Bountytown Review

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Bountytown is a game by Kyle Van Winkle and Michael Huven-Moore, published by Victory Point Games. It is for 3-6 players. In this game, players will take on the role of legendary characters from the Old West. They will be trying to get the most renown by moving around town, activating locations and having duels. The player that can come out on top when all’s said and done will be declared the winner.

To begin, the location cards for the Sheriff’s Office, Doc’s and General Store are placed in the middle of the play area in a row from left to right in that order. The remaining location cards are shuffled together. Three cards are then drawn and placed above those locations and three cards are drawn and placed below them to form a 3×3 grid. The item cards are shuffled together. The top five cards are dealt face up next to the General Store in a row. The remaining cards are placed face down next to the row. The Train card is removed from the bounty deck. The remaining bounty cards are shuffled together. A number of cards are drawn face down depending on the number of players. These cards will form the actual bounty deck. The remaining cards are set aside not to be used. The bottom five cards from the bounty deck are shuffled together with the Train card before being placed back on the bottom of the bounty deck. The top three cards are drawn and placed face up next to the Sheriff’s Office. If any of the face up bounty cards have items showing on them, the correct number of item cards are drawn from the item deck and placed next to the corresponding bounty card face down. The remaining bounty cards are placed face down beside the row of face up cards. Character cards are shuffled and players are each dealt two cards. Each player selects one character and receives the corresponding character pawn. This pawn is placed on the Sheriff’s Office card. The unused cards are returned to the box. The duel deck is shuffled and each player is dealt a number of cards up to their hand size, which is normally five cards. Some characters can hold more cards. The remaining duel cards as well as the wound cards are placed face down next to the grid. The first player is chosen and play now begins.

On a player’s turn, they can perform up to three actions. They may even perform the same action multiple times. Those actions are move to any location, use one of the middle location’s abilities, duel a bounty or other player that is at the same location, and reload your hand. The first action that a player can take is to move to any location. This is simply done by taking the character pawn and placing it on a different location card. There are no limits to the amount of characters that can be in a particular location.

The next available action that a player can take is to use one of the middle location’s abilities. To use one of these abilities, the player’s character pawn must be on the corresponding location. The Sheriff’s Office allows a player to turn in a bounty by spending 2 actions. The Doc’s allows the player to heal a wound. The General Store allows a player to buy items using gold cards. The other locations do not cost an action to use their abilities. These actions can be done between actions, once per location.

Another action that a player can take is to duel a bounty or other player. Duels are played out much like in Poker with a few differences, mainly in the number of suits and numbers on the cards. There is a bit of difference in dueling players as opposed to bounties as well. Each duel consists of 4 steps; declaration step, draw step, selection step and showdown step. The first step is the declaration step. When dueling another player, the player declares which player they are dueling and which of that player’s bounties that they are trying to steal. When dueling a bounty, the player declares which bounty they are dueling. The next step is the draw step. When dueling a player, the attacking player discards any duel cards that they choose and then draws the same number of cards from the deck. The defender then is able to do the same thing. When dueling a bounty, they do the same thing just without involving a defender. The third step is the selection step. When dueling a player, both players will secretly select any cards that they wish to play. If a player has no cards or only wounds, they play a card from the top of the draw deck. Afterwards, another player then draws the number of cards that are indicated on the selected bounty’s card for the bounty’s escape attempt. When dueling a bounty, the player selects the cards that they wish to play and then another player draws the number of cards on the bounty’s card. The final step is the showdown step. When dueling a player, both player’s hands as well as the bounty’s hand are revealed. Players make the best hand possible as indicated by the rules. The best hand wins. If the attacker ties, they take the bounty but both players receive a wound card. If the attacker wins, they take the bounty and the defender takes a wound card. If the defender wins, they keep the bounty and the attacker takes a wound card. If the bounty wins, both players take a wound and the bounty card is discarded. Afterwards, the defender draws the same amount of cards that they played during the duel. When dueling a bounty, the player and bounty’s hands are revealed. Players make the best hand possible as indicated by the rules. The best hand wins the duel. If the player ties the bounty, they win but take a wound. If the player wins, they take the bounty and place in next to their character card. If the player loses, they take a wound card and discard the bounty. In both dueling cases, all the cards used are discarded. If a player has more cards then their allowable hand limit, they must discard any extra cards down to their hand limit.

The last action that a player can take is to reload their hand. This is done by drawing cards from the duel deck up to the player’s hand limit. Once the player takes their three actions, their turn is over. New bounties and items are drawn from their respective decks for any empty spaces that were made during the player’s turn. Play then passes to the next player. This all continues from player to player until the Train card is drawn from the bounty deck. When that happens, the game is over. Players compare their renown and the player with the most renown is the winner.

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COMPONENTS
This game comes with some really great looking pieces. The character pawns are in a thick cardboard laser cut sheet that have to be punched out, like most games from Victory Point. The artwork on these is really nice looking and has that old west feel to them. The rest of the game consists of cards, lots and lots of cards. They all have a really nice finish to them and look really nice. I especially like the duel cards which have large suits on them like the club, spade, heart and diamond as well as the gold. The items and locations have very simplistic look containing a picture of just the corresponding thing that it’s depicting. The character cards have that same stylized art that’s found on the pawns. The Train card is especially nice with the station image along with the crossing sign. The bounty cards are a little more simplistic that I would have liked but they get the job done as they tell you where to find that particular bounty. It makes sense but it would have been nice to have had an image of the bounty or something. The real let down to me was the wound cards. These simply have the word wound written across them. I felt like something could have been done to make these a little better looking, maybe some bullets beside a vest with bullet holes. Anything would have been better than just the word wound. In any case, the backs of the cards are all really nice and have a very intricate design work on them that are easy to differentiate between. All in all, I’m rather pleased with the look and feel of the game.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is really well written and designed really nicely. It’s very simple to read and understand. Like most of the rulebooks from Victory Point Games, this is really well done. There are lots of pictures and examples throughout the book. Each of the different card types are explained in great detail. There is a really nice walk through example of how to play the game near the back of the book. The best part to me though is the hand ranking cheat sheet on the back of the book for comparing which hand of cards beats which hand. It even includes pictured examples for everything from a straight flush to a high card. There’s even a list of player actions that are available on each player’s turn. Each page has that weathered and old west look to it that look’s really nice and thematic. I really like the look of the rules and found them very well done.
8 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This is a really fun and unique take on poker, yet it’s not poker. It has a bit of a worker placement feel, but it’s not a worker placement game either. It’s a rather unusual game that doesn’t really fit any specific description. It’s really quite fun. Collecting bounties and dueling in a poker style showdown is quite exciting and enjoyable. There’s a nice take that feel when dueling another player. The different items that you can buy can make things easier for you. I especially like the Crucifix that makes it possible to take no wounds during a duel. Luck does play a small part in the game but you can balance that a bit by choosing what cards to play and when to play them in a duel. I like that when you move your character, you don’t just have to move them to an adjacent location like so many other games would have you do but you can move to any location of your choosing. It makes it a bit unpredictable. You never really know where another player might move to. Are they going to go buy items from the General Store or are they going to come after you and your bounties? This is a game that really plays best with more players but can still be played with only 3, possibly even 2 if you don’t like a lot of conflict. I personally like the chaos so the more the merrier. It can be played in about 30 minutes, give or take. It’s simple, fast and fun.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Bountytown is a light weight game of hand management with a poker like mechanic built in. The game isn’t very long and can usually be played in about 30 minutes. The artwork is really nice and has a great old west look and feel to it. I really like the card backs and different designs for the cards. I only wish that there had been more to the wound cards other than just the word wound written on them. The game has a little bit of luck to it but it can be balanced out through items and locations as well as choice of cards to play. I’ve never been a big fan of poker so I was afraid that this might not go over as well as it did, but I have to admit the game was quite fun. It’s not overly strategic but has a nice little take that feel to it through the dueling mechanic. For me, this game takes Poker and makes it enjoyable enough for me to play. Fans of poker or other hand management games should enjoy this one. I also think that players that enjoy the old west theme should find this one equally entertaining. I like it and find it to be a great take on an old classic.
8 out of 10

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For more information about this and other great games, please check out Victory Point Games at their site.

http://www.victorypointgames.com/

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About Gaming Bits - Jonathan Nelson

I'm a happily married man with 2 wonderful kids. I love my family very much. I'm a big fan of board, card and RPG games and have been playing for over 20 years. As a board and card game reviewer, I'm hoping that this blog will inform, educate and entertain you. If you like it, please tell your friends and have them join in on the conversations. Thanks and GAME ON!!
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