Highly profitable and utterly despised. It took a sort of ruthlessness and recklessness that more often than not got you strung up by your neck without the mercy of a quick drop.
Blue Orange’s 2-player game Longhorn drops you into that world as a pair of competing cattle thieves, and although getting rich is one way to win, the main way to win is by making sure your opponent loses.
The game board constantly changes. It consists of 9 tiles that are shuffled and placed in a random 3×3 grid. Each tile starts with a certain number of cows. The cows are of three colors (black, orange, white) and the colors should be randomly distributed between the tiles. For example, the tile called “Dagger Flats” calls for 4 cows but the color of these cows should be decided randomly. The starting tiles also have a space for a special effect token. These tokens are chosen randomly and can be beneficial to the player or harmful.
On your turn, you steal cows and then move your opponent a number of spaces equal to the number of cows you stole. In this way you try to maneuver your opponent into the worst possible situation as you try to make the best of the conditions in which you find yourself.
There are three ways to win:
- If you force your opponent to take the Sheriff token, you WIN (opponent automatically LOSES).
- If you collect 9 cows of the same color you automatically WIN unless you also get the Sheriff in which case you LOSE and your opponent WINS!
- If you are forced to land on an empty tile, the game ends and both players earn money for the cows they have stolen plus any money they collected during the game (from the tokens). Richest rustler WINS.
I’m not going to go into all of the tokens and the final calculations for scoring. Suffice it to say that the different victory conditions open up several winning strategies. You and your opponent have to factor in a lot of variables, not the least of which is that you can’t control your own piece. Sometimes it is better to steal fewer cows in order to move your opponent one step closer to swinging the Gallow’s Dance.
Games are fast and cut-throat. They are never the same twice and I can’t over-emphasize how much fun it is to have a game that revolves around forcing your opponent to step on a rattlesnake or take a bunch of sick cows.
There are a lot of pieces, and the first time you set up the game it will take some time to figure out what goes where, but once you see it, the following games are completely intuitive.
Although I’m sure that this could never be said about cattle rustling in the days of Wyatt Earp and Billy the Kid, but rustling cattle on the Blue Orange range is Major Fun.
2 players. Ages 8+
Longhorn was designed by Bruno Cathala and is © 2013 by Blue Orange Games.