Western Legends by Herve Lemaitre and Kolossal Games is a sandbox game set in the Old West full of cowboys, outlaws, native American Indians and a host of historical figures thrown in to boot. You can play as Billy the kid, Calamity Jane or Geronimo picking from a line-up of 12 characters.
So, choose your player colour, grab your player board and tokens, and read through the flavour text on your card. Place your character, the Sheriff and bandits on their designated start spaces, discard one of the four character objectives and you are almost ready to go. Each character is given various starting items which could be a mix weapons, useful items, dollars and some poker cards. Once these are all dealt out, the most wanted player will start.
As a sandbox game this is where the fun really begins, on your turn there are just so many options and all of them can support you in working towards becoming the most legendary figure in the Old West. You really can play this as you want to, become the most wanted character or become a marshal chasing down the bad guys arresting them and placing them in jail. Either way you can go into one of the two towns to spend your cash in the general store to buy a mule or a horse to increase your movement or buy and upgrade your weapons which prove your abilities in fights.
The general store also stocks some additional items that you can buy that will provide further bonus actions or abilities. Any upgraded weapons and mounts provide additional legendary points when you get to the end game scoring, so it is well worth spending cash to do this.
In the two towns, Dark Rock and Red Falls, you can play poker; ‘Texas hold em’ of course, either against any other player who is in the same town or simply against the house. To the winner goes the pot, at least $60, or more if more players ante up the $10. You can also go to the cabaret and pay $30 to catch a show, a drink and gain legendary points. You will also find the sheriff’s office and the doctors. Wanted characters will be sent to the Sheriff’s office when arrested by players or the sheriff himself. The Doctor allows you to pay to have all your wounds healed.
Out of town are two goldmines and you can roll the two dice to find gold nuggets, gold dust or gravel. The nuggets can be taken to the bank and exchanged for cash and legendary points. Gold dust provides the gold digger with $10 and there is even a gold dust re-roll face.
You could choose to go to one of the two farms and move the cattle. Here you decide whether to go for valour or infamy. You can choose to wrangle the cattle delivering them to the station to gain the bonus on the reverse of the token and one marshal point, or you can rustle them taking them to the other farm in exchange for one wanted point.
Western Legends Game Components (Credit: Kolossal Games)
The marshal and wanted tracks on the board allow you to amass your prestige as a marshal or outlaw. As you move up each step of the marshal track you gain dollars and each row you move up equates to additional legendary points at the end of Western Legends. If you decide to take the higher risk and become an outlaw, there are fewer rewards on the track but at the end of turn you receive legendary points equal to the row of the tracker you are on. However, choosing the outlaws path comes with its downsides as you can be arrested by any marshal and potentially the Sheriff if he is moved by another player to your square.
Outlaws have a couple of other options; they can rob other players, stealing half their cash or gold and any cattle token they have, or they can go big and choose to rob the bank in a heist. In both cases you fight the other player or the guard at the bank using poker cards from your hand; highest card wins but additional cards can be used to add additional bonuses. The loser will receive a wound, which thankfully does not kill you off but does reduce the number of cards you can hold in your hand. When fighting the guard at the bank or the Sheriff another player will use the fight deck to draw cards from, when fighting another player, they will choose from their own poker cards to fight back.
Any player entering a space with a bandit, these have specific spaces on the board, will be attacked and if you win, Marshall’s gain Marshall points, outlaws gain legendary points. Poker cards also provide additional actions which can be used as one of your three actions, giving special bonuses.
As the rounds continue and players complete certain objectives, they can place markers on story cards. Once filled, the story card is flipped at the end of the round and additional bonuses are resolved, the card will often allow the sheriff to be moved towards, or away from the outlaws, depending on who has revealed the story.
Players completing one of their personal objectives pick a legendary token which will provide additional legendary points at the end of the game. When achieving the next objective, pick two tokens and from the three you now have, retain the best two.
Western Legends continues until an agreed number of legendary points are reached by any players; 15, 20 or 25, then one final round is played. Players count up all their additional legendary points from any dollars they have left, points form the marshal tracker, any upgraded mounts or weapons and any additional legendary points collected from completed character objectives. The winner is the outlaw, marshal or character who has gained the most notoriety from receiving the most legendary points.
Final Thoughts on Western Legends
Western Legends has so much replay-ability with so many different ways to play and so many different choices that can impact on your success. At each point you have to decide what kind of game and what kind of player you are going to be.
You really can create memorable moments, when a marshal switches track, robbing the bank to become an outlaw, or when completing a story you arrest the outlaw who was running away with the game, only for them to lose a load of their cash and all their wanted points. Do you work towards gaining cash to spend in the store or just blow all your money playing poker and enjoying yourself at the Cabaret.
Western Legends is so much fun and there is just so much to do. So saddle up, load your weapon, shuffle your poker deck, and get wrangling to become a true legend of the Old West.