It has been three years since I first reviewed Blackwater Gulch: Gangfights in the Old West.
At the time I noted I love a good western. I suspect that came from my father’s love of all things Louis L’Amour, and my devouring many of his books 35-plus years ago.
I loved the ‘spaghetti’ westerns of Clint Eastwood, and found the more recent Django Unchained movie particularly well-done, far more than I had expected.
The gang at Blackwater Gulch had brought the love of westerns and miniature gaming together in their 2012 gaming release.
The game is one my little gaming cabal delved into with a number of the gangs available. A boxed gang of five minis was $35 so affordable to explore.
We had a blast.
The game was initially pretty simple, which kept game play crisp, if at times we lamented that a bit more depth might add some interest at times.
But as veteran gamers, and contrarians, we say that about many games.
Like many games Blackwater Gulch is set to evolve.
Miniature games in general go through a process of initial release and then periodic updates to add new elements, and close up a few game play loopholes players find once hundreds are playing the game regularly.
In the case of Blackwater Gulch the upcoming changes are pretty darned exciting.
“In the last few years we upgraded the original rules a few times, and I felt it was time for a proper update to have everything all in one place,” said game designer Tim Kline.
“We also recently started a new site called SkirmishGames.com where you can get the free rules for the Gangfight Skirmish System, going forward we plan to produce a variety of different gameworlds all using these same rules; plus a lot of different generic settings.
“In the end we hope to have an open ended and free ruleset anyone can use to play skirmish games with their favorite miniatures. “And we will build official Gameworlds like Blackwater Gulch for the miniatures we plan to produce ourselves.
The core western gang theme remains intact for those dedicated to the old west.
But the game is taking on a broader scope too.
“Everything is up to date and easy to follow, and over the years we have collected a lot of artwork. The Second Edition will be much more polished and “professional” looking, while still being the same fun skirmish game it was before,” said Kline. “The rules haven’t really changed much other than a few balancing tweaks, it’s all in the presentation now. The game was originally a straight western mini skirmish game. It has since evolved with the supernatural element.”
“Blackwater Gulch is a western horror skirmish game of infamous gangs, savage beasts, ravenous dead and malevolent demons,” noted a preview set of the new rule book.
The introduction of werewolves and demons and the likes really is a game changer, and some of the new horror-themed gangs look very promising.
An example; “The Croatoa are a vicious pack of Werewolves, led by the ancient wolf Croatoan. For hundreds of years he has led his pack of wolves, raiding mortal camps and settlements with brutal savagery. The Croatoa have been responsible for destroying camps and settlements since long before the white men came across the sea. Their goal is to do whatever it takes to keep the world wild.”
Yes indeed I want these guys.
Or; “There are few gangs more sinister than The Wicked. A motley crew of undead creatures and demonic hellions, they stalk the Bad Lands searching for lost souls to devour. Miss Lavoe leads the gang, a young woman possessed by a crooked entity. She uses dark and mystical powers to attract the foulest creatures to fight for her, giving them free reign to feast upon the prospectors and treasure hunters that continue to venture into her domain. If you hope to uncover the riches of the Bad Lands, do so at your own peril… and remember to bring lots of guns.”
Another winner by description. It will be intriguing to see the gang once the Kickstarter for the new edition launches.
The supernatural will add tonnes of atmosphere to the game world.
“I’ve always wanted to go in this direction pretty much since the beginning,” said Kline. “There’s so many old west and Native American stories to pull inspiration from, plus urban legends and horror movies too. At first I was planning to introduce the supernatural elements as a whole separate game, but I felt like I already had a game that worked, and it was the same time period too, I thought two separate games could fragment things.
“This way with both together it’s got a solid foundation to keep adding lots more monsters and also historical themes too.”
Kline said broadening the game has also broadened the player base.
“Yes I believe it has, there seems to have been a lot of interest lately,” he said. “Historical fans can still play the same old game, while people who like the monsters and some fantasy elements are also really happy with the changes.”
As the designer Kline said picking a favourite among the soon to be released gangs is not easy.
“I like them all,” he began. “But if I had to pick a favourite, I think I would go with The Wicked. There’s lots of creepy influences in the gang and they’ve got a cool back story.
“There will also be a lot more if we’re able to get our stretch goals added too.”
So a general look at the game, again from the ruleset; “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.”
Blackwater Gulch is the first in a series of Gameworld Rulesets for our new, free, open-ended rules – the Gangfight Game System.
These free rules are available online at SkirmishGames.com, and also included in the rulebook.
This aspect is great as it opens up the possibility of using existing minis in any genre you desire, using the same general ruleset.
But Blackwater will remain the core and that is good news because with the supernatural aspect added this is just a super fun game.
“Yes Blackwater Gulch will continue to grow and thrive, and we have lots of new gangs planned for future releases, plus new characters to join the old gangs,” said Kilne.
“What I hope to do is have everything funded from this campaign, and follow it up with a series of themed campaign books that introduce new stories, characters and gangs with each one.
“The new rulebook has maps of the region that we hope to explore more in depth too.”
If you like miniature skirmish games, and the old west, maybe with a tinge of creepy things that reside in the shadows, then Blackwater Gulch is a must.
This game has a solid background already on gaming tables, and now it’s set to add exciting new aspects, which has this gamer rather excited.