v2.6 rules release – refine, refine, refine

Objectives-House

Happy release day! I’m happy to report the v2.6 rules are now available for download and The Saloon has been updated accordingly. As I hoped I was able to squeeze the release in right before May starts.

Before I get into the big ol’ changelog, here are the links (of course just downloading from the main rules page works too):

Download the Dinosaur Cowboys v2.6 PDF Rulebook

or the 9-page Quickdraw Rules

So what are the highlights? Well my previous post what will v2.6 have covers the topic quite well, but I’ll repeat here.

Gameplay-Example-2The main focus is weapons. So those players who enjoy equipping their posses, humming and hawing over 6A-2D vs 2A-6D, and having a ton of variety will appreciate that. During development I’ve always had the rule of thumb that ranged weapons have a “top tier” of 9 possible damage, whether this is from 4A-5D, 7A-1D, 3A-6D, etc. and close combat weapons can go up to 10. However some branches or chains of weapons didn’t have a top tier variant. For example the Laserbow in v2.5 maxed out at 1A-6D, similarly the best Pump Shotgun was 3A-4D. This was fine and not really noticeable at the $1,000 posse range, but once you’re into $2k or higher the game boiled down to a whole lot of Lawstar Repeaters (6A-3D).
v2.6 fixes this. Now basically every weapon variant has a top tier equivalent. Do you love the attack pattern of double barrel shotguns? Welcome to the 2A-7D Coach Gun. How about the 1A-8D Laserbow 80 or 3A-6D Settler Defender shotgun? Another big push was to bring the same variety AND consistency to close combat weapons. Attack patterns make more sense, and you can progressively choose a 4A melee weapon right up to the top tier, for example. I also tweaked weapon special abilities. There is now Motivate, which can heal HP (basically the old “Sap” ability reworked and also applied to range weapons).
All in all the weapons are the best they’ve ever been. Think of this v2.6 release as a focus on refining the changes and knowledge gained from the old Battle to Seattle campaign, as well as the many weapons added during that time.

Traits_TotemsAnother big focus is Traits. Some of the Traits have been here since the early RPG versions, more or less, so it was time for a grand rework. Passive Traits now use the highest stage like Active traits, for consistency. Every Trait should be valuable and viable in different situations. Most importantly the “Shot” abilities (like Knee Shot) were renamed and reworked to “Attack”, such as “Attack – Marked” or “Attack – Vital”. Again, consistency!

The Saloon was cleaned up a bit with some nice quality of life features added. Namely weapon special abilities now display their name in the weapon box in addition to the old astericks. Previously you’d know a weapon had an ability, but it was easy to forget which. Now you’ll see “O’Sullivan Sixer*” with “Fan the Hammer” in smaller text in the bottom right. Handy! Brawl weapons can be “bought” now so you can see the stats on your roster, which is nice for people who take the (now awesome) Boxer trait. Speaking of traits previous stages of Active traits will now be “X”ed out, so you can tell you just have one usable version.

I added a section called “Tips for New Players” which gives some ideas and tricks that might not be evident just from reading the rules. Stuff like activating in a certain order, what to do about dinosaurs, etc. Four new sepia photos (featured throughout this post), two new gameplay images, a new Deployment type, a whole bunch of alternative weapon names, etc. Nothing too major, but again refine, refine, refine.

So yeah! It’s been more or less 11 months since the last release, which is just insane for how quickly the time went. All in all I’m happy with the release, and it achieved my main hope for every release: improving the game to be the best it can be. Basically I never want people to think “Oh I liked this old version better”, and hopefully the slew of new weapons, tweaks, and touch ups should ensure that.

Not sure where we’ll go from here. The roadmap hasn’t been as clear since v2.0 to be honest, because in the back of my mind I keep thinking “this is the final release, there isn’t anything else I can tweak”. But somehow I find a bunch to poke and prod. I do want to continue focusing on painting new minis and getting battle reports up here, and really try to resist constantly tweaking the rules like I tend to.

Anyway time for the full changelog, which looks pretty overwhelming, and also might be missing a few changes here and there.

GENERAL CHANGELOG
– Moved version to 2.6
– Added contact email to initial info table
– Finally fixed that annoying overlap of the cloud and text on the title page!
– Compressed table of contents and objects to a single page, and changed page style
– Made table of contents clickable links
– Clarified Cover to be at least 25% obscured, instead of the vague “partially obscured” that was used before
– Added a “Tips for New Players” section (after Standalone Game) with some tips and tricks written in a casual tone
– Changed Armor definitions from flat Defense to +X, to align with possible base Defense from IP
– Defined IRP and STF on Armor/Medical page
– Removed Autosurgeon and Doctor’s Bag, which were Medical Devices to heal Wound/Injuries. Renamed Defibrillator to Autosurgeon as well
– Added a new gameplay image since we had some space on the credits page
– Added a sepia toned Velociraptor amidst the trees image to the Dinosaur Breeds page
– Named Neotechnoist weapon refund aspect of the Allegiance “Wealth” to make it more like a feature
– Changed first History image to a Siberian crater instead of the old volcanic plain
– Updated some minor History text for consistency with what the game world has evolved to (rewriting history to suit the present!)
– Fixed capitalization of “kW” vs “kw” in Quickdraw rules
– Fixed spacing in “Handcannon” in weapons image
– Fixed missing space for Biosteel Lance in weapons chart
– Changed Unbalanced Posse chart to be cumulative instead of “take the highest”
– Added a +2 HP bonus to Leaders when playing the Assassinate objective
– Cleaned up “Yeehaw!” text in various Quick Reference sheets so it doesn’t reference taking a Bravery Test on Leader death
— Added a note under Leader (in creation) and Bravery Tests to note taking a test on Leader death
– Slight clarification on Quick Reference Sheet for “In Close” to be “Attacker/Target” instead of just “Target”
– Also touched up formatting, spacing, and headers of Quick Reference Sheet to closer match Quickdraw version
– Changed “or” for alternative weapons to a slash “/” to match Armor listing. So “Shiv / Shank” instead of “Shiv or Shank”
– Changed any math division (such as Bravery Test formula for Hitpoints) to a proper division (÷) sign instead of the old “/” approach
– Removed the old “Clever Girl” deployment and replaced it with “Diagonal”. Pop culture references are sorta kinda fun, but the deployment was overly complex
– Slight change to “Deep Edge” deployment so the scout is a single unmounted character only, instead of a single entity (since you could technically use your entire posse on a dinosaur as the scout)
– Changed “Delayed” deployment to give a roll bonus per turn for undeployed entities, so that they eventually come on for sure
– Changed hireable Dinosaur list to use XA-YD instead of old X-Y style
– Changed “Scatter” deployment to be a choice, instead of random locations.
– Clarified Push damage to note you only take damage for the distance you actually travelled (ie: no damage if you’re up against a wall)
– Some editing to Game Overview to give it slightly better flow when reading
– Added a sepia wounded image to the Wounds and Injuries table section
– Changed ‘By Air’ travel from 6 passengers to 8 to match dinosaur resizing
– Buffed Lifesaving IRP threshold from < 3 to < 4
– Slight nerf to "Trip" Brawl attack to be 1A-0D instead of 1A-1D to help balance with Boxer trait
– Brawl attacks can now be used against dinosaurs, mounted, etc. Cannot be used as Snap Attack or Charging still.
– Added a sepia image of a fancy house to the end of the Objectives section
– Removed the Wandering/Roving Enemies option from Features
– Clarified Traits so that Active/Passive stages apply the same, so every Passive now has +X/+X instead of cumulative application of successive stages
– Split Traits into two tables with more spacing, instead of jamming it into one. So a table for Active and one for Passive
– Reordered Trait list columns so "Who" is last, to make reading a Trait a bit easier with the Effect immediately apparent
– Added sepia totem image to page containing Passive Trait List table
– Tons of Trait balances, renames, reworks, and stage additions/removals
– Added Dilophosaurus as a possible Raptor type
– Dinosaur change: Horned buffed attack from 6A-1D to 6A-2D. This is because Horned has 2 worse CTN, 1 worse speed, and 2 worse damage (before change) than King in exchange for 6 HP.
– Dinosaur change: Longneck / Titan brought closer together. DEF buffed 2 to 3. DIS from 10 to 9. Longneck CTN from 5 to 4. Titan PSPD from D6-1 to D6 and SPD from 4 to 5. Longneck HP from 35 to 34. Titan HP from 30 to 32. Titan attack to 2A-10D from 1A-15D.

Gameplay-Example-1WEAPONS CHANGELOG
– Buffed Both Barrels special ability to +2 Damage instead of +2 Attacks
– Buffed Lance special ability to do +1 Attack and +1 Damage on Charge
– Changed Illuminate special ability to do -2 Defense instead of half, for simplicity
– Changed Pulled to use a set inches, like Pushed, instead of the distance of the weapon
– Also reworded Explosion, Fireline, Hail of Shots, Lance, Lasso, Open Choke, Opportunity, Pulled special ability for consistency
– Removed Defoliant Grenades, and as a result the “Cover Breaker” special ability
– Changed Retractable Lasso to 0-7 distance and 6″ Pulled, to fit the new approach
– Kaboom Grenades / Bundle of Dynamite range changed to 5-14 so you can’t hit yourself, also size to Small to match other Grenades
– Buffed Glue Grenades from range 2-12 to range 2-13
– Repriced Flux Rifle from $90 to $80 to be inline with basic Light Repeater
– Changed range bands of Specialty Pistol line (Derringer, LeDuce, Handcannon) to be 1-8, 9-11, 12-14 instead of X-7. This helps balance their $10 higher price
– Repriced Derringer from $40 to $50
– Changed Handcannon to 2A-7D (max) and repriced to $160, changed to Projectile
– Added “Yannigan Pistol” (means “war bag”) between LeDuc and Handcannon, at the $90 price
– Added “Big Iron” as a replacement for old Handcannon stats (2A-6D) and $120 price
– Split Derringer, LeDuc, Yannigan, Big Iron, and Handcannon to a “Custom Pistols” section at the top
– Added a “Boot Blade” specialty melee with 1A-3D and Opportunity
– Changed Laserbow 60 to Large size
– Added Laserbow 70 and 80 to finish the line to top tier
– Added 5GJ and 6GJ Pump Shotgun to finish the line to top tier
– Added Crossbow as next tier Dart Gun
– Added Serrated Knife as Machete alternative
– Renamed Axe to Mountain Man Axe
– Renamed Hammer to Sledgehammer and added Spike Driver as alternative
– Added Overcharged Dinoprod as top tier upgrade to Dinoprod
– Swapped Shiv / Shank for Hunting Knife, then swapped Skinning Knife for Hunting Knife
– Added 300kW Twin Rifle to complete the line
– Changed all Twin Rifles to have 5-18 range instead of high end being only 5-17, to compare to Peacemaker
– Added specialty Pepperbox Pistol / Octochambered that is a good single use attack
– Repriced Glue Grenades to $70, Tangle Grenades to $140, Stun Grenades to $170, Riot Grenades to $50
– Changed Stun Grenades range to 2-11
– Added Winterfrost Grenades as an alternative to Glue Grenades
– Added Dustbomb as an alternative to Stun Grenades
– Added Geyser Grenades as an alternative to Tangle Grenades
– Added Hurricane Grenades as an alternative to Riot Grenades
– Added Harmonica, War Horn / Bugle, Battle Drum that have ranged Sap
– Added The Tombstone, a powerful 1A-9D weapon with Armor Piercing and Slowed that is only effective at exactly 12 distance
– Repriced Grenade Launcher to $220
– Repriced Rotary Rifle to $220
– Added Tirador Rifle as top tier scoped, then switched it with Hunting Rifle so Hunting is top tier
– Added Streetsweeper Shotgun and Coach Gun to finish the line
– Changed Auto Shotgun range to 0-5/6-7/8-9, changed Pump Shotgun short to 0-4/5-6/7-11, because otherwise Auto had no advantage over Pump
– Made 4GJ Pump Shotgun size Large
– Changed generic Shotguns to range 0-3/4-5/6-9 (from 4-6/7-9) to balance their lower price
– Changed Sawed Off Shotgun range to 0-4/5-6/7-9 to fit Open Choke
– Added Clark Airgun and Lewis Airgun that have Pushed special
– Changed Riot Grenades to be D6+3″ Pushed instead of D6″
– Added Harpoon Gun and Dinocatcher with Pulled
– Added Totem as alternative to Sonic Gun
– Replaced Flamethrower with Badlands Burner, made Flamethrower a 6A-0D version. Added Wagon Blazer as 7A-0D version. Changed range to 0-9, reload to 1×1, prices
– Added “Cavalry” weapon special ability: Add +1 Damage while mounted.
– Added Carbines to leverage the new Cavalry ability
– Added three new melee weapons to leverage the new Cavalry ability, including renaming Saber for one
– Added Rustler Revolver as Handcannon alternative
– Changed Long Sword to be an alternative to Motor Blade, and replaced Long Sword with Rattlesnake Axe
– Changed Glaive to be an alternative to Cutlass
– Added Horned Axe as alternative to Scythe
– Added Lasher as alternative to Flail
– Renamed “Sap” special to “Motivate”, to better fit with what weapons use it
– Changed Motivate to “On a hit of 2+ total damage the attacker heals 1 HP to self or another ally in 8″.”
– Reworked close Sap weapons to 1A-3D Catalyst, 4A-0D Coup Stick, 5A-0D Tornado
– Reduced price of Lances, to match the fact that they are unusable once dismounted
– Added Howdah Pistol as alternative to Sawed Off Shotgun
– Added Equalizer Shotgun as alternative to Break Action Shotgun
– Renamed Break Action Shotgun to Break-Action Shotgun, to match Lever-Action
– Added “Bow and Arrows” as alternative Throwing Spear

SALOON CHANGELOG
– Updated version to 2.6
– Updated traits, weapons, and dinosaurs to match v2.6 rules
– Added weapon special abilities to beside their name, in the bottom right corner of the cell, so that at a glance players can see what something does beyond the astericks that was used before (and is still present)
– Added Brawl attacks as a buyable option, useful for players who want to track these attacks in their weapon slots
– Similarly added Rope Lasso as a buyable option
– Slight update to Lasso A-D size in the PDF output, so that the numbers are the proper size if set, otherwise smaller for DinoA/DinoD
– Changed old Armor list headers of “Armor Rating” to “Defense” and “MV Penalty” to “SPD Penalty”, whoops
– Also changed Armor Defense listing to “+X” instead of flat “X”
– Updated Passive traits to apply properly using the new approach
– Close store and trait list on posse load, to ensure a fresh state
– Fixed “Clear Sight” passive trait so it properly works with non-standard weapon ranges. For example it won’t change Repeater med from 0-13 to 1-14 anymore
– Automatically ‘X’ Active traits that have previous stages, to help signify that only the highest stage is used

History_Sunken-Crater

You made it this far? Good on you! Onwards to v2.7!

Battle Report: Purge the Hollowwood

I’ve been making v2.6 changes all day, mostly around Traits (which tediously require updating the Trait document, re-pasting it into the core rulebook, then updating and testing the Saloon list, then updating the Quickdraw rules, and updating existing posses including the example ones – what a horrible process but I don’t know how to improve it). So with that said I won’t have a ton of energy to post as many details of my most recent playtest. The game itself was enjoyable, and I think the pictures turned out well. Amazing what a different and unique table setup can do for fun.

Overview
I created two posses that utilize a lot of new features and weapons fresh in v2.6. The terrain setup I used represented an old crater that had filled in with lush jungle. I envisioned some of the trees having a tough wood (that is actually used for Wood Armor) that happens to be poisonous to dinosaurs. Two gangs are contracted by opposite firms to purge out the “bad seeds”. So in other words 5 tree markers and the Demolish objective (with a slight twist of no attacks on the trees from further than 6″, reasoned as the thick bark). The objective factored very little into the game itself though. Otherwise I used a Corner deployment. No turn limit, and the match ended up going to 9 turns as a result.

Posses
Here are the two posses. Don’t worry about the IP/ND not being even, I went for flavor and added things I wouldn’t normally (like one person carrying FOUR types of grenades).

General Williams Brigade (PDF)
Posse picture left to right (excluding the dinosaur): Bellgloan, Malius Blaze, General William, Tom West, Unit 4-15-3
DC-Hollowwood-26-Test-0008Lots of exciting features here. The leader (General William) is built for charging while mounted, pure and simple. Charger trait, Onslaught, and a top tier Plasma Lance. Lovely. Malius Blaze would test out the improved flamethrower weapons, specifically the Badlands Burner. Tom West was a Boxer, which meant his fists were lethal weapons capable of 2A-8D. The mini I used is an old D&D guy, the iconic representation of the 3.0 Fighter. I’d love to get a bare knuckle boxer type mini, if I could find one that isn’t some goofball straight from the ring. I guess I could just file/cut weapons off someone. Bellgloan was pretty basic, just testing the interaction of the high attack Klondike 7000 (or ‘K7K’) with the classic Rapid Fire and Go For the Eyes traits. Unit 4-15-3 has a special place in my heart (and not just because that was the name of my Doctor character in my recent Edge of the Empire campaign). I mentioned way, way back that I really like medics and support characters, so Unit 4-15-3 exemplifies this within the current rules. Quick Hands for an easy heal, Doctor because it’s one of the best designed passive traits, and Get Up for some remote healing. Then a SLEW of IRPs, just a ton. He will also test the Pushed capabilities of the Lewis Airgun. Dinosaur is pretty simple, except I’d be using the smaller Horned model I have for a change of pace.

Le’Dorfs Royal Force (PDF)
Posse picture left to right (excluding the dinosaur): Iara September, Madhat, Richard Le’Dorf, Glargamar, Corporal Luke Mossly (new mini)
DC-Hollowwood-26-Test-0002Lots more to test with these guys. The leader is taking out The Tombstone for a spin, so who knows how that’ll work. The idea is to use it with Clean Shot for a massive attack (basically 1A-11D with Armor Piercing). He also took one of my favorite named guns the O’Sullivan Sixer, the top tier Six-Shooter. Madhat was purely a grenade man and demolitions expert. With the Thrower traits he could reach 21″ with a Bundle of Dynamite…some arm on him! Glargamar would ride the dinosaur most likely and try to Pull targets in with the Dinocatcher. Iara was a pretty standard sniper with a focus on testing the higher end Frontier Twin Rifle and various traits. Corporal Luke Mossly was a similar support character to Unit 4-15-3 but he went with the unique approach of the Motivate weapons and the Lend a Hand trait. And the dinosaur is a T-Rex named Tiny, so that I have an excused to use the Allosaurus model (since I’ve been overusing my Papo T-Rex I feel).

Table and Deployment
DC-Hollowwood-26-Test-0012
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Early Moves
With a lengthier game like this I can’t recall the exact turn by turn details, and I barely took any notes. I’ll highlight some unique or especially exciting parts though. Otherwise just enjoy the pictures!
DC-Hollowwood-26-Test-0018DC-Hollowwood-26-Test-0020DC-Hollowwood-26-Test-0022

Awesome moment pictured below where Madhat put his super long range Bundle of Dynamite to good use. Everyone had just dismounted from the Horned dinosaur and spread out. Unfortunately they didn’t have much beyond a 3″ to 4″ movement, so they were quite clustered. Which meant Madhat could hit the dinosaur AND get the 4″ Explosion effect on everyone. In other words four targets for the price of one. I thought the game was gonna be over so quickly after this happened.
DC-Hollowwood-26-Test-0024

Closing the Gap
DC-Hollowwood-26-Test-0025DC-Hollowwood-26-Test-0026DC-Hollowwood-26-Test-0032DC-Hollowwood-26-Test-0035DC-Hollowwood-26-Test-0036

Nice usage of the Klondike 7000 pictured below. Bellgloan used his traits Rapid Fire (+2 Attacks) and Go For the Eyes (Crit on 10+) for a total of 9A-1D. But his roll was awesome and ended up doing 11 damage. So many bonus Criticals from the trait.
DC-Hollowwood-26-Test-0030

Blood Around the Big Tree
General William got his chance to fulfill his purpose of Charging (pictured below). While mounted on the Horned dinosaur he reached Glargamar (who was also mounted) with a big Charge right by the central tree. With the usage of Onslaught (+4 Attacks on Charge) and his great Plasma Lance (+1 Attack and +1 Damage on Charge) meant he was hitting for 7A-9D. You can imagine how Glargamar felt as he got one-shot killed.
DC-Hollowwood-26-Test-0041

Also Unit 4-15-3 got to really shine, even though he had been Stunned thanks to a long distance Dustbomb from Madhat (you can see the marker in the pictures below). The backline of General William’s posse wasn’t looking so great, but the doc turned it around. He used Get Up! (which doesn’t require an action, so he could do that while Stunned) to fix up the nearby Malius Blaze. Then he used Quick Hands on himself, which also got around the Stunned, and with the help of his Lifesaving IRP healed from 3 HP back to full.
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The Lines Push
General Williams did an awesome move forward to get into melee with the clumped backline of Le’Dorf’s Royal Force. Time to Whirlwind…oh yes, what a time it was. He did take a Snap Attack from the King dinosaur, but the trade off was worth it (T-Rex missed anyway). Also Tom West basically punched a T-Rex over and over in a glorious display of martial prowess. Eventually he’d lose the combat, thanks to supporting fire outside the combat (plus a lot of healing of the T-Rex, including a full stage two Get Up!), but it was still an impressive fight.
DC-Hollowwood-26-Test-0054

At this point the dinosaurs had basically pushed through to the opposite deployment zone. So all the “squishy” shooters in the back were suddenly panicking. One of the funner dinosaur usages I’ve seen in a while.
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Scramble to Survive
Hilariously enough on Turn 7 the leader Richard Le’Dorf actually got to use Clean Shot (normally it’s an early game opener) because the enemy doctor Unit 4-15-3 had healed himself back up to full. Also Madhat had basically burned himself out of grenades at this point, with nearly everything needing a Reload.
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Last Breaths
By this point Le’Dorf Royal Force consisted of Iara and Madhat, or who I commonly refer to as Trista and Khulan. These minis date WAY back to the original Dinosaur Cowboys skirmish tests, like 4 years ago. From the Bounty at Caldwell Lake you can see them fighting together, so it’s neat to have them trying to survive back to back now.
The picture below with the orange D6 rolling a 1 was for the Charge from the Horned dinosaur, which would have wrecked house. The Le’Dorf posse were definitely on their back foot, especially since Madhat had minimum ranges enough that he’d have to resort to unskilled Brawl attacks in melee. So the failed Charge really helped the situation.
Unit 4-15-3 was sustaining himself very well, and actually managed a pretty neat kill. He took a far shot at Iara, who had risked the Snap Attack to leave combat with the Horned dinosaur. Unit 4-15-3 hit on a roll of 12, and left Iara with 1 HP. But the weapon used was the new Lewis Airgun, so the 4″ Pushed actually sent her back into the impassable Horned dinosaur, which triggered the “Push Damage” rule, and she died from that! Basically she splattered against a dinosaur.
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All Done
In the end the General William Brigade posse won the day against Le’Dorf’s Royal Force. The game was really back and forth, and I thought it would be over many times before it actually was. What really demonstrates the back and forth are some of the total Hitpoint tallies I recorded. Unit 4-15-3 ended up going through 12, 5, 3, 12 (Lifesaving IRP), 3, 12 (Large IRP). Similarly the Horned dinosaur went 32, 24, 20, 14, 13, 8 (what a survivor). And finally the King T-Rex went 26, 15, 25 (Get Up! II), 14, 9, 19 (Lend a Hand), 15, 6, 3, -3.


What Did We Learn?
A few things, actually. Doctors are awesome, that’s for sure. I mentioned above the “Doctor” passive trait is one of the better designed ones. The reason I said that is because it’s very powerful but also very situational. It can be completely useless or completely game changing, depending on player skill and strategy. It also helps develop and utilize a more niche aspect of the game (some posses don’t even bother with healing). And it also takes some Neodollar investment to work well. But yeah, lots of fun having a “healer” on the battlefield to sustain everyone.
I also realized it’s time to bite the bullet and rename a lot of the Traits. As I look over the (somewhat overly long) list I notice some duplication. Why are Berserker and Rapid Fire a separate trait, when they both give +2 Attacks (just to different weapon types)? There is some attempt at consistency with Traits named “XYZ Shot”, like Knee Shot, Coward Shot, etc. But what I did now is renamed these to an ACTUALLY consistent “Attack – XYZ”, like Attack – Coward, Attack – Inspire, etc.
Balance seems good, and the new weapons are spot on. I tweaked Motivate a bit so you can heal other allies as well as yourself, to really fit the theme. I added a medium range to Lever-Actions to support their 1 Attack. Just minor stuff like that.

So at this point v2.6 is 95% ready to go. I need to do a final readthrough and edit, otherwise it’s just releasing it, updating the Saloon (and posses), posting info to Boardgamegeek, etc. I might get one or two more playtests in (not sure if I’ll record them here), but like I said before look for the rules before the end of April. Maybe a release next week (from the time of this post) in fact!

After that I want to do a battle report featuring my new painted Mad Max style figure, as well as a gas station, Exxon signs, and a propane tank. So that should be pure fun.

What will v2.6 of the rules have?

Wagon-RaidI mentioned the next rules release of v2.6 a few times, so I thought I’d dedicate a post specifically about what will be changing. In a word: weapons!

As usual you can grab the latest copy of the rulebook PDF updated directly from my computer to Dropbox from http://bleedingedge.mine.nu/.

Example v2.6 Posses
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so what value does that give a posse roster? Here are two posses built for v2.6 with plenty of gimmicks and wackiness around the new weapons and trait combinations. I’m going to playtest using these (and others) to ensure the math and feel of the new weapons and other changes works.
Both of the posses were built until I felt happy with them, so don’t worry about the IP/ND values. Similarly everyone was given very similar stats and Hitpoints to help with testing.

General William’s Brigade v2.6 Posse Roster – I see the General riding into battle on his Triceratops, with his steadfast doctor Unit 4-15-3 supporting him from a seat further back. And I can’t wait for Tom West to punch someone for 2A-8D. Think of this posse as a USA Civil War era cavalry gang.

LeDorf’s Royal Force v2.6 Posse Roster – Lots of neat ideas here, from The Tombstone weapon (only 12-12″ range, but crazy damage and effects) to the Madhat grenadier (who will square off against the flamethrower wielding Malius in the enemy posse quite well), to Glargamar grabbing someone with the Dinocatcher and then slicing them to ribbons with the Rattlesnake Axe. Instead of a pure doctor this posse is using the new Motivate weapons with the Lend a Hand trait. I don’t think it will be quite as effective, but it’s an interesting idea none the less. Think of this posse as an American Revolution era British response force (thus the aristocratic name).

Minor Changes
Before I get to that, there are also a few other changes and improvements. Some minor stuff like the table of contents being clickable and reworked to one page. +2 HP to the Leader when playing the Assassinate objective. Removing the “Clever Girl” deployment for “Diagonal”. Some clean up of the Quick Reference Sheet. Clarifying Cover to be 25%+ obscured. Adding a few new sepia toned images and a new gameplay image. Removed the campaign based Medical Devices for healing Wounds/Injuries. Cleaned up the Yeehaw! ability and split Bravery Test on Leader death to a separate section. Even super tiny stuff like using ÷ instead of / for division and defining Defense for Armor as +X instead of a flat X. So just the usual tweaks and poking and prodding.

Trait Changes
But the core changes are around weapons, and to a lesser degree Traits. For Traits they have been split from a single complex table to one for Active and one for Passive. Similarly the less used Traits have been balanced and buffed. And Passive traits now use the highest stage, exactly like Active, instead of stacking. So Bonus HP went from +3 per stage to +3/+6/+9…same effect, but more consistency between the two types. My favorite example of a trait change is “Boxer”, which now has 2 stages of +3/+7 damage with Brawl attacks. What this means is a character can take both stages and be dishing out 2A-8D punches or 1A-9D kicks, or 1A-8D trips with Stopped. So basically you can make a Jackie Chan / Jet Li martial arts style character and still have it be viable.
Viable is actually a good word here, as something like “Racer” shows. Previously this Passive trait was +1 SPD to Hustle…but that begs the question who would ever take it over a flat Bonus SPD +1 trait? So now Racer is +2 SPD to Hustle. Again, just little tweaks to ensure variety and choice when building your posse.

big_iron_by_mmousse-d3cra18
(“Big Iron” picture by MMoussee, and based on the Marty Robbins song that I based the upcoming “Big Iron” weapon in this game on!)

The Main Event – Weapon Changes
Now for the weapons, which again have that focus on viability. Most of these changes are lingering leftovers from the Battle to Seattle campaign. The campaign and subsequently v2.5 were terrific for expanding the list of choices (especially the delicious pistols!), but also had a few rough edges. One important lesson I learned is once a posse is at the $2,000 level, and even more so beyond that, they can more or less afford any weapon they want for anyone (aside from crazy stuff like the $1,500 Field Gun). What this means is (eventually) price is no longer a balancing factor for weapons. “This gun does more damage, but costs $50 more!” means nothing when you have $700 in the bank.
So in the end players went for “top tier” guns, regardless of price. In case you haven’t noticed, range weapons are capable of 9 damage (before Crits), in a variety of attack-damage patterns, while close combat weapons can reach 10 damage. For range this means 6A-3D, 1A-8D, 4A-5D, etc. The problem was a lot of weapon “lines”, like the Laserbow or Pump Shotgun, didn’t reach that “top tier” 9 damage category. For example Laserbows topped out at 1A-6D. So for $1,000 posses they might be used, but anything above that and they’ll be left by the wayside in favor of more damaging guns.
Because of this a lot of the weapon lines were fleshed out to top tier. This means a “Laserbow 80” with 1A-8D, a 6GJ Pump Shotgun with 3A-6D, a Coach Gun with 2A-7D, etc.
Similarly close weapons recieved the same treatment. Axes were split and are 4A-XD weapons now, the high attack no damage weapons go up to 10 (like 2GJ Tumbleweed with 8A-2D to follow the Thunderstick), etc. I split out Natural Weapons to their own page (and subcategorized Brawl/Beast) so the wireframe weapon image got moved too.

Shotgun-HospitalityThe other focus was on special abilities, and making those weapons less expensive and more viable. I also added, changed, and removed some of the abilities. Say goodbye to “Cover Breaker” and the related Defoliant Grenades, and say hello to “Cavalry” (+1 Damage while mounted). Both Barrels is now +2 Damage instead of +2 Attacks, to differentiate even moreso from Fan the Hammer. Sap was renamed to “Motivate”, and now has a slew of awesome ranged and close weapons like the War Horn, Harmonica, Battle Standard, etc. There are also Pulled range weapons now in the Harpoon Gun and Dinocatcher. To utilize the new Cavalry special there are Carbines, which have a short and long distance but no medium, and also close combat weapons (like the Dragoon Sword).
Another push was to get alternative names for commonly used guns, especially top tier stuff. So now instead of everyone having 500kW Six-Shooters you could use the “O’Sullivan Sixer”, or The Stampede instead of a top tier Volcanic Pistol, or Judge instead of a Peacemaker, or Enforcer instead of the 5GJ Auto Shotgun, etc. I love so many of these new names that I’m just gonna list some here…

Some Range Weapons: Ranch Blaster (600kW Walker Revolver), Ace in the Hole (Derringer), Yannigan Pistol and Big Iron (Handcannon line), Tirador Rifle, Frontier Twin Rifle (300kW Twin Rifle), Streetsweeper Shotgun, Coach Gun, Settler Defender (6GJ Pump Shotgun), M-2285 Rifle (Assault Rifle), Klondike 7000, Prairie Carbine (400kW Carbine), Boss Bow (Laserbow 80), Geyser Grenades (Tangle Grenades), Homesteader (Barbed Lasso), The Tombstone, Wagon Blazer (more viable Flamethrower!), Pepperbox Pistol, Clark Airgun, Hangman’s Noose (with 5″ Pulled)

Some Close Weapons: Biosteel Knife (same damage as Biosteel Lance, clever!), Mountain Man Axe, Horned Axe, Rattlesnake Axe, Knuckledusters, Dinofist, Power Knuckles, Sledgehammer, Spike Driver, Feudbreaker (Pickaxe), Lacerator (Whip), Boot Blade (Switchblade), Coup Stick, Overcharged Dinoprod, Hafted Blade, Dragoon Sword

So all in all lots of fun new toys to play with. The list is definitely intimidating at first glance (Range Weapons has spilled over to FIVE! tables now), but a lot of the weapons are just repeats with better damage and a higher price tag.

Bronco-BusterSaloon Changes
The Saloon posse designer will receive these changes as well, and also has a few improvements. The most loved will probably be the fact that weapon special ability names are written on the roster themselves to the far right of the weapon name, woot woot! So you’ll see 300kW Six-Shooter*, but now also in a smaller font “Fan the Hammer”. This helps players remember exactly whether the shotgun had Both Barrels or Open Choke, without having to check any list. The actually effect isn’t written on the roster, but experienced players will know them by heart, and they’re not hard to learn or leave the rules page open as a reference.
Also the free Brawl and Lasso attacks are “buyable” now, so that players who DO build that Jackie Chan character can actually see the base Punch/Kick/Shove/Trip on their roster without having to calculate it.
And an old bug was fixed around Clear Sight, which adds +1″ to all weapon ranges. Previously this effect was blindly applied, so a Repeater would get 1-14 Medium distance (because it’s the first range band) instead of 0-14. Bug fixing isn’t the most exciting news, but it’s important to do.


So all in all v2.6 is shaping up to be a release focused on weapon and trait polishing, with a few rules clarifications as well. No drastic core changes which is always nice. I’m eager to release the rules so I can do many battle reports with the slew of cool weapons.
The ol’ TODO list is actually pretty short now, and in some ways the release changelog will mimic a lot of what was said here. I need to retake a gameplay photo, finish updating The Saloon lists, and then do the usual double/triple/quadruple checking for any inconsistencies. There is nothing more annoying than going through the rules release process and noticing a tiny error immediately afterwards.

As for the rules in general, I think at some point I’d be done revising them…right? Right? In some ways I wish I could just stop poking and prodding them…but I said the exact same thing in 2011! And look at how much better and more refined the game is now. Maybe it’s just fun to have a project I can return to every now and then and update. One thing I DO want to avoid is tacking on rules or complexity. I might add “expansions” that do that, but for the core rules I don’t want to add a bunch of flavor-of-the-month cruft and baggage.
I know it looks like I’ve been at this blog for ~5 years, but with the big posting gaps and shift from RPG to skirmish (which was basically a rewrite) I bet you could narrow down the actual project to a 6-8 month task.
Besides at some point I’m going to want to make my diceless Hackers game, or damage template Barons game, or my blue ocean navy Privateer game, or my asymmetrical Viking raiding game, etc.

Anyway look for v2.6 near the end of March, or April at the latest (it will depend a bit on my playtesting schedule).

Fight-of-the-Waterhole
(Credit for the other art goes to Frederic Remington from the late 1800s)