High Noon Saloon is a new addition to the Knight Moves Cafe library!
So, what’s the deal with High Noon Saloon?
Players are patrons of the High Noon Saloon in the Old West. As tends to happen in Old West saloons, a brawl erupts! Be the last one left standing to win!
What makes High Noon Saloon special?
It feels like a brawl in the Old West! Here’s what happened on a turn:
Margaret Stern, the schoolmarm, is on the upstairs balcony, glaring down at James Masterson, the gentleman gunslinger taking cover behind the bar. Stern holsters her six shooter and grabs a chair. She jumps off of the balcony into the middle of the room and upon landing smashes the chair on Masterson, knocking him out the window. Annabelle Grey is readying her shotgun from behind the player piano, so Stern dives for cover behind an upended table. From there, she draws and loads her six shooter, ready to counterattack if Grey tries to target her.
Alright, so what’s the gameplay like?
Each player chooses a character and receives a hand of cards with weapons and special maneuvers. Each character starts with 20 grit, and when a character is out of grit, they’re out of the fight. Players take turns placing their characters in the saloon and equipping and loading weapons, and then play starts.
Each turn is separated into six phases:
Scavengin’ Phase – Discard cards you don’t want and draw new ones to replace the ones you’ve used or discarded.
Weapon – Equip, holster, and load weapons.
Jump – You can jump from where you are into the middle of the bar, perhaps gaining a tactical advantage, but limiting your movement options later on.
Fightin’ – Make an attack!
Hunkerin’ Down – Move to another open space on the board. If you jumped, you have only limited spaces to choose from.
Weapon – Another chance to equip, holster, and load weapons.
Though there is a lot to do on a turn, the game tends to move fairly quickly. The most engaging part of the game is certainly the fightin’ phase, when you get a chance to pull out your best tricks to try and damage your opponents. But watch out, because your opponent may be able to block your Trick Shot by Divin’ Fer the Floor!
Attack damage is pretty straightforward – add up everything that contributes to damage (weapon, special cover, and attack cards) and subtract everything that reduces damage (cover, block cards). That’s the total damage done.
Play continues until there’s one patron left standing!
I think I get it. Who do you recommend this game to?
This is a great game for people who are fans of thematic games that invite you to use your imagination to create a story. The cards are appropriately thematic, fun, and cartoony without being cheesy, and the optional rules that give each character a special ability can make for a more dynamic game. It’s a lot of fun to imagine your character swinging from a chandelier or protecting himself with a stove door under his or her poncho, but without the imagination component, the mechanisms may feel unsatisfyingly simple. It’s also important to adjust the game so its length is to your liking – the box suggest 30-60 minutes, but the length is easily altered by changing the amount of grit each character starts with or by using the optional team play rules.
Players that choose to avoid violent themes for any reason would do well to avoid this game – guns and weapons are pictured on the cards and the game asks you to imagine these characters shooting and beating each other to death. Players sensitive to alcohol in their game themes should also know that one card represents a bottle of bourbon (it restores grit, naturally). Very thematic, but not exactly family-friendly material here.
There is a fairly high degree of luck in the game. Reloading is randomized by a deck that typically gives about 3 bullets but can give any number from 1 to 6. Because of the card-driven combat, it’s possible to end up with limited choices, though not very likely. There is an element of planning ahead, but most of the game is about making the most with what you have. It’s also important to note that ganging up can and will happen…and happen to you! Team rules changes this dynamic, but players that have a big problem with either player elimination or ganging-up mechanisms would not enjoy this game.
So if you enjoy games with a strong theme that are chaotic and tactical with a significant luck element, give High Noon Saloon a…shot! (Sorry.)
Time: 30-60 minutes
Game Elements: Hand management, direct conflict and combat, player elimination