Coming from the same designer as the Clank! series, Wild Tiled West is an exciting prospect. Combining dice drafting with a Wild West theme and good old polyomino tile placement! Coming with a natty dual layered board and excellent components throughout with the gameplay live up to the prestige?
Wild Tiled West sees players competing to score the most points while constructing towns, mining gold and killing bandits. Each player will have a square player mat on either the basic or advanced side. Advanced sides give unique rules to those players using them.
Your player mat is split into light blue regions which represents towns. These have a town sign linked to them on the edge of the board and will score points when completely filled. There is also a bonus amount of points for these depending on how quickly you fill them. White parts of the board have no need to be filled unless they display a horseshoe. In a nice more player mats are all unique and double sided for a more advanced variant.
You will be selecting your tiles from two central ‘trays’. These come in two parts and store all the tiles snuggly. They are technically ‘dual layered’ but the layer is so deep it fits three tiles stacked easily and makes set up a breeze. With less than four players you will need to remove some tiles, but it’s preferable to setting up on a flat board would be! Packing away is a little more fiddly, and in practise a couple of tiles come loose during vigorous transportation, but overall it’s well done and great quality.
The gameplay takes place over four seasons of slightly shortening lengths. During each you will collect income, draft a number of dice and their associated tiles, place those tiles to build up your board, police the bandits and wrangle cattle, before having a tussle with any remaining bandits and repeating the process again.
The first player for a round will roll one more die than the amount of players. These will be a mix of green d20s and blue d8s. These are then placed in the matching number column or row of the appropriate tray. Each slot will initial have a row of column of four tile choices, except with the green dice you may only chose the next tile closest to the dice, and with the blue you may pay gold to skip over tile bays.
This limitation gives you a good amount of choice without being overwhelming. Once you have chosen your remove both the die in question and take the chosen tile and place it on your board. Some tiles will have extra gold costs, and if you don’t fancy any of the tiles available you can take a single alley tile which will cover one square on your board, or two as long as you play them adjacent.
Tiles come in three flavours – buildings (which are further split into scoring, immediate, ongoing and delayed benefits), fields and paths (which alleys are a part of). On top of this they may contain resources you can take, cows you can wrangle, bandits you can shoot and sheriffs who will shoot them!
Placement rules are fairly standard. Your first tile must cover the x on the board, and from then on must be adjacent to previously place tiles. In doing this you will cover the aforementioned horseshoes but also pickaxes which give you more gold income, gold nugs, bullets and alley icons. You get these things immediately and in the case of bullets can use them too. You can’t cover preprinted fields, mines or mountains.
Wild Wild West
Once you have a bullet or two you can shoot bandits as long as they are in sight of a sheriff and not hiding behind cows, mines or mountains! Bullet tokens are then placed on the bandit pulling double duty as tombstones! A minor quibble here is the ‘line of sight’ rules which feel more involved than they should be. Not being able to shoot through mountains and buildings makes sense, but cows shouldn’t be an obstacle in my opinion.
During this stage, you might create joined-up fields. If these have between 3 and 7 cows then you can wrangle them for points and rewards. The first player to wrangle at each cow count will gain a bonus reward too.
At the end of each of the four seasons there is a tussle. Each player counts their remaining alive bandits and the players with the most lose points while the players with the least gain points, but also another bandit!
I’ve played Wild Tiled West at every player count apart from solo and Wild Tiled West scales well at all counts. As mentioned it can be slightly fiddly to set up for lower counts but it isn’t too strenuous. What has impressed me over all these plays is how everybody can play really different strategies and remain competitive. In my last three player game one player jumped to an early lead and lapped the last player who actually ended up winning the game. This doesn’t play out in a swingy fashion either. The options are there for everyone.
Wild Allied West
Each player starts the game with an ally card and can earn one more by upgrading their mining income. These allies provide big end-game bonuses and provide a focus for you during the game. They are well worth leaning into and again provide another avenue for big points.
If I was being harsh I could say that nothing here is particularly new, but when everything hangs together so well it is not something that bothers me. There is a tactile joy to grabbing the perfect tile to fit the space you left on your map, and with even the basic player maps being all different there is a lot of baked in variety.
If you are sick of tetrisy-style tile placement, then your may not need to apply but the subtle differences and smooth gameplay might just win you over anyway. It’s nothing like the Clank! games in gameplay but shows a similar level of design skill. Most people will find a lot to love here with Wild Tiled West.