11/03/2016

High Noon, Hijinks - Revolver the card game



The year is 1892.
The bank at Repentance Springs has been robbed.
Many good citizens, including Sheriff Anton Dreyfus and school-marm Sue Daggett, were brutally slain as Colty's gang shot its way, whooping and hollering, out of town.
Colonel Ned McReady and his men are tasked with bringing Jack Colty - a man so mean he'd steal a fly from a blind spider, or a coin off a dead man's eyes - and his gang to justice.
Howdy! Get your guns ready for a game set in the old wild west, Revolver. Revolver is a 2-player, non-collectible card game and is actually one of my favorite games because it's seldom that you can find a game with as much strategy and character which is aimed towards 2 players. Players can choose to either be the protagonist, Colonel Ned McReady, or the antagonist, Jack Colty. Each character has their own rules and win conditions, and it's actually fun to act out your roles during the game. It's a game which packs a lot of surprises, so let's check out what makes this game a true gem.

Components



Colonel McReady deck with 62 cards
Colty gang deck with 62 cards
16 Bandit Character Cards
5 Battlefield Cards
1 Derail the Train
1 Mexican Border
14 Mexican Border Tokens
6 True Grit Tokens
6 Power Tokens
1 Turn Marker
Rulebook

All of these goodies are packed into a solid tin can. If you have all of the expansions (with all the additional cards and tokens), there's almost no space wasted in the tin as it fits everything well if you remove the plastic insert. The art is excellent, and the rulebook comes with a short history and side stories of the different bandits in Jack Colty's gang so it makes for a good read. The cards fit inside standard sized sleeves and are of a decent thickness. The true grit and power tokens are made of cardboard, and the mexican border tokens and the turn marker are made from wood. No complaints overall but there are some typographical errors spotted in the rulebook.

Rules and Gameplay



The game starts by placing the 5 Battlefield cards between you and your opponent and shuffling the decks. The order of the cards can be found in the rulebook. The Mexican Border card is placed on the side with 12 Mexican Border tokens placed on top of it. The turn marker is then placed on the turn space marked "1" on the first Battlefield card, The Bank at Repentance Springs, which marks McReady's initial encounter with the notorious Jack Colty. When all this has been set up, each player gets either the Colonel McReady deck or the Jack Colty deck which contains 62 cards depending who they want to be. The player who chose to be Jack Colty also gets a set of 16 Bandit Character cards, representing his merry gang of troublemakers. Each player then draws their initial hand of 5 cards from the deck.

Each person has their own set of winning conditions, and they are as follows. For the Colonel McReady player, they can win if:
1. Every member of Colty's gang is killed before Jack Colty escapes off the 3:15 Express from Rattlesnake Station.

On the other hand, the Colty player wins if:
1. They are able to reach and survive the 3:15 Express from Rattlesnake Station turn space "4."
2. All tokens from the Mexican Border card are removed.

The Jack Colty player always goes first.

On each turn, Colty moves the turn marker to the next space on each battlefield, except for the first turn where it stays on the "1". Once all the spaces on that battlefield has been traversed, the players move on to the next battlefield. Colty then plays cards to try and thwart McReady from killing off his gang, or bide enough time for Colty to escape on the train from Rattlecreek station. Colty then draws 2 cards from the deck. Colty can place firepower cards (indicated by the black circle on the upper left hand corner of the card) on his side of the battlefield, but it should be noted that Colty can only place a total of 3 firepower cards on his side unless otherwise indicated. Colty also gets an additional firepower added depending on which battlefield they are on, and this is indicated by the small black circle on the lower left of the Battlefield card. Colty can also play cards which takes McReady's character cards out of the round. Each player can play as many cards as they want.

Some cards require a specific action before they are allowed to be used which is indicated in the upper left side, such as discarding a number of cards, and some cards have "True Grit" on them which equates to having an extra life.

Once Colty has finished playing his cards and placing the necessary firepower cards, McReady can now counterattack by drawing 2 cards and placing his own character cards with their own firepower on his side of the battlefield. In order to defeat Colty's bandits, McReady must have a total power greater than Colty's total power. If this holds true, one of Colty's bandits is killed. The bandits are killed off in numerical order; the bandit with the lowest number (located on the upper left) has to die first. If there are multiple bandits with the same number, Colty can choose which one he wants to discard. There are cards which can prevent Colty from getting his bandits killed, and some bandits have special effects which can be beneficial to either player once they are killed.

However, if McReady's firepower is less than Colty's once the turn ends, Colty takes a token off the Mexican Border. As mentioned above, Colty can win if all the tokens are taken off the Mexican Border so this is one kind of strategy. Take note that cards placed on a specific battlefield cannot be carried over to the next battlefield if the players have transferred, so use your cards wisely and know when to give up and save your cards for a big revenge. Some cards also increase the number of turns on a battlefield. Once the turn marker has reached the last space on Rattlecreek Station and McReady fails to defeat all of Colty's bandits, the game ends and Colty wins.

On the 3:15 Express from Rattlecreek Station battlefield, Colty can also do a unique action if he feels that he is in danger - Derail the Train. Derailing the train will discard all the cards in play of both players including all of Colty's gang members, except the ones in their hands. Colty MUST save at least one of his gang members by discarding a card for each member. If he fails to do so, he dies along with the train crash and McReady wins.

There's a lot of different strategies that you can do, and just when you thought you were winning, there's a lot of "Take that!" moments that will catch you off guard. This game requires good hand management, as going all out too early might leave you handicapped the rest of the game. As mentioned above, there are a lot of ways for Colty to win, but the game is balanced so that the McReady can counter with his own play style. Each player I've played with have different play styles, so each game is fresh and you'll never expect what will happen. Overall this is my favorite 2-player game since the rules aren't complicated and yet it has a deep strategic factor to it.

Length and Replayability



This is the place where Revolver excels. Revolver has 5 expansions under its sleeve, and you can usually buy a copy with all of them included. Each expansion has new cards and new rules introduced, so each game is completely different. You can play the game with any combination or all of the expansions. The expansions really add a lot of replay value to the game.

Moreover, you can also do deck building by picking 62 cards of your choosing from the original and the expansions to make your own custom deck. A game lasts around 45 minutes, but it can easily take an hour when the battle is fierce. It's such a fun game that I can play a couple of games in a row and not get tired of it.


Overall score


Just a few points off a perfect score (since it's rare we give out perfect scores), but still a mind-blowingly good 2 player game. It's a game that I would recommend to those who only have a single board game buddy (like your significant other for example) and yet still want to experience a full board game that's specifically made and balanced for both players. This game can easily be found on sale with all the expansions and there's actually a sequel for it, Revolver 2. This game has tons of personality, and I would wholeheartedly recommend this to those who can't find a huge gaming group all the time. Try it out and I'm sure you'll have a hog-killin' time.


View the BGG game page here.

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