The Movie Cowboy Game

I have absolutely zero qualifications to write a skirmish game set in the wild west, but on a long business trip I had an idea. By the time I had arrived at my destination, I had conceived of the Movie Cowboy Game. Now this is quite funny, since I have never played in Old West games and did not have a single Cowboy or Indian. I did have some pulp Chinese from Pulp Figures, the EM-4 Dunwich Detectives, and enough other things that I could try out my ideas.

I shortly added the EM-4 Old West Heroes, some fellows from Knuckleduster, some boys from Artizan, and Commanches from Conquest Miniatures.

So by the time we got to this game (about the 20th play test), I had developed a complete western town (mostly adobe things from Arnica, JR Miniatures, Crescent Root, Frontline, etc.) and about 300 cowboys with lads and lassies from Old Glory, Eureka, Blue Moon, Foundry, Deadlands, Crusader, etc. The madness continued with an ON-30 train (still working on the lay-out), lots more wagons, carriages, and do-dads.

So how does this game work? These rules try to recreate a fast-paced, lead-filled gunfight with little book-keeping or overhead. The basic concept is to use a card deck for all resolution of combat. Wounds are denoted with a red poker chip under the mini and each time you shot your weapon you place an empty .22 caliber cartridge on your character’s card. I have made custom playing cards that have the result for a “gunfight” or “brawl” marked on them so that very little referencing to charts is required.

Characters are rated by the number of “ace in the hole” cards they carry. A one card character is a newbie and a five carder is character of legend. For each card, the character can take 1 actions per round (i.e. a character can take 1 to 5 actions per round). He can also take one wound for each card and has one trait for each card representing his experience level.

The traits add flavor to the game – there are 52 “traits” some for good and some for bad.

Each round a character receives as many playing cards as he has ‘aces’ (less one for each wound). The characters act in order based upon the strength of their poker hand. So a character with a pair of 3s will go before a character with a single King and single 10.

Since a character with multiple cards; has the potential for higher value hands, these characters usually get to go first. The potential for a five carder character to draw a Full House, Flush, Straight, etc. makes them truly dangerous.

The action is resolved a card at a time. In an example where Black Bart holds a pair of deuces and a seven while Slow Steve, his opponent, holds an Ace, a ten, and a six. Black Bart could take two actions accounting for the pair of twos, then Slow Steve would take an action for his Ace and an action for his ten. Last Black Bart would take the last action corresponding to his six.

If you are interested send me an e-mail –

Reach for the sky, pardner!

Jimmy the Deuce

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2 Responses to The Movie Cowboy Game

  1. tom says:


    How is combat resolved? I understand a five card figure with a full flush will probably go first, but doesn’t that mean he only gets one move?

    • lostpict says:

      No the 5-carder with a flush, is king of the gunfight for that turn. He gets 5 unopposed actions.

      The characters burn their cards in order using a card per action. So a 5-card fellow (Charles) with a flush versus some a 2-card and a 3-card fellows with only single cards would get 5 actions before they could do anything. For instance, Draw, Fire, Fire, Fire & Run to cover; then the other fellows would get their go. It is usual more interleaved than that.

      For a more complicated example imagine Charles holds 7, 7, 5, 5, & 8 versus a fellow with 9 & 9 and another cowboy with Ace, Queen, & 3. The players would go in this order: 9, 9. 7, 7, 5, 5, Ace, Queen, 8, 3. In this case of ties, Hearts, Spades, Diamonds, Clubs is the order, If it is still a tie, the cowboy that is worth more cards goes first, and if it still a tie, cut cards (I usually use two decks shuffled together). Easy as pie to learn once you have run through one hand.

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