A few months back, I took a look at a prototype version of the Wild West inspired tabletop skirmish game, High Noon. Now the game makes its way back onto Kickstarter for a full run (it had previously started, then stopped its original Kickstarter campaign to focus on the most important essentials). So belly up to the saloon bar with us and have a swig of whiskey as we take a look at the real deal, finished product. Along with checking out the components of the core game, I also got a chance to speak with the game's creator, Dwight Cenac, about High Noon and what the new Kickstarter holds for backers.
Digging into the retail copy of High Noon that I received, the game has everything you need for a Wild West shootout for two to four players. There are 14 different miniatures included in the box, making up the four main factions in this box (with more potentially available as stretch goals). The factions are as follows: The Sheriff and Deputy, Elsu's Warband, Col. Rodgers and his Rough Riders, and the Leeroy Gang. Each faction contains a varied amount of miniatures, for instance, the Sheriff and Deputy are a faction of two, while the Leeroy Gang is made up of five miniatures. Each group employs wildly different tactics and leads to nicely varied gameplay, and the color-coding is nice on the minis to help immediately distinguish one posse from another.
So what is High Noon? The core of the game is all about moving your posse around the map, trying to out-gun and out-maneuver your opponents by playing cards from your deck and rushing to grab special items that can help you in your cause. Specially created for each posse, the cards in your deck have both attack and defense values printed on them. This creates a fun decision point in the game, will you use your cards to attack, or save them for defense and use them to mitigate some of the damage coming your way. You can also heal, shore up your defense, play extra cards, or launch more powerful attacks thanks to items and special weapons you can grab along the way through various loot crates dropped on the board.
The core box also contains single-sided map tiles (you build out your map piece by piece during game setup, so each game has an entirely different map), tokens to track health, special ammo, and more, gold bar tokens (those are essentially the victory points of the game), and crate tokens which you'll scatter across the board before the start of the game.
Along with some pretty cool potential expansions via Kickstarter stretch goals, one of the things I'm most excited about with the launch of High Noon is that they're doing no-wait shipping. As evidenced by the complete, sealed, and shipped core game I received for this preview, they've already made the game and its ready to ship. All they need is the funds to clear from the Kickstarter campaign and games will head immediately out to backers. In a world where waiting over a year for a game you Kickstarted is totally normal and expected, this rapid shipping feels revolutionary.
As the High Noon team gears up for their launch on Kickstarter, I spoke with the game's creator Dwight Cenac about the release.
TechRaptor: What do you think High Noon brings to the table that no other Western games have done yet?
Dwight Cenac: People have started to describe High Noon as “A non-cooperative dungeon crawler set in the Wild West,” which already puts High Noon apart from most games in general because nearly every dungeon-crawler is, at the very least, semi-cooperative. High Noon flips that concept completely upside down and wraps it in tumbleweed. By far, the biggest difference is accessibility: High Noon uses an incredibly simple game system that almost anyone can learn in just a few rounds. You don’t have to sit at the table for an hour teaching the rules to new-comers and non-gamers. One can literally learn as they go and get the hang of the game very quickly. Replayability is another huge factor with asymmetrical teams, randomized loot disbursement and interchangeable game tiles that pretty much guarantee no two games of High Noon are ever the same, providing for hours of thrilling and unpredictable game play. All of this allows players to quickly and easily immerse themselves into a Wild West universe that is incomparable to other shootout board games available on the market.
TR: What were some of your biggest inspirations when creating the game?
DC: In terms of game development, I drew heavy inspiration from games of my childhood that I remember being really easy to get into and fun to play again and again. Epic Duels is a beautiful gem every gamer should have on their shelf, and I drew a lot of the fundamentals of combat from that. Thematically, I wanted each posse to have their own unique story that you felt throughout the game. I dialed into the tropes of epics and films, from Cosmatos’ Tombstone to Homer’s Odyssey. The archetypes of villains, heroes and anti-heroes are all there.
TR: Mechanically, what most excites you about the design in High Noon?
DC: This is going to ruffle a few feathers, but the total lack of dice! Don’t get me wrong, I’m an ardent roleplayer and I love dice as much as anybody. High Noon is a tactical combat miniatures game performed entirely with cards. And seeing the confused look on people’s faces as they wonder how that could possibly work is almost as satisfying as their astonishment when they see how it does and how easy it is. You still have all the randomness of a chaotic shoot-out, but it plays like a cunning game of poker.
TR: What are some of the standout highlights of the Kickstarter campaign? What sort of perks or rewards should potential backers be excited about?
DC: Right out of the gate, we have some incredible early-bird discounts of up to 25% off all of the pledge levels. On Day 1, backers can expect to get the High Noon game for as little as $40, which is an absolute bargain for what they’re getting. Day 1 is definitely where it’s at, so backers should be getting in on the action March 5th.
For those who like to do things themselves or just can’t get enough minis, we are also providing pledge levels that allow backers to create their own copies of the game and 3D print their own miniatures. With that kind of reward, who knows what they can come up with? New posses? New games? New maps? The possibilities are endless!
And because our expansion packs are basically entirely new games in themselves, loaded with awesome miniatures, colorful cards, beautiful game tiles and other cool assets, we had to do something a little different with stretch goals. So what we’re doing is giving away free Kickstarter Exclusive loot cards as each Stretch Goal Expansion Pack gets unlocked and added to the Optional Buy store, while also giving away an Expansion Pack absolutely free at every 4th stretch goal. Yeah, you read that right. Free Expansions at every 4th Stretch Goal and backers get to choose what they want. This allows backers to customize their High Noon experience and tailor it to their personal interests, which is what this game is really all about.
The copy of High Noon used for this preview was provided by the publisher.