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Gaming the Old West

in Miniature
Part One:
Issues, Figures
and Accessories
By Rob Lusk

Although miniatures games set in the Old West have been around for many
years, recently there has been a dramatic increase in figures, rules, and
accessories for this period. As I imagine is the case with many MWAN readers,
I started playing with cowboys and Indians when I was very young and got Fort
Apache as a gift; I've been fascinated by the Old West since then. The Boot Hill
game came out when I was in high school, and I began to wargame with Airfix
plastic cowboys. I have enjoyed games set in this period ever since. While there
has always been a lot of source material available, rules and figures have been
relatively scarce until the past couple years. The variety of items now available,
coupled with the appeal of the Old West and the small scale of many
gunfights/battles makes this period all the more enticing.
In this article, I will discuss some of the issues and dimensions to consider
when gaming the Old West. I will then review some of the figures and
accessories that are available. I'll review rules in a subsequent article, which I'm
currently working on; I may also include a copy of my own "Ghost Riders"
rules (to add to the proliferation of home grown rules for this period). I am
certainly not an expert on the Old West; what follows are mostly my opinions,
which you may certainly disagree with. That's OK, pardner; this town's big
enough for more than one opinion.
The Question of Scale
Two related issues here are figure size and scale/ratio. The three main types of
metal Old West gaming figures available are 15mm, 20mm (1/72 scale plastics

are pretty comparable to these), and 25mm (I include 28 mm in this category,


since most figures advertised as 25mm are really closer to 28). Obviously,
detail and animation are typically better with larger figures, but you can only fit
so many on a tabletop. In my opinion, 15mm or 20mm is the way to go if you
want to recreate Indian battles in a historical fashion. Unless you have a LOT of
space available (not to mention cash), you will simply not be able to recreate
something like The Battle of Little Big Horn in 25mm. 15mm figures in
particular look good in numbers on the wargame table, and you can have some
pretty awesome scenery dwarfing the figures (mesas, etc.), giving a realistic
feel of the West on a grand scale. This also allows for a lot more
maneuverability, particularly of cavalry.
On the other hand, for smaller skirmishes and gunfights, 25mm tends to have
the most appeal. If you want to have a 1:1 scale gunfight, players tend to relate
better to figures with a lot of detail and animation, especially when each figure
is different. I think the most impressive Old West games I have seen are those
that use a handful or two of 25mm figures with some buildings and other
appropriate terrain (e.g., games run by Keith Leidy -- as pictured in the
November 1997 issue of Wargames Illustrated; and games by Leo Walsh of
TCS run at GENCON and other conventions).
I personally use both 15mm and 25mm scales, and enjoy both, but find myself
increasingly daydreaming about (and spending money on) 25mm. I should put
in a plug at this point for the increasing number of high quality 20mm Old West
figures being produced. Some have enough detail that they are very satisfying
even in 1:1 scale games, but are cheaper than 25's. They have the added
advantage that they fit in very well with HO scale railroad buildings and
accessories. If I were to start over, I'd probably go with 20mm instead of 15mm.
Regarding the figure:men represented ratio, Old West games vary from 1:1 to at
least 1:5 (still a relatively low ratio compared to most periods). Further, there
are some games where players are expected to take no more than 1 or 2 figures.
These games often assign different characteristics to the figures (e.g., weapon
skills, bravery), and have a relatively complex turn sequence and system for
tracking wounds. If you enjoy role-playing, this type of game will probably
have a lot of appeal.
Other games are unit based, and one figure may represent many soldiers,
Indians, etc. Again, this is largely a matter of personal preference, and relates to
the type of action you want to recreate. The gunfight at the OK Corral is clearly
a 1:1 affair; larger Indian battles typically are not. Ground scale and weapon
ranges also vary a lot (this is, of course, not unique to Old West games). The

1:1 games sometimes have a "true to figure" ground scale (e.g., 1" = about 6
feet for 25mm), which can help players get a better feel for what is actually
happening in a game. I've had players tell me that when their figure runs across
a street, they want to be able to visualize what it would be like if they were in
the same situation, and this sort of ground scale helps.
At the same time, rules that use this ground scale often dramatically shorten
actual weapon ranges for the sake of playability. Thus, it is not uncommon to
find pistols that can only fire the equivalent of perhaps 25 yards. If you can live
with this, the "true to figure" ground scale can be a lot of fun, especially with
25mm figures. In my experience, younger players, role-players, and those used
to sci-fi and fantasy games enjoy this better than more abstract (albeit realistic)
scales.
History vs. Hollywood
The related issues of realism, playability, complexity and enjoyment of a game
have been discussed concerning other periods in MWAN; Old West gaming
certainly provides more fuel for this discussion. There are a few Old West
games that reflect history; far more that reflect Hollywood's view of history;
and the majority fall somewhere in between. Part of the issue is that the Old
West is such an important part of American folklore, it is often hard to tell what
really happened in many gunfights and battles -- the folklore is hopelessly
intertwined with history.
Also, since many of us were raised with the Hollywood version of the Old
West, we may not care that much about what really happened. In my
experience, Old West gaming is "on the fringe" of true historical gaming, in that
most Old West games really are not very realistic. Does this bother me
personally? Not in the least. To quote the Very Rev. Aelred Glidden, who in
turn was quoting Donald Featherstone, "Never let history get in the way of a
good game". On the other hand, historical purists need not feel too discouraged.
There are more authentic figures available than ever before, and a few rules sets
really do try to recreate history, particularly with Indian battles.
The complexity level of Old West games also varies dramatically. There are
rules sets varying in length from one page (e.g., Keith Leidy's home grown
rules) to over 100 pages in multiple volumes (e.g., Once Upon A Time In The
West). One thing that MWAN has taught me is that complexity does not always
positively correlate with historical accuracy, and sometimes negatively
correlates with players' enjoyment. At the same time, the shortest rules sets
often leave a fair amount open to interpretation, and therefore tend to run most

smoothly when a gamemaster is present to arbitrate when questions arise.


Ironically, the longest sets are often so complex that you need a gamemaster
who is very familiar with the rules, or play tends to bog down as disagreements
arise over the finer points. The issue of complexity of rules has been discussed
several times in MWAN; I will just note that there are dramatic differences
among rules sets in this period, so be sure to take this into consideration as you
are choosing a set for yourself.
The one place where this seems to make the most difference, in my experience,
is when you are trying to recreate gunfights. A simple move-countermove
system doesn't work well for this purpose -- players know when they will shoot
relative to the enemy, and will naturally take advantage of this. There are
several ways that rules address this issue. The most common is to use a card
system for variable determination of action sequences -- this keeps the suspense
up. Another way is through the use of written orders which are simultaneously
revealed; this works well when you are focusing on one or two figures, but
tends to bog down with larger numbers. Finally, some rules have players roll for
initiative.
Setting
A final issue to consider is the setting for your game. Old West games can be
set anytime from around 1850 to 1890, but most focus on the 1870's-1880's.
Participants, weapons, uniforms, Indian tribes, etc. can obviously vary a lot
depending on the period you choose. The two main geographic settings for Old
West games appear to be the Plains and the Southwest. This is one of those
things I really didn't think much about when I started collecting and painting
figures and terrain, but from a reality standpoint can make a lot of difference. If
you are planning on including Indians or Mexicans, this is an important issue.
Plains Indians tribes sometimes did not look that much different from each
other, but they sure look different than Apaches! Further, there weren't very
many Mexicans in, say, Kansas in the late 1800's.
Terrain features also differ a lot based on location. If you are creating
Southwestern terrain, you'll want to consider including mesas, cacti, adobe, and
a sand/clay colored table and bases for figures. If you're in the Plains, more
"traditional" wargame terrain is generally usable. I discovered this the hard
way, as I decided to place most of my games in southeastern Arizona territory,
and then realized that I didn't have very much appropriate terrain. Players are
still very forgiving, as I continue to mix in features that really shouldn't be
there. If you're like me and have existing terrain that you'd like to use, consider
what you already have in deciding which setting to use.

Now, on with the reviews!

Figures
The last few years have seen a virtual explosion in the number of Old West
figures available. 1996 was truly a banner year -- both Old Glory and Guernsey
Foundry released the start of two extensive figure lines in 25mm, including
some of the best Old West figures ever produced. I'll provide an overview of
the figure lines that I'm aware of (in alphabetical order). Much of this
information has been gleaned from the pages of MWAN.
Brittania Miniatures, manufactured in England, available in the U.S. from
Elite Miniatures, c/o Keith Leidy, 2625 Forest Glen Trail, Riverwoods, IL,
60015, as well as some hobby shops. These are 25 mm figures, tending to the
large, "chunky" side, but I love their animation and variety. Brittania offers U.S.
cavalry, Apaches, Mexicans, an increasing selection of gunfighters (both
mounted and on foot) and townspeople, and some accessories (e.g., wagons,
longhorns, cannons and gatling guns). I really like this line! The covered
wagons in particular are outstanding.
Complete Brigade, available from Frying Pan and Blanket Amalgamated
(gotta love the name), 2283 Apache Street, Mendota Heights, MN, 55120 (send
SASE for list). They advertise 20mm U.S. cavalry and Plains Indians. I haven't
seen these figures, so I cannot comment further.
Connoisseur Historical Miniatures, previously just manufactured in England,
now manufactured in the U.S. as well by J & T Miniatures, HC 83, Box 15,
Pequot Lakes, MN, 56472 (218-568-7447). They offer a 25mm Pony Wars line,
with U.S. cavalry, Plains Indians, Apaches, civilians, and gunfighters. These
figures are close to 28 mm in size; the poses are quite good, though the level of
detail and animation vary.
Dixon Miniatures, manufactured in England, available in the U.S. from
Wargames Inc., Box 278, Route 40 East, Triadelphia, WV, 26059 (send $3 for
listing). Also available at some hobby shops. Dixon produces a variety of
25mm Wild West figures and accessories (e.g., a really nice stagecoach). Their
figures are typically around 28mm. They generally have very good animation
and detail. Dixon carries more mounted cowboys than most other companies,
and has an extensive line of gunfighters, townsfolk, and some Indians.
Freikorps 15, 25 Princetown Road, Bangor, Co. Down, BT 20, 3 TA, Northern

Ireland, UK. Also available at some hobby shops. Freikorps 15 produces a very
extensive line of 15mm Old West figures. These are "true" 15mm scale, and
therefore somewhat small relative to other larger 15's. The variety is truly
outstanding, with 105 different figures in the range, including U.S. cavalry,
U.S. infantry (hard to find for this period), Apaches, Plains Indians, gunfighters,
and townspeople. Don't let the UK address put you off -- service is fast, and
they take U.S. $.
Frontier Miniatures, available from Modeler's Mart, 1555 Sunshine Drive,
Clearwater, FL, 34625 (800-223-5260) ($5 for catalog, which has a LOT of
stuff in it). Frontier produces both 15mm and 25mm figures, including U.S.
cavalry, Indians, and gunfighters. These are "true scale" figures, and therefore a
bit small compared to many others (the 15's fit well with Freikorps 15's and
Minifigs; the 25's fit well with Pass of the North). These are relatively
inexpensive, basic gaming figures.
Grenadier, no longer in business, but the "Western Gunfighters" boxed set
(produced in 1992) is still available at some hobby shops. This is a very nice set
of 10 25mm figures, including gunslingers and townspeople. The figures are
"large" 25's (closer to 30mm in some cases), but fit in well with many of the
28mm figures available. Animation and detail are superb; in my opinion, these
were the best 25mm Old West figures available for a number of years.
Guernsey Foundry, manufactured in the U.K., available in the U.S. from The
Foundry, 1549 Marview Drive, Westlake, Ohio, 44145 (440-871-4587). An
extensive 28mm Old West range, including U.S. cavalry, Plains Indians,
Mexicans, Apaches, cowboys, gunfighters, and "Victorian bystanders". These
are excellent figures for the most part, are very reasonably priced, the selection
is great, and many come both mounted and on foot (perfect for skirmish
games). See their ads in MWAN, and reviews by David Barnes (MWAN 88,
90, 92) and Hal Thinglum (MWAN 80, 88, 89, 90). In my opinion, this is the
premiere Old West line available today.
Mayhem Miniatures, manufactured in England, available from hobby shops or
from the UK at P.O. Box 3064, Milton Keynes, MK13, OJP, England..
Mayhem makes 25mm gunfighters and townspeople as well as accessories (e.g.,
a resin bar) which are slightly larger than true 25mm, but very well animated
and proportioned. They are pretty comparable to Guernsey Foundry figures, but
the line is less extensive (and a bit more expensive).
Minifigs, manufactured in England, available from Modeler's Mart (see
Frontier for ordering information). Though I haven't ordered any for several

years, I believe 15mm Minifig Old West figures are still available. These are
"true" 15mm scale, and relatively well detailed and animated. They fit in well
with Freikorps 15 and Frontier miniatures. I have some of their gunfighters; I'm
not sure what else is available.
Old Glory, available from Emperor's Headquarters, 5744 W. Irving Park Road,
Chicago, IL, 60634 (312-777-7307). Also available at some hobby shops. The
Warpaint range is an extensive line of 25mm settlers/townspeople, U.S. cavalry,
Plains Indians, Apaches, gunslingers, lawmen, and accessories (e.g., teepees, a
stagecoach, and wagons). Very nice figures for the most part (details tend to be
very good; animation is not as good on some), typically between 25 and 28 mm.
The variety and price are simply outstanding! Reviewed by Stephen Lawrence
in MWAN 89.
Pass of the North, Jeff Caruso, 1060 Esplanada, El Paso, TX, 79913 (915-5813282). Catalog $2 + SASE. An extensive line of U.S. cavalry, Indians,
gunfighters, Mexicans, and townspeople in 25mm, including some specialty
sets like the Magnificent Seven. True 25mm scale figures. Excellent poses,
detail and animation; the only problem is that they tend to be small relative to
most other "25mm" figures. Apaches were reviewed in MWAN 84 by Stephen
Lawrence.
Peter Pig, manufactured in England; available from Brookhurst Hobbies,
12188 Brookhurst Street, Garden Grove, CA, 92640 (714-636-3580). Peter Pig
makes an extensive line of 15mm Old West figures and accessories, including
gunfighters, Plains Indians, townspeople, characters, resin buildings, and even a
train! A little chunky, but very good detail and animation; they fit well with
most other lines of 15mm figures.
Pinnacle Miniatures, available from hobby shops or from Pinnacle
Entertainment Group, P.O. Box 10908, Blacksburg, VA, 24062-0908 (800-2145645). These are 28 to 30mm figures designed for the Great Rail Wars
miniatures game and the Deadlands roleplaying game. These games are set in
an alternate history Old West, where magic, monsters, and advanced steam
technology exist, and the Civil War has continued into the 1870's. There are
gunfighters, Indians, townspeople, artillery, special characters, monsters, and
even undead gunslingers if you want to add a weird twist to your game!
Animation and detail are somewhat uneven, but tend to be excellent.
Qualiticast, manufactured in England, but available from Brookhurst Hobbies
(see Peter Pig for address/phone number). Qualiticast makes 20mm Indians,
settlers, and gunfighters. These are very nice, well detailed and proportioned

figures. They are reviewed by David Barnes in MWAN 89.


Raventhorpe Miniatures, imported from the U.K., available from RLBPS,
4827 Treeview Terrace, Rockford, IL, 61109-4135. These are 20mm Mexican
Revolution figures, many of which are suitable for the Old West as gunfighters
and Mexicans. These are excellent figures, with very good animation and detail.
I bought a few at Little Wars; these figures have tempted me to get into yet
another scale in this period!
Stone Mountain, P.O. Box 675, Brighton, CO, 80601. One of the first 25mm
Old West lines that I encountered; these were one of the few lines available
until relatively recently. I still see them at hobby shops and conventions, but
don't know if they are still being produced. These are true 25's, and therefore
smaller than many other lines. They have gunfighters (including mounted),
townspeople, and some personalities. Proportion and animation are not as good
as more recently produced figures. They also make some excellent 25mm cacti.
Valiant Miniatures, 106 Foxcraft Drive, Winborne, Dorset, BH 21 2 LA, UK.
25 mm gunfighters; I haven't seen them, but David Barnes (in MWAN 89)
notes that they are "slim fellows but well in keeping with the era and excellently
animated and cast" (p. 17).

Accessories
Just as with Old West figures, there has been a recent dramatic increase in
available accessories. While I'm sure there are many that I am not aware of,
here is a listing of those that I'm familiar with.
Airfix, available at many hobby shops. Makes a plastic 1/72 scale fort (Fort
Apache) that works well for 20mm figures. Decent detail. Comes with plastic
U.S. cavalry and Indians.
Dixon, see figures section for address. Dixon makes Wild West 25mm
buildings ("every single one built from scratch and fully painted") which look
very impressive. They appear to be made of wood.
The Drum, available from some hobby shops, including The Emperor's
Headquarters (Chicago). The Drum makes 15mm scale resin buildings,
including a log fort with towers. This fort is very nicely detailed, and makes a
great centerpiece for a (probably fictitious) attack on a fort. (Note: the only
25mm scale fort like this that I've seen was made by Greenfield many years

ago, and is no longer in production. If anyone knows of someone else who


produces a "Fort Apache"-style fort for 25mm, I'd love to hear about it!)
Ertl Western Cowtown, Longhorn Ranch, and assorted barns, etc. Available in
department and toy stores (sets with one BIG building or several good-sized
buildings are typically $25-$30). These plastic buildings are remarkably wellsuited for 28mm figures, and are relatively well-detailed and inexpensive. Some
of the accessories they come with can be used as well (e.g., cattle). They have
lift-off roofs, and some even have semi-detailed interiors. However, some of
these interiors are amusing -- a staircase leading to a balcony that leads
nowhere, and a jail cell with a back door(!) These paint up pretty well (Stephen
Lawrence had some at Little Wars that looked very nice). They were favorably
reviewed by Mr. Lawrence in MWAN 84.
Frontline Wargaming, manufactured in England; available in the U.S. from
RLBPS (see Raventhorpe Miniatures for address). These are 25mm resin Wild
West buildings and accessories (e.g., furniture, graves, horse troughs, derelict
wagon, and a mine entrance). Buildings start at around $12; accessories start at
around $3. Some of these (e.g., the graves and mine entrance) are closer to
"true" 25mm scale; others are fine for 28mm (e.g., much of the furniture; the
trough). Detail varies. These were favorably reviewed by Hal Thinglum in
MWAN #88.
H.G. Walls, 3026 Springbrook Drive, South Bend, IN, 46614 (219-299-0352).
H.G. offers 25mm Old West building kits from about $25-$40. Some
accessories are also available (e.g., signs). These take awhile to finish, but are
gorgeous -- among the best looking Old West buildings available, in my
opinion. They are suitable for 25-28mm figures.
Historical Pursuits, P.O. Box 9462, Fayetteville, NC, 28311 (910-822-1813).
These folks make 25mm resin buildings; they do not have interiors, but are
extremely well done. Some of the Civil War buildings (e.g., outhouses) are
perfect for the Old West. These buildings are reviewed by Curt Murff in
MWAN 89. They are suitable for 25mm-28mm figures.
Howard Whitehouse, 312 Ridgecrest, LaFayette, GA, 30728. Howard
advertises a variety of scratch-built accessories for the old west, including a
Mexican hacienda, a gold mine, and rock formations (price about $25 and up). I
saw some of his terrain at a convention, and it looked great!
Kibri, HO scale buildings available from train shops (actually, I haven't seen
them in our local shop for awhile -- they could be out of business). This is an

extensive line of Old West buildings which are perfect for 20mm figures, and
suitable for 15mm figures. They are traditional plastic model kits, and look
excellent when finished and painted.
London War Room, 41 Beverly Hills Loop, Petal, MS, 39465. While I have
not seen their work, they advertise 25mm buildings including Western stores, a
saloon, and others ($50 and up). These buildings are described as accessible and
playable.
Musket Miniatures, P.O. Box 1976, Broomfield, CO, 80038-1976 (303-4399336). Send $2 for catalog. Musket makes 15mm American Civil War and Old
West resin and metal buildings and accessories, including wagons and cacti.
These are very nicely done, with excellent detail. They work very well with
15mm figures.
Pass of the North (see figures for address) offers 25mm scale cacti -- saguaro,
barrel, and prickly pear. These are available finished for $2-$8, and are
described as "the hit of Historicon".
Peter Pig (see address under miniatures). In addition to their figure line, Peter
Pig makes an extensive line of buildings and accessories in 15mm scale. The
buildings are relatively well detailed (no interiors); accessories are very
extensive, and include a train. They work very well with 15mm figures.
Signifier, 2001 E. Lohman, Suite 149, Las Cruces, NM, 88001 (505-525-2378).
Signifier offers 15mm and 25mm scale flags, including U.S. cavalry, Custer,
and Buffalo Soldiers flags. Send an SASE for a listing, or $3 for a catalog.
These are excellent flags, with brilliant colors, and to my knowledge are the
only flags available specifically for this period. Hal Thinglum reviews Signifier
flags in MWAN 91, and states that they are "highly recommended"; I agree.
Snapdragon Studios, 3, Norleaze, Heywood, N. Westbury, Wiltshire, BA13,
4LQ, UK. They offer 25mm resin Wild West building facades. They were
reviewed by David Barnes in MWAN 83; while I have not seen them, they
sound very nice.
Tactical Conflict Systems, 545 Newport Drive, Suite 155, Pawtucket, RI,
02861 (401-437-9820). Send $1 for catalog. This is a very extensive line of
25mm Old West buildings and accessories made of hard plaster (I believe) and
metal. There is a variety of buildings to choose from (including a Cowtown
series and a saloon). The buildings are well-detailed, with open interiors for the
most part. You can add windows, staircases and other details; in fact, many of

the buildings are modular, and you can combine different pieces to make a
customized town. They take awhile to assemble and finish, but look great! The
accessories include fences and outhouses. Price range is about $4 to $50.
Favorably reviewed by Hal Thinglum in MWAN #86 and #91. They work well
with 25-28mm figures.
Wild Walls, available from hobby shops; manufactured by Sci-Fi Supply
(address unknown). These are 25mm scale thin plastic building kits. A barn,
jail, log cabin, and saloon are available. These are relatively well-detailed and
inexpensive, but require a fair amount of work (including cutting out the parts
of the building) to finish, and will blow away in a stiff breeze. Still, they look
good when finished!
A Note on Trains
There are several train sets that can be used to add a nice touch to a game, or
even help you recreate a train robbery! HO scale trains work very well with
20mm figures, and (in my opinion) work well with 15's as well. The "Old
Timer" by Bachman is a very nice HO scale train. O scale trains fit perfectly
with 28mm figures, though they are hard to find (and expensive) for this period.
A couple of Lionel 4-4-0 engines, the General and the engine from the Virginia
and Truckee 1988 Service Station Set, are ideal, and can still be found at train
shows; there are also train cars from Lionel that are suitable. Since these are too
pricey for many gamers who are not also railroad enthusiasts, a cheap
alternative is the battery powered trains that come out in droves around
Christmas; but can often be found at Toys-R-Us throughout the year. While
these are a bit large even for 28mm, and may not be the most realistic, they can
work quite nicely, and typically cost around $25-$30 (less in after Christmas
sales).
Old West Part Two: the Rules

Back to MWAN #94 Table of Contents


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Copyright 1998 Hal Thinglum
This article appears in MagWeb (Magazine Web) on the Internet World Wide Web.
Other military history articles and gaming articles are available at http://www.magweb.com

Gaming the Old West


in Miniature
Part Two: The Rules
By Rob Lusk
Old West Part One: Issues, Figures and Accessories
Welcome back, pardners! Here is the second part of my article on Old West
miniatures gaming. In the first article (which appeared in MWAN #94), 1
discussed some of the issues that arise in gaming this period, and reviewed
some of the figures and accessories available. In this article, I will provide an
overview of published Old West rules sets that I am aware of. I will also briefly
discuss some of the factors that I feel should be considered in designing or
evaluating rules for this period.
I would like to stress that I am really providing overviews of rules sets rather
than reviews per se. I will attempt to give the reader a good idea of the
mechanics and important aspects of the rules, without a lot of critical analysis.
If someone publishes a rules set for a period I love, I'm not going to be too
critical! I have used the same overview format for most of the rules in order to
allow for comparability; these are the features that I feel are most important in
evaluating an Old West rules set. While I have playtested many of these rules, I
haven't tried all of them, so I apologize in advance if I have not represented
them accurately.
There are a number of sources for Old West rules these days. One of the best is
MWAN; as you will see, many of these rules sets were published in MWAN,
and I learned about several others via ads. Another great source is MagWeb on
the Internet, which has several publications that contain Old West rules.
Locally, there are a few hobby shops that carry Old West rules, including some
out of print rules (e.g., The Game Room in Washington, IL, Bear Productions in
Champaign, IL, and Beyond Eternity in Peoria, IL); I imagine this is true for
game specialty shops throughout the country, especially those that have been
around for a while. I am always looking for other rules, and would be happy to

correspond with others who share an interest in this period. My E-mail is


Robert.Lusk@gte.net). Now, on with the rules!
Title: A Fistful of Lead, Miniature Wargaming in the Old West, A Quick &
Dirty Set of Rules
Author : Forrest Harris
Publish : the author; out of print but still available in a few Central Illinois game
stores
Date Published: 1993
Format/Pages: Spiralbound, 32 pages plus drawings of buildings, etc. that can
be cut out and used, plus play charts.
Cost: around $12
Focus/Setting: Small scale gunfights of either the historical or Hollywood
variety. Use of a judge is recommended; players' and judges' sections are
included.
Scale: Designed for 25mm figures (but can easily be adapted to other scales), 1:
1 figure to man ratio, ground scale is 1 " = 2 yards. Turns are five seconds long.
Troop Characteristics: Nerve, Marksmanship, Agility, Strength. Most vary from
0-100. Great descriptors included -- e.g., "Molasses in January" to "Greased
Lightning" for Agility. Percentile dice are rolled to generate these.
Action Sequence: Turns are five seconds long. Orders are written on a notepad
at the start of the turn; enough actions are recorded to fill the five seconds. The
judge calls out first second actions, then second, etc. If two actions occur during
the same second that could affect each other (e.g., a shootout), both figures roll
Agility to see who goes first. Lists of allowable actions are provided, as well as
the number of seconds they take. Figures may also react to others' actions (there
are a limited number of options here).
Movement: Simple, fixed movement system, based on type of move (e.g., walk
4" in two seconds).
Missile Fire: Figures roll percentile dice to achieve a target number based on
range and weapon type (with modifiers) -- shots can wound or kill. Ammo is
tracked. Wounds are rolled on a chart to determine location and effect.
Melee: The attacker rolls percentile dice based on Strength (with modifiers).
The defender rolls percentiles based on Strength on another table to determine
additional modifiers to the attacker's roll. This can result in no effect, or being
knocked down, subdued, or killed.
Morale: Nerve must be rolled before a figure makes his first shot, when a figure
is shot at, before attempting to shoot a figure with greater Nerve, or when an
enemy with Nerve at least as good as yours within 6" spits or glares.
Other Features: The judge's section has good advice on how to run games,
character creation, objectives, and setting. A sample scenario is included, as
well as sample characters (both historical and Hollywood variety).

Evaluation: The rules are clear, relatively concise (the rules themselves really
only take up about 11 pages; the rest is scenarios, etc.), and have a very tense,
realistic feel to them. Highly recommended for very small games (no more than
two figures per player).
Also of interest is Forrest's interactive Old West adventure called "The Devil's
Addition," which is like a novel but allows the reader (as the main character) to
choose different options and determine their consequences with the aid of dice.
This is very entertaining and very highly recommended. Available from
Knuckleduster Publications, P.O. Box 1024, Normal, IL, 61761.
Title: Bleeding Kansas, Skirmish Wargame Rules, 1850-1890 Author:
Kenneth M. Van Pelt
Publisher : Lion's Den Wargames; available in some game specialty shops
Date Publisher : 1995
Format/Pages: Good quality paper in plastic sheet cover; eight pages plus a
reference sheet on cardstock.
Cost: Available for $5 from LDW, 1205 Allendale Drive, Greenwood, MO,
64034
Focus/Setting: Small scale skirmishes of the historical or Hollywood variety.
Scale: Suitable for 15, 20, 25 or 54mm figures on a 1: 1 figure to man ratio (a
pace is anywhere from 1 cm to 1 inch). Time scale is "a small elastic unit of
measure."
Troop Characteristics: No characteristics per se, but five types of figures
(Novice, Average, Veteran, Elite, or Hero).
Action Sequence: The turn sequence is randomized, using either cards assigned
to figures or an initiative roll. There are simple but comprehensive options for a
unit's actions.
Movement : Move allowance is determined by a figure's beginning and ending
stance (from 2-12 paces).
Missile Fire: Shooting uses d10's with modifiers. Figures that are hit must make
a saving throw or are wounded; rules are included for variable wounds based on
the type of figure (Novice, Average, Veteran, Elite, or Hero). Rules are also
included to carry wounds over from game to game if desired.
Melee: Combat uses dl O's in an opposed roll with modifiers; the difference
between rolls determines the result.
Morale: Not a factor.
Other Features: Rules for ambushes and surprise are included.
Evaluation: I found these rules a little confusing at times, but overall they are a
very good set for smaller scale skirmishes. Very playable. Highly
recommended.

Title: Boot Hill


Author: Brian Blume and Gary Gygax
Publish : TSR (out of print)
Date Published: 1975
Format/Pages: Printed cardstock cover, 34 pages plus a cardstock reference
sheet, illustrated.
Cost: around $5 originally (quite a bit more now)
Focus/Setting: Wild west gunfights and campaigns. Basic and advanced game
rules are included.
Designed for 25-30mm figures, 1: 1 figure to man ratio. One turn = 10 seconds,
one inch = six feet.
Characteristics: Speed, Accuracy, Bravery, Strength (with 8-13 subcategories in
each). Action Sequence: Each player Moves in turn, then Shooting, then
Brawling. The advanced game has simultaneous movement.
Movement: A fixed distance, with modifiers (e.g., run 24"). The advanced game
adds vehicles.
Missile Fire: Roll on a First Shot Chart to determine who gets the first shot (as
applicable), modified by speed, weapon type, and surprise factors. Base chance
to hit is 50% modifiers. There are two hit location methods, a fast method
(roll percentiles to determine if wound is Light, Serious, or Mortal), and an
exact hit location method with a variety of wound effects. The advanced game
adds fire during movement, and other optional rules.
Melee: Choose punch or grapple. Roll 2d6 + modifiers and consult a table for
the results.
Morale: Optional advanced rules for minor characters. Roll percentiles +
modifiers; must roll < Bravery or "act to avoid the confrontation."
Other Features: Rules for miscellaneous characters, rules for sharpshooting,
stuns, intoxication, gambling, dynamite, misfires, stray bullets, artillery, simple
campaign rules, two scenarios, prices/wages, town diagrams, and suggested
readings.
Evaluation: A classic game. The mechanics are a bit too complex in places, but
some great ideas. Highly recommended. (Note that subsequent versions are roleplaying games, but still have some great source material, and can be found more
easily.)
Title: Bullets & Boots, Wild West Shootout Miniatures Game Rules
Author : Steve Carroll
Published: Appeared in MWAN #83
Date Published: 1996
Format/Pages: Five pages
Cost: Included in MWAN
Focus/Setting: Small scale gunfights of the Hollywood variety.

Designed for 25mm. figures with 2-4 figures per player, 1: 1 figure to man
ratio. Time and ground scales not specified.
Troop Characteristics: No characteristics per se, but three grades of figures:
Veteran types, Lesser Gunfighter types, and Women/children/elderly.
Action Sequence: These rules use a card activation system. Figures act when
their card is drawn, and get 2-8 actions per turn based on the type of action,
type of figure and a d20 die roll divided by three (e.g., moving 2" = one action,
shooting or fighting = two actions).
Movement: 2" per action.
Missile Fire: Simple but creative system for determining hits and wounds
simultaneously. A detailed wound location table is included. Characters can
take multiple wounds in body parts (noted on character sheets, which are
included for photocopying). Ammo is tracked.
Melee: Opponents dice off using a d20 with modifiers. The loser takes one hit.
Morale: Not a factor.
Other Features: Whimsical special rules are included (e.g., for Dusty the Dog).
Evaluation: Overall these are a fun set of rules for small scale skirmishes.
Recommended.
Title: Cowboys N' Indians
Author: Paul Arden Lidberg
Publish : Crunchy Frog Enterprises
Date Published: 1993
Format/Pages: Two pages (I found it on the Internet)
Cost: free with Internet access.
Focus/Setting: A very simple but fun format for skirmishes with a bag or two of
cheap plastic 54mm cowboys and Indians. A game with around 15 figures per
side takes about 30 minutes.
Designed for 54mm plastic figures, 1: 1 figure to man ratio. Time and ground
scales not specified.
Troop Characteristics: No individual characteristics. Cowboys and Indians are
the two troop types.
Action Sequence: (1) Roll Initiative with d6 -- the high roller chooses who goes
first. The player to their left goes second, etc. (2) Move. (3) Combat. (4) Dead
Guy Clean Up. Movement: Cowboys move one paper edge (8 1/2"), Indians
move two paper edges (17"), Horses and Wagons move three paper edges (25
1/2").
Missile Fire: Range = one paper edge (8.5"). Roll 1d6 per figure. Cowboys hit
on odds, Indians on even rolls. Cowboys can move and fire, Indians cannot.
Troops in cover are hit on a 5-6. Hits eliminate the target.
Melee: Same as missile fire.
Morale: Not a factor. Other Features: Four brief scenarios are presented.

Evaluation : A great introduction to more formal gaming for young people or


for a fun "back to basics" game. Could easily be run at a convention. Highly
recommended for its elegant simplicity.
Title: Cowboyz
Author: Mitru Costea III
Publish : Appeared in MWAN #71
Date Published: 1994
Format/Pages: Three pages
Cost: Included in MWAN
Focus/Setting: Simple but effective rules for small scale gunfights of the
Hollywood variety.
Scale: Designed for 25mm. figures (can easily be modified for other scales), 1:
1 figure to man ratio. Time and ground scales not specified.
Troop Characteristics: Each figure has statistics for Shooting, Melee, and
Speed.
Action Sequence: Each figure's statistics are written on a card, and these cards
are shuffled. The cards are drawn one at a time, and the figure whose card is
drawn acts. There are also special event cards (e.g., take an extra turn) that are
rolled for during each action (1/6 chance of getting one). Examples of these are
given, but the gamemaster must make up the rest.
Movement: A figure can run twice per game at 9", 10", or 11 " depending on its
Speed. Otherwise, figures can move half this distance per turn.
Missile Fire: Shooting uses a d6 roll with modifiers. Hit locations are rolled for,
as well as the effects of hits. Ammunition is tracked.
Melee: Both opponents roll a D6 + the figure's Melee value. The high score
wins; ties are rerolled. The winner decides the fate of the loser.
Morale: Not a factor.
Other Features: Special event cards (see Action Sequence above).
Evaluation: These rules are well written and work very well for games with up
to about 12 figures. I really like the use of the action deck and the event cards.
Note that in MWAN #8 1, David Barnes reports on a gunfight using these rules,
and recaps most of the rules themselves. This is an excellent account of the
game, and gives a great feel for how it is played. Highly recommended.
Title: Death on the Prairie, Man to Man Combat on the Western Plains (18601890)
Author: Martin Fenelon
Publisher: Appeared in MWAN #42
Date Published : 1989
Foemat/Pages: 16 pages
Cost: Included in MWAN

Focus/Setting: Recreates small unit actions (U.S. Army vs. Indians); according
to the author, it is a "light hearted simulation of small unit warfare on the
western plains."
Uses a 1: 1 figure to man ratio and 10 second turns. Written for 25mm figures,
but can be modified for other scales. Ground scale is I inch = approximately 4
yards.
Troop Characteristics: Figures have ratings in six different skills (Fire, Melee,
Morale, Strength, Speed, and Aim).
Action Sequence: Cards or chits with unit names on them are drawn each turn,
and when a unit comes up, it gets one action. A variety of actions are available.
Movement: Fixed distances based on type of movement (e.g., move 6" on foot),
with modifiers due to Speed.
Missile Fire: Shooting uses a base chance plus range and other modifiers plus a
d20; the effect ranges from a graze to killed.
Melee: For melee, roll a d2O + Melee value + weapon rating + other modifiers.
The effect ranges from a graze to killed.
Morale: Morale is an important factor in this game; units roll a d10 with
modifiers. The morale rules work quite well, in my opinion.
Other Features: There are a number of optional rules, including tracking ammo,
night engagements, tracking, character advancement, and an appendix on U.S.
military organization.
Evaluation: A very nicely done rule set, clearly written, and works very well
with small scale battles. Very highly recommended.
Title: Desperado, Skirmish Gaming in the Old West
Author: Tom Kelly and "The Posse"
Publisher : The authors; available in many game specialty shops
Date Published : 1992
Format/Pages: Spiralbound, cardstock cover, 22 pages plus play chart.
Cost: around $8
Focus/Selling: Desperado is a "lighter" rules set for 1-2 gunfighters per player
to recreate gunfights of the Hollywood variety.
Scale: Designed for 25mm figures, 1: 1 figure to man ratio. Time and ground
scales not specified.
Troop Characteristics: No individual characteristics for troops.
Action Sequence: You start by compiling a deck of cards with each figure's
name; each figure has from 2-5 cards depending on the figure type. Figures act
when one of their cards comes up. Actions include move, fire, move and fire (at
a minus), do nothing, reload (and walk), and move/mount/ride (and fire at a big
minus).
Movement: Movement is randomized -- players roll a number of d6 that
depends on the type of move (1d6 for crawling to 5d6 for mounted galloping).

Players must declare their move before rolling, so it is possible to get stuck out
in the open. A figure can only run two moves in a row.
Missile Fire: Shooting is percentile based, depending on the range and
applicable modifiers. If a figure hits, the player rolls percentile dice for hit
location and effects. When a figure reaches 100 damage points (or rolls a fatal
result), they are removed. Ammunition must be tracked. Figures can call out
other figures for a showdown; if it is accepted, both move into the street and
fire simultaneously at each other.
Melee: For combat, each figure rolls a d6 with modifiers; the high roll wins and
determines the result (from run away to killed).
Morale: Optional morale rules are included; these are used when a figure is shot
or called out (2d6 are rolled and modifiers are added).
Other Features: Suggested scenarios, character names, and optional rules for
dynamite, fire, and using animals are included.
Evaluation: Desperado is a very fun, fast playing rule set. These are very good
rules for conventions and a fun diversion from hard core gaining. There are a
few ambiguous spots, but they are easy enough to resolve. This is one of the
most popular Old West rule sets available, and with good reason. Very highly
recommended.
Title: Desperado II
Author: Tom Kelly
Publisher: Tom Kelly; available in many game specialty shops
Date Published: 1994
Format/Pages: Spiralbound, 28 pages.
Cost: around $7
Focus/Setting: This is a supplement for Desperado. I will skip to Other Features
to describe it.
Other Features: A quiz about famous lines from Westerns, rules for
showdowns, clarification on calling someone out, extra movement cards (e.g.,
trains, stagecoaches), leader cards (units can use these to move as a unit), agility
rolls, stampedes, burning buildings, breaking down doors, opportunity fire,
using an umpire, 10 scenarios (excellent variety), and an updated list of Old
West game supplies.
Evaluation: Most (if not all) of these rules are worth using, and add to the game
without slowing it down significantly. The scenarios are very well done. Highly
recommended.
Title: Dog Soldiers: Not Too Fussy Injun Fighting Rules
Author: Mark Hannam
Published: Appeared in The Gauntlet #9
Date Published: 1997

Format/Pages: Four pages.


Cost: Included in The Gauntlet
Focus/Setting: U.S. Army versus Indians (actually created to refight the
engagement between Col. Gibson and the Indians at Big Hole). Most figures are
organized into stands of 3-6.
Scale: For 25mm figures, 1 inch = 1 yard; for 15mm. figures, 1 cm = 1 yard. 1:
1 figure to man ratio. Time scale not specified.
Troop Characteristics: Uses EDNA, a numerical indicator of morale/fatigue/will
to fight/guts, which can rise and fall during the game. In the scenario, the
EDNA for the army is 7, scouts 8, and Indians 6. When EDNA reaches 2 the
unit is eliminated.
Action Sequence: Each stand is allotted a playing card shuffled into a deck.
When the card is drawn, the stand performs an action. Mounted troops get an
extra action for every third card drawn. Actions: fire, move, mount, dismount,
melee.
Movement: Base move is EDNA + d6 yards; can charge an additional d6
inches. Mounted move adds +one averaging die. Mounted charge/gallop =
EDNA + averaging die + Leadership for U.S. Army, EDNA + two averaging
dice for Indians.
Missile Fire: U.S. Army carries 9 rounds of ammo per figure, which must be
tracked. Roll 2d6 per Army stand, +1d6 if an officer uses his Leadership bonus.
Indians and Scouts roll 3d6. U.S. Army fires one or two rounds per turn
(Indians fire one round). To hit, the score from any two dice chosen from all
rolled must be < the current EDNA or the number of rounds fired, whichever is
lower (-1 die for cover). Hits cause modifiers to the target's die rolls, EDNA, or
can kill.
Melee: Both sides roll < EDNA as for firing, +one die for each figure the
enemy is outnumbered by. Can lower EDNA or kill up to two enemies.
Morale: Must roll < EDNA on d6 to move out of cover or charge. Officers can
add a die roll. Must roll:5 EDNA to face a charge (with modifiers) or fall back.
You must also roll < EDNA during subsequent rounds of combat or pull out.
Other Features: None included.
Evaluation: The unique use of EDNA for Old West rules is interesting and
gives a realistic feel in larger games. Relatively simple, straightforward rules.
Highly recommended.
Title: Fire and Steel, Skirmish Wargames Rules 1700-1900 (Old West section)
Author: Mark Evans and Dave Wilson
Publisher: Wargames Research Group; available at many game specialty shops.
Date Publisher: March 1996
Format/Pages: Professionally printed color cover, 31 pages plus a page of
counters to be cut out.

Cost: around $14


Focus/Setting: Covers a broad historical period, but includes a Hollywood style
gunfight scenario. Best for small skirmishes, with around eight figures per side.
Scale: Designed for 25mm figures, 1: 1 figure to man ratio. Time and ground
scales not specified.
Troop Characteristics: Each figure has a skill level that ranges from 1-3.
Further, they can have a 1 or 2 on morale rolls or to hit in combat or with
missile weapons.
Action Sequence: Draw cards or chits for each figure (can have units act
together in larger games). Get three actions (Impulses). Can move, fire, reload,
and perform other actions. There are Move and Combat phases.
Movement: 3" on foot, 5" mounted, with modifiers. Can fire during the Move
phase if have previously placed an Aim marker.
Missile Fire: Roll a d6 + Skill level + Weapon/Range Factor (from a table)
modifiers. Find the resulting number on a table; the result can be no effect, a
morale check, or a Type 1-3 hit (roll again to determine if you have just taken a
wound or are removed from play). Figures are automatically removed when
they have taken three wounds. Figures go in the order of their Initiatives. If you
have taken an action to Aim, you can shoot at any time.
Melee: Roll Initiative on d6 + modifiers, go in order (from highest to lowest).
Roll d6 + skill level modifiers. The rest is the same as missile fire.
Morale: Roll d6 + modifiers when a figure takes a wound or as otherwise
directed. Can be pushed back, go to ground, or be okay. Gain Morale Markers
for failing morale checks. These mean you can only go to cover, run away, or
surrender while you have them. You lose one at the end of each turn.
Other Features: Rules for hidden moves, standard troop types, examples of
play, explosives, machine guns, scenario design, and a number of scenarios
including a gunfight.
Evaluation: Well written, these rules play well and have a realistic feel. Highly
recommended.
Title: Garry Owen, Wargames Rules for American Indian Wars
Author: Paul Beck
Publisher: Frontier Miniatures (no longer in print, but still available at some
conventions)
Date Published: Unknown
Format/Pages: Cardstock cover, 26 pages.
Cost: around $5
Focus/Setting: These rules cover the Indian Wars from 1865-1890. There is a
nice seven page introduction which describes the U.S. Army and Indian tribes
in some detail.
Scale: Written for 15mm figures, and use a 1:5 figure to man ratio. A cavalry

troop consists of 12 figures, an infantry company is 16 figures, and an Indian


warband is 20 figures. Time and ground scales not specified.
Troop Characteristics: Troops have a Weapon Ability from 1-4 depending on
troop type and whether they are mounted or dismounted.
Action Sequence: Movement, Artillery Fire, Regular Fire, Melee, Morale,
Rally. Movement and missile fire are simultaneous (although I find that it is
very difficult for players to truly move simultaneously when another player has
troops nearby -- it is too tempting to react to each other).
Movement: There are two movement rates: regular and charge (e.g., 10" and
15" respectively cavalry). There is a good system for mounting and
dismounting.
Missile Fire: Shooting uses a formula: [# figures firing x (maximum range distance fired) x Weapon Ability] divided by 100 = number of kills (modifiers
for cover subtract from the number of kills). If there is a remainder, roll this
number or less on percentile dice to get an additional hit. Simple rules for
artillery are included. Ammunition is limited and must be tracked.
Melee: In combat, each side rolls a d6, and adds their weapon's value (from 1-5)
and modifiers. The high roller kills their opponent.
Morale: Morale is rolled when casualties occur based on the number of figures
lost -- the greater the number, the more likely a unit is to rout. In addition,
troops must roll for control when they get close to the enemy. A unit may do
what they want, charge, stay put, or even retreat, depending on the roll.
Other Features: Historical scenarios are included, as well as supplementary
rules (e.g., for civilians).
Evaluation: Overall, a fast-paced, fun set of rules. The missile fire formula is a
bit too complex for my tastes, but works okay. Highly recommended.
Great Rail Wars, The
Author: Shane Hensley
Publisher : Pinnacle Entertainment Group; available in many game specialty
shops
Date Published: 1997
Format/Pages: Boxed set with 80 page rulebook, 16 page army book (with troop
types), 33 Troop Cards, counters, templates, 17 nicely sculpted pewter figures,
dice, 35 plastic Fate Chips, and four cardstock Western buildings.
Professionally printed.
Cost: around $60
Focus/Setting: Set in the year 1876 in an alternate history where magic,
monsters, undead, and advanced steam tech exist. These were voted Best
Miniatures Rules at Origins '98, and can be played using only historical
characters/units if desired, so I decided to include them.
Designed for 25-30mm figures, 1:1 figure to man ratio. Time and ground scales

are not specified.


Troop Characteristics: Strength, Smarts, Vigor, Shootin', Fightin', and Guts.
Each has a dice type associated with it (from d4 to d12, with d6 being average).
There are two target numbers for rolls -- Easy (4) and Hard (8). For example,
hitting at short range is Easy, while it is Hard at long range. If you get the
highest possible roll on a die, it is rerolled and added; in other words, if you roll
a 6 on a d6, you roll again and add the second roll; if it is a 6, you add both and
keep going. This creates some interesting probability-related issues (e.g., it
becomes easier to roll an 8 on a d6 than a d8), but seems to work well overall.
Action Sequence: Each player or side uses a poker deck to determine the action
sequence (count down from Ace). Units and individual figures have a Speed
factor that determines the number of cards drawn each turn (usually one for
units and two for heroes). Units/figures act when their card comes up. You can
hold one action and use it to interrupt another's action. Normally units can move
and fire.
Movement: 6" on foot, 15" mounted (with modifiers for terrain). If a figure
runs, it gets no other actions, but gains d6" on foot and d10" mounted. Rules for
unit coherency are included.
Missile Fire: The Shooting die is rolled, with the target number based on range
and modifiers. If you hit, the target rolls its Vigor. Depending on how much the
damage done exceeds this roll, the target is either Eatin' Dirt (prone until
recovers) or Put Down (out of the game). Rules for artillery and dynamite are
included.
Melee: Opponents roll Fightin'; if the attacker rolls higher than the defender, he
hits (proceed as in Missile Fire); otherwise there is no effect.
Morale: Under certain circumstances (e.g., excessive casualties), units must
make Guts checks. If they fail, they become Shaken (-I to rolls) and may then
become Panicked if they fail a subsequent test.
Other Features: An interesting addition is the use of "Fate Chips" (you start
with three, and can earn more during the game), which are cashed in to improve
dice rolls. There are rules for horses, scenarios, victory conditions, experience
and advancement, strange occurrences (when Jokers are drawn), and detailed
rules for creating and advancing heroes. A couple of supplements are now out -Derailed!, which includes rules for vehicles and a few rules additions; and A
Fist Full 0' Ghost Rock, which features a campaign plus some rules additions.
More supplements are due shortly.
Evaluation: The rules are very well written in a campy Western style, clear,
relatively easy to learn, and a lot of fun! They are not really complex, but are
rich in detail. The fantasy/horror element and simplicity of some of the rules
(e.g., you can unlimber and fire a 6 lb. cannon in the same amount of time you
can fire a rifle once or a pistol twice) will put off many historical gamers, but
there are many great ideas here. Very highly recommended -- one of my
favorite games.

Gunfighters, Gamblers and Villains of the Old West


Author: Aldo, Ltd. (specific author unknown)
Publisher: Dixon Miniatures; available in some game specialty shops
Date Published: 1991
Format/Pages: Printed on thick paper, seven pages.
Cost: around $4
Focus/Setting: Old West gunfights of the Hollywood variety, using playing
cards instead of dice.
Scale: Designed for 25mm figures, 1: 1 figure to man ratio. Time scale not
specified. Ground scale is 1 cm = 1 meter.
Troop Characteristics: Characters have nine abilities that are generated using
playing cards. Compulsory abilities are Class, Agility, Strength, and Morale. Up
to five additional abilities can be chosen (e.g., Pistol, Hand-to-Hand Combat,
Rifle, Wagon Driving, Gambling). Figures can also use cards to get starting
money to buy equipment.
Action Sequence: In gunfights, characters use playing cards to determine
movement order. The turn sequence is not specified outside of gunfights, but
can be created easily.
Movement: Fixed distance for crawl, walk, and trot (e.g., walk 5 cm). Fixed
distance plus a card pull for run, canter, and gallop.
Missile Fire: To hit, draw a card < the appropriate weapon factor, with
modifiers. If you hit, draw another card (with modifiers) for effect and location.
Melee: Same procedure as for missile fire.
Morale: If a figure is shot at or charged, draw a card -- must be < Morale, or the
figure runs and hides (face cards always fail).
Other Features: There are brief sections covering campaigns, jobs and income,
and costs of items.
Evaluation: The system for gunfights works well and maintains suspense.
Overall, these rules make a very good basis for a game, but you'll have to add
some of your own ideas to flesh them out and make them fully playable. Best
for games with relatively few figures due to the number of abilities per figure.
Recommended, particularly for some of the ideas.
Title: Hey You In The Jail!
Author: Martin Goddard (with additions by Henry Tremblay)
Publisher: Brookhurst Hobbies; also available in game specialty shops
Date Published: 1997
Format/Pages: Spiralbound, cardstock cover, 24 pages.
Cost: Around $ 10
Focus/Setting: Rules for small unit-based battles (about 30-50 figures per side)
in the American West, 1850-1890. These rules allow for the use of a number of

different types of forces (rules for 10 are included). A unique feature is the use
of an "off table" game, played on a map grid, which influences the forces
available in the tabletop game. Can be used for both historical and Hollywoodstyle skirmishes.
Designed for 15mm figures, but can be adapted to other scales. 1: 1 figure to
man ratio. Time and ground scales not specified. Figures are organized in
groups of three per base; leaders are individually based. The point system
included, as well as restrictions on certain types of forces, leads to wellbalanced sides. (Note that base sizes are specified, but when I playtested I didn't
use them, and I don't think it mattered much).
Troop Characteristics: Off table, some forces get bonuses to die rolls (e.g.,
Plains Indians get +1 on information and movement). Leaders have Command
Value.
Action Sequence: The off table game is quick and fim, involving both strategy
and luck. This game determines force sizes used in the tabletop game, as well as
the reinforcement arrival schedule. The author makes a point of suggesting that
gainers try this approach instead of just using the tabletop rules, and I agree that
it makes for a more interesting game. Initiative is rolled to determine who goes
first. Units alternate movement in the tabletop game.
Movement: Foot troops move 4"; mounted move 6"+d6"; wagons move 3"+d6"
at a gallop (which is risky).
Missile Fire: Shooting is simple, and uses d6s; units that are hit get a saving
throw. If they do not save, they are removed.
Melee: Similar to missile fire.
Morale: Test if a leader dies, a group is killed, or you are targeted by another
player. A nice system, which uses the leader's Command Value and the number
of groups in the command to determine a base number to roll. Then modifiers
are added, and a player must roll < this number to hit on a d6. If the roll fails,
the command becomes Pinned (cannot advance). If they fail again, they become
double-pinned and must retreat. They only improve one grade per turn.
Other Features: Victory points (gained for both the off table and tabletop game)
determine the winner and level of victory. Many optional special rules are
included (e.g., trains, dynamite).
Evaluation: These rules are very well written, with lots of color (e.g., a section
on good cliches is included). This is a very fun game, and works well for 15
mm figures. The off table game adds a fascinating twist, and makes the tabletop
game more exciting; it forces players to use more strategy than a typical "shoot
'em up" game. These are currently my favorite rules for 15mm figures. Very
highly recommended.
Title: High Noon, Under Fire in the Wild West
Author: Maurice V. Holmes and Leo A. Walsh

Publisher: 1:1 Games, c/o TCS, 545 Newport Avenue, Suite 155, Pawtucket,
RI, 02861; also available in game specialty shops
Date Published: 1996
Format/Pages: Cardstock cover, stapled, 40 pages plus cardstock play sheets,
wound cards, and counters.
Cost: around $12
Focus/Setting: These are highly detailed, intense rules for smaller gunfights (no
more than three figures per player are recommended); the rules have a realistic
feel to them.
Scale Written for 25min scale figures, but can be adjusted to other scales. 1: 1
figure to man ratio. One turn is 3-5 seconds. Ground scale is 1 inch = 6 feet.
Troop Characteristics: No characteristics per se, but activation chance (see
below) varies based on the type of figure -- from 10% (female civilian) to 35%
(bounty hunter).
Action Sequence: The turn system uses an alternating move sequence, but
figures must make an Activation roll to fire or light a dynamite ftise. This
results in some tense, exciting moments during gunfights.
Movement: There is a detailed movement system (the stance you use at the start
and end of your turn determines your maximum move).
Missile Fire: Shooting is percentile based, with a number of modifiers. Hits can
cause minor or serious wounds. Cards are included which are drawn to
determine wound effects; this is an ingenious system, and makes it easy to keep
track of wounds as well. Rules for suppression fire are included -- activation
chance and chance to hit are reduced when a figure is under fire. Ammo is
limited, and must be tracked.
Melee: Melee is also percentile based. Rolls (with modifiers) are compared first
to a chart, then to each other, and the difference determines the seriousness of
the wound.
Morale: No morale rules per se, but activation and suppressing fire mean
figures don't always do what you want them to.
Other Features: A variety of colorful rules are included, such as rules for
dynamite, dressing wounds, and statistics for many weapons. Historical and
Hollywood scenarios are included.
Evaluation: Overall, these rules are clear and very well written. This is a very
good set of rules for small scale skirmishes, though the often relatively small
percentage chance of activation can be frustrating (albeit suspenseful). Due to
the high level of detail included, I'd limit games to a handful of figures. Highly
recommended.
Title: Hoka Hey! The Indians of the Plains, 1850-1890
Author: M. Goddard of Rules for the Common Man
Publisher : Rules for the Common Man (I got my copy from Modeler's Mart

years ago; it appears they are out of print).


Date Published: 1988
Format/Pages: Stapled, eight pages plus cardstock play sheet.
Cost: unknown
Focus/Setting: For recreating small battles of the Plains Indian Wars. These
rules were written for 15mm figures (base sizes are specified), but are easily
converted to 25mm. They are intended for games with about 30 figures per side.
1: 1 figure to man ratio. Time and ground scales not specified.
Troop Characteristics: There are three main troop types: Veteran, Average, and
Raw. Point costs for each type are included (a nice feature).
Action Sequence: There is a system for initial placement of troops and starting
the game. A chart is used to determine terrain. The last turn of the game is
determined by rolling 2d6 each turn; if a 10-12 is rolled, a further d6 is rolled to
determine the number of turns remaining. There is a victory point table to
determine the winner. The actual turn sequence is never specified, as far as I
could determine; either a card-based or move-countermove by unit system
works well.
Movement: Movement is relatively simple and straightforward; troop types
have a fixed move. Base foot move is 3", and mounted move is 6". Missile Fire:
When a figure fires, it rolls 2d6; the basic firing factor is the difference between
the two dice. Modifiers are added or subtracted; scoring above a certain number
wounds or kills the target.
Melee: Each figure type has a melee points value -- the figure with the highest
value gets a die roll for each point greater than his opponent. If you roll a 6 you
have wounded your opponent; two wounds kills an opponent.
Morale: Rules for counting coup and morale (if a figure takes a wound or a
nearby ftiendly figure dies) are included.
Other Features: There are some interesting rules for using cannons, ambushes,
rivers, trains, stagecoaches, fire arrows, heroes, and wild animals. Finally, a few
scenarios are included.
Evaluation: These are straightforward, fast playing rules. While the mechanics
are simple, they are relatively comprehensive. Highly recommended.
Title: Hollywood Western for Wargamers
Author: Henry Thomson
Publish : Appeared in MWAN #92
Date Published: 1998
Format/Pages: Seven pages.
Cost: Included in MWAN.
Focus/Setting: Written for large scale skirmishes of the Hollywood Western
variety. A specific scenario is presented, but the game can be adapted to others.
Uses U.S. cavalry, militia and sheriff, a wagon train and cattle, miners,

stagecoaches, a hero (the player must be 18 or younger to encourage younger


players to join in -- a nice idea), settlers, U.S. infantry, Indians (not controlled
by players), bandits, outlaws, etc.
Scale: Designed for 15 min figures, 1: 1 figure to man ratio. Time and ground
scales not specified. Uses LOTS of figures (e.g., 250 mounted Indians, 150
Indians on foot).
Troop Characteristics: No characteristics per se, but different troop types have
different moves, shooting, and melee dice.
Action Sequence: Each player gets a reinforcement card and a special event
card; then player movement occurs; then Indian reinforcements and entering
locations are rolled for; then Indian reactions are rolled for on a table (using
2d6); then missile fire; and finally, melee.
Movement: Movement is a variable number of d3 or d6, depending on the troop
type and terrain; Indian movement is fixed at 6" on foot and 12" mounted;
modifiers are applied.
Missile Fire: Two tables are consulted. The first tells the number of d6's to roll
per a certain number of figures/stands, depending on the troop type, range, and
cover. The second tells the chance to hit or force back your target.
Melee: Similar to missile fire.
Morale: No morale rules are included (but Indian reactions are rolled for).
Other Features: Rules are included for reinforcements, ambushes, Indian
reactions, and humorous special events (e.g., army units can run out of beans
and must return to the fort). Victory conditions and rules for the hero's wounds
are also included.
Evaluation: The rules are a bit confusing at times, but have some great, colorful
ideas. This would be a very good convention game. Recommended.
Title: Let Chaos Reign
Author: Gerald Quinn
Published: Appeared in MWAN #85
Date Published: 1997
Format/Pages: One page
Included in MWAN.
Focus/Setting: Can be used for a variety of Old West skirmishes of the
Hollywood variety with a fairly large number of figures.
Designed for 25 or 15mm figures. 1:1 figure to man ratio. Time and ground
scales not specified.
Troop Characteristics: No troop characteristics per se, but troop type affects
movement and adds modifiers to melee.
Action Sequence: Card based turns are used for movement and fire. Each side
has one move card, one fire card, and one shuffle card which are placed in a
deck and drawn to determine who can do what, and when the deck must be

reshuffled.
Movement: Movement is randomized; dice are rolled to determine distance,
with a greater number of dice for mounted troops and Indians.
Missile Fire: Shooting is simple, with a d6 rolled and modifiers added. Hits
automatically kill.
Melee: Both figures in melee roll a dl 0 with modifiers; high roll kills the
opponent. Ties are rerolled.
Morale: Not a factor.
Other Features: Rules for artillery are included.
Evaluation: These are very simple but fun (and bloody!) rules. Because they are
so short, some situations require improvisation, but overall this makes for a
great game with a fairly large number of figures. Highly recommended.
Title: Long Knives
Author: Jim Birdseye
Published: Greenfield Hobby Distributors (out of business); still available in a
few game specialty shops
Date Published: 1985
Format/Page.a: Paperbound, professionally printed color cover, 28 pages.
Cost: around $5
Focus/Setting: The Pony Wars; there is an excellent five page historical
introduction included.
Designed for 25mm figures, 1: 1 figure to man ratio. Ground scale is one inch
equals four yards; one turn equals 20 seconds.
Troop Characteristics: No characteristics per se, but unit type (Civilian,
Cavalry, Indian, Scout, or Cowboy) determines number of action cards,
movement, morale rolls, and other modifiers.
Action Sequence: Actions are card-based, with 1-3 cards in a deck per unit
(depending on the type of unit). Each unit gets two actions per card (e.g., move
and fire or fire twice). Movement: Movement is determined based on rolling
different numbers of d6 (e.g., mounted cavalry roll 3d6), and moving this many
inches. This creates some appropriate disorder on the field, but I was a little
disappointed when my cavalry moved a whopping 3" one turn, and watched
some infantry race past them.
Missile Fire: Firing uses a percentile system, with the target number based on
the weapon used, range, and relevant modifiers (e.g., cover). If you hit, you roll
again to see if the target is wounded, pinned, or killed. There are optional rules
given for tracking ammunition.
Melee Two rounds are fought each turn. Opponents both roll a d6 and add
modifiers. If you hit, you roll again to see if your opponent is wounded, pinned,
or killed.
Morale: Morale can be an important factor in this game, and is rolled using I d6

with modifiers. Tests are made when a unit is charging or being charged, or
takes 10% casualties. Test results range from no effect to stand in place to rout
to 50% of the units commits suicide.
Other Features: Another important factor in the game is determining visibility
of hidden Indian units due to ambushes; this certainly adds to the suspense
level. An optional move sequence is provided (which I prefer).
Evaluation: A sample game is presented, and great examples are provided
throughout the text. This is a very well-written and fun game, and plays well
with up to about 20 figures per player. Many of the game mechanics are simple
but elegant. This game is best suited to U.S. Army vs. Indian skirmishes.
Highly recommended.
Title: Old West Skirmish Rules, 1816-1900
Author: Steve Curtis, Mike Blake, and Ian Colwill
Publisher: Newbury Rules; available in some game specialty shops
Date Published: Originally 1970; 4th edition in 1990.
Format/Pages: Originally published in one rulebook; later in two. Part I (basic
rules) is 48 pages plus a cardstock reference sheet. Part II (additional and
optional rules) is 40 pages and includes cardstock Showdown cards.
Cost: around $15.
Focus/Setting: Apply to a variety of Old West settings with relatively few
figures involved. The emphasis is on realism and detail.
Scale: Originally designed for 54mm figures, but can be used with figures as
small as 15mm. They state that you can have up to 50 figures per side, but I'd
recommend far fewer. 1: 1 figure to man ratio. Regarding ground scale, one
inch = one yard for 54mm; one cm = 1 yard for 20-25mm.
Troop Characteristics: Three troop types -- Novice, Average, and
Professional/Veteran. Points values for each type are included (along with
values for weapons and horses). Abilities range from 1-10 in Hand-to-Hand
Combat, Revolver, Rifle, Bow, Throwing, Lariat/Whip, Horsemanship, and
Draw Speed.
Action Sequence: Games are divided into Phases, which represent "a very short
period of time." Orders are written on a record sheet for each phase, followed
by target nomination, movement, fire, melee, observation tests, and reactions. A
number of possible actions are specified with the number of Phases needed for
each.
Movement: Rate and direction are written on orders. A simple system for foot
movement is included (e.g., walk 1.5 yards per phase). Mounted movement is
more complex, and involves different rates of deceleration and turning based on
rider type. There is lots of terrain differentiation with various effects and risks
involved (e.g., getting stuck in the mud).
Missile Fire: There are two main types of shooting -- Snap firing and Aimed

fire (which takes longer but gives better accuracy). There are rules for fanning
and cover fire. Information on a large number of weapons is included. The
chance to hit is a percentile roll based on the range, target status, and modifiers.
The to hit roll is cross-referenced with the chance to hit on another table to
determine the type of wound. There is an extensive discussion of cover types
and effects.
Melee: Cross reference the attacker's weapon with the defender's weapon to
determine the percentile chance to hit. Then apply modifiers. If one man hits, he
causes a wound; if both hit, no wound is caused. Type of wound is determined
as described above in Missile Fire.
Morale: Reactions are an important factor. They refer to a momentary pause,
for the most part, before you can act again or respond to something that just
happened. They are fastest for Professionals, and slowest for Novices.
Other Features: Part I includes rules for falling, hidden moves, visibility and
observation, and showdowns. Part II has many additional features, including
marksmanship, more rules for wounds, medical treatment and recovery,
drunkards, fire and explosions, brawling, expanded showdown rules (actually a
mini-game called "The Fastest Gun"), using bodies of water/boats/ships,
combat on boats/ships, trains, roping and whipping, animals, gaining experience
(for a campaign), adding personality characteristics (Bravery, Intelligence,
Disposition, Reliability, Morale), civilians/bystanders, and buildings.
Evaluation: Some great ideas, but too many contingencies have been taken into
account, in my opinion. Plays well if some of the details are ignored.
Recommended.
Title: Once Upon A Time In The West, Rules for gunfight wargames 18301880
Author: Ian S. Beck and John D. Spencer
Publisher: Tabletop Gaines; available from Brookhurst Hobbies
Date Published: 1978
Format/Pages: Cardstock cover, professionally printed. Includes a quick
reference sheet, and an "AGRO" -- Advanced Gunfight Recreation Disc (a
multi part cardstock disc that is used to determine chance to hit). The rules have
four categories of complexity; there are also four parts/booklets (three original
and one supplement). Part one (The Stage is Set) is 58 pages, and contains the
basic rules. Part two (The Plot Thickens) is 26 pages, and adds a number of
optional rules as well as "public participation" rules -- a simple, four page set
for conventions. Part three (With a Cast of Thousands) is 56 pages, and adds
abilities (Weapon, Mental, and Physical), a point system, lots of information on
weapons, "army lists" (mainly from movies and TV shows), and game
suggestions. Part four (The Return of Once Upon a Time in the West) is a
supplement authored solely by Ian Beck and is 48 pages. It contains rules for

role playing with characters, and includes rules for experience, characteristics
advancement, income, weather, ricochets, new weapons, new army lists, and
other information.
Cost: around $20 for parts 1-3, and $8.50 for part four.
Focus/Setting: Primarily gunfights of the Hollywood variety, but these are
adaptable to many situations.
Designed for 25min or 54mm figures using a 1: 1 figure to man ratio. One turn
= two seconds. Ground scale is 1cm = 1 yard for 25mm, 1" = one yard for
54mm.
Troop Characteristics: Depending on which aspects you use, there are a number
of variables that could be considered characteristics. These are primarily
grouped as Weapon, Mental, and Physical Abilities. There is a point system in
Part 3.
Action Sequence : Turns are divided into two Phases of one second each. There
is a large table of actions including the amount of time each takes using the
favored hand, unfavored hand, and both hands, as well as modifiers for wounds.
Movement: A simple system based on type of move (e.g., walk 4 yards per
phase).
Missile Fire: Four types of shots -- snap, deliberate, aimed, and panic. The
AGRO is used to determine percentage chance to hit and the effects of a hit.
The AGRO takes a LOT of variables into account and is exceedingly complex
to use (it was for me, anyway). There are rules for wound locations, four types
of wounds, various wound effects, and rules for recovery from wounds. This is
too much detail for my tastes.
Melee: Melee is percentile based and very complex. Start by determining the
"Combat Potential" of a figure. To illustrate how complex this is, here is a
quote: "To find this, compare the Close Combat factor of the figure to the Close
Combat factor of the opponent. Subtract the lower from the higher and multiply
by 10. Add this to 80. The result is the potential of the figure with the highest
Combat factor." This can be allocated in different ways. Then, both opponents
write down how their potential is distributed, and apply the relevant modifiers.
There are additional optional rules as well. Finally, percentiles are rolled, and a
chart is consulted to determine effects.
Morale: A relatively complex system is included.
Other Features: Rules for the following are included: perception (e.g., "a cigar
can be smelt at a range of 10 yards in the open"), falling, impulse fire, duck
backs, fanning, horses and wagons, dogs, surrendering, explosives, and fast
draws. Many other areas are covered as well. As already mentioned, there is a
simple set of rules for conventions included in the main set.
Evaluation: Overall, these are by far the most complex Old West rules I've ever
encountered. In my opinion, they provide rules for many, many things that you
don't really need rules for. However, they provide some outstanding reference
material for those designing their own rules. Recommended.

Title: Pony Wars, or B Troop Ain't Coming Back


Author: Ian S. Beck Publisher: Tabletop Games; available from Brookhurst
Hobbies (or via E-mail from Sven@Silvermane.com)
Date Published: 1980
Format/Pages: Cardstock cover, 33 pages plus play sheet.
$9.50
Focus/Setting: These rules are for VERY large scale games involving U.S.
troops, Indians, and civilians. The U.S. cavalry is clearly the Hollywood version
(and meant to be). All of the players are on one side, commanding U.S. troops
and civilians; the Indians' strength and moves are determined randomly. Pony
Wars can also be played solo due to this feature. The rules recommend that you
have more than 100 U.S. troops, more than 100 civilians, and more than 700 (!)
Indians available (not all are used, but can be in a game; I found the rules
workable with far fewer figures. I divided by up to 10 in some cases).
Scale: Designed for 15mm figures at a 1: 1 figure to man ratio. Time and
ground scales not specified.
Troop Characteristics: No characteristics per se, but troop type affects missile
fire, melee ability, and morale.
Action Sequence: Cards are drawn each turn from a deck with various numbers
of U.S. and Indian reinforcements, as well as ambush, liability, and special
cards (examples of cards are 20 hostiles, 10 troopers, wagon train, avalanche).
Movement: Movement is straightforward -- there are three rates per troop type
(normal, charge, and pursued). For example, infantry normally moves 6".
Missile Fire: Shooting is percentile-based, and the target number depends on
the type of firer, range, and target type. Ammo is tracked by unit/figure. Figures
that are hit are removed.
Melee: Melee is also percentile-based, and depends on who is
attacking/defending. Characters (e.g., Ringo, Dando, and The Lone Ranger) get
saving throws. Figures that are hit are removed.
Morale: Indians roll for reactions on 2d6; reactions vary by different situations,
with a number of interesting results. Civilians must also roll reactions, but can
be brought "under orders" by proximity to U.S. troops.
Other Features: There are colorful rules for characters, stagecoaches, wagon
trains, etc. Due to the reinforcement arrival system, the rules call for table edges
to be marked with numbers at different intervals. Information is provided on
how to make table edges and other scenery. (I used a diagram of the table to roll
for reinforcements, which worked well, so you don't really need to have the
numbers on the table.)
Evaluation: I don't think most of us will ever have all of the figures called for,
but the rules still work out relatively well on a smaller scale. Some quirky
things can happen with the random/table-driven arrival of troops, but overall

this is a fun game, creative and well written. Highly recommended.


Title: Red Indian Rules for The Sword & The Flame, by Frank Chadwick,
MWAN #20, p. 18. A brief overview of statistics to use with TSATF, which is a
fim, fast paced colonial rule set. Rules are not included for U.S. troops, but stats
for the British can be used. TSATF is a fun game, and the Indian wars make a
good adaptation for it.
Red Indian Uprising, Wild West Rules circa 1860-1890
Author: Tony Duckenfield
Publisher: Appeared in Practical Wargamer, "American Wars" special issue
Date Published: January/February issue, 1996
Format/Pages: Six pages, including campaign map, charts, and photos
Cost: Included in Practical Wargamer
Focus/Setting: U.S. Army versus Indians in the context of a campaign in which
one player is a U.S. Army General protecting the civilians, and other players
take Indian tribes.
In the campaign, one move = one week, one figure = 10 men, and one map hex
= 5 miles. In the tabletop game, the figure to man ratio is 1: 10, the ground scale
is 1: 1000 (1 cin = 10 yards), and one turn is 2.5 minutes. The rules appear to be
designed for 25mm figures, but can be used with any scale with modifications.
Troop Characteristics: No characteristics per se. Troop types (e.g., for morale)
include Novice Army/Civilian, Experienced Army, Veteran Army, and Indian.
Troop type affects Movement, Fire, and Morale.
Action Sequence: Morale tests for status change, Army move, Indian move,
Fire (simultaneous), Army morale, Indian morale, combat.
Movement: A fixed amount based on troop type and terrain type (e.g., 10 cm on
a track for infantry).
Missile Fire: The number of figures firing is divided by a number based on type
(Army or Indian/Civilian) and range that is looked up in a chart. For example,
at close range, Army divides by two, while Indians and civilians divide by
three. This gives the number of d6 to roll for casualties on a table that takes
amount of cover and range into account. For each casualty, a d6 is rolled on a
Casualty Category table to determine the effect of the wound (fatal, bad, or
light). Rules for Gatling guns and artillery are included.
Melee: Each figure in melee rolls a d6 with modifiers; if one combatant scores
two or more than his opponent, a d6 is rolled on a Casualty Category table to
determine the effect of the wound (fatal, bad, or light).
Morale: Tested when contact with the enemy is imminent, 20% of one's force is
lost in one move, and after each round of melee where you have suffered at
least 25% more casualties than your opponent. Indians and civilians roll a d6;
Army rolls an average die; this number is added to the unit's Morale Point. As

an example, the basic Morale Point of Experienced Army troops is 4. There are
a number of modifiers to this roll. The final result is looked up on the Morale
Effects Table, which determines what the unit will do (options are Stand, Halt,
Retire, Retreat, Rout, Advance, Charge).
Other Features: Rules for "tiredness" are included. A sample skirmish is also
included, which is very helpful in understanding the game mechanics.
Campaign rules are included, with rules for movement on the strategic map,
events, and Indian action cards. Rules for morale and victory conditions are
included.
Evaluation: The rules are well written and creative. My only concern is that
they are more complex than they need to be (some of the mechanics could be
simplified). The campaign rules sound like they would provide a nice
framework for skirmishes. Recommended.
Title: Skirmish Wargaming (Old West section)
Author: Donald Featherstone
Publish :Time Rover Press, 40124 Lone Oak Rd., Zion, IL 60099-9581;
available from Emperor's Headquarters
Date Published: 1995 (originally published 1975)
Format/Pages: Paperback, professionally printed, 128 pages. General rules are
10 pages, and the Old West section is 10 pages; there are many other periods
covered as well.
Cost: around $20
Focus/Setting: Gunfights in the late 1880's, but can be applied to other Old
West settings.
Scale: No specified figure size. 1: 1 figure to man ratio. One cm = one pace, one
phase is about five seconds. Ground scale can be modified as needed.
Troop Characteristics: Three types of men -- Veteran, Average, and Novice. No
characteristics per se, but figure type results in modifiers to rolls.
Action Sequence: Write orders, move, fire, melee, note reactions. At the start of
the game, give each side an objective and general orders which apply until
changed (changing takes one phase). Most actions take one phase.
Movement: A simple system with fixed movement (e.g., walk four paces);
figures move a certain distance each phase based on type of movement and
terrain.
Missile Fire: Two types of fire -- aimed (takes two phases) and snap fire (takes
one phase). Roll percentiles to hit based on range and target status (with
modifiers). If hit, consult a chart for effects based on the number needed to hit
and the number you rolled to hit.
Melee : Both parties involved roll percentiles on a table with the TN based on
the weapons they are using. If both or neither hit, there is no effect. If one hits,
wounds are calculated as with shooting.

Morale: No morale per se, but rules for Reaction are included. You must React
on the phase after you fire, fight, spot an enemy, or have a sudden or
unexpected occurrence. When reacting, Average and Novice figures take
deductions from rolls.
Other Features: A short story set in Kansas, 1888, provides the background for
a scenario, characters, rules for weapons specific to this period, and rules for
drawing and firing.
Evaluation: Simple but elegant rules, very well written, lots of fun. These work
best with relatively few figures due to the use of written orders. Highly
recommended.
Some Dance at Duckardy
Author: Chris Scott
Publisher: Appeared in Miniature Wargames #181
Date Published: June 1998
Format/Pages: Six pages, including photographs and a diagram of the town, and
a copy of the Gunfight Gazette (a newsletter provided to players prior to the
game); the actual rules take less than a page.
Cost: Included in Miniature Wargames
Focus/Setting: Wild west shootouts of the Hollywood variety
Scale: Designed for 54mm figures, 1: 1 figure to man ratio. Time and ground
scales not specified.
Troop Characteristics: Figures have Personality Points, which range from 1-3.
Action Sequence: Simultaneous movement, then combat.
Movement: Run 30 cm, Walk 20 cm, Crawl/Skulk 10 cm.
Missile Fire: Roll d2O + Personality Points + modifiers; 0-10 = misses, 11-20 =
grazes to kills (depending on the total).
Melee: Roll d20 + Personality Points + modifiers. Effects are the same as
Missile Fire.
Morale: Not a factor.
Other Features: There is a point system for determining the winner of the game.
The number of points gained depends on who kills whom (e.g., Lawmen get
five points for killing "baddies," but zero for townsfolk). This is looked up on
the Corpsing Table (!). You can also "apply to the umpire" for more points for
role playing, etc. Contains colorful descriptions of 13 groups that can be used.
Game description is included.
Evaluation: The Gazette is a neat idea. This is a simple, straightforward set of
rules. I usually find simultaneous moves to be a problem, even with very fair
players. Great descriptions of groups and special objectives. Recommended for
a convention game.
Title: The Rules With No Name, A Straightforward Set of Rules for

Triggernometry, Bloodshed and Mayhem in the Old West


Author: Bryan Ansell
Publishe : The Foundry (U.K.)
Date Published: I have a copy of the playtest edition dated 5/29/96; a playtest
version also appeared in MWAN #82.
Format/Pages: Photocopied, 18 pages.
Cost: This edition was available for $6, or $2.50 with a miniatures order
(though actually, they sent me a copy for free, and have done so with others
who have ordered as well). Also, a free copy can be requested via E-mail --see
www.icenter.net/-gisby for details.
Focus/Setting: Old West gunfights of the Hollywood variety, with relatively
few figures.
Designed for 25min figures, 1: 1 figure to man ratio. Time and ground scales
not specified.
Troop Characteristics: Four character types: Citizen, Gunman, Shootist, and
Legend. Optional rules for skills are also included.
Action Sequence: Actions occur based on cards drawn from a Fate Deck. This
deck consists of one card for each figure and special cards with character types
on them (Citizen, Guninan, Shootist, and Legend). Each figure is one of these
types. When a special card is drawn, it stays on the table until a character of this
type (or a more powerful type) has their card drawn. This character may take
the special card and play it immediately or hold it and use it to interrupt
another's action. This works well to increase suspense and the feeling of
simultaneous movement without the liabilities that occur if anyone can hold any
action. There is also a Joker card, which causes a player to discard and shuffle
the deck.
Movement: Movement is randomized; figures on foot can move a maximum of
3d6 inches (but citizens must move the actual distance rolled if possible, which
can lead to some humorous situations).
Missile Fire: To shoot, players roll a variable number of d6 based on the
weapon used, range, and modifiers. If any rolls are 6's, the shot hits. Characters
can "blaze away" and hit multiple times, but this can cause them to jam their
weapon or run out of ammo. Hits and near misses cause characters in cover to
duck back (seek cover), and they must then recover; this is a nice way to handle
suppressing fire. Rules for fast draws are also included.
Melee: For melee, both sides roll a d6, add modifiers, and consult a table for the
result (knocked down or wounded). To determine wound types, players can roll
the location and severity on a chart, or (my preference) draws chits with the
wound types printed on them. Wounds range from graze to serious to dead.
Morale: Optional rules for morale (called Nerve) are included.
Other Features: Optional rules for experience, skills (e.g., crack shot),
additional action cards, and event cards are included. These rules are ftm but
make the game more complex, and I recommend that you use them for games

with very few figures. Note that Walter O'Hara and


David Markley created some excellent (albeit unauthorized) supplementary
material for these rules (see MWAN #96). Their article includes rules for hiding
and detection, dynamite, NPC's, rapid fire weapons, doctorin', cattle stampedes,
prone actions, fumbles, and.instructions for a shotgun template.
Evaluation: These are very enjoyable and creative rules for smaller scale
gunfights. I look forward to the final version. Highly recommended.
Title: U.S. Indian Wars 1870-1890
Author: Max A. Ray
Publish : Appeared in The Courier Vol. 2 #4.
Date Published: 1981
Format/Pages: Eight pages.
Cost: Included in The Courier.
Focus/Setting: As the name implies, the focus is on skirmishes between the U.S.
Army and Indians. "The intent of the rules was to provide a game somewhere
between the Skirmisher and the one figure equals one Troop type."
Designed for l5mm figures, 1:5 figure to man ratio, l5mm = five feet, one turn =
one minute.
Troop Characteristics: Troops types have different morale bonuses (+0 to +10).
Action Sequence: Morale, Orders, Movement (simultaneous), Firing, Melee.
Simple orders must be written for each turn to cover movement and reaction.
Alternatively, players can dice for initiative and alternate movement.
Movement: Fixed move based on type of movement (e.g., slow walk =
150mm). Formations are used for regulars and militia.
Missile Fire : Fire 1-3 rounds per turn depending on the weapon. Roll
percentiles to hit based on range, type of weapon, and whether or not the firer
and/or target are moving. Ammunition is a factor. Hits eliminate the opponent.
Each figure comes up with a total based on troop type, weapon type, being
mounted or in cover, and whether or not you are charging. The difference
between the totals determines the percentage chance to hit. Hits eliminate the
opponent.
Morale: Checked only if the unit is surrounded and outnumbered 4:1 or better,
or they are ordered to perform a suicidal or heroic act. Add the number of
figures remaining in the unit to a troop type modifier; the total determines the
outcome (varies from charge to run away).
Other Features: Rules for fatigue, carrying water, ambushes, artillery,
entrenchments/cover, smoke and fire, terrain, and weather are included. There
are also notes on organization, and brief information on some famous
skirmishes.
Evaluation: The rules play relatively quickly despite some unique mechanics.
Though I felt they needed some tinkering, they provide a very good foundation

for a historical game. Recommended.


Title: Warpaint
Author: Stephen Lawrence (who, by the way, runs very entertaining games and
paints Old West figures incredibly well)
Publisher: Emperor's Press (312-777-7307); available in many game specialty
shops
Date Published: 1996
Format/Pages: Cardstock color cover, professionally printed, 32 pages.
Warpaint actually consists of two rules sets, a Battle Game and a Skirmish
Game (see below).
Cost: around $15
Focus/Setting: The Battle Game mainly covers U.S. Army vs. Indian battles,
and works well with a fair number of figures per side; the Skirmish Game is
best for gunfights on a smaller scale.
Scale: Designed for 25mm figures, 1: 5 figure to man ratio for Battle Game, 1:
1 figure to man ratio for Skirmish Game. In the Battle Game, the time scale is
one turn = one minute; in the Skirmish Game, turns are 30 seconds long. in the
Battle Game, 1 inch = 10 yards; in the Skirmish Game, 1 inch = 5 yards.
Troop Characteristics: Both sets feature the use of Quality Dice, where more
skilled figures (e.g., veterans) use a larger dice type (e.g., eight sider vs. six
sider) to roll a target number. This concept (used in some role-playing games,
but I've rarely seen it applied to miniatures) allows for quick play and good
differentiation among figures at the same time. In the Skirmish game, players
have Quality Dice in five categories: Rifle, Handgun, Hand-to-hand, Riding,
and Morale. In the Battle Game, each figure has a specified Quality Dice type
for all rolls.
Action Sequence: The Battle game employs a move-countermove system with
the order varying based on who has initiative; the Skirmish game adds Quick
Draws where players must roll to see who goes first.
Movement: A fixed amount (based on terrain type) plus d6" with modifiers
(e.g., mounted cavalry move 10" + d6" on Normal Ground).
Missile Fire: There are three ranges -- Close, Effective, and Long. Each weapon
has a target number for each range (plus modifiers); the Quality Die is rolled to
hit.
Melee: Each figure rolls a Quality Die with modifiers. The difference between
the dice results in outcomes ranging from the attacker being disarmed to the
defender being wounded or killed (figures are killed if they take two wounds).
Morale: Tests on Quality Dice are taken in five situations (e.g., after taking a
casualty). The target number is based on troop type. The results of a failed
morale test vary based on the cause of the test.
Other Features: Scenarios are included. There are rules for counting coup,

artillery, sample unit organizations, playcharts, and designer's notes.


Evaluation: The rules are clear, relatively concise (the rules themselves really
only take up about 11 pages; the rest are scenarios, etc.), and have a realistic
feel to them. The scenarios are very diverse and entertaining. If you want a
good balance of historical realism and fun, get these rules! Very highly
recommended.
Title: West of the Pecos
Author: Sam Maxwell
Publisher: appeared in MWAN #68
Date Published: 1994
Format/Pages: Six pages.
Cost: included in MWAN
Focus/Setting: Designed for classic Old West gunfights and brawls of the
Hollywood variety.
Scale : 1: 1 figure to man ratio; can be used with any size figures. Time and
ground scales not specified.
Troop Characteristics: No troop characteristics.
Action Sequence: Each figure gets three actions per turn, using either chit
markers or written orders. Figures may choose from five possible actions,
which occur in the following order during each turn: Grab, Shoot, Move,
Watch, Load.
Movement: Movement is variable (3d6 inches).
Missile Fire: Shooting uses a d20 with modifiers. A card from a normal playing
deck is pulled to determine the number of wounds inflicted (a figure has 100
total wounds).
Melee: There are simple rules for brawls. Roll a d6 (with modifiers) for
Initiative. The winner pulls a card to determine the number of wounds inflicted.
Morale: Not a factor.
Other Features: Simple rules are included for using dynamite. Sheets are
provided for statistics and orders.
Evaluation: These are simple, well-written, and fun rules for relatively few
figures (no more than about three per player). Highly recommended.
Title: Western Gunfight Skirmish Rules
Author: Kevin White
Publisher: Appeared in Lone Warrior #114
Date Published: 1996
Format/Pages: One page.
Cost: Included in Lone Warrior
Focus/Setting: Wild west gunfights or Indian skirmishes of the Hollywood
variety.

Designed for 25mm or 54mm. figures. For 25min figures, 1 cm = 1 yard. For
54mm figures, 1 inch = 1 yard. Time and ground scales not specified.
Troop Characteristics: Characters and units have a Hand-to-Hand Fighting
Factor and a Firing Factor. Both are created by rolling two average dice (one
positive and one negative). It is therefore possible to have negative Factors.
Characters are designated as Novice, Average, or Expert.
Action Sequence: A card-based system is used. Experts and Indians get three
cards, while Average and Novice characters get two. When a character's card
comes up he can perform an action. Experts and Average characters can move
and fire in the same action; novice characters can move or fire. There is also a
card labeled STOP placed in the deck (which means shuffle and start a new
turn).
Movement:54mm figures move 3" per action, 25mm figures move 3 cm. per
action.
Missile Fire: Weapons have Short, Medium, and Long ranges. Roll a d6 + your
Firing Factor with modifiers; you hit on a 4 or better. Roll again for wound
severity (light wound to dead).
Melee: Roll d6 per character involved, + their fighting factor and modifiers; you
hit on a 4 or better. Roll again for wound severity (light wound to dead).
Morale :Not a factor.
Other Features: None included.
Evaluation: Simple but fun skirmish rules, very playable. Recommended.
Title: Westward Ho
Author : Unknown
Publisher: Unknown (I got it from Modeler's Mart years ago)
Date Published: Unknown
Format/Pages: Cardstock with vinyl cover, seven pages (41/2 pages of rules, the
rest is an example of play).
Cost: Unknown
Focus/Setting: A lighthearted approach to small scale skirmishes of the
Hollywood variety (about three figures per player).
Scale: Apparently designed for 25min figures, 1: 1 figure to man ratio, time and
ground scales not specified.
Troop Characteristics: Move, Speed, Accuracy, Nerve, Hits, Melee. Roll dIO
(with modifiers) for each.
Action Sequence: Nerve Recovery, Townie/Critter Movement (random), Player
Movement, Shooting, Melee, Fight Fires, "General Mayhem" (e.g., whoops and
catcalls).
Movement: Lowest Move goes first (ties are simultaneous). Movement is
simple, and based on type of move (e.g., 10 cin for foot). Townies and critters
move randomly.

Missile Fire: Highest Speed goes first (ties are simultaneous). Roll percentiles
to hit -- base 100% chance, minus range and + modifiers. If hit, cause d10
wounds. When wounds exceed Health, the figure is removed. Rules for fire
arrows are included.
Melee: Opponents roll percentiles; the chance to hit is 100% with modifiers. If
hit, cause d10 wounds.
Morale: If wounded, must make a Nerve roll -- you may run or surrender if you
fail the roll.
Other Features: Very good example of play included.
Evaluation: Simple but playable rules. Missile fire formula takes some getting
used to. Recommended.
Title: Yellow Ribbon, Rules for Indian Wars 1850-1890
Author: Greg Novak
Publisher: previously Ulster Imports; I believe they are currently published by
Rafm. Can be ordered via E-mail from Sven@Silvermane.com.
Date Published: 1989 (2nd edition; there may be a newer one)
Format/Pages: Cardstock cover, 48 pages plus two cardstock quick reference
sheets.
Cost: around $8
Focus/setting: Designed for historical simulations involving the U.S. Army,
civilians, and Indians. The author recommends 1-3 units for each Army player
and 2-5 units for Indian players.
Designed for 9nun - 30nun figures, although smaller scale figures are
recommended. I really like the following quote: "in the American west, terrain
should tower over the figures, rather than have the figures tower over the
terrain" (p. 7). Sliding figure to man ratio from 1:2 to 1:5. One inch = 10 yards.
Turns are approximately five minutes long. Units typically have between eight
and 18 figures.
Troop Characteristics: Movement/Exhaustion on foot, Movement/Exhaustion
on horse, Fieldcraft, Marksmanship, Close Combat, Morale (U.S. Army only),
and Medicine (Indians only). Most range from Poor to Crack, though a few are
number based.
Action Sequence: Consists of phases: Command Phase (orders are given -- up
to seven types are possible), Move Phase, Fire Phase, Morale/Medicine Phase,
Close Combat Phase, Second Medicine Phase.
Movement: Some is a fixed amount; other types (e.g., charge, skirmish) move a
variable number of d6 in inches.
Missile Fire: Roll a number of d6 that depends on the number of figures firing,
the range, and the type of weapon used. The chance to hit and use up ammo are
based on Marksmanship. Modifiers to the number of dice rolled as well as base
numbers needed to hit are included. This is a fairly complex system, but works

well. There are two methods to determine saving throws. One is a simple dice
roll; the other uses playing cards to determine the effects of hits (from none to
serious wound to kill; two serious wounds = dead). Melee: A d6 is rolled for
each figure involved, and modifiers are added. A 6 hits.
Morale: Command and control are very important. Generally, a leader must
truly be leading to ensure that units do what they are told. Indians tend to react
to circumstances instead of following prescribed orders. Morale is rolled with
2d6 plus modifiers.
Other Features: Suggested historical unit organizations are included. There are
optional rules for limiting communication between players on the same side.
Rules for artillery are included. Note that a companion volume, And
Continually Wear The Blue (also available for around $8), provides an
excellent historical overview of the army of this period. It discusses
organization, the officer corps, soldiers, tactics, gives lots of examples of forces
from campaigns, includes five scenarios, and a bibliography.
Evaluation: These rules take an excellent historical perspective on this period,
and are among the best to capture the "true" historical feel of Army/Indian
skirmishes. They are more complex than most Old West rule sets, but are very
well written, comprehensive, and have good examples throughout. They flow
well when mastered. Playing Indians can be frustrating since they often do not
do what you want them to, but the game has a very realistic feel. Highly
recommended.

Campaigns and Scenarios:


In addition to the scenarios provided in some rules sets, the following resources
provide background information and/or some good reasons to have a battle:
Hell Comes to Cow Town, a Wild West Gunfight Scenario, by Walt O'Hara
and Dave Markley, is a very well done scenario for The Rules With No Name,
including many colorfal characters and a recap of a convention game. It appears
in MWAN #96.
Howard Whitehouse presents a very amusing scenario in MWAN #87.
Massacre in Oldfield, a jailbreak scenario for the Bleeding Kansas rules by Jon
M. Haworth, appears in The Penny Whistle #38. It is a very nicely done
scenario with an excellent background.
Opening Shootouts: Wild West by John Mansfield, published in the Courier,
Vol. 2, #1. Contains three scenarios -- Shootout, Plots in a Hat, and Strangers

on a Train. The latter two include role-playing elements.


Plains Wars Campaigns and Skirmish Scenarios by Pete Panzeri. Cardstock
cover, 27 pages, published in 1996 by DPI Publishing (available from
Emperor's Headquarters). Contains chapters on campaigning the Plains Wars,
four skirmishes, and tactics. Very well written and researched; an excellent
reference.
Pony Wars Campaign of 1876 by Robin Thompson, published in 1996 by
Freikorps 15. Comes with a cardstock cover, a fold out map, illustrations, and
photos; 50 pages. Costs around $8. Contains a wealth of information about the
U.S. Army operations against the Sioux and Cheyenne Indians, which began in
1876. Includes detailed suggestions for gaming, modifiers to the Yellow Ribbon
rules set, unit record cards, and a bibliography. Very well written and
comprehensive.
Promise, El Dorado: A Wild West Campaign, Part One, by Mark McCall, in
Frontline's first issue. A very nicely set up campaign for six players. I haven't
seen part two yet, but am looking forward to it!
Range War! by Ian Barstow, three pages, appeared in Wargarnes Illustrated
#122 in November 1997. Campaign rules for a range war between rival
ranchers. Developed for Guernsey Foundry's Rules With No Name set. Relies
heavily on chance cards, which result in occurrences, opportunities, or
additional characters; 19 examples of chance cards are provided. Rules for
droving cattle, and scoring victory points are included.
Stephen Lawrence provides some good scenarios for Warpaint in MWAN #87.
Tiempo Caliente en la Pueblo Viejo, by Stephen Lawrence, in MWAN #63,
two pages. Modifications to Desperado to run a Magnificent Seven scenario.
Provides additional rules and statistics for characters as well as set up
instructions for the scenario. An excellent adaptation of this movie.
Western Scenarios by Kenn Hart, in MWAN #91 -- some very interesting and
amusing ideas.

Factors to consider when designing or evaluating


Old West rules:
Focus/Setting: Do you want to focus on man to man gunfights between

cowboys/gunslingers, or do you want to recreate larger skirmishes between the


U.S. Army and the Indians? This is the first question to ask when choosing or
designing an Old West rules set. Your decision about which you like best will
have implications for most of the factors that follow. Obviously, this is a matter
of personal preference. I personally enjoy both types of games. In my
experience, the gunslinger-type games are better at attracting new players and
tend to generate more enthusiasm among players.
Scale: I discussed the main issues here in Part I of this series. To recap a few
points, rules that recreate gunfights virtually always use a 1: 1 figure to man
ratio; rules that cover the Indian wars may have ratios as high as 1: 10. Smaller
figures work best with these higher ratios. 20mm is probably as small as you
would want to go for 1: 1 gunfights; some of the 28+mm figures available will
probably tempt you to seriously consider larger figures. A final note on scale: I
prefer it when time and ground scales are specified; they frequently are not.
Characteristics: Having a variety of characteristics that define a character
(e.g., Shooting Ability) brings figures to life and allows for better
differentiation of characters. However, they make the game more complex, and
tend to slow it down as players search for relevant characteristics on roster
sheets. Characteristics work best in games with relatively few figures (in my
opinion, no more than five per player unless entire units have the same
statistics, in which case players could have up to five units). Characteristics
appeal to role-players, and often help players get more involved in a game. I
prefer some character/unit differentiation in shootout type games (e.g.,
characteristics for Shooting, Melee, and Morale).
Action Sequence: I recommend using a card-based movement system of some
sort. Old West games are usually small enough that a move-countermove
system is unnecessary and feels somewhat artificial. Written orders can work,
but games using them should be limited to one figure per player, in my opinion.
Rolling for initiative can also work, but I recommend alternating figures or
units rather than moving an entire side at once.
Card-based systems are easy to use, maintain suspense, and give games a fluid
feel (especially when held actions are allowed). You can write the name of the
figure/unit on a card, assign playing cards to figures/units, or deal cards to
figures/units and count down from Ace (this system, used in The Great Rail
Wars, is a personal favorite). I recommend allowing figures/units to "hold" a
card and use it to interrupt another's action later on.
Movement: Fixed movement is sometimes too predictable (e.g., you can tell

that you can make it to a building), whereas entirely random movement


sometimes leads to silly results. I prefer a combination of a fixed amount plus a
dice roll, with greater variability for faster movement (e.g., walk 3" + 0"; run 6"
+ D6").
Missile Fire and Melee: There are many different systems available; the one
you choose will largely be a matter of preference for the degree of realism (and
resulting complexity). Hit location and differential wound determination work
very well in small games, where each player controls no more than about five
figures. For larger games, I'd recommend a simple system for casualties (e.g.,
most figures are removed if they take a wound; you can use a more elaborate
system for heroes and officers). Regarding mechanics, I like rolling one die per
figure (plus or minus modifiers); if you roll a target number you hit. The quality
dice idea (used in Warpaint and The Great Rail Wars) is a nice, simple way to
differentiate skills for different figures/units but maintain the same target
number. 98
Morale: Some rules have more traditional morale systems, where units can lose
effectiveness or rout due to casualties and other factors. Others include "nerve"
checks or the equivalent for individual figures, who may be unable to act if a
check is failed. Many Old West rules do not make morale or nerve an issue. I
personally prefer having some aspects of morale included, but also prefer
largely dictating what my troops do in a game. This may not be as realistic, but
in the Old West games I've played too many rules removing players' abilities to
control their troops tend to be frustrating, especially in gunfights. I recommend
a simple system with a few specific causes (e.g., casualties) to check morale.
Other Features: I highly recommend using "event" cards or the equivalent -- for
example, at the end of each turn each side gets one, which can be played as
specified on the card. These can be humorous if desired, and can add very
interesting twists to play. They should be used sparingly, however. Artillery and
dynamite can also be fun, but should also be used sparingly. As usual, there is a
tradeoff between the number of details and the speed of the game in most cases.
That's all for now, pardners! Happy trails until we meet again!
Old West Part One: Issues, Figures and Accessories

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Copyright 1999 Hal Thinglum
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