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Little did I realize that small game board of the map of Texas could provide such absorbing fun. Our foursome played three games of Texas, counting the third game as a 'bridge rubber' game. The game sucks you into more than beer and pretzels.
You start out with three directional cards that allow you to place your ranches or farms on one of the squares of the Texas map. If your card reads NW2, you can move diagonally the two squares rather than vertically or horizontally. You can as the only part of your move draw a card, move with one of the directional cards, or miss a turn.
Our foursome discovered we need to work together as teams. No oral diplomacy is allowed, but you start studying the faceup directional cards of every player, including your partner. You can take the two judge tiles you are given and displace a farm with a ranch, for example. One problem always remains: Do I keep the judge tiles for later in the game or use quickly at a strategic time to remove the other player's piece and replace with mine?
The game ends when no one can do any more placement of ranches or farms. Other possibilities cannot be carried out, such as drawing a card or no markers remain. I kept the game moving with comments about sheepherders and ranchers, who traditionally started range wars. Your objective is to always place contiguous ranches or farms on the spaces, referred to in the rules as 'coherent.'
You think you have won the game in the early rounds, especially if five ranches, for example, are contiguous to each other. Suddenly, another player uses a judge tile and displaces your continuous placement. Often, directional cards force you to use judge tiles in the early rounds. We found at the end of the third game the score 61 for the farms and 59 for the ranches. That was the lowest score for all three games, because the foursome had mastered more strategy.
You score the game by say, three ranches contiguous to each other, is squared to nine victory points. It is important to remove other people's ranches or farms and replace with your own. That is easily done by turning over the ranch or farm counter to the opposite side.
One of our players commented the game had more than meets the eye. I liked the game for its spirited interaction, but the game is driven by the directional cards. You can communicate your love for the Old West with Texas.