Sunday, May 19, 2024

RUTHLESS: Shootout at the hacienda

 Not looking for a big setup/takedown, we opted for a quick skirmish game on Saturday evening and finally got a game of "Ruthless" on the table after quickly knocking together a few gaggles of western 15mm gunfighters the week prior.  Inspired by the classic "The Good, The Bad and the Ugly" movie, I painted a "miniature with no name" as well as a "not-Tuco" and a "not-Angel Eyes".  

Any resemblance to Clint Eastwood is purely coincidental.

The man who double crosses me and then rolls a "1" knows nothing about Tuco...

I had so much fun painting these fellows up that I decided on painting more of my gunfighter "personality" figures, all while listening to Ennio Morricone's excellent score from the "dollars trilogy"

Anyways, I painted up a unit of outlaws, complete with masks, a well-armed unit of Mexican "banditos", a sheriff, and a sheriff's posse with the intent of running them at Saturday night's game.  

They did not disappoint!  I took the outlaws, and Dave took the banditos.  The resulting clash at "The Hacienda" is a classic cowboy storyline, with my outlaws headed to the house to "smash and grab" the loot, while the banditos are keen to stop me and make off with the money themselves.  

Dave and I threw down some middle eastern desert terrain, rolled for random entry onto the table, and the rest is history!  Saddle up for a quick story on the gunfight at the hacienda, partner!

As dusk approaches, my fully-masked outlaws
 are CDC/NHS covid compliant and observing all appropriate, clearly scientifically-sound social distancing guidelines...

The outlaws quietly approach the hacienda.  "The boss" in the lead approaching the steps (I love how this picture turned out - the boss is looking up the steps with his pistol drawn), followed by "Cleveland" with the shotgun, and the always-dapper "Mortimer" wearing a derby hat and a suit.

As our fully-masked outlaws  round teh corner, "Navy Steve" follows up behind them at left.

We are enjoying the activation system of Ruthless and drawing the cards with the competing suits makes it even more tense and gives it more of a western flavor in our humble opinions.  We also liked the idea that various cards can be played for actions throughout the turn.  It makes it ideal to hold on to good cards instead of always playing the best ones immediately.

Meanwhile, Dave's "Banditos" emerge from the forest next to the hacienda. 

Dave sends "slim" around teh back of the house with the lever action rifle.  

The nature of where we started the game means we come to grips relatively quickly, and shots ring out, piercing the peace of the evening.

Mortimer and Cleveland draw the fire from the banditos, while the Boss and Navy Steve head up the stairwell.  Surely they'll be safe up there!

Nope - they wont be.  Dave rushes "Seamus the Drunk" (Dave gave him the drunkard trait) and "Cookie" up the stairs and the men engage in a brutal, close range knife fight, ending in fisticuffs with The Boss.  He beats back his attackers and they tumble down the steps!  

Meanwhile, "Doc" is trading shots with Cleveland (right) and Mortimer (left).  Doc has the "gunfighter" trait and hits Mortimer and Dave ends up scoring multiple "chest hits" on the poor bastard.  Mortimer goes down, dead.  On the bright side, we dont have to roll to see if he's "Lily Livered" because he's already dead.  Meanwhile, Cleveland takes a hit, Dave rolls a "10" and Cleveland is unconscious!  

Cleveland would fire off his last shotgun round down the small alley to no avail.  None of my outlaws can hit the broad side of a barn tonight!

Meanwhile Slim sneaks around and fires at Cleveland.  Cleveland plays a "10" card to "snapfire" at Slim, but the shotgun goes "click" when he goes to shoot it.  2 EMPTY BARRELS!  I forgot I was out of ammo!  Slim drops Cleveland who becomes unconscious.  (red marker)

Dave goes in for the kill now with Doc and Slim firing at point blank range into Cleveland.  He's dead as a doornail too now.

Meanwhile "The Boss" is making his last stand on the roof with "Navy Steve" as Seamus staggers up the stairs, still drunk.  More shots are exchanged.  

At the turn's end, you have to roll a D10 if you have anyone dead, unconscious, or "Lily Livered".  As it turns out I have 2 dead men on the table.  I ended up rolling a "1" and the Boss and Navy Steve jump off the building Butch Cassidy style and run off into the night.  Game over!  It was a quick one and brutal, but lots of fun!


Ruthless packs a huge punch at just 3 pages of rules.  Dave and I were playing reading the rules off our phones and so we missed a few things in the beginning but after awhile the turns flow naturally.  With the limited amount of figures on the table, we should have played with 1 card per figure and not 1 card per side for initiative but perhaps next time.  This game was a ton of fun, tense, and created a very rich narrative (and many of you reading know how much I love when the game tells its own story)  Realizing Mortimer was dead and Cleveland was unconscious, Dave's gang moved in the for the kill to finish Cleveland off.  It was a "Ruthless" move :)

Ruthless is one of those rules sets where each and every word in the rules is important so you have to read all of the rules prior to play but once the learning curve takes effect you'll be firing off the knuckledusters with ease.  A few words of advice as I'm holed up in the second floor of a hotel in Santa Fe awaiting the "banditos" to come for me...You have to force someone to become unconscious or lily livered or dead to force a roll at the end of the turn to make them "skedaddle".

Splitting up was a bad move in this case.  I should have kept the majority of my figures together and focused fire on 1 figure, not spreading my fire out.

Dont forget to reload.  Cleveland learned that the hard way!  (technically he could have "jumped for cover" but in the heat of battle I forgot about jumping for cover and instead announced I'd attempt a "snap fire".  This is the exact sort of thing that probably happened in real life and it was great fun realizing I was out of shells in the "street howitzer" as Wyatt Earp called the shotgun in "Tombstone".

Make use of cover!  Mortimer and Cleveland also learned that the hard way.

This game was a solid hit with us and we will definitely play it again.  The mechanics are excellent and would lend themselves well to Rifle and or Horse and Musket eras if you wanted to play a man to man skirmish with a handful of fellows.  I was thinking about having ACW figures on the table as another "faction" to play.  American Western Indians would also work well and you could have some great little skirmishes in the "badlands" or near the water sources in Apache country.

This was a big milestone for me this year as Ruthless was a game I had been wanting to get on the table for awhile.  If you are struggling to come up with a game to play with your group, Ruthless might just be the ticket (and you cant beat the price!).  A bag of 15mm western figures set me back $12.00 and I used pre-existing middle eastern terrain that actually looked good.  

Highly recommended!


  1. Looks like an action-packed and fun shootout. Reminds me that my gunfighters have not seen cation in close to 20 years. They neatly made it to the table last year but close and no cigar.

    1. It was great fun, Jon. We are really liking these rules and will definitely play them again. I highly recommend Ruthless as they are an engaging amd fantastic set of rules.

  2. Looks like an interesting game! Free rules? -Perhaps I should try them out as I'm a fan of 'Old West' gaming.

    1. Hi Roger it was indeed a very interesting game and we had a blast playing. Totally worth the price of downloading them ;)

  3. Looks like a hoot - especially with whiskey shots for special events and Spaghetti Western music in the background! :-)

  4. Great stuff Steve - I have a small western gunfighter collection and always enjoy the games when we get them on the table!