Authors: Richard Borg /
M. Fitzgerald

Publisher: Alea 2001

Awards: none



Despite it's seemingly easy playing mechanisms, the game Wyatt Earp by Alea quickly can be evaluated as an intriguing Wild-West cardgame. combining the ease and quickness of a normal cardgame with the strategic depth of a full-developed boardgame.

Basically, it's the aim of the game for each player to earn most rewards from capturing famous outlaws. 2 to 4 players take up the roles of Sheriffs which are hot on the outlaws tails, trying to capture the outlaws with most rewards on their heads.

To capture an outlaw, each Sheriff may place a number of outlaw cards in front of him, always matching the colour of outlaw he wants to capture. The placement of these cards will increase the reward offered for that particular outlaw, and the more cards are played, the higher the reward will get. However, the cards not only cause an increase of the reward on that outlaw, but also they are quite useful for the player who has played them: Each of the outlaw cards has a value, and at the end of a whole round of the game the cards played by each player on each of the 7 outlaws will be evaluated. The player who has used cards with the highest total against a particular outlaw will get the first share from the reward, and he may even get all of it if his cards are 5 or more points more valuable than the cards of the player who comes second. On the other hand, if there are players who have less than 5 points less than the leading player, they are allowed to take a share in the reward as well, and thus the rest of the reward will be distributed between the players who have the right to take a share.

A round of the game usually ends if a player has no cards left or if the drawing stock for cards has been used up twice. The game is over when a player has earned 25.000 US$ or more by capturing valuable outlaws.

If the rules so far sound like a fairly standard cardgame centered around collecting matching cards, the real fun comes through the use of special Sheriff-cards. During his turn, a player is allowed to play one Sheriff-card, in addition to any outlaw cards which he might play. Various Sheriff-cards exist, all opening specific possibilities to the player who uses them:

  • Photography, Stagecoach Robbery, Bank Robbery and Fastest Gun of the West all increase the reward on the outlaw on which these cards are played, and they also increase the total value of the outlaw cards of the player who has used such a card.
  • The Most Wanted card allows an interaction with other players, by giving a player the possibility to steal outlaw cards from another player's hand or even a card which a player has already in front of him.
  • The Hideout may be placed on another player's outlaw cards for one specific outlaw. These cards will lose all their value as long as the Hideout stays on them.
  • Finally, Wyatt Earp himself allows a player to take one cards from the deck of already played cards or two cards from the drawing pile or to remove one Hideout card.
Some of these Sheriff-cards require the player using them to take part in a gunfight, and only if he is successful the card will be played with effect. To perform a gunfight, the player turn over the top card of the drawing pile, and if it shows a shooting-mark the player ha s scored a hit and the card will have effect. If the player did not hit, the card is still lost.

The game offers a very good balance between random and strategic elements, and it's playing capabilities profit greatly from cleverly designed rules. Especially the gunfight-option is a fine addition to the game, since it adds a degree of uncertainty and pure luck which is uncommon to most cardgames. Completed by quite fitting artwork, the game offers a nice playing-atmosphere which will keep players interested for quite a while. A final hint: As with most cardgames, an old saying holds true for Wyatt Earp as well: The more players, the better !!!

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

[Gamebox Index]


Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany