Another western skirmish game: Blackwater Gulch

While doing my usual reading of various forums I came across a western skirmish game called Blackwater Gulch. It doesn’t delve into the “weird west” (like Malifaux) but stays pretty historically accurate in terms of weapons and professions of the old wild west. The author has done a terrific job with the layout of the rulebook and has just started selling his own miniatures which I think is rather inspiring for amateur designers everywhere. Previously he used the Black Scorpion Tombstone line (which I’ve mentioned previously). The rules for Blackwater Gulch are free to download as a PDF (once you register and login) so that’s good, since it’s hard to gamble on a tabletop game without seeing what it’s like first. The author also has an interesting approach of selling hardcover copies through lulu.com, an on-demand print service.

As for the game I read over the rules and it feels similar to Mordheim or Necromunda. The designer mentions he’s played Games Workshop games for quite a few years, and you can definitely see the influence. The game is D6 based with similar gang sizes to a Dinosaur Cowboys posse. The core combat resolution is done by determining a Target Number (base 4, can be modified by range, target moving too much, etc.) and then rolling various D6s based on the attacker’s Ranged Combat statistic. Then the target gets to defend themselves by also rolling some D6s. It seems like the success based rolling would be quicker for resolving shooting compared to Warhammer 40,000.
Several neat mechanics like “Leader’s Luck” (similar to Yeehaw!) that allows additional dice to be used from a preset pool. I find the Skills (aka Traits) to be a bit lacking (mostly in the number available). The other issue I found was the scale for improving statistics is fully equal, so bumping up Ranged Combat (which is a hugely useful skill) is comparable to improving something less necessary like Strength. Which means most characters would probably end up pretty similarly improving Ranged Combat as much as they could. Anyways overall it seems like a nice light game that would play quickly and deadly, since most characters can die after a single gunshot.

I’ll be interested in seeing where the author takes the game, and eventually I might have to pick up some of the figures as I know he plans to expand the line.