High Noon Saloon by Slugfest Games


Cover

Gar and I also tried out a game we picked up at Christmas time, called HIGH NOON SALOON.   High Noon Saloon was published back in 2011 by  SlugFest Games, and it plays very similarly to previous SlugFest “individual fighting” games like KUNG FU FIGHTING and EN GARDE, in that you maintain a character, that character has some hit points, and you play cards to attack (or defend against) other players, until one person is the last person standing. Basically, that’s the game in a nutshell.

High Noon Saloon is slightly more complex than the other two games in this loosely connected series, having a map and counters that indicate physical location in a fictitious saloon terrain, which has an impact on the mechanics and outcomes.

Map Layout of the High Noon Saloon, with special areas highlighted (by me)

Mechanics are pretty simple. You have a character. The character has a special ability that impacts game mechanics, usually combat. Your character engages in combat, either melee or missile fire, depending on their physical location on the map. A turn is divided into segments that include some actions that move your token around on the terrain (“Jump” into the open, “Hunker Down” into cover).  Sequencing is basic Igo-Hugo.  Gunslinger, this ain’t.

All attacks cost “bullets” which are randomly determined by a reload draw which can part of the Weapons Phase. This can limit actions if you draw poorly, or give you enough firepower to create a devastating combination if the cards are kind that turn. Your character may play Attack Enhancement cards for fire or melee (if attacking) or Blocks (if defending). Modifiers “cost” bullets, so do character abilities, and Weapons cost bullets too.

In this example, Lisa’s innate ability with the rifle costs 1 bullet for a 1 attack and 2 bullets for 2 attack. The rifle itself costs 1 for a 1 attack, 2 for a 3 attack and 3 for a 4 attack. and the TASTE HOT LEAD, VARMIT! card adds 2 more for free. So, if Lisa has enough ammo, she could spend 2 for 2 (her ability), 3 for a 4 (the rifle) and add 2 more (the card) for a grand total of an 8 Attack. However, she only has 3 bullets (she drew a bad reload card) so the best she can fire is a 4 (3 for the rifle) plus 2 for the card for 6. If Ben is behind the bar (see the map above) that would soak up 2 points, and 4 would hit home, and he would then move his hit points (called “Grit” in this game) down four more. Pretty simple.

Our Game:

We drew random cards for characters. I got the trick shooting Annie Oakley surrogate, Lisa Barstock.

Garrett drew Ben Hackson, who has the innate ability to salvage attack cards. To be honest, he was a little over-matched when facing my crack shot Lisa Barstock. Oddly, physically, the art resembles either Wild Bill Hickock or Annie Oakley’s real life husband, Frank Butler. Quite a domestic spat ensued!

Ben started with a chair for melee, progressed to a Bowie Knife, then a tomahawk, then a pistol, then a better pistol, then a very lethal shotgun. So his fighting to hit score fluctuated.

The game played very quickly, something both Garrett and I liked. I won’t do a scene by scene for you, I’ll just relay the overall events here. I started behind the bar and held out there for a while pot-shotting at Frank across the saloon behind the bar. He fired at me, but being only armed with a pistol and not drawing very well with the ammo, the bar absorbed it. I fired at him, but not having drawn well for ammo, either, I couldn’t get a lot of the firepower through the piano block. Still, Ben took some damage.

Shifting positions.. I maneuver from the Bar, to the Kitchen, to the open, to the piano. Ben “Calls me Out” into the open which I can’t ignore and we melee fought for a bit. I blocked his hit with a tomahawk and counter-punched with a rifle butt. I ended up putting four points in his skull.

I got bored with the Mexican standoff of Bar vs. Piano locations, and decided to move to the Kitchen location to mix it up a little. The kitchen proved to be nearly impregnable (stone walls) but very difficult to shoot out of as it incurs a minus penalty for fire combat. That won’t work with my character so I jumped out into the open area, then tried to go to the piano but got a “I’m calling you OUT!” card played on me which necessitated immediate melee combat in the open. I blocked his attack and creased his skull with my rifle butt by playing a counterattack card. Meanwhile, as Ben was pretty shot up, he dove behind the bar and found himself a shotgun and made use of the bar’s healing ability

Shotgun. Uh oH!

Yikes! Not a good time for him to draw well in the reload, but that’s what he did.

Shotguns are painful in these rules.. delivering a lot of damage for very little bullet investment. Ben drew ALL the shotgun cards in the game, but that was fine by me, I drew all the repeating rifles. Both of us did well in the ammo department, so we blasted away at each other. I knocked Ben down a ton of points, all the way to the third “Grit” column, but HIS shotgun blast, (with a Fire Enhancement card) knocked me clean out of the window– that was the card effect, it doesn’t have to make sense on the map.   This means I started the turn out in the open, near the swinging doors.

End Game! Ben dies in the end. By investing everything I had as a bonus, I had JUST enough bullets to overcome the block 2 and do enough damage to drop Ben to zero hit points. Ben’s stiffening corpse falls over, an expression of surprise on his once-gleeful mug.

This could be bad for me with no defense modifiers, but I knew Ben was badly wounded from repeated hits. So I jumped in, rifle blazing, hoping I’d do okay in the ammo draw, and so I did. Through a combination of Attack Enhancement (Bandolier card) and using every bullet I had, I had enough to do 8 points on Ben, which was exactly what I needed to kill him.  Hoo-raw!

VERDICT:

Both Garrett and I have experience with other Slugfest fighting game titles, and have played EN GARDE and KUNG FU FIGHTING. This was our favorite Slugfest title so far– I like the cards for Kung Fu Fighting better, as they have a certain Asian panache, but I like the mechanics of High Noon more. We liked the variability in the mechanics and the fact that you’re moving in a physical space, diving for cover and hiding and finding extra bullets and such.. that’s fun. It would be fun to expand the map a little bit to see what could be done with the outer street area and other buildings. HIGH NOON SALOON is a fun game with easy mechanics that are fun to play and easy to teach. I had no problem learning and teaching this game in one session. I will certainly play it again, and who knows?  Maybe we’ll draw up a new map for it some day.   Worth another visit, for certain, but I don’t want to play it again with less than four players. High Noon Saloon can play with two but it’s really designed for more than that. I give it a cautious 6 rating.

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