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Way Out West
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Store:  Strategy Games
Theme:  Cowboy / Western

Way Out West

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Ages Play Time Players
13+ 90-120 minutes 3-5

Designer(s): Martin Wallace

Manufacturer(s): Warfrog

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Product Description

Players attempt to out point each other by building up towns, herding cattle, and hiring cowboys. If somebody has got something you want then you can fight them for it--gunfight at Dodge City! Banks can be robbed, cattle rustled and farmers shot. Despite the wide range of possible actions the basic rules are very simple. You can be as trigger-happy as you want, just be careful not to make too many enemies.

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Martin Wallace

  • Manufacturer(s): Warfrog

  • Artist(s): Peter Dennis

  • Year: 2000

  • Players: 3 - 5

  • Time: 90 - 120 minutes

  • Ages: 13 and up

  • Weight: 1,057 grams

  • Language Requirements: This is an international edition or domestic edition of an imported item. Manufacturer's rules are printed in multiple languages (including English).

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4.4 in 5 reviews

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Full of Western Flavor!
June 14, 2003

You would think that the Wild West would be a perfect theme for a game. However, very few games have been made about the western times in America, and even fewer have captured the true flavor of the times (short as those times were). Two game released recently have done the theme justice, and are fun and thematic. One is the great game Bang! and the other is Way out West. (WOW).

So is this western game worth our time? The short answer is yes, its a fun German style game with a lot of dice rolling thrown in.

The obligatory longer answer follows:

First, a short description of the game:

The board has five cities on it, ranging from the small town of San Antonia to the large city of Deadwood. Each city has three to six spaces for buildings, and four to seven corrals for cattle. Each of the three to five players is given two black wooden discs, twenty five dollars (cardboard counters) and a pile of cardboard tokens in their color. The game takes place over 12 rounds. Players bid for the turn order in each round.

Each round players go in turn order, placing one of their wooden discs in an action box at the top of the board, taking the action. As there are a limited number of boxes, some actions can be taken only a few times. A list of actions follows, with the number of action boxes and prices listed.

Buy a cattle token (3 - $1) Purchase one or two cattle tokens in a corral in one town. Cattle have some deployment restrictions.

Buy a cowboy (3 - $1) Put one or two cowboys in any town. Cowboys have no deployment restrictions.

Build a jail (1 - $3) Put a jail in a town, giving the player control of the sheriff of that town. All buildings have a limit of one per town, and each player can only build two buildings in any one town.

Build a store (1 - $5) Put a store in a town, giving that player money for other players cattle in that town.

Build a railroad (1 - $20) Put a railroad in a town, doubling the money value and point value of all cattle there.

Build a bank (1 - $10) Put a bank in a town, giving the owner more money.

Build a hotel (1- $7) Put a hotel in a town, giving that player money for other players cowboys in that town.

Build a stagecoach (1- $3) Put a stagecoach in town, giving that player money whenever a player puts cowboys in that town, or moves cowboys to that town.

Move a cowboy (3) Move an indicated amount of cowboys from towns to other towns.

Gunfight (4) A player can initiate a fight wherever he has cowboys. He can rob a bank, rustle other players cattle, take over another players building, or kill a farmer. The two players cowboys fight a duel. Banks and trains automatically have one defender. The owner of the jail has a sheriff who can also get involved in the fight. Each player rolls a die for each cowboy in the fight. Every 5 or 6 rolled kills a cowboy on the other side. The side with fewer cowboys fires first. If both sides have equal cowboys, combat is simultaneous. Combat continues until one side retreats, or until one side wipes out the other side winning the target (replacing cattle counters or buildings with own color or removing farmer). The winner of each gunfight gets a Wanted counter.

Place a farmer (1) Once a game, each player can put a farmer in a corral, removing the cattle counter there.

Move a cow (1) Move a cow from one town to another.

In a five player game, there are extra spaces to buy a cow, a cowboy, and initiate a fight.

After turns 3, 6, 9, and 12, income is earned. Each player gets $2 for each cattle they own (unless a farmer is in the same town, in which case they only get $1, or if there is a railroad in town, in which case their income is doubled). Each player gets $2 for every other players building in a town where they have a bank, $1 for every other players cattle in town where they have a store, and $1 for every other players cowboys in town where they have a hotel.

At the end of the game (after round 12), points are totaled up. Each player gets one point for each cattle token they own (-1 for a farmer in town, *2 for a railroad). Each building a player owns is worth points equal to the size of the town it resides in. Whoever has the most money gets five points, whoever has the most wanted counters gets four points. Whoever controls each town (most cattle + buildings) gets points equal to the size of the town. The player with the most points wins! Ties remain ties.

Some comments on the game:

1). Components: Way Out West has a very nice, sturdy box. However, there is no place to put all the different counters. Youll have to bag them all up, with different bags for different the different player tokens. The tokens are nice quality, although I would have preferred little plastic cowboys for the cowboys. But Im sure that would have driven the cost of the game up. Using coins for money is always a big plus in my book, especially when they are in different colors and sizes for the different denominations. The board is nice, with a desert background. All the components fit the theme very well.

2). Combat: I have to mention that WOW has some of the most erratic combat in a game, ever. Its very risky to attack anyone, yet the rewards are rather good. Sometimes its better to attack with fewer men, just to get the first shot. Yet Ive seen battles where five cowboys will attack three and roll all misses, while the three cowboys kill 3 of the five, and then go on to win victory. Fighting is so chaotic that you cannot base any solid strategy on it. You have to keep cowboys in any town, and hope that no one attacks you. In our games, the jail was the first building bought in every town, because everyone wanted to control the sheriff in every town as that was a big advantage in fighting. Getting wanted posters is a nice touch, but the four victory points is not that big of a swing in the final point counting, so its rarely an incentive for people to attack.

3). Stab your neighbor: Dont expect to play a peaceful, non-aggressive game here. After some initial placements, things are going to get nasty. Playing a farmer in someones corral can really mess up their strategy and greatly annoy them. Winning an attack can greatly turn the tide, giving you more buildings in towns, and stealing cows. However, like most games of this type, attacks usually invite wild reprisals, and grudges can be made in this game. Also, in games with more players, its fairly easy to pick on the guy who was just shot up by someone else. Its really easy to beat up the guy in last place, and for that player the game can lose a lot of its luster.

4). Buildings: Some buildings, like the jail, are built right away. The others are also built, but two the bank and the railroad are rarely built. This is for two reasons. One, they are both expensive, the railroad ludicrously so. The banks second reason for not being built is that it is such a big target, and if someone robs your bank, you could lose a huge pile of your money. The railroads second reason is that the benefits of a railroad rarely compensate for the cost of the bank. Ive seen both buildings built, but rarely so.

5). Theme: This game just reeks of theme. As the cowboys face each other, shooting each other for no reason, we started really getting into the cowboy spirit. Yes, you can play the game as a serious tile-laying game, but the wacky combat just immerses the game in theme. Everything fits, and the game certainly doesnt feel like the theme was just plastered on. Robbing banks, rustling cattle, crooked sheriffs its all here!

6). Fun Factor: And because of the theme, I have to say that the game is fun. If random, crazy combat turns you off, dont try the game. Because of how erratic the combat was, I stay out of it, or try to get the odds stacked really high in my favor. But if you are looking for a game full of Western flavor, then this is one of the best and youll have a lot of fun. The game itself is full of strategic decisions, so its not all theme.

7). Time: The game plays quicker with 3 players and is actually a very good three-player game. But even with five players, the game should finish within 90 minutes. The game can bog down if a player takes a long time to consider his choices (there are quite a few!) But gentle (or loud) reminders should keep the game running smoothly.

8). Rules: This is my one negative comment on the game. I really dislike the rules. They are written in very small type on a 4 pages, and are very difficult to go through. They arent hard to understand, but because of the difficulty in finding rules meant that we made some crucial mistakes the first time we played. The game is easy to teach, but isnt that easy to learn from the rules without making mistakes. Pictures and colors would have helped a lot in the layout.

But despite the rules, the theme makes this game a real winner in my book! The combat is a stranger to European games, to be sure but this combat is strange to games with combat! So, unless you dont like a good old fashioned spaghetti Western, I highly recommend this game!

A clever game
January 21, 2001

Trust me, this game is very addictive. You'll always try to find a new strategy for spending your money and placing your tiles. The game-system is simple but smart. I've played three times. Each play was totally different as starting was. Sometimes it is very aggressive (a lot of duels); sometimes very 'sharky' (money... money...); and sometimes so diplomatic (if you put a farmer there, I'll certainly attack your bank).

by Chris
Luck o' the die... but still fun
May 19, 2001

Played with my usual group last night, and had a blast with this and Wyatt Earp (western games night!)

I had a good number of cowboys in the game, but due to poor die rolls on my part, I lost EVERY gunfight I started. And that resulted in me scoring the least amount of points in the game and finishing 4th.

My group found some strategy early, like building jails to give you an edge in gunfights (Sheriff!) and building in the larger cities to get VPs at the end. Which resulted in the guy with the most money finishing 3rd.

Very entertaining game.

Do not forsake me oh my darling
May 02, 2001

If you are a fan of the old west this is a good game to buy. It has no historical background but instead captures the feel of the Old West by the interactions between players. You actually get the feeling that you are a Cattle Baron trying to spread your control to the neighboring towns and having to fight with the others for control. The mechanics are fairly simple to learn and the options are many. The play takes different routes right from the start.

The timing of when you want to try to takeover an opponent's Bank is just one of the many crucial decisions you have to make. Do you buy cowboys and try to become a major power or do you spend your money building/raising cattle and gaining income from the visiting cowboys and cattle?

The one thing I wasn't impressed with was the rules. They could have put in a sample game rather than the German version. Also the Victory Conditions are somewhat poorly written. Other than that small thing this one is a good addition to the game collection.

The Wild, Wild, West!
December 27, 2000

Way Out West (WOW) is basically a tile-laying game set in the American frontier of the 19th century. There are 5 locations for players to compete for via raising cattle and constructing buildings. Gunfights are fairly common as players try to use their cowboys to tip the balance of power in their favor. Cash assets accumulate every three turns, with victory points only being tallied at the end of the game. Play is quick, light, enjoyable, and smooth.

Two clever mechanics help guide this game. First, the individual actions (e.g., move cowboys, raise cattle, initiate a gunfight, etc.) that players can perform are strictly limited. So if you want to bring a train to town, but another player has already done so elsewhere this turn, you will have to wait until the following turn to do so. Second, there is a bid round at the start of each turn to decide who will go first. This may be important in being able to build a jail (which comes with an all-important sheriff) to protect your assets or to rob someone else's store before they reinforce the location with additional cowboys.

Situational awareness is of prime consideration in WOW. If you are too strong in a certain town, other players will generally avoid going there and it will simply not grow (bigger towns earn more VP's). If you are too weak in another town, opponents will ruthlessly hold-up your bank, rustle your cattle, and burn your jail to the ground. It's good to defeat opposing cowboys in a gunfight, but by being sent to Boot Hill they will no longer occupy your hotel (more cowboys in town = more cash for the owner of the hotel). Checks and balances are plentiful in this game.

Some players may not like the luck factor in gunfights (a 5 or 6 dice roll is needed for a hit), but we found that this random element added a needed degree of uncertainty to play. Indeed, the gunfights are fast, fun, and worthy of much cheering around the table (nothing beats your lone hotel clerk blasting away two hombres who are trying to muscle you out of business). Oh, every time someone prevails in a gun battle, they get a Wanted Poster, the most of which can earn VP's when scoring occurs.

It is possible for a player to get so far behind (by losing too many gunfights and having their buildings or cattle stolen) that his position is nearly hopeless. It's no fun getting knocked out in any game, so be aware that we're talking survival of the fittest here.

WOW is one of those efforts that offer you a plethora of options without straining your mind too much. It has a strong theme woven into the design. I doubt if WOW will become one of my favorite titles, but lemme tell ya pardner, it is a lot of fun.

Coupled with the phenomenal Empires of the Ancient World, WarFrog has delivered a potent 1-2 punch upon the gaming world. I eagerly look forward to their future products.

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