Review: Fistful of Lead – Reloaded

Rating: 4 stars

Fistful of Lead: Reloaded is a set of wargaming rules for ‘Gunfights in the Wild West’, published by Wiley Games. It was funded by a kickstarter project which was launched in November 2015, which had 132 backers and raised just over $8,000.

folr coverFistful of Lead (FoL) is a skirmish wargame, where players control gangs of around six cowboys. Games are scenario driven, and are usually played on a 3′ x 3′ playing area.

What is more, FoL is designed with a large multi-player aspect – specifically with convention games in mind in fact – and will cater for up to 8 players.

The game requires players to have a number of miniatures – it is designed with 28mm miniatures in mind, but will cater for any scale between 15mm and 54mm. Players will also need a number of 10-sided dice (plus a few D8s and D12s if the advanced rules are being played) plus a measuring tape and a deck of playing cards (You can use a standard deck of cards, but Wiley Games also produce a card deck specifically for the game).

Games of FoL take place over a number of turns, usually decided by the scenario.

At the start of each turn the card deck is shuffled, each player is dealt a hand of cards – one for each model in his gang that is still alive. Play is carried out from the highest card (King) to the lowest (Deuce). One player (or the umpire) is designated the caller, and begins the turn by calling out “Kings”. Any player with a King card has to play it. These cards are used to activate one of the players models.

Once all models have been activated using the King cards, the caller then calls “Queens”, and all players with a Queen card then play. Play continues through all the cards in the deck (Jacks, Tens, Nines etc).

When two cards of the same value are played, cards activate in suit order: Spades, Hearts, Diamonds then Clubs.

fol assortedcards_250xSome cards also have special actions:

  • Queen of Hearts – model may heal a wound
  • Queen of Spades – model may remove a pin
  • One -eyed Jack – model gets +1 shooting
  • Two-eyed Jack – model gets +1 in cloe combat
  • Sixes – Model may automatically reload
  • Deuces – Model may fire twice in one action
  • Aces – Aces are wild, and can be used as any other card.

When activated, models can take 2 actions. These actions include:

  • Move
  • Shoot
  • Reload
  • Open/close door
  • pick up/drop an item
  • Mount/dismount a horse
  • Jump from rooftop to rooftop

Actions  can be taken in any order, and the same action can be performed twice. Once a model has performed its two actions, it cannot be activated for the rest of the turn.

Models movement is measured in inches:

  • Crawl – 2″
  • Walk – 5″
  • Horse – 8″
  • Wagon – 6″

When shooting, models do not have a facing, so may fire at any target around them that’s in range. Pre-measuring is not allowed, so you will have to guess if a target is within range before firing.  Range is short or long – Pistols have 6″ short range and 12″ long, whilst rifles have 12″ short range and 24″ long. To hit at short range to have to roll 5+ on a D10. For long range, it’s 8+. If you roll a ‘1’, the gun is out of ammunition and the model may not fire again until it has been reloaded. Modifiers are also applied to the roll, depending upon cover, wounds and movement.

Close Combat is initiated if models move within 1″ of each other. In this instance, both players roll 1D10, with the highest die being the winner. The lower die roll is subtracted from this, and the result is the number of possible wounds that are scored – so this can be pretty deadly.

When rolling for wounds, players roll 1D10 for each hit received. 1-5 is pinned, 6-8 is wounded and 9+ is dead. If a model receives 3 wounds, it is killed.

Those are the essential rules for the game. There are some optional rules for using D8s and D12s for Greenhorns and Gunslingers, plus some rules for using Jokers in the card pack, and bosses in your gangs.

The 44 page rulebook also includes 5 scenarios. One of these is specifically desgned to be a convention game, and includes 8 pre-defined gangs.

The rest of the rules include a full campaign system, including defining traits for each of your gang members, a full scenario generator, plus an experience system for advancing you gang members should they survive the gunfight.

All-in-all, FoL is an awful lot of game crammed into a small amount of pages. Gameplay is fast and furious, and the rules have enough detail so that you can recreate almost anything from your favourite Hollywood shoot-out. The rules are designed to be fun and cinematic, and the way the turn sequence works means that the game flows very quickly, with each player quickly having to decide which is the best model to activate next.

It’s an ideal wargames show / convention game too – hardly surprising really since this is one of the key things the ruke swere designed for. Multiple players are handled well without slowing down gameplay significantly, and due to the small amount of models owned by each player, games don’t tend to take that long to play to a conclusion.

fol 2In addition to the core rules, Wiley Games have also produced For a Fistful More, which is a book of further scenarios for Fistful of Lead.

There are 20 scenarios in total. These include a number of stand alone scenarios, plus a couple that link two or three together into mini-campaigns.

There is also a special scenario – ‘Revenge of Boot Hill’. You guessed it, the Sheriff and his deputies have to defend the town against the undead that have risen from the graves of Boot Hill – everything’s better with zombies, right?

fol hatAlso worthy of note at this point is a further set of FoL rules that have been written for a slightly wider period.

Fistful of Lead: Horse and Musket uses exactly the same rules mechanism, but updates the mechanics slightly to take account of black powder weapons. The rules are designed to fight skirmishes during the black powder era, but are aimed primarily at the wars in America: French Indian War, American War of Independence, War of 1812 and the American Civil War.

The game again uses a pack of cards (and Wiley Games have produced their own custom pack)  and the book contains 5 scenarios for play, though this time around no campaign rules are included.

The rules don’t differ significantly enough from the original Fistful of Lead rules to warrant their own review, but the amendments do reflect the change in period nicely, and include rules for black powder weapons, Native Americans and cannon, amongst other things.

You can purchase the rules in hardcopy or PDF from Wiley Games, or they are also available in PDF format from Wargames Vault.

The Wiley Games shop also include a number of accessories, including custom card decks, token sets and resin objective markers.

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