WYATT EARP

EXCERPTS FROM THE SUMMER 2001 ISSUE OF GAMERS ALLIANCE REPORT

 

Reviewed by Herb Levy

WYATT EARP (Alea/Rio Grande Games; $19.95)\

 

Mike Fitzgerald’s Mystery Rummy series has been favorably reviewed both in these pages (Jack the Ripper [Fall 1998 GA REPORT], Murders in the Rue Morgue [Fall 1999 GA REPORT] and Jekyll & Hyde [last issue]) and in the marketplace. A Wild West setting for his rummy variant seems like a natural. Only this time, Fitzgerald has teamed up with Richard Borg (whose credits include Battle Cry [Summer 2000 GA REPORT]) to put a little more meat in the pot. Together they have come up with a game outside of the series: Wyatt Earp.

In Wyatt Earp, players try to capture seven of the most notorious characters from theWyatt Earp American West: Jesse James, Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, Bob Dalton, Bill the Kid, Belle Starr and Wes Hardin. These Outlaws have bounties on their head. The player who collects the most reward money wins!WyattEarpinside

The game comes boxed with a deck of 78 cards of two types: Outlaw cards (seven for each Outlaw) and Sheriff cards (marked with stars). The Sheriff cards are subdivided into Photo cards (one for each Outlaw), seven Wyatt Earp cards (the most powerful in the deck) and others including bank robbery, fastest gun, most wanted, hideout and stagecoach robbery. Money, in the form of cardboard tokens in denominations of $5000 and $1000 is also present.

The center of the playing area is filled by the seven large Outlaw character cards arranged in a circle. Each Outlaw card begins with a $1000 chit placed on it, the current reward for capturing that villain. Players begin with a hand of 10 cards. On a turn, a player MUST draw one or two cards (either the top discard OR two from the draw pole), MAY then play one or more cards (only one Sheriff card per turn but any number of Outlaw cards) and then finish the turn by discarding one card.

Outlaws are captured by amassing a certain number of “Capture Points” (CPs). Cards used in melds are the first way points are garnered. The first meld against any Outlaw must consist of three matching Outlaw cards. Melding Outlaw cards generally increase the bounty on that lawbreaker. Simple enough – but it’s the Sheriff cards that give Wyatt Earp an extra dose of action.

Usually, a player may only play one Sheriff card (noted by a sheriff’s star in the upper left hand corner) per turn and these cards have a great impact on play. For example, the Photo card (one for each Outlaw) may be played once the initial meld for a particular Outlaw is made. The Photo card for the matching Outlaw adds 4 CPs to the total and increases the reward for capturing the criminal. The rules indicate that the Photo card should be played on turn. We play that the Photo card may be played OUT OF TURN! Since you are only allowed to play one Sheriff card per turn, this minimizes the danger of being stuck with a hand filled with Sheriff cards so that you are paralyzed. Like the Photo card, other Sheriff cards (such as bank robbery and fastest gun) add CPs to an outlaw and reward money to his capture. On the other hand, the hideout card neutralizes the CPs of one player. The Wyatt Earp card is clearly the most powerful as it allows you to draw two cards from the draw pile OR retrieve one card from the discard pile OR remove a nasty hideout card. The Photo cards always take effect when played but for other Sheriff cards to work, the player must make a good “shot”.

In determining if a shot “hits”, the player playing the card turns over the next card in the draw pile. All Outlaw cards have a “bullet hole” on the edge. If you draw a bullet hole, your shot hits and the card takes effect. If any other type of card is drawn (which does NOT have a bullet hole), you’ve missed and the played card gets discarded! (This may seem like too much luck but it really isn’t. Successful shots occur more often early in the game. As the game progresses and Outlaw cards are melded, less Outlaw cards remain in the deck so the chance for a successful shot lessens. In this game, as in so many others, timing is important!)

Play continues until either a player goes out (by playing all held cards save one and then discarding the last) OR the deck is gone through a second time. At that point, we score.

For an Outlaw to be captured (and reward money earned), a total of at least 8 CPs must be melded to the table by all players. (Otherwise, the reward money carries over the next and). If 8 CPs or more are played against an Outlaw, totals are compared. If one player has 5 CPs (or more) against a particular Outlaw than any other player, that player gets ALL of the reward money. Otherwise rewards are shared with the player with the most CPs getting the first $2000 of the reward while the rest of the reward money is shared among all (with some restrictions) $1000 at a time.

If no one accumulates $25,000 in reward money, the game continues. The first player to earn $25,000 (or if more than one player reaches that level, then the one who has the highest total beyond the $25,000 mark) wins the game!

Adding to the Wild West ambiance of the game are the large Outlaw cards containing brief biographies of the game’s protagonists as well as effective use of sepia tones and artwork that captures the essence of the Wild West.

Although not an official part of the Mystery Rummy series, Wyatt Earp ranks right up there in its effective use of theme and card play. So gather up your posse, pardner. Bounty hunting with Wyatt Earp is a very rewarding gaming experience. – – – – – – – – – Herb Levy


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Summer 2001 GA Report Articles

 

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