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)

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Wild West Rules - Legends of the Old West - Warhammer Historical

I'm quite nostalgic about this set of rules because they are the ones that got me back into Wild West games after my Boot Hill days. If you are a Warhammer player then this system is going to feel very familiar to you. It uses the typical Warhammer characteristics that you find in Warhammer, Warhammer 40K and Lord of the Rings. In fact if you are a Lord of the Rings player then this system will be very familiar as it serves as the base rules for Legends of the Old West. This is one of the more rules oriented games out there (as should be evidenced by the 135 pages!). Unlike most Wild West games here a player moves all his miniatures and then his opponents take their turn (IgoUgo sequence).

Legends of the Old West
Warhammer Historical 1st Edition
Out of Print
Standard US, softcover, perfect bound, 135 pages 
Original Price $35.95 

Movement: This game uses set movement rates for the type of character or creature; people move 6", mules move 8" and horses move 10". Anything else will have its movement rate defined in its description. The movement section covers all kinds of things from getting over obstacles to horses running wild.

Combat: Your ability to shoot and to fight are based on the characteristics of the model. The characteristics are: Shootin', Fightin', Strength, Grit, Attacks, Wounds, and Pluck. Each character may have some special abilities as well. You need to roll your Shootin' value or better to hit with a gun or other long ranged weapon. There are no modifiers to hit as such but you might have an additional roll to make if you hit the target if they are behind cover. The Fightin' works in a similar manner. Both combatants roll a number of D6 equal to their Attacks value (typically 1) high score wins! If there is a tie then the character with the higher Fightin' wins. If its still a tie then roll 1D6 on a 1-3 one side wins on a 4-6 the other side wins (you have to figure out which is which I suppose).

Wounds:  So you have managed to hit your target either by Shootin' or Fightin'. For Shootin' consult the wound chart and compare the target's Grit to the Weapon's Strength to determine if the character is wounded or not. Cross referencing the results gives a number, roll 1D6 and if the score is equal to or higher then the target is wounded. There are some other possible effects based on the dice score as well. A wound from Fightin' is similar but its the target's Grit vs the attacker's Str to determine the number required to wound. Again there are a lot of situations covered in the rules for both Shootin' and Fightin'.

Weapon List: Legends has a list of weapons that makes me smile. While not huge it is a lot more than other wild west games out there. It does bring out one detail though, the rules state that any revolver can be "fanned" and this is incorrect. You can really only fan a single action revolver, you are going to damage the cylinder if you try an fan a double action revolver. Again there is a difference between the two types and I think its worth the effort to note the difference and what you can and cannot do.

Campaign rules: There are two components to the campaign rules. First you "gather" your posse. You pick a list to work from and a set number of points and build a posse from that list. You might build a posse from the "Cowboy" list which means you would have a Trail Boss supported by Greenhorns, Buckaroos, Cowpokes and Wranglers or you might build a posse from the "Lawman" list lead by a Sheriff supported by Deputies, Upstanding Citizens and Vigilantes. From there you play through scenarios gain experience and deal with injuries. Its pretty straight forward and easy to use.

Rules Bling: Warhammer Historical is a subsidiary or Games Workshop so as you might think this book is filled with a lot of bling. On the other hand they have a lot of experience working with rulebooks and I find it clean and well layed out. Its done in a two column format with lots of pictures, drawings (good ones), diagrams, charts and tables. Sometimes restricted to the column width sometimes spanning the whole page. It has an excellent table of contents which is a must have for a book this size. There is a short section on terrain and painting and all of the charts and templates and counters are at the back of the book. Although they are a little hard to scan because of the perfect binding used to hold everything together.

Unique: The campaign system is what really makes Legends of the Old West standout. While the concept of a list to build from is classic Games Workshop going back to many of their specialist games like Mordheim and Necromunda. What truly makes it standout though is the continued growth of your posse, gaining skills, acquiring "Hired Guns" buying equipment etc. If you really want a campaign this one really lays it out in a lot of detail (please note that there are certainly wild west rules that have campaign systems that I'm not familiar with).

Supplements: Frontier Blood on the Plains - Primarily this volume adds optional rules, expands the weapons available and adds "gangs" for the US Cavalry, Texas Rangers and Indians (there are a number of variant lists for each). Out of Print, Original price $29.95
I don't own either of the two supplements that were written:
The Alamo - Mostly rules, equipment and scenarios for larger actions. It adds three new "gangs"; Mountain Men, Bandidos and Comancheros
Showdown - Adds the Chinese Tong but mostly campaign rules and possible cross overs to other timer periods. I really need to hunt this one down and add it to the collection especially with the emphasis on campaigns.

My Thoughts:  Legends of the Old West is really the LoTR skirmish system transplanted to the Wild West, but it works, works well and its fun. Because of this there are a lot of rules and even when you remove the non rule sections there are still a lot of rules. This isn't bad its the result of not being built from scratch and having the benefit of what amounts to a lot of playtesting. The campaign aspect can make it very exciting and that certainly makes it unique from its LoTR heritage. The issue is that its quite possible for some posses to really outstrip the competition and start stepping all over their opponents, this was also an issue with Mordheim as well. It takes a bit of play balancing if a campaign is going to survive for an extended amount of time.

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