So Alicja and I got to play Western Legends at the excellent Ludoquist board games cafe in Croydon, London the other day. This was a hotly anticipated game for us and we were eager to play. Unfortunately the game fell flat for us, however I could see why some people may be able to enjoy it. So these our my first impressions on the game after a single three player play through.
So in this richly themed wild west sandbox game you each play unique characters who are competing to get the most Legendary Points. The game ends when one player gets to 15, 20 or 25 points, depending on how long you want the game to last.
On your turn you get three actions, which usually involve moving and interacting with spots on the board. You score point in a number of ways including spending money at the cabaret, delivering gold to the bank and winning poker hands.
Also, some actions move you up the wanted track such as rustling cattle, robbing banks and robbing players. If you are wanted you get points at the end of every turn until you get caught by the sheriff, which takes you off the track and removes half of all your resources.
Other actions move you up the Marshall track such as delivering cattle to the station, killing outlaws or arresting wanted players. As you move up this track you are awarded with single bonuses of money or points and you get additional points at the end of the game depending how high on the track you are.
That’s the basic idea of the game and I won’t get into the finer mechanics, or we’ll be here all day. Despite so much to do, the game is relatively simple and easily exploited. With so many options you think you’d have lots to do in your turn, but, if you are going for points it boils down to the quickest formula to achieve them.
For example, early on I bought a horse that allowed me to transport two cattle at once. I delivered cattle to the station and moved up the Marshall track giving me points and money. I spent the money to upgrade my horse. Now I could move from a cattle ranch to the station in one move delivering the cattle with no chance of being robbed. This quickly moved me up the marshal track and the points track until I won.
One of us focused on collecting gold and delivering to the bank then turning money into additional points at the cabaret. While somewhat effective, if dull, it was not as good as what I was doing. Alicia went down the wanted track route rustling cattle, this was getting her a steady stream of points but all it took was the sheriff to get involved and she lost half her stuff and all her wanted progression, really deflating her mood as she had to start again from scratch.
In the end we were all rather disappointed. On my first game I found a game breaking technique to move up the points track faster than everyone else, meaning next time we play, half the game would be ignored in order to guaranty the quickest accumulation of points.
Sure, this technique sucks the fun out the game and I could see this game being fun at 5 or 6 players with everyone shooting and robbing each other. However, for us, we play to win, and to win you need to get points faster than everyone else, and there appears to be one technique that’s better at ensuring that. So in this huge sandbox game of possibilities it boils down to a single strategy that if you don’t do it you don’t win.