Tuesday, March 11, 2014

I wanna be a cowboy

I love the western genre, and I love a good collectible card game. So far, Deadlands: Doomtown is the only game to successfully combine these things, and it has such a huge supernatural horror element to it that it is really more like a fantasy setting with western trappings than it is a true historical western.

So I was very interested when Wizkids (publishers of Heroclix) announced High Stakes Drifter in 2005, their first collectible card game, and since the CCG market was starting to dry up at the time, there wasn't much competing for our attention.

It was nearly 10 years ago, but I remember liking High Stakes Drifter. It had a purely western setting, with no fantasy elements at all. It used historical photographs for the card illustrations and included characters from history such as Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp. In addition to the cards, the game used custom poker chips printed with text that affects the game.

We hadn't played the game since 2005, and after our re-examination of it, it was pretty clear why. Thinking back, I recall that a lot of the marketing for this game attempted to cash in on the Texas Hold'em poker craze that was sweeping the nation at the time. True to that marketing, the game uses several poker elements, including playing character and enhancement cards face down and players betting on whether they will win the round or not.

In fact, the game uses so many elements from poker (and so little else) that I found myself wondering why I wasn't just playing poker, a game which would give me much the same experience without having to purchase more than a $3 deck of playing cards.

As my good friend Robb put it, "playing poker is more fun than whatever it is HSD was trying to do."

Rating: 1 (out of 5) If you know how to play poker you should have no use for this game, and if you don't, poker is easier to learn.

Date played: February 6, 2014

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