Halloween is year-round for some of us, but fall makes it more intense for many people. The colder weather and rainy days whet the appetite for tales of mysterious strangers, lonely ghosts and tall tales told around the campfire. One of my favorite genres of this kind of story is the weird western.
The American West is a big part of modern mythology, and weird westerns mix these classic heroes and villains with elements of supernatural creatures or sci-fi twists. All of supernatural to Wild, wild west tipped their caps at this classic genre mashup (although I’d appreciate it if you could watch the TV series instead of the latter’s ’90s film). This article examines some of my favorite weird western expressions on the tabletop, and I hope you add them to your rotation as we take the plunge into the dark half of the year.
3000 villains lays down a juicy premise that feels like an amazing B-movie pitch. The Traveler came to a dusty western town with all sorts of weird technologies and claimed they were building a utopia. But now they have come and gone, leaving factions in the city bickering with each other and nabbing these devices for their own ends.
The game is beautiful with a cinematic design that weaves through everything from the board to the faction mats that tell the tale of the traveler. That beauty extends to the villain cards, which combine characters and jobs to create unique gang members that change every time the game hits the table. The bluff and build gameplay is compelling, but every time players open the box they see a new town full of villains.
misconduct of fireflies
Cult classic TV show Firefly may be on the sci-fi end of the weird west, but it still has some elements of horror, be it the strange beings known as the Reavers or the conspiracy horror that links River to the Hands of Blue. Gale Force Nine has created an excellent board game that will allow fans to fly through the ‘verses like their favorite crew. You’re at it again Firefly: Misconduct bringing the world of show into the popular deck building genre.
Players choose one of four factions at the start of the game: Eavesdown, Niska, Serenity, or the Alliance. Each of these factions proposes a playstyle with special abilities awarded through faction tokens. The game ends when a player has reached an adjustable number of victory points.
Shadows over Brimstone
Mines are often gateways to the weird in these kinds of stories. Shadows over Brimstone adapts the classic dungeon crawler style game to send western heroes to a nearby mine to fight against the forces of darkness. Those who return become stronger, better, and able to go deeper into the mines.
Flying Frog Productions stands out for the amount of options for this game. Different characters, villains from different times and places, and more really customize the experience. They’ve even opened up a series of samurai-era expansions for those fans who want gunslingers and ronin heroes fighting back-to-back.
They say truth is stranger than fiction, and the American West is one of those places and times that validates that idea. Damn West delves into the weird histories of the West to show how important BIPOC and LGBTQ people were to frontier exploration, despite the fact that film and television reported things from an all-white perspective. Once players know how weird the real west was, they can start making the west really weird.
The book offers multiple ways to play the RPG customized to the preferences of the table. Players can opt for a narrative, lightweight framework or delve into the essence of miniature combat. They also get the elements they need to make their own weird vest if the one included in the book isn’t inspiring.
This game, released in 1996, piqued my love for this genre and also my thirst for the historical west. dead countries is a big casserole of alternate history, horror, action, and sci-fi. Ordinary schoolgirls stand alongside undead gunslingers, kung fu masters, and steampunk gadgeteers to battle in the darkness of the west against creatures unleashed by our own fear.
The history of dead countries was told through several plays and periods ranging from the Stylish Deadlands Noir to the desperate Deadland’s Hell of the Earth. Lost Colony of the Deadlands aims to be the final chapter told on a faraway planet where the themes of boundaries and fears still play a strong role. The company is currently funding the next chapter, gorge of oblivion.