20 May 2011

Hang Up Your Spurs

A preview of Deadwood, the upcoming board game for ambitious cowboys

Once upon a time in the badlands of the Dakota Territory, you came across a little shanty-town waiting on the arrival of a railroad, and with it the promise of great wealth. But the lure of wealth can be a dangerous thing...especially if it causes a foolish cowboy to challenge you for control of the town.

Pack an extra gun for your stay in Deadwood, because in this town a savvy leader can never be too careful. In Deadwood, the upcoming board game of holdups and shootouts, players control a ranch of wild cowpokes and send them into town to gain control of businesses peaceably or through force. Make sure your gang collects as much money as they can, because when the game ends the player with the most cash is the winner.

Previously, we examined a few of the businesses that can either offer you long-term benefits or provide you with additional abilities should you control certain other locations as well. Today, we will take a look at Deadwood’s victory conditions.

A dead...end

In Deadwood there are three ways that the game can end:

  • The Train Station is placed on the board
  • There are no Wanted Posters left in the Crime Pool
  • Any player has no cowboys alive

Once any of these events occur, the current player completes his turn and the game ends. But remember, each player must pay a fine for any Wanted Posters he holds! So if your broncos have wrecked particularly bloody havoc in Deadwood and are still wanted by the Cavalry for numerous crimes, it might be a wise strategy to postpone or direct the end of the game to your satisfaction.

The winding track

The arrival of the railroad will bring a great fortune to whoever is canny enough to take advantage of it. Out of Deadwood’s three paths to end the game, finishing the railroad is the only one that provides a player with multiple benefits.

When one of your cowboys takes control of the Town Hall, you add one Railroad tile to the board. As the rail-tracks present on the game board show multiple routes the railroad could be built, you can determine whichever path is most advantageous for lining your pockets.

And what an advantage it is! If the Railroad tile is placed across a building, that building is immediately destroyed and whichever cowboy keeping residence at that building is forced to retire to the Abandoned Mine until his gang leader can retrieve him. Additionally, every cowboy controlling a business adjacent to the new Railroad tile can immediately annex his building. At one fell swoop you can deprive another player of his building (and any long-term abilities he might be benefitting from) as well as profit for however many cowboys you have adjacent to your chosen railroad path.

In the example above, a player is placing the second railroad tile. If he places it in the space labelled "1," he will close that space off to future buildings. If he places it in space "2," he will destroy the Gold Mine! He should choose carefully; the railroad must always continue northward, and can never fork into multiple directions.

Further, if all four Railroad tiles have already been placed on the board when your cowboy seizes the Town Hall, you place the Train Station on the board instead (destroying any building in its way) and your adjacent cowboys can immediately annex their buildings twice.

No safe haven

Should the game end on account of every Wanted Poster in the Crime Pool being used, then the streets of Deadwood have seen quite a bloodbath!

A rich player could choose to instigate multiple shootouts to bring Deadwood to a close, but in doing so he walks a fine line. The fee that a gun-happy cowboy must pay can be very steep, as the Cavalry finds crime to be no joke.

Therefore, any player determined to end the game through this method should ensure that his gang members are regular church-goers, as visiting the Church will allow a player to eliminate one Wanted Poster. Of course, as mentioned in our last preview, if a player controls two Laundry locations and the General Store when he annexes the Church, he can raise that number to three.

Sleeping at Boot Hill

Your final option for Deadwood’s end is if one player’s cowboys have all been sent up to Boot Hill. But the death of all of a player’s cowboys does not ensure his loss. If a player has no cowboys alive, he can still win the game if he has the most money.

Still, this option can be viable depending on your strategy and the cash bundles of your competition.

Which way to end the game will you attempt to manipulate? Look for more previews for Deadwood in the coming weeks, and prepare for Deadwood’s release in the third quarter of 2011!

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