Calvin’s Commentaries: Blackwater Gulch

How time flies when you are having fun.

Yes, that is a cliché, but it works in this instance since I am about to review the newest ruleset from Blackwater Gulch.

In preparing to write this I looked back and noted it was five years ago I first reviewed this game. I fully enjoyed the game back then when it was a purely western-themed miniature skirmish game.

It was not the most detailed ruleset ever, which was generally a great strength in the sense it was quick to learn, quick to play a game that never got bogged down in layers of rules.

The general idea of quick and easy has thankfully been carried forward with the new rule set, but the game has expanded the realm in which it operates extensively.

Blackwater Gulch is now “a western horror skirmish game of infamous gangs, savage beasts, ravenous dead and malevolent demons. In Blackwater Gulch, you and your friends will collect gangs of miniature men or supernatural creatures and battle for survival in the town streets and outskirts,” notes the new book’s intro.

“Blackwater Gulch is a hobby game – quite simply, a game that you build yourself. This book provides the rules that you need to play, and you will purchase Blackwater Gulch miniatures (which we also refer to as “models”) to represent your gang and paint them to your liking. The game is played on a board that you also create, which can simply be a table top with a few pieces of scenery for obstacles, or you can build an elaborate Wild West town from scratch. You are limited only by your imagination!”

What Gangfight Games Studio has done here is actually quite ingenious. They have taken a game which can still be a pure western skirmish game, the lawful posse after the low down, rotten bandits, filling a great niche in miniature gaming for someone who grew up a fan of Bonanza, Gunsmoke and the original The Magnificent Seven.

But they have added a mash-up horror theme to the latest book.

Now your brave cowboys can take on werewolves, and undead critters and nasty witches. The fun of this game has basically been ramped up tenfold.

“Every town has a story, and every story has a beginning, and our story begins with Old Man Cooter,” notes a little of the ‘background fluff of the book.

“Beneath the shadow of Marble Mountains, his cabin was a ramshackle thing. It shook under a strong wind, groaning with each shake, but like its owner, it had stood against time and the elements. Just a few miles out of town, Old Man Cooter had claimed there was gold both in the deep, fast-flowing azure blue of the river after which the town was named, as well as in the caverns deep beneath the mountains.

“Blackwater Gulch lies directly on top of one such area. No one knew of this, of course, save for the local tribes who were exterminated or driven off over time. With no one to defend or quarantine the area any longer, corruption quickly grew into the hearts of men, sowing strife and discord. The town may have destroyed itself, eventually becoming lost to history, but there is incredible wealth to be found in these hills and the railroad and steamships bring a steady stream of greedy men to town each day.

“Blackwater Gulch may have started as a small frontier town, but the discovery of gold brought so many new faces here, forcing it to grow incredibly fast. Now, the small dusty streets of the town’s founding have given way to a small city made of wood and mud, filled with back alleys and secret dens of sin and vice. Though the main roads through town are relatively safe, those who wander off those beaten paths rarely see the next day unless they’ve got a loaded revolver on their hip.”

By opening the door to the creatures of ‘B-movies stardom’ what you might have to be shooting at has grown very interesting here.

There will be huge interest in ‘running’ one of the horror gangs now available for Blackwater Gulch, yet the western purest can skirt the beasties and just focus on the old west. It’s one of those win-win situations.

With campaign basics now fully included in the rulebook, Blackwater Gulch sets up to be fun over a series of skirmishes with friends, and that adds life to the characters you play, and the game in general.

Already a favoured miniature skirmish game, (right behind MERCs), this latest book does nothing but make me want a new horror gang to play.

Check it out at

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