Publisher: Jonathan Pac Cantin Games
Designer: Jonathan Pac Cantin
Artist: Don Aquillo
Time: 60-90 minutes
Hangtown is a game where you take the part of competing Pioneers that have reached the city of Hangtown vying to see who will become the most prestigious, richest and well known Pioneer. During their time in Hangtown, each Pioneer will recruit dudes, explore the territory, gamble and build buildings. But life is not all peaches in the city of Hangtown. These Pioneers need to protect what is rightfully theirs by taking care of the outlaws in town and each other. You better come prepared or you might start filling the graveyard with your own posse. So, lets saddle up our horses, clean our pistols and make a nice livin’ in ……Hangtown!
Hangtown looks really clean on the table. The artwork is really nice and gives that feeling of being in this old mining town back in the 1800’s. All the components are really solid. I love the big and colorful Pioneer meeples that really stand out. The cards are a really nice quality of stock with some clean linen finish. One of the keen touches of the game is that every player deck of cards looks like a normal poker deck on the back. Again, this really puts you in the feel of being a Pioneer. One of the things that I am not crazy about is the thin main boards. I wish they were a thicker nicer cardboard that felt like it would last a long time. It would have been great to have a full think board with some more of the great art work from Don Aguillo. That is really my only complaint with the presentation.
There are a lot of things going on in Hangtown. At one point while we were playing, one of the players mentioned it feels like they just threw in a lot of different mechanics. This was mentioned while I was explaining the game. Hangtown is one of those games that doesn’t make a lot of sense when explaining it, but once you play it, it flows really well. There seems to be a lot going on but there really isn’t.
Hangtown is played in 4-6 rounds and each round having 5 turns. Each action you choose will be made secretly and then once all players have made their choice they are revealed. Each pioneer will then put his meeple on the “yield”site of the action he wants to take. Yield sites are then carried out starting with 1 ending with 5. These yield sites allow you to recruit dudes, build buildings, deploy dudes to do errands, prepare for the shootout or activate your dudes for bonuses. The interesting part about this phase of the game is that you have different levels of actions you can take depending on how many pioneers selected the actions. These levels are called Boom, Common and Bust. If you are the only Pioneer you get a boom action which is the best of the three. The common is average and the Bust is just brutal. You always bust when you go to the same spot as the Outlaw. This is a nice little variation than most action selection style games. You really have to try to see what the other players are doing to try and avoid them or hinder them.
One of the things I love about games is when they give you variations on how to play the game. One variation might be a bit easier to learn and teach. Another variation might be harder and more strategic. I think Hangtown does this really well. There are 2 different ways to play. The Discovery allows you to deploy your dudes on a main board to run errands for you. Then, when you choose the workday action, you can get the reward that they have been working for, usually money or more cards from your deck. In Highgrade, there is no Discovery Board. All you have is your own cards that you can use your dudes on. Meaning getting money and cards are a whole lot harder and valuable. I have played both versions and I liked both of them. discovery is a much more laid back chillin type of experience where as Highgrade is very tight and strategic. I just love that there is that variety.
Another thing that really interested me is the pass action. So, from your player deck you will get many Pass Action cards. If you at any point do not want to take the action that you chose, you can pass. This allows you to play 2 Pass Action cards from your hand and gain one coin. These Pass Action cards are extremely varied. You can kill another players dude and put him in your cemetery. You can just get some money. You can fulfill a railroad shipment for points at the end of the game. There are so many of these cards that do these special actions that sometimes it is just better to pass than to take an action.
At the end of each round, you have to fight the Outlaw and his gang in a final shootout! One person will roll the 2 dice and the Outlaw will take the highest of the 2 rolled. Then each player rolls one die to see if they beat the out law. If they don’t, they can spend dudes they put in the Main St. card during the shoot out action, to raise the number they rolled. If you beat the Outlaw you killed one of his men and you put their cube in your graveyard, and you will gain points at the end of the game for each one you killed. If you tie, nothing happens. If you lose, you have to put one of your dudes in the graveyard and that counts as negative points at the end of the game. This is a super fun little mini game that everyone just loved. I mean who doesn’t love a good shoot out at High Noon?
There are also a couple more mini games that you can do while in Hangtown. One is to gamble, when you sit at the gambling table and you choose the Shootout action you can then cash in. You roll two dice and put the lower rolled on one track and put the higher rolled on another. You get the reward based on the two dice. IF you roll snake eyes, both ones, a fight breaks out because you were caught cheating and everyone at the table dies. The other mini game is the exploration track. During the deploy dudes action you can put one of your dudes at the start of the track headed out of town. Every turn, depending on whether the action you chose is a bust, common or boon, your explorer either moves or takes the action from the spot he is on. If he stays out in the wilderness too long…he dies!
There are a couple of negatives about the game play. The first being the money tokens and bag. It is just clunky! After your first turn each round the event is that every player gets to pull 2 tokens out of a bag and collect that amount of money. This really feels like it slows the rhythm of the game. the bag is too small for these chubby hands and it could have been done with some dice. The other thing is player order. It NEVER changed. No one ever felt like they NEED to move up in player order. I wish there was a stronger necessity for player order. The last negative is just randomness. This is not a big complaint but some of the cards in your player deck are better than others. If other players get to their better cards earlier it could make a big difference.
Over all the game play is really smooth in Hangtown. At times it does seem to bog down but I never felt like I was bored to death waiting for my next turn. I was always engaged and felt like there was plenty of things to do.
Replay-ability is a big thing for me. If I can’t play the game more than once or multiple times the game is just not interesting for me. Hangtown does a great job for me in this regard. There are so many different things that you can focus on for points that make it different every time you play it. During our game of 6 players, one guy tried to build as many districts and the bell tower, another guy tried to kill as many people as he could, another focused on just getting bonus cards for the end game. Everyone seemed to be doing something else and the points at the end were really close, 4 of us within 10 points. I also like that there are so many different things to do through out the game that it never felt stale. Hangtown does a great job of making sure that there are plenty of things to do and different paths to take each time you play.
Let’s face it, THIS is why we play games right? Is the game fun for me? Did I enjoy the time that I had with it……YES! Not only was the game fun and engaging the whole time, but Tombstone quotes were a plenty as we played. The theme is just great, the game allows your to feel like you are in that time period. I enjoyed watching other people accidentally choose a yield space where the outlaw was, only realizing it was going to be a bust. I loved the mini games and the shootout ever round. Putting guys in my cemetery…..it was just fun!
- Theme, I love the western theme
- Different paths to victory, every game is different
- Player interaction, it’s fun to kill your opponents
- Mini Games, gambling, shootout and exploring are all fun
- Smooth game play even though there is a lot going on
- Varying levels of game play for different experiences
- Clunky bag grabbing Event
- Player order seemed irrelevant
- Some yield sites not used as much as others
- Wish main board was bigger
It’s a Keeper!!!