Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Florian Racky


No. of Players:
3 - 6



Gamebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

Over the last years the German publisher ARGENTUM has provided us with a lot of excellent strategy games like Wind River or Hansa Teutonica. The title of their newest game is Desperados and it is described as a cooperative Wild Western game by the publisher. Well, cooperative it is, but only for a part of the players. One player must "sacrifice himself for the cause" and takes the role of a Marshal. All other players are Desperados who shorten their time as card sharpers, highwaymen and bank robbers and of course by fleeing from the Marshal and his Sheriffs. For this a lot of communication is necessary, because a robbery is only possible if the Desperados are in the majority against the Sheriffs. But how can one communicate when the enemy is listening? Well, the old way would be by leaving the room, but in Desperados you can use a better way: by showing each other the destinations where you want to be in a couple of turns.


The board of the game gives us a map of some towns which might be situated anywhere in the wild Wild West. Cities are connected with roads and this also determines our possible ways to move from one place to another. Randomly drawn schedules show us the routes of the stage coaches, and this is quite useful if you want to waylay them... After every player has chosen a starting point for his figures - the Marshal and the Sheriffs for the Marshal player, and the Desperados for all others - the Marshal's player starts the round. He first moves the stage coaches as given by the schedules from one town to the next one. After that he may move all of his Sheriffs (one for each Desperado) to an adjacent city. Finally he decides where he wants to move the Marshal, but he does so hidden from the other players. How does this work? If you still remember Scotland Yard, the understanding of this mechanism should not be difficult for you. For my part, I was strongly reminded of this classic game. The mechanism is that the player just plays the corresponding movement card of his destination city and places it face down in front of him on the table.

The same applies for the movement of the Desperados, so that not only the Marshal player but each player has his own set of movement cards, one for every city on the board. The Desperados' move is next, and as all move hidden, too, they can choose their destination simultaneously. As said, it is explicitly allowed to talk, but the Desperado players also may show each other the next destination they want to move to. The reason for the necessity of communication are the Sheriffs of the Marshal who roam the map and who are an obstacle to the misdoings of the Desperados. Only when there are more Desperados than Sheriffs in a city, they are allowed to cheat and rob the stage coaches.

If a Desperado wants to take part in such an activity, he must proof that he really is in the city after his movement phase. So the Marshal's player then knows which area he should scout in the next turns to come. But just taking part in lawless activities does not automatically ensure success. The Desperados have to wait until the execution phase which begins after the fifth movement phase. Only then the result of the search of the Marshal player and the success of the activities of the other players are revealed. In this phase the movements of all players are reconstructed step by step on the board (by disclosing their cards successively). Desperados who are in the same town as the Marshal are immediately arrested. So their turn will be over and they have to hand the city card in which they were caught to the Marshal player, meaning that they no longer can go to this city for the rest of the game. Also, their arrest can influence the activities planned by the Outlaws. Only if there are still enough Desperados left and not arrested, the planned activity can happen. The game ends after the fifth round and is won by the Desperados if they were able to "collect" more than 4000 Dollars per player. Otherwise the Marshal player is the winner of the game.

Once again ARGENTUM has published a very good game. Adopting partially the old Scotland Yard mechanism of hidden movement, author Florian Racky developed a fast paced and entertaining new game. The game works well with every number of players. With more players it is easier for the Marshal player to catch a single Desperado, but on the other hand there are more possibilities for the Desperados to go to different sections on the board, so the Marshal player must decide where to turn his attention. This is slightly different in a game with fewer players, because then the Marshal player has much more to guess where his opponents could have moved.

A small nuisance for first -time players are the rules. Although there are some good examples to illustrate gameplay, some details are hard to find. This is all the more annoying as basically the game is quite simple: the second time I was explaining the game, everybody understood it after only ten minutes. So I hope that a revised version of the rules will be made available, since the game is absolutely worth it.

Other than with some older games from ARGENTUM, this time I was completely pleased with the design of the game material. The artwork of the board, the cards and the figures are very clear and pretty to look at. If you want to bring back the old feeling of Scotland Yard but with some added spice, Desperados with its new interpretation of the hidden-movement should really be worth a try-out. Only one thing should be prevented: if the Marshal player is a heavy tactician and turns his moves (and the possible moves of his opponents) over and over in his mind, a lot of the fun, humour and lightness of the game is lost. For this reason the Marshal really is required to have a quick draw...

[Gamebox Index]

Google Custom Search

Impressum / Contact Info / Disclaimer


Copyright © 2013 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany