The Start Collecting series journeys to the Wild West with Wild West Exodus' Gunfight at Red Oak Starter Set.
Start Collecting is a series for beginner gamers, starting out in the world of wargames, possibly with some experience in other tabletop games, video games, or no related experience at all. Maybe you have experience in other wargames but don’t know where to get started with a new system. Regardless of your experience, knowledge, or even who you are as a person, Start Collecting is for you. Wargaming and tabletop games are for everyone and our aim is to break down any barriers to entry. So join us, and start collecting.
Our Start Collecting journey originally started with Warhammer 40,000 and Infinity, but the sheer volume of other fantastic tabletop miniatures games have led us to continue our delve into other systems. I've recently moved to an area where Wild West Exodus has a large following, so it was a perfect time to add it to our series.
Wild West Exodus is a Sci-Fi Western, an alternative history or a Wierd West. Everything you would expect from a Wild West game is there, but there's also magic, aliens and monsters. Wild West Exodus was taken over from Outlaw Miniatures by Warcradle in 2016 and they updated it to the current 1.08 rulebook.
The Gunfight at Red Oak Starter Set contains:
- 1 Lawmen Force of 5 miniatures
- 1 Outlaw Force of 5 miniatures
- 1 Full Rulebook
- 4x Custom D10 (10-sided dice)
- 2 Card Decks (Action and Adventure Cards)
- Tokens and Templates (including a card measuring stick)
The miniatures have some incredible detail and are fairly easy to put together. They are set at a mid-level hobby experience though, so new wargamers should take their time. Assembly instructions for the miniatures are available online here, and it should be noted that some parts need to be assembled before others. For this reason, it's worth placing the pieces together without glue, to see if any later pieces block other pieces before gluing them in place.
While the 2-player starter set has enough miniatures for 2 players, components wise it’s only enough for both to test the game. Each player needs their own Action and Adventure deck to play, and having your own measuring implement and dice also makes play easier. But for the price, this is an incredible entry product and contains more than enough for 2 players to try out the game. If both players like it, only a few accessories purchases would be required for both players to take the 2 forces contained forwards.
Not included in the starter set are tokens to track Fortune which is used during the game. There is a pack of official Poker Chips that are used to track Fortune, but players can use any counters or dice to track it. The official poker chips are very cool and extremely thematic though.
Players are able to add-on to the available themed forces sets to make them Starter Sets. Doing this upgrades the sets to include the rules and accessories required to play. Both players would need one of these sets though, as opposed to the Gunfight at Red Oak set that 2-players can start from. We’ll look more at the themed posse box sets in our next article.
The two forces in the Gunfight at Red Oak aren’t balanced in terms of competitiveness. Wyatt Earp by himself is incredible. This puts the Lawmen around 100 points over the Outlaws if both posse’s take an Attack Dog and a Gun Dog. The forces can be balanced out points wise by giving one of the dogs to the Outlaws, rather than splitting the miniatures equally.
It is a great set for learning the rules and then building your own force out of if you want to collect Outlaws or Lawmen. While you’re learning your first few games, don’t worry too much about balance in the game, make the most of getting used to the rules and then look to build equal points lists after.
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We’re going to look in detail at list building in our next article, with advice and guidance from competitive players and the development team.
The rules for WWX are available online for free, so we won’t go into too much detail about how to play, we’re just going to discuss the standout mechanics. WWX is an alternating action game. It’s fast and very brutal. WWX uses a single dice type in D10s and also utilizes mechanics with card decks very well.
WWX is a low model count game and each character or unit has a card with their stats and abilities on. The Gunfight at Red Oak set includes all the cards required for the miniatures contained in it. The cards for every miniature released are available for free on the WWX website and are errata’d and updated through the site as well.
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The main mechanic for tests is to get a score of 10 or higher with your stat and the dice roll. So if your character’s Aim trait is 7, 10 – 7 = 3, which makes your target number 3 or more on a D10. Other modifiers come in, like cover or shooting multiple shots and they all add together to make a quick test system, once you’re used to it.
The complexity of the game comes in with the action mechanics. When it’s our turn to activate a unit, you draw a card from the Action deck. Action cards have a number between 1 and 5, and that’s how many action points your character has. Action points can be spent to move and attack and additional actions can be spent to run, aim or activate special abilities.
Characters also have a pool of Fortune, which is spent to boost actions. Your leader has a pool that all of your posse can tap into, and other characters have their own pool to use. Each character’s pool refreshes at the end of that character’s activation, so using your leader’s fortune depletes their pool until you activate them again.
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Initiative each turn is decided by each player drawing a card from the Action deck. The player with the highest small number printed on the card has the initiative. There is also an adventure deck, which players draw from at the start of the game and refresh as cards are used or discarded. Adventure cards have a dual feature use. They can be spent to steal the initiative, or gain action points on the Guts side, or work like objectives on the lory side to gain Victory Points that go towards winning the game. Only one side of the card can be used, so players have to balance in-game bonus’ with earning Victory Points.
WWX doesn’t have any wounds for characters, so when a character is dealt damage that they can’t save, they’re removed from the game. Special Characters have a couple of tricks and saving throws, but if the dice don’t go your way, or if there’s a concerted effort on your opponent’s behalf to remove a character, then they’re going out.
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All of the above combines to a very tactical game. Players really have to manage their activations and positioning, as leaving a character out of cover can mean a quick end to them. Working out threats from your opponents and also monitoring and maintaining your own Fortune pool is essential.
It feels very thematic to play throughout. All the small details like the card mechanics and the stats in the six-shooter bullet holes really add to the game. It is very brutal though, and you can lose characters and units very easily if you’re not careful. There is some randomness added in with the cards. Even though all players are using cards, sometimes things just don’t go your way and you’ll lose the initiative, draw badly for Action Points and roll badly on the dice.
Players going into the Gunfight at Red Oak starter set should also be aware that some scenery is needed. Two sides running towards each other without any cover provides a very quick game. We’d also like to see some beginner scenarios. The full rules can be a bit overwhelming, especially if this is your first wargame. We found our local Warhost and he took us through our first few games. If you are starting out with WWX, we would advise finding your local Warhost to take you over your first couple of games. It really helped us to understand the mechanics, so that when we read the rules ourselves after our demo games, it was very easy to pick up, giving us a much better grasp of the rules.
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We had a blast with our first games of Wild West Exodus. While watching your whole posse get mowed down by a large caliber weapon mounted on a bike isn’t fun, we learned from it. Bunching your warriors together and leaving them in the open isn’t good for their survivability.
In our first game, we lost everyone except Wyatt Earp early on. He then proceeded to eliminate every enemy who came at him. While we suspect Jinxy, our local Warhost was going easy on us, it still gave us a great sense of satisfaction watching the legendary hero blasting enemies emerging from cover like jackals to a wounded animal. We’re looking forward to trying out the themed posse in our next game.
Our next articles are going to look in detail at 2 themed posse sets and how they play out of the box, as well as getting advice and guidance on listing building and beginner tips from competitive players and the development team.
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This copy of Gunfight at Red Oak was provided by Wayland Games.
A big thank you to ABZ Games in Aberdeen and Jinxy for their help in getting into the game.
Have you played Wild West Exodus? What's your favorite faction? What do you think about thematic accessories in wargames? Let us know in the comments below.