Wild Fun West
Designed by Andrei Novac, Agnieska Kopera, and Vlad Sladariu
Art by Agnieska Kopera and David Prieto
Published by (NSKN Legendary Games)
Reviewed by Jonathan Franklin
Looking for a large group game without the dead silence of 7 Wonders? Craving something with more theme than pushing cubes in a Renaissance town? Have a jones for auctions of all sorts?
Step right up and listen to the tale of Wild Fun West!
Photo by Andrei Novac
Wild Fun West is a light auction game that plays 4-8 in about an hour. Is it worth your time and effort? If you are looking for a streamlined beer-and-pretzels auction game with a wild west theme, you have hit the jackpot! If not, read on to find out if it is for you.
You are all characters in a western town with individual special powers. You use those powers to build buildings you want built in the town to meet your goal card. If four of the six buildings on you goal card are built, you win. But hold your horses, it is not that easy to build. Each round has three phases, bid on and buy profession cards to enhance your income and change the game, bid on buildings to help build the town and achieve your personal objectives, and take income. These steps are repeated until the players have built a town that has four of the six buildings on someone’s objective card. It is a communal town, so every building built that is not on your objective card is likely helping someone else and not you.
Photo by Andrei Novac
First you need money. You get a bit of money every round when you take income. But if you have other professions allied with you, you earn more money. Hire the Dancehall Girl and you get an extra 3 dollars. Each profession is bid on in an open or closed auction (more on that later). Once you win the auction and get her, you pay $1 to place her and she changes the game. For example, the Dancehall Girl earns an extra $1 if the banker is in play and an extra $1 if the piano player is in play. In addition, she helps build the Hotel (a building) and bumps off the Dentist and the Cordwainer. If someone else has already played the Cordwainer, they now have to take that card back into their hand and cannot
Photo by Andrei Novac
In addition to earning extra money if certain cards are or are not in play, helping to build, and killing other player’s cards, these profession cards can also contribute or take income from your left-hand opponent. Suddenly the auction becomes more interesting. Each card notes whether it is won in an open auction or a closed auction. Open auctions are pretty standard around and around until all pass. Closed auctions are more brutal. Everyone loses what they bid. Furthermore, ties are determined by an open auction on top of the closed auction. Ouch! You can only have two professions (other than your character card) in play at one time, but there is lots of death, so people who do well seem to have more than two professions in rotation.
Bidding for profession cards is just a prelude to the main event, building buildings. There are three buildings face up at the start of each round. Almost all players will have at least one of these buildings on their initial card of the six buildings they want built to win. Players don’t bid on buildings. Instead, starting with the start player, they put money on one of the buildings, usually, the one they want built. Then the next player clockwise goes. It keeps going round and round until all but one person has passed. That person may not put more money down on a building. The building with the most money on it is built and the other two are discarded. Want to guess the brutal part? If there is a tie, no buildings get built.
Photo by Andrei Novac
After the building is built, anyone who has four built buildings on their objective card claims the victory. This is a nasty game. People will get hurt by having their income generating profession card killed off. They will spend a ton to get a building built and have several others gang up against them to support the building of a different building. Just remember – even if your income is below $3, you still get $3 during the income phase which follows the building phase and precedes the next profession auctions.
I enjoyed Wild Fun West when I did not take it seriously and just rolled my eyes when my profession was killed or the building I wanted built did not get built. If you take it seriously, you are in for a world of hurt, as some chains of events lead to unpredictable results.
The art is notably fun and I enjoyed the use of color and the almost cartoony collage. We did use the Event Cards, which are an expansion in the BGG store and some of them are brutal, so you are now warned. Losing all your money in the closed bidding is really tough, so when we play, we say you lose half your bid rounded down.
NSKN Legendary has three new titles possibly being demoed at Essen 2013, Perfect Storm, Praetor, and W. Be sure to check them out.
Thoughts of Other Opinionated Gamers:
Nathan Beeler: Well, at least it seems as if Jonathan and I were in the same game this time. Though I could swear the middle word of the game I played was in quotation marks. Wild “Fun” West is indeed a brutal game, as he points out. In truth, I think he underplayed exactly how brutal it is. A decent part of a player’s income each turn can be dictated by the professions of their right hand neighbor. One person might get six more coins each turn, while another loses six coins, merely because of the buying whims of their right-hand neighbors. When incomes were topping out at around eleven or twelve coins a turn, that’s a mighty deep drink from fate’s capricious cup. And while I’m totally happy to play games with blind bidding, I’m never happy to play a game that makes you pay your bid when you lose and get nothing in return. I can’t imagine who thought that was a good idea, but I suspect those same people could play the “let’s slap our faces” game and think it wonderful great fun.
As Jonathan pointed out, to win you need to get four of the six buildings on your card built by the community. Seems fine in theory, but in my one and only game it really wasn’t at all interesting. The first set of three potential buildings contained none that I cared about, so I saved my money. The second set had two of the three that I liked, and as it turned out they were the two that were hotly contested. Again I saved my money. It wasn’t until the fourth contest that I truly had to intervene in the building decision, and by then I was so rich I could single-handedly dictate what the town built. I got my way, and yet still lost the game to another player who also needed the same thing I did, but it was for his last building. Ok. Shrug. Move along to a fun game. One without quotes.
Like It: Jonathan Franklin
Not for Me: Nathan Beeler