Help support TMP

"Best system for Western gunfighting?" Topic

51 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.

Back to the SF Discussion Message Board

Back to The Old West Message Board

4,909 hits since 30 Apr 2011
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Pages: 1 2 

28mmMan Inactive Member30 Apr 2011 12:02 p.m. PST

Forgive a simple question that has been asked before, I assume :)

I usually haunt the science fiction side of the house but as I figure most post apocalyptic games are in some measure of truth really just a Western with some mutants, androids, etc. added in for fusion flavor :)

So back to the point at hand…best system, hopefully still in publication or available, for classic movie style Western action?

The last true Western game I played was Boot Hill…and truthfully I do not remember much from the games, system wise.

Anyway…looking for a good set of rules that allows for the classic gunfighter duel.

Nearly any system has fair to hit rules…but I suspect some of the Western games focus on the duel.

Thanks in advance.

Louis "Liquorice" Barton

(the name of the one and only Boothill character I had, owned a general store in Texas, family was killed and store/home burned to the ground by a gang of killers on a rampage, Louis has been hunting the gang ever since, he has caught up with four of the seven, he used a shotgun and applied his knowledge of being a chemist to produce sedatives/emetics/and other fun effects, like diarrhea)


SonofThor Inactive Member30 Apr 2011 12:09 p.m. PST

2 Hour Wargames' – Six Gun Sound! It's got a great cinematic feel to it.

RockyRusso Inactive Member30 Apr 2011 12:10 p.m. PST


Modeling real gunfights could use any skirmish system you are comfortable with. The problem is the perception of "gunfight" as seen in movies, which largely is just fiction.


Rodrick Campbell Sponsoring Member of TMP Fezian30 Apr 2011 12:21 p.m. PST

I've played Gunslinger, Boot Hill, Desperado, Six Gun Assassin and Six Gun Sound. All are really fun games, but my favorite is Six Gun Sound. It has enough depth to handle most situations and plays fast. Lots of maneuver and, if one is smart, use of cover. It also has a good campaign system built into it that can be used for several career paths.


John Leahy30 Apr 2011 12:39 p.m. PST

I have been playing gunfight systems since the 70's. Hands down the best I have ever played is 'The Rules with No Name'. The sequence of play is exceptional. No other system can replicate what it does. I have had games where Clint Eastwood was outnumbered by 3-5 to 1. He was able to act exactly how he did in the movies (with a little luck) with these rules. I am aware of no other set that can replicate how the 'Reel' West was as well. Other sets have their good points and I'm not bashing them. Gutshot and Six Gun Sound all have their adherents. However, you can try TRWNN for free. That combined with how exceptional they are makes them a required first stop for any Wild West gamer. If you do like them then you can pick up a printed hard copy down the road since it includes some very cool extras. They Yahoo group provides lots of free extras too. INARI and I run it.


There are also free goodies for it here:

Go to the yahoo group for the rules.

Thanks and do yourself a favor and check them out.

Here is a video of my last TRWNN game.

YouTube link

Hexxenhammer Inactive Member30 Apr 2011 12:54 p.m. PST

Over here people like:
Gutshot (almost an RPG to me, usually single mini per player)
Six Gun Sound (2 Hour Wargames system)
The Rules With No Name (kinda old school chart game)
Legends of the Old West (GW based on their LoTR system)

Those are dedicated Old West games.

I'd add the following generic skirmish games which are great for old west:
Savage Worlds (descendant of Great Rail Wars and Deadlands and my game of choice for old (weird) west)
Flying Lead (Song of Blades and Heroes with guns)

I should add Aces and Eights by Kenzer, which has an RPG and a skirmish game. It has an interesting mechanic where you lay a transparency over a silhouette and roll dice and draw cards to see where you hit. That's where my interest ends, since combat counts time in like, 10ths of a second. But some people like it, I don't.

Twisted Metal Inactive Member30 Apr 2011 1:57 p.m. PST

I've been thinking about getting Aces & Eights myself, because I like the idea of the shooting mechanic. Also found a video of it in action from an earlier post: YouTube link

28mmMan Inactive Member30 Apr 2011 7:53 p.m. PST

Thanks guys!

I realize that the reel action of Western gun fights is not realistic, but it is a fun time to be had by all :)

I will seek reviews for all of those mentioned, thanks again.

Arteis Inactive Member01 May 2011 1:46 a.m. PST

'The Rules With No Name' book is half price on the Foundry website for a short time.

Tekawiz01 May 2011 2:39 a.m. PST

Six Gun Sound also plays very well solo.

Personal logo Striker Supporting Member of TMP01 May 2011 7:22 a.m. PST

I like The Rules With No Name so far over what I've read. I haven't played/read Gutshot so that's and unknown.

28mmMan Inactive Member01 May 2011 2:27 p.m. PST

The Aces and Eights templates were fun.

I could see it potentially slowing down combat, but in a realistic game setting where one bullet could end your life I suspect slowing the process would extend the game a bit.

I have had experience with realistic damage games before and they then to drive people one way or another…I like them because it puts actions into perspective.

The classic guy in a loin cloth standing down a charging rhino…the realistic thing is that he will most likely die a bad death of being gored and or trampled.

If not playing a superhero game then I like the realistic approach. I will say that there should be some reward for playing within character;

the hero sheriff walking out to meet six bad guys, the hero acting the hero…some measure of steel nerves or second chance or some such could be granted, maybe draw from a deck (52 standard) and call suite…and gain the card value in bonuses maybe? "hearts!"…draws a 9 of hearts and gets 9 points to play with (dodge, to hit, etc.)

In the past when players met their end in manner that was hopeless yet they played it to the end (Call of Cthulhu for example…yikes right…failed sanity check as many times as most character swung a sword :) then the follow up character for that player gained a bonus in creation or with second chance tokens to use in the game later (ok you got shot in the head…oh you have a second chance token, ok let us reroll the hit…)


In the end, in a realistic setting a clean shot from a high caliber weapon should ruin your day if not put the candle out.

Hero types by the nature of having the writer on their side should have a step up on most…a special gift, talent, or ability…quick draw, recovery, tough as a mule, strong as an ox, bulls eye/dead eye, side step, eagle eye, two fisted, ambidextrous, just plum lucky, etc.

Hexxenhammer Inactive Member01 May 2011 3:32 p.m. PST

Hero types by the nature of having the writer on their side should have a step up on most…a special gift, talent, or ability…quick draw, recovery, tough as a mule, strong as an ox, bulls eye/dead eye, side step, eagle eye, two fisted, ambidextrous, just plum lucky, etc.

You just named several Savage Worlds special abilities by name.

sharps54 Inactive Member01 May 2011 4:16 p.m. PST

Gunslinger is probably the best pure "gunfight" rules but is out of print, expensive, and more in-depth than most are willing to tolerate!

I have TRWNN and Six Gun Sound and if you want to be able to have a highly skilled gunfighter (Clint Eastwood) clean the table TRWNN is better suited. The higher skilled characters in that game are just heads and tails over anyone else.

Six Gun Sound is a great system that has campaign rules for being a rancher, a marshal, a bounty hunter, and much more. It is suited for solo, co-op and head vs head games. Before you buy it you can try the basic system for free. Here is the basic Chain Reaction system rules:
PDF link
And here is a free supplement to play the Gunfight at the OK Corral:
PDF link

Download them and play them, if you like them Six Gun Sound is for you, if you don't go with TRWNN. Heck, since that's free get both!

My only comment on trying the Two Hour Wargames' rules is to actually put figures on the table and play them. If you just read the rules you may see things that don't make a lot of sense but once you start playing it will all click.

Stafford, VA

28mmMan Inactive Member01 May 2011 6:15 p.m. PST

@hex "You just named several Savage Worlds special abilities by name"

I do not own it but it sounds like I should, do you have an extra copy? :)

28mmMan Inactive Member01 May 2011 6:23 p.m. PST

@sharpes is this the game you speak of link

WarpSpeed01 May 2011 6:56 p.m. PST

I liked Boot Hill as an rpg.As such it needed a game controller.Not sure how big of an action you are planning to fight but gang vs posse is do-able ,large scale indian assault without deus ex machina claus,no..

Personal logo Inari7 Supporting Member of TMP01 May 2011 7:14 p.m. PST

'The Rules with No Name'is my favorite. You can control 3-5 characters with no problem.

If you want each players to only control one character then I think you will like Gutshot. Very close to an RPG. or just find a copy of Boot Hill on eBay.

All the rules listed above will give you a good game. Other games not mentioned above but can also be fun are…..
Desperado 3rd edition. used to be the go-to game here on TMP
Fist full of Lead (Very large battles)easy and fun.

Remember there is not one set of rules to rule them all. Play somthing you are comfortable with, and remember most importantly. "Have Fun"

sharps54 Inactive Member01 May 2011 10:19 p.m. PST


Yes sir. I don't know if I would pay those prices for it (I found a copy for about half that on Board Game Geek's marketplace awhile back and you might get lucky on E-Bay) but it is a neat system. Check out the BGG page for it here for more info:

Stafford, VA

Omemin Inactive Member02 May 2011 9:51 a.m. PST

I use a hybrid of The Rules With No Name and Boot Hill, which works pretty well. I originally called it "Boot Hill With No Name", but now it's named "Prairie Dust". It's companion set is my "Paddy Mud" Viet Nam set.

Both are designed as semi-RPGs that allow ongoing campaigns and small actions like gunfights, posses, patrols, and so on.

I can send you the rules (either or both) via e-mail if you want them. I also have a pdf copy of the Second Edition Boot Hill rules, if you want that.

28mmMan Inactive Member02 May 2011 11:28 a.m. PST

Hey that is quite nice of you my fine fellow TMPer!

Yes please!

rgiugliano @ yahoo .com

ubberdorc Inactive Member02 May 2011 11:46 a.m. PST

"my "Paddy Mud" Viet Nam set"

I am interested in that one – could you email it to me?
Rustynail456 @ aol .com

Terrement Inactive Member02 May 2011 12:49 p.m. PST


Corporal Crow Wing Inactive Member02 May 2011 1:31 p.m. PST

I've spent some enjoyable evenings with Fistful of Lead. It's a pretty simple system, designed for quick learing and minimal recordkeeping. A deck of cards is used for initiative, and all die rolls are on a D10. There isn't much for roleplaying in the rules, so more suited for an evening's shootout than a campaign. It's especially good for novice gamers. A PDF copy of the rules is available for $6 USD at

28mmMan Inactive Member02 May 2011 4:24 p.m. PST

I have been looking over the various examples presented and I have one current thought…hit location options.

I have the found the Aces and Eights overlay templates to be overly intriguing…how do the other hit location systems compare?

John Leahy02 May 2011 4:29 p.m. PST

TRWNN uses random card draw or a chart. You roll one d6 for location and another for severity. Right or Left arm, Legs, Head, Chest and the deadly groin area.



Hexxenhammer Inactive Member02 May 2011 6:31 p.m. PST

I've got a d12 with various hit locations on it. I'm always tempted to work it into whatever system I'm using.

28mmMan Inactive Member02 May 2011 7:35 p.m. PST

Funny, the thought of #12 in Aftermath comes to mind…you never wanted to see a #12 hit location coming your way :(

sharps54 Inactive Member02 May 2011 8:12 p.m. PST

Six Gun Sound uses a table to see where the shot goes and takes into account if that body part is behind cover.

Stafford, VA

Colonel O Truth Inactive Member03 May 2011 1:50 a.m. PST

Has to be The Rules With No Name. It's fun and fast and there is so much scope for adaptation, unforeseen events…

I especially like the experience system, which forces you to consider the post-game consequences of your characters' actions.

A gang of 3-6 is all that's needed but let's face it – who's going to stop there?

Soon to be playing a civil war skirmish with 10-12 on each side. We'll see how that goes…

skyking20 Inactive Member03 May 2011 4:56 a.m. PST

I am amazed that everytime I read a thread like this that no one ever mentions the Desperado rules. Why is that?

Terrement Inactive Member03 May 2011 8:20 a.m. PST


28mmMan Inactive Member03 May 2011 8:33 a.m. PST

Found this link of Western games link

Desperado link link

Omemin Inactive Member03 May 2011 9:20 a.m. PST

I also find it interesting that there are so many ways that game designers look at gunfights. There's the near-chaos school (like the cards in The Rules With No Name), where your skills help only so much, to the law-and-order school (like Boot Hill), where the order of things is much more set.

It's fascinating that skirmish wargames usually don't handle things in nearly the detail that Old West rules tend to.

28mmMan Inactive Member03 May 2011 9:54 a.m. PST

Good points.

That is pretty much what I am looking for.

The characters should be able to clear a room, take out a bad guy in a draw down, pistol whip the average bad guy, etc. without a serious chance of failure…that said the villains of the top knot should also be able to do the same.

The chaos of a sudden gunfight is most welcome but the characters should have skills, talents, and options (duck for cover, roll with the punch, luck of the Irish, etc.)

I am a late bloomer when it comes to Western games, so I had hoped to avoid having to buy/secure multiple games to find a decent balance.

That is why I asked the board here…hoping for a shining star of hope and a great big nugget of wisdom :)

RockyRusso Inactive Member03 May 2011 10:18 a.m. PST


I played Desperado once a long long time ago and did not enjoy it. My character won his game, but I didn't like the random activation system. It didn't "feel" like a gun fight real or movie.


John Leahy03 May 2011 1:48 p.m. PST

I played the heck out of Depserdao back in the day. In fact, other than the author I was the first guy to run it several times at Historicon. The problem was that if you were running games with a decent number of characters the REALLY tough guys had no appreciable advantage in the game. Burying 4 cards or so in a deck of 30+ cards simply didn't mean they would act like the Duke or Clint as intended. Right before TRWNN came out I was heavily modifying the Sequence of activation. But discovered that Trwnn did everything I wanted and loads more! Plus the Character advancement stuff made it a winner for me (especially after playing it)!



evilleMonkeigh Inactive Member03 May 2011 2:06 p.m. PST

#1. TRWNN (free)

#2. Six Gun Sound (good campaign system; reaction system is a bit unusual see Sharps54's links for free test run above)

#3. LoTOW (I personally don't mind the the LOTR system simple, straightforward)

#4. Gutshot (overly complicated)

I personally like "The Great Rail Wars" which is WEIRD Wild West (undead gunslingers, alchemists etc) – it is a Savage Worlds type game.

28mmMan Inactive Member03 May 2011 7:21 p.m. PST

@eville what did you find complicated about Gutshot? Please.

I have been digging and searching for any and all reviews I can find on as many Old West games as I can find and all the other Gutshot reviews were "easy to use" "fun to play and fast" etc.

So I am most interested in your opinion and what aspect you found cumbersome…please PM me if you feel your comments might raise some hackles :)

Personal logo Inari7 Supporting Member of TMP04 May 2011 6:08 a.m. PST

I never found Gutshot complicated it's easier then most games. IMHO

28mmMan Inactive Member04 May 2011 2:32 p.m. PST

Do most of the game systems of note take into account the following?

bull whips
multiple targets
long range (Quigley style shooting)
trick shooting (coins, cards, etc.)
call shots (to wound, shoot guns/hats, etc.)


The potential mechanics of the Western Movie Action game is quite intriguing.

Binhan Lin Inactive Member05 May 2011 9:57 p.m. PST

We use a homegrown set called "Into the Sunset". More RPG than skirmish.

Initiative – players are dealt playing cards – a number equal to their initiative skill (impulsive players get only one card) Cards are chosen and displayed at the beginning of the turn and the turn order follows from high to low number, spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs in descending order (i.e. a King of spades goes before king of diamonds). Thus players with more initiative have more choices (but still may be limited on a given turn) or can carry a couple of good cards for several turns to "set up" a good run. (i.e. holding a couple of kings or queens for that critical shoot out turn)Black cards will add to your fatigue level. At the end of the turn, each player receives one new initiative card.

During a players turn, they can take up to two "actions" including firing, reloading, moving, opening doors, jumping, getting on a horse etc. actions can be combined and may affect other actions – i.e. walking and shooting will make it harder to hit, while aiming and then firing will make it easier to hit a target.

Shooting accuracy is non-linear – a base chance to hit is 32%, each minus cuts the percentage in half (i.e. -1 drops you to 16%, -2 to 8%) each plus doubles your chance (+1 increases to 64%) there are only a few pluses, but many minuses – target moving, firer moving, range, firing more than one shot, cover, etc.) percentile dice are used for rolling hits.

Damage is non-linear with most weapons doing one die multiplied by another – for instance a .38 revolver does d8 x d8 giving results ranging from 1 point of damage to 64 points. A roll of doubles is a critical hit which uses a table to determine additional damage.

Characters usually have 100 hit points, and are knocked unconscious when 100 is exceeded and killed if they reach 150. Characters that reach 100 fatigue are winded and can only move at walking speed until they rest.

there are about 20 skills that modify initiative, movement, shooting, re-rolls, gun reliability, gambling, sighting, etc.

Horse, train, and stagecoach rules are weak, with only alpha play-testing so far.

You can run 2-3 characters per player, but it works best with 1-2.


John Leahy06 May 2011 4:21 a.m. PST

That's why I stopped playing Boot hill a long time ago. An Rpg can be cool, but it's not a great tool for running decent sized games that last 2-3 hours give or take.



28mmMan Inactive Member07 May 2011 6:41 p.m. PST

Ok here is a good one…I just watched (for the umtinth time :) the movie Red Sun

Do any of these systems allow for bladed melee weapons such as swords rather than just knives? Do these rules account for the quick draw, vorpal strike, etc.?

Hexxenhammer Inactive Member07 May 2011 7:27 p.m. PST

Any decent western game should account for cavalry sabers and such. And obviously the more generic sets like Savage Worlds do.

Brian Smaller07 May 2011 7:52 p.m. PST

Do any of these systems allow for bladed melee weapons such as swords rather than just knives? Do these rules account for the quick draw, vorpal strike, etc.?

TRWNN have a playable Hand to Hand combat system. Bladed weapons like swords are NASTY. Severing limbs and such like galore.

28mmMan Inactive Member07 May 2011 8:42 p.m. PST

Thanks guys!


briansommers14 Nov 2012 3:09 p.m. PST

I realize that the reel action of Western gun fights is not realistic, but it is a fun time to be had by all :)

do yo have the link to these rules?

TurnStyle Inactive Member14 Nov 2012 4:15 p.m. PST

I'll have a free rules set about 6 months from now. I'll be sure to post up here when I do.

I play LOTOW with my buddies, but it's getting a bit old. We only adopted it because we had a lot of experience with Necromunda/Mordheim.

Zelekendel Inactive Member28 Nov 2012 3:53 p.m. PST

Interesting that several people mentioned Aces & Eights, I was just thinking how it might be cool to use it and the Shot Clock system for almost any black/gunpowder skirmish featuring a dozen or less models on the table!

I'll have to get the PDF as the rules are OOP, and see how they'd work for miniature battles. Sure, campaign play would be there to spice it but the meat would be the battles.

Has anyone else here tested them?

Pages: 1 2