Howdy, y’all! Western Legends has become one of my favourite games, I enjoy the theme, the artwork, the mechanics and the fun social side of this great sandbox game. So when the Kickstarter for the expansion, Ante Up, was announced, I backed it without a second thought.
This expansion is now shipping. I have received my copy (along with some add-ons, including a lovely big playmat) and have had the opportunity to get in a few games already; I am pleased to say, it did not disappoint …
So what comes in the box? There are two expansion boards included in the expansion which have three primary additions: a new town and locations to visit, a new game to play at the saloons (Faro) and the Gambler Track (adding to the Marshall and Wanted tracks from the base game).
Along with the extra boards, Events have been added, which are triggered at various points in the game, some extra characters and store items as well as some replacement poker cards. Last, but not least, a train and a train deck, for those that want to take the high-risk approach to the game and rob the train.
Kolossal have also added some great little, optional, rule variations to the game, including a ‘high stakes’ poker variant. In the game I played, we found that it was best to limit this variant to the poker games with multiple players and to stick with the original format when playing against ‘the house’. This, of course, is only a personal preference and as an optional variant, it is up to you whether or not to include it.
The only significant downside I have found with the expansion, and is an issue I have with the base game, is that when you play with only three players, someone who takes the option of going on the wanted track can build up quite a lead and get a long way up the wanted track before anyone can even get close enough to attempt an arrest. This issue is exaggerated further by the expansion board for two reasons: 1. there is now a lot more space for the wanted player to run to, this is obvious I know, but it does take a couple of actions to travel the length of the expansion area (even with stallion), 2. the two areas are separated by a mountain range and tunnel which takes a movement action to traverse. (I’m thinking of trying a ‘house rule’ on this so that traversing the two areas ends that movement action).
With higher play counts, the expansion plays much better and I intend to have a six-player game soon. With the added features of the event cards and the new locations, I can see this being much more of a challenge.
I will also add, at this point, that with the Kickstarter edition of the expansion, came with the mini-expansion “Wild Bunch of Extras“; this added Sheriff cards, Title cards and Gangs & Posses for some more rule variants. The “Sheriff Cards” make small changes to the Sheriff’s movement or fighting abilities, whereas the “Title Cards” give an and game bonus to the player or players who complete it; I haven’t used the Gangs & Posses yet and they have the potential of making a player a little overpowered if they already have upgraded weapons, but as with all these mini-expansions, I see no reason not to use them all.
Overall, this is a fantastic addition to the game; and if this is a game you already enjoy, it is well worth the investment. I can see Western Legends being right at the top of my list of favourites for quite a while.