The Wild West was a land of opportunity. There were lots of ways to get rich and famous. Some chose to wrangle cattle or prospect for gold. Others chose to make money at the expense of others through gambling, rustling, or outright robbery. Finally, there were those who sought to bring law and order to this frontier land. Here is your chance to become a western legend of your own.
What Is Western Legends: Blood Money?
Western Legends: Blood Money is the second and final expansion for Western Legends. It requires both the base game as well as the Ante Up expansion in order to play. It is for 2-6 players, ages 14 and up, and takes about 60-90 minutes to play. It’s currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, with a pledge level of $30 for a copy of the Blood Money expansion. For those new to the series, you can purchase the entire series including the Western Legends base game, Ante Up and Blood Money expansions, as well as the three additions that were part of previous Kickstarter campaigns: Fistful of Extras, The Good the Bad and the Handsome, and Wild Bunch of Extras for $150. This is a great deal since it would cost around $215 to purchase them all separately.
New to Kickstarter? Check out our crowdfunding primer.
Western Legends: Blood Money Components
Note: My review is based on a prototype copy, so it is subject to change and may not reflect final component quality.
- 40 Legendary story cards
- 1 story board overlay
- 36 items cards ( 6 copies of 6 different items)
- 18 injury cards
- 17 deed cards
- 12 ruin tokens
- 9 Traveling Trader movement cards
- 8 character cards
- 32 character goal cards
- 7 Legendary item cards
- 6 alternate poker cards
- 6 player aids
- 6 scoring cubes
- 6 story discs
- 3 map tokens
- 1 risk die
- 1 rule book
- 1 Traveling Trader stand
- 1 Traveling Trader token
Blood Money changes up the story cards from the original game. Instead of having two story cards with generic requirements, the new story board overlay is placed on the game board to cover the original spot for the story cards. The overlay has a track along the bottom where players can progress and earn rewards by helping move the story along. Each legendary story card has two or three requirements to complete it as well as temporary conditions that are added to the game. Once all of the requirements have been met, the card is turned over to reveal rewards for the players who completed the requirements as well as consequences which result. Then players begin working on the next legendary story card in the deck. Players use only 20 of the 40 legendary story cards during each game.
Six new items are added to the original game. The burro allows you to increase the maximum number of poker cards in your hand by one, or two if upgraded. The boot knife lets you earn an extra legendary point if you inflict wounds on another player. The medicine pouch can heal wounds. The pocket watch is used to give you an extra action for one turn. The repeating shotgun can be upgraded during a fight and then increase your chances to win that fight. Finally, the bullwhip helps if you have longhorns and lets you grab gold or longhorns while in an adjacent space.
In addition to purchasing items at the general stores or trading post, Blood Money adds the Traveling Trader. This shop moves around the map and offers legendary items as well as other items. The deck of trader cards determines where the trader moves. There are ten different legendary items and only one copy of each. Three of them are available at a time at the Travelling Trader and when one is purchased, a new one is revealed. Each of these have unique effects. Deciding to play as an outlaw? The snakeskin boots give you an extra move if you start in a town and you can discard this item to move up to four spaces if the Sheriff or another player ends their move in your space. This can make for a quick getaway. Spurs let you move even further when you have a mount. The shot glass and canteen can heal wounds or give you an extra poker card. Each of these legendary items are useful and worth the $40 cost.
In the original game, players could take up to three wounds and their maximum hand size of five poker cards was decreased by one for each wound. However, now if a player takes a fourth wound, they draw an injury card. These have penalties that make it harder to play the game and can even result in losing legendary points at the end of the game. Visiting the doctor’s office can heal all your wounds as well as an injury. You can only have one injury at a time. Some players could carry on with lots of wounds. However, injuries makes wounds more serious if you keep getting hurt and not taking care of them. Plus there is another way to gain wounds explained later.
No you are not playing Monopoly. However, in Blood Money, you can purchase all of the property locations in the game. Claim the saloons, general stores, mines, ranches, rail stations, and even the bank. Each deed has a special ability you can use once as an action. They usually involve moving directly to that location and then getting something when you arrive. For example, if you use this to move to a saloon, you get three poker cards. Moving to a general store or trading post gives you a free upgrade of a mount or weapon. The bank’s ability lets you move to the bank and deposit all your gold nuggets with a single action. At the end of the game, you get legendary points for your deeds. You earn more for each deed of a specific type. So if you own three mines, you get 9 legendary points (1 LP for each mine you own). The bank earns you 1 LP for each deed you own including the bank itself. Deeds add another way to earn legendary points in the game.
Blood Money adds eight new characters you can play as during the game. In addition to outlaws and lawmen, there are also some other unique characters which provide different ways to play and win the game. Each character also comes with four goal cards. Many of these new characters take advantage of the map expansion from Ante Up as well as new features in Blood Money.
Following the addition of new poker cards in Ante Up, Blood Money adds three new types of poker cards, with two copies of each. These cards replace six from the original poker deck and include actions incorporating new rules and features from Blood Money. There are also tokens related to legendary story cards and ruin tokens to represent locations that have been destroyed and need to be repaired before they can be used. Finally, the new risk dice gives players some new options to push their luck. Once each turn, a player can roll the risk die in order to gain $10, a poker card, or move one space. The risk die can result in earning a story point or gaining one or two wounds. However, sometimes the benefit of one of those rewards is worth it. Purchasing a legendary item that can remove a wound at the end of each turn makes using the risk die a bit less risky.
How to Play Western Legends: Blood Money
You can download a copy of the Western Legends rulebook here. Get the Ante Up expansion rulebook here. The Blood Money expansion rule book can be found here. Geek and Sundry also did a quick video on how to play the base game.
Setting up a game of Western Legends is quite involved and can be challenging first few times, especially with the Ante Up and Blood Money expansions. Luckily the rule book does a good job of explaining set up step by step. Since this article focuses on the latest expansion, I will only mention additions to the setup. As mentioned earlier, the story cards are replaced by the the story board overlay and the legendary story cards. The story cards are numbered 1-20 with A and B versions. Shuffle the story cards and then divide them up into two piles with only one of each number in each pile. Pick a pile and shuffle it to form the legendary story deck. Place a scoring cube for each player next to the overlay along with the story discs. The Injury deck is placed at the top of the board near the Event deck. The Traveling Trader deck is shuffled and then the top card is turned over to show where to place the Traveling Trader token. The legendary items are shuffled and the top three are placed in the Traveling Trader stand. The rest are placed in one of the slots with the back facing forward. Then place any remaining items that don’t fit in the General Store or Trading Post stands in the remaining two slots of the Traveling Trader stand. Divide up the deeds by type and place them near the top of the board.
The player that starts with the most wanted points goes first. Otherwise players choose who will start. At the start of each player’s turn, move the train and resolve start of turn abilities. The active player can take $20, two poker cards, or $10 and one poker card. Then choose the weapon and mount which the player will use for the turn. During the action phase, the player can take three of the following actions:
- use an action on a card
- fight another player (Arrest, Duel, Rob)
- take an action at a location
- take a trader action (purchase from the Traveling Trader)
The player can choose to roll the risk die at any time except during the resolution of one of their actions. Blood Money adds some additional location actions. When at a location, the player can choose to claim the location by purchasing the deed. If a location is destroyed, the player can take a repair action and discard a poker card to remove the ruin token and gain two story points. Once a player has completed their actions, end of turn abilities or effects are resolved, story card conditions may be resolved, story cards are resolved if all conditions are met, and LP are awarded if the player is on the Wanted track.
The goal of the game is to earn the most legendary points. Players at the start of the game decide whether to play a short, medium or long game. Then when the first player earns 15, 20, or 25 points respectively, the player finish the round and then play one more round. All points are added up and the one with the most legendary points is the winner.
Why You Should Play Western Legends: Blood Money
I first played Western Legend about a year ago and enjoyed it. I liked the sandbox feel to the game. While you could do whatever you wanted, the character you selected at the beginning pointed you down a track. However, even if you started out as an outlaw like Jesse James, you could turn around and become an officer of the law and arrest other outlaws. The character goals help steer your character toward one way of winning. By playing as different characters each time, I appreciated the different ways to earn legendary points and come out the winner. When I added the Ante Up expansion, the game got even better. It added about 50% more territory to the map with a third town as well as a train which you could rob or ride between train stations. In addition to playing poker at the saloons, you could now play faro, a gambling game which Wyatt Earp and his brothers dealt at saloons in Tombstone, Arizona. More characters and other features were also added such as events, frontier actions, and longhorn cattle. I did not think Western Legend could get much better.
Blood Money adds some incredible features to an already great game. In fact, it makes the game even better. I like how injuries add to the penalties of receiving lots of wounds. The risk die adds a push your luck element in that you always get the reward you want, but may end up taking some wounds in the process. When playing, that extra movement space or money or poker card can give you an advantage. The legendary story cards add more of a theme and story than the previous story cards. Before you only got the story when you completed the a story card. Now you get a story you must resolve with interesting conditions, rewards, and consequences. Then you get to start another story. The stories affect the game for everybody by adding outlaws or other threats and can destroy locations. With 40 different stories, it seems like you are always getting new adventures. The new items are fun to purchase and use. However, the legendary items create some competition to get them. There is always enough of each normal item for each player. However, there are only one of each legendary item. When it is purchased, no one else can get one and if discarded to use an action on it, that legendary item is gone for the remainder of the game.
During games of Western Legend, I have played as a lawman, an outlaw, a gambler, and other roles. Each one had its own rewards and challenges. During each game, I created my own story, my own legend. In one game, I was an outlaw. I rustled cattle and even robbed a train. I was on my way to the bank to cash in some gold nuggets I stole, and then rob said bank, when my daughter moved in and arrested me. All the wanted points I had been building up were lost. My daughter ended beating me by just a few points. When I had the chance to play Blood Money, one character caught my eye: Al Swearingen. In fact, his face is on the box of the game. He was a businessman who owned a saloon in Dodge City and controlled the town for a number of years. His goal cards focused on deeds, mines, and items. I started out at a saloon. Since I needed money, I walked to a nearby ranch, got some cattle and drove them down towards a rail station to sell. Along the way, I prospected for some gold. With a pouch full of nuggets and the cattle sold which gave me some marshal points and cash, I headed to the bank and cashed in the nuggets. During the course of the game, I bought the bank, a mine, a general store, and a couple saloons all paid for by prospecting for gold. I was not earning as many legendary points on the tracker as my opponents, but I was completing goals and getting legendary tokens with points hidden from the other players that would not be revealed until the end of the game. I never got into a gunfight, but kept a good hand of poker cards just in case so I could fend off any robbery attempts. When the game finally ended, I was in last placed on the tracker. However, after adding up legendary points earned from items, legendary tokens, and my deeds, I sailed ahead of everyone else and won the game.
The Kickstarter campaign also offers some additional elements. Stretch goals will include more characters and items which will be unlocked as people pledge. In addition, there will be a five unique game modes. These use specific setups and features to give the game a certain feel. Serenade of Six Guns consists of characters best suited to fighting other players and inflicting wounds. The Golden Rule focuses on characters making money through ranching, mining, gambling and buying deeds. Law and Disorder begins the game with players as outlaws or marshals with specific story cards chosen to reflect the theme. Risky Business has characters best suited to interacting with the story cards and using the risk die. Who Runs Border Town is played entirely on the Buzzard Gulch map from Ante Up and offers a new two player variant on this much smaller map. The campaign also offers some add-ons for purchase. These include upgrading some of the tokens to poker chips and adding 3D buildings for each location. While not necessary for play, they are great for those who like to trick out their games.
My final verdict is I love playing Western Legends and the Blood Money expansion is a must. It takes a great game and makes it so much better. New options and game modes add even more replayability. If you already have the base game and Ante Up expansions, definitely get Blood Money. If you don’t have the game yet, the all-in offer is a great deal. Since Blood Money is the last expansion, you get everything from the first two Kickstarter campaigns plus the latest expansion all for only $150. While the game is suggested for those 14 years and up, my family enjoys playing this game and my 12 year old twins get just as excited about it as I do. I highly recommend Blood Money and wish you happy trails as you create your own western legend.
For more information or to make a pledge, visit the Kickstarter page!
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Disclosure: GeekDad received a prototype copy of this game for review purposes.