bling book from my perspective. Heavy gloss covers, full color, heavy, matte, interior pages. It should be take a little abuse. Its a single column format with pictures, drawings (good ones) and charts inserted as needed. I find it a little to busy for my tastes and not as well organized as I would like, but then its not a terribly long book either.

Unique: Desperado uses a character deck to determine the movement order of the various characters and NPCs involved in a given scenario. A regular towns person will have two cards in the deck, a tenderfoot (where most characters start) gets three cards, a lawman gets 4 cards and a professional gets 5 cards. All these cards are used to create the "deck". A turn ends when all the cards have been played. It does create a lot of tension in the game, especially if you rolled badly when moving and are stuck out in the open. Will your card come back up so you can get to cover before some one shoots you down? Its recommended that you just use a 3x5 notecard cut into thirds to make the deck with or get some cheap plastic poker cards from the dollar store.

My Thoughts:  There is a theme through out the book that this is the "Most Beloved Old West Wargame of all Time". I find that a bit difficult to swallow and the remark is made on every chapter page in the book. Once would be fine and I realize its kind of stupid to even let it bother me. It probably comes from being an old Boot Hill player which predates Desperado I by 17 years. On the other hand this is a fun game, and its the only one that has a full set of rules (optional) for various wild animals. Its definitely meant to be a fun, good time game. You are only running a couple of characters (unlike the "posse" or "gang" style western games). It also has a nice section, but basic, on painting minis and buildings. While many of the pictures feature buildings from their line of plywood kits, Forrest does a good job of not making it into a huge advertisement for his products.There is a full set of quick reference sheets in the back and I suspect you can probably download these sheets right off the Knuckleduster Miniature website.


  1. I have used these since 1st Ed . Use it in my Gangster! Game ( think Last Man Standing) where I added Tommyguns! Only problem I have is the extreme short ranges .

  2. Short range of the Tommy Guns? They should be able to shoot at least as far as any pistol. If its just ranges for a more modern setting then you could apply a multiplier to your ranges. The other thing to keep in mind that the average non-gun user isn't going to hit anything except at short range.