The Wild West; poker, shoot-outs, dynamite and cowboy hats. Revolver 2 is an asymmetric card game for two players from Leigh Caple and Mark Chaplin. General Mapache is threatening the little town of Malpaso. The Guardians, led by Padre Esteban, are here to defend the town. Can they withstand the brute force of this band of thieves?
What do you get for your money?
You get 62 Malpache cards, 62 Padre Esteban cards, 19 Guardian cards, 9 Battlefield cards, 1 Gatling gun card, 1 “Blow up the bridge” card, 1 “Collapse the tunnels” card, 2 “All Rivers” Poker Tournement Overview cards, 1 Arrival of the Mexican Army card, 12 Poker Tournament cards, 14 Mexican Army tokens, 11 True Grit tokens, 4 Malpaso firepower tokens, 9 Mapache firepower token, 1 round marker and the rules.
How do you play the game?
In this game you tell the story of the Malpaso Guardians, led by Padre Esteban, who defend their home town against General Mapache and his thieves. One player plays the Guardians and the other General Mapache. Both player will move from one battlefield to another. Mapache needs to kill all Guardians and the Guardians just have to keep Padre Esteban alive until they reach the Silver mine or make sure that the Mexican Army will come to the rescue before that.
The game takes place over several rounds in six different locations. It always ends in the Silver mine and pass through Malpaso and the Los Quantos bridge before that. What the first three locations will be is going to be decided through a poker tournament. The player who wins that little tournament must place his locations on the table.
On a location card you find a couple of round icons and the amount of Guardian cards the Guardian player receives at the start of that round. Some rounds are compulsory, some are optional. The Guardian player can decide to start that optional round, mostly for extra Guardian cards, or go on to the next compulsory round to speed up the game.
The Guardian player starts with seven starting Guardians and will acquire more during the game. A Guardian card has a certain value and when the Mapache player kills one of the Guardians, the Guardian player may choose which one dies first, starting with the Guardians with the lowest value.
After the Guardian player has decided what he wants, an extra round or not, he draws two cards from his own deck. Then he may play cards from his hand. He can play as many as he want, but he does have a limit of three ‘firepower’ cards per location.
There are three important types of cards. There are cards with a Firepower value in the left upper-corner, blockade cards that block one of the three available spots of the Guardian player, and there are cards with a one-off effect, they are discarded afterwards. Some of the cards are a combination of the three.
Some cards will have a gunpowder icon, on cards in the Guardian deck, or a bullet icon, on the cards in the Mapache deck. The cards with the gunpowder icons can be used, instead of their normal action, in the Los Quantos Bridge or the Silver mine location by the Guardian player to remove all Mapache cards at that location at once. The cards with bullets on them can be used by the Mapache players to use the Gatling Gun. This way she can kill one Guardian for every bullet she discards. There has to be one Firepower card on the Mapache side per bullet you want to use.
OK, now we are running a little ahead of ourselves. So, the Guardian player goes first. He advances the round marker, draws two cards and plays as much cards as he can or want. Then it’s up to the Mapache player. She also draws two cards and plays as much cards as she wants. The difference is that the Mapache player has no card limit, which means she can play more than three firepower cards on her side of the location. After she has played her cards, she attacks the Guardian player. The Guardian player counts all his firepower points and defence points, some locations already have a strength, and adds them together. The Mapache player also adds up all her firepower points. If the Mapache player has more points than the Guardian player, one Guardian dies.
This is sort of the gist of the game. It ends when all Guardians are death, with the Mapache player as the winner of the game, or when the Padre Esteban Guardian card survives the battle in the Silver mine, with the Guardian player as the winner.
There is one other way for the Guardians to win the game and that way is when the Mexican army marches in. At the start of the game twelve army tokens are placed on the Arrival of the Mexican Army card. Trough card play, from both sides, tokens are added and removed from the card. Plus, when Mapache doesn’t kill a Guardian during a round, one token is removed. Once all tokens are gone the Guardian player wins as well.
First of all, this game has a nice Western theme. The game also plays like a good Western. Bandits try to overrun a small community. The brave and the bold join this community and help them protect themselves against the rebel that is General Mapache. While at the start more and more people come to the rescue, they have to give up location after location, people are killed and finally they flee into the Silver mine. Can they survive?
What a story. And it always goes this way. During the first rounds the Guardian player will accumulate more and more guardians and the Mapache player thinks; “How can I kill all these people?”. And more towards the end, the killing rate goes up and then the Guardian player will think; “How can I survive this?”.
The Guardians will win some games, Mapache might win some other times, but it’s always pretty close and that’s a sign of a well-balanced game, I think.
Killing them quickly
You have to make some though choices. The mechanism of blowing up tunnels or a bridge with the Gunpowder icons and shooting the Gatling Gun with the bullet icons is one of the reasons for these choices. Do I use this cards for its regular ability or firepower, or do I keep it my hand for later on, to use in the mine or at the bridge. Sometimes, you have to discard a card from your hand to use another card. ‘Which cards to discard?’ Some have multiple options. ‘Do I use the card for its firepower or for its special action?’ ‘Do I use this card to remove a Mexican army token or for its gunpowder icon?
Most of the times I would say; “Use it as gunpowder, because removing all tokens from the Mexican army card is hard”. There are just enough minus one token cards to do it, but there are also cards, most of them from the Mapache player, that tell you to add one token. This means that, as the Guardian player, you are obligated to play almost all your minus one army token cards, if you have drawn them of course, and hope that the Mapache player doesn’t play a lot of ‘plus one token’ cards.
It is clear that, because the Guardian player has to take his turn first, the Mapache player has a slight advantage in terms of planning. She knows exactly what’s on the table, so she knows what to play to beat the Guardian player at the current location.
The Guardian player, however, has the ability to influence the game by deciding how many rounds the game will take. Does he want a long game with more extra Guardian cards, or does he rush to the Silver mines with less Guardian cards. It’s his choice.
All and all, it’s a very enjoyable two-player game. The theme is fun, the illustrations are nice and the gameplay is tense and tight. The rules are pretty straightforward, after you’ve managed to struggle through the confusingly similar names. Malpache, Mapaso, Mapache, Malpose, Me casa es tu casa. Oh my…
By the way, no I haven’t played Revolver (one), so I can’t tell you if this one is better or what the differences are. Of course, if I do play it sometime in the future I will share my opinion with you all.