In Six Gun Saga, players take on the role of a character in the wild west, gathering bands of lawmen and outlaws alike to complete iconic tasks straight out of movies and novels; through gun battles, story cards, and other methods the leaders accumulate victory points. The player with the most VP when the end conditions are met wins.
The game itself doesn't pretend to exist in any historical timeframe, rather combining historical figures and purely fictional characters to create a mythical pastiche that is more about tone than consistency. The mood of the game is closest to the so-called Spaghetti Westerns as it moves toward a more morally ambiguous and mercenary vibe, complemented by the music of Stian Stark and the art of Matt Bradbury and Katie Davis.
The main character for each side is represented by a boss character that represents the special abilities of the player that dictate how many posses he can create, how many cards can be held in one's hand at any given time, how much cash they begin with, and a few other statistics, including a special ability. If this character goes out in a posse and is killed, the boss's corresponding player immediately loses. After choosing your character and your opponents, you are then dealt a series of cards and the game begins. Each card in your hand is either a "dude", which is a character that can assist the player in winning the game indirectly or through battle; a deed, which allows them access to buildings which often provide income, victory point bonuses, or other helpful bonuses; or an ambush, which you can use to lay traps for other game participants. Each of these cards has several statistics which allow for a bunch of different ways to use them.
The Cards in Your Hand
Most cards are capable of many different things, but you can't have it all ways. You have to choose what you're going to do with a card when you want to use it, and some options will be permanently closed off when you do.
- Buy the dude, deed, or ambush: This lets you place the dude in your bunkhouse, allowing them to join a posse you set up later so they can ride out and complete story cards or do battle with enemy posses. If bought, deeds are immediately activated and start earning you special rewards, and ambushes are immediately deployed to one of the three spots beneath an opponent's boss card. Should an enemy posse land on the spot you picked, the ambush will activate, which might kill off one or more dudes in the opponent's posse.
- Cash in the card: rather than use the card, you just discard it and get an amount of money that is usually relative to the usefulness of the card. This may be necessary if your income isn't equal to the uptake you're paying for your active cards.
- Play the card: cards with this option have a poker value shown in the middle right. If you choose to play it, you apply this card value to any posse that's already been created; that posse will have that poker value to use once when they enter into a gunfight, which they may add to the cards generally available when making a poker hand. Using this option discards the card.
- Play the card as an action: Cards have actions that are randomly determined when they are dealt, which allow for bonuses or penalties either permanent and temporary which can dramatically affect the gaming landscape, altering stats or setting up favorable conditions for victory.
Gatherin' up a Posse
You may get a posse together by paying a flat rate, then adding characters you've already bought to the posse from your bunkhouse. Posses combine their gunfight total, which, when added to a poker hand during a gunbattle is compared to the opponent's posse's value. The posse with the lower value has wounds applied to their characters by the victor
. So, while combat does not always occur between posses it's usually good to have some savvy gunslingers in a given posse. There are different classes of character (townsfolk, gunfighter, outlaw, lawman, Apache) which are required to enter an empty Story Cards, explained below.
Once a posse is assembled, it may be moved, usually once. Usually this means it will reach one of the three intermediary steps below a boss first. Here, if they land on an ambush spot they must resolve the ambush just as if they were in combat with another posse, through a hand of poker.
Assuming the posse survives any ambushes, on subsequent turns a posse may move to what are called Story Cards. Each Story Card has an amount of victory points which may be won using a posse's victory point value. When those victory points are completely drained the Story Card is removed and often gives a special bonus to the player who removed it. Posses are the only way to clear Story Cards, and Story Cards are one of the surest ways to victory.
If a posse is currently occupying a Story Card, though, it may be attacked by an opponent's posse. This causes a hand of poker to be dealt, with players adding two cards of their own plus any bonus cards they applied earlier. Hands are scored based on the best hand each player can make, each of which has a certain score which is then added to the gunfighting score. The losing side then gets wounds applied, which means one or more characters may wind up at Boot Hill, scoring the victor VPs.
Finishin' Your Turn and Your Opponents
Once you've done what you can, you drawn new cards. The start of your next turn has you paying any upkeep on active character cards, earning money, and making sure your books are balanced. If not, you may have to sell off some of the cards in your hand before you begin.
Players make a mad dash for VPs, thwarting each other's plans and trying to get on top of the pile before the turns run out or someone gains enough VPs to go over the top. The one with the most VPs wins.
The game was in paid beta, where those who pre-purchased the game had full access to it while it moves toward its release state. It was released officially on August 6, 2011. Its 19 page manual can be downloaded from the main site here
, and a fully functional demo limited to 15 turn games can be found here