Michal Soltysiak


No. of Players:
3 - 5



Some weeks before the SPIEL 08 German television broadcasted a documentation on wild Mustangs living in Montana, and I rather enjoyed the way the horses are allowed to live despite modern times. With this story told, you might understand that my interest was awakened upon seeing a cardgame about Mustangs with some cute artwork at the SPIEL convention, I so I now would like to present to you the new game Mustang by Michal Soltysiak, published by the rather new Polish publishing house WOLF FANG.

As I could see during the SPIEL, the rules of all the games released by WOLF FANG in 2008 can be traced back to so well-known popular games, and in case of Mustang its rules are rooted with Poker. So, each player is dealt a hand of 5 Cowboy cards, and these cards come of a deck with five coloured suits, each of these consisting of the cards numbered from "1" to "8". In addition, the deck contains 9 special Jokers which may be used to replace any missing card. As a further preparation, 10 stallion markers, 15 mare markers and 20 foal markers each are shuffled and placed in separate piles at the center of the table, with one marker from each pile being revealed to the players. Furthermore, two special Mustang markers for the "Black Prince" and the "Snow White Mare" also are placed at the table.


During his turn, a player either has the possibility to exchange one or two of the cards from his hand for the same number of new cards from the deck, or to play some cards from his hand in order to catch a Mustang. To catch a Mustang, one pair of cards is needed for a foal, three of a kind for a mare, four of a kind for a stallion, or a Straight Flush for the Black Prince or the Snow White Mare. When the cards have been played by a player, he may move the corresponding type Mustang from the middle of the table (the Prairie) to his corral (taking either the revealed marker or an unrevealed one), and he will be dealt new cards according to the number of cards he has used.

However, Mustangs at a player's corral are not yet save from the envious looks of the other players, and so the following players may play the same set of cards which would be required to capture a Mustang from the Prairie can also be used to steal a Mustang from another player's corral. Such a theft may be countered if the player possesses a higher ranking hand of cards which he could play in order to prevent the theft, but this is rarely be the case since the player usually just will have used two or more of his cards to capture the current Mustang and so a successful defense move to a certain degree is up to a player's luck after catching a Mustang. So, the safest bet to prevent a Mustang from being chosen is to use a player's action to move the Mustang from the corral to the stables, and here the Mustang cannot be stolen anymore. Still, this can only be done with a full player's action, and so a valuable horse must remain in a corral for a full round until the player once again gets his action.

Every time the deck of cards has been used up the discards will be shuffled anew, but at the same instant an event card will be revealed the effects of which must be faced by all players. So, the event may be the delivery of a new foal (if a player has a mare and a stallion on the table), heavy rain which allows the instant moving of two Mustangs into the table, a broken fence which forces each player to lose a Mustang from his corral or some Indian Horse Hunters who will remove all face up Mustang markers from the Prairie (including the Black Prince and the Snow White Mare if they should be still available).

The game ends if either one of the piles of Mustang markers has been used up, or if a player has succeeded in stabling a full herd of Mustangs (one stallion, two mares and three foals).The players then will sum up their scores by adding one point for each foal, two for each mare and three points for each stallion in their possession, but five extra points will be awarded to each the owner of the Black Prince and the Snow White Mare. In addtion, bonus points will be asisigned if a stallion and a mare or even a full herd in the stable are of the same suit, and an additional awards is given to the player who has finished the game.

During the course of the game the players will face a nice, competitive gameplay, although the actions available to the players are somewhat limited. Players either can wait for a better hand (and possibly loose valuable time) to get some highly wanted Mustang, or they may try to capture a larger, valuable herd to get points without heeding the conditions for ending the game. The Poker-mechanism on which the game is built fits in quite well, although the mechanism for stealing horses is a bit ineffective. While there is a good chance that a foal or a mare may be stolen by a player with fitting cards, it is quite improbable that a player has hoarded exactly the cards which would be needed to steal a stallion or the Black Prince/Snow White Mare. Due to the fact that the player who has captured them is allowed to move them into the stable in his following turn, there is no big time window for a stealing action, and so these Mustangs usually will remain unchallenged. If, on the other hand, an other player really should possess the cards to steal such a premium Mustang, it is even more improbable that the player who is victim of the theft might make a successful defense. All his cards were used in the previous round to capture the Mustang, and a defense thus would be up to a high degree of luck when drawing cards. However, holding back cards and waiting for another player to capture one of the high ranking Mustangs in order to steal the Mustang in the following turn doesn't seem to be a good option either, because the fact that the player then will need to keep four cards of a kind or even a Straight Flush on a hand of five cards makes it very unefficient to keep waiting for several turns. So, in the end a player usually will make a move to capture as soon as he has the required cards.

A further comment needs to be made about the final evaluation, and here I think that there is a somewhat strange amalgamation of ending conditions and victory points. As said, a player who succeeds in stabling a full herd will instantly end the game, and in addition to the three bonus points which are awarded for ending the game a player who has a herd of the same suit will get another 7 victory points. Thus, a player who ends the game with a herd of one suit gets 10 bonus points - and this makes him nearly unbeatable if the gameplay should not have taken a rather strange luck distribution. The other players usually will not have access to many bonus points (apart from two points for each matching pair of mare and stallion in the stable), and unless such a player did not have a very lucky hand earlier in the game he will not be able to beat the lead of a player who ends the game with a one-suit herd.

Overall, this makes Mustang a game where timing is of great importance, since the players must find a balance between the speculation of getting Mustangs of a matching suit and capturing the odd Mustang of another suit in order not to fall too far behind. The theme has been captured quite solidly, and the cute and somewhat naive artwork gives the game some unique flair. In contrast to the world of movies where hundreds of Wild West films exist, Mustang and some few other games are the lone representatives of the Wild West in the sphere of boardgames, So, I would best recommend the game to be taken out in a "Wild West" gaming session, being played in succession with other small games like Das war der Wilde Westen, Boomtown and Bang!. In this company Mustang will find its own place, and people will appreciate the familiarity of its rules and its rather imaginative theme.

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

[Gamebox Index]

Google Custom Search

Impressum / Contact Info / Disclaimer


Copyright © 2008 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany