Wednesday, 2 March 2011

The Cardoza Jailbreak – July 1867

“He never once introduced himself, come to think of it. But the Mexican he rode with called him ‘Joe’, and if that wasn’t his name... well, he didn’t bother correctin’ nobody. Didn’t bother with much of anythin’... just set hisself at the bar an’ kept one eye on the jailhouse... almost like he knew what was comin’...”
Short a couple of our usual complement of players, Lawrence and I played a session of 2-hour Wargames’ “Six-Gun Sound”.
The rules we used were the 1st edition – based on 2HW’s ‘Mayhem’ skirmish system. We played the basic system with none of the advanced or optional rules.
Lawrence rolled up a character – a professional gunfighter with a Combat Value of 5, and Coolness of 4. His choice of profession gave him a constitution of 6.
Characters in 6GS have the option to recruit sidekicks and gang members, who are randomly generated from appropriate tables. The advantage of numbers is offset by having to share your victory points; the fewer the men, the greater the glory! Lawrence’s gunslinger chose to ride with one sidekick, a pistolero named Chico, CV4, Cool 4.
6GS campaigns begin in the summer of 1867. We randomly determined the locale (The Southwest) and the scenario – jailbreak!
The game contains a town layout plan, but since Lawrence had been busy making some Whitewash City card buildings, we set the town up according to what we had.

Cardoza (‘Card’, geddit? See what I did there? Tch... suit yerselves.) boasted one main street which angled across the tabletop.

North of the town the ground rose steeply and became broken, rocky foothills with a scattering of Scrub Oak and Chaparral. Among the high ground north of Cardoza sat the town’s clapboard church and its dusty graveyard.

We assigned occupants to buildings according to what we had available. (the figures we used were a real mixture, from Warrior, Dixons, Grenadier/Mirliton, Artizan and Old Glory.)
A nattily suited gent was appointed bank manager... the general store got a cantankerous one-legged proprietor and a customer, the saloon got a bartender, a saloon girl, and a thirsty cowhand, the hardware store got a respectable-looking owner and a customer, and the Sheriff’s Office was staffed by a sturdy peace officer and his deputy.
(The townspeople would be run as a single faction.)
We began the scenario with the villain of the piece -Tomas ‘Tequila’ Torres, scourge of the Four Corners territory- behind bars in the Sheriff’s office, having been brought in by two bounty-hunters.
These sinister types were now lounging around the saloon, hoping that Tequila’s gang would attempt a jailbreak, and hoping to profit from the mayhem.
The Sheriff started inside the office, while his deputy stood watch on the stoop outside.
The Torres gang approached from the north, led by Tequila’s formidable right-hand-man, Jorge.
Their stats and weaponry were randomly generated:
Jorge: CV5, Con6, Cool4. (Trapdoor carbine)
Enrique: CV4, Con5, Cool5. (Pistol)
Jaime: CV3,Con4, Cool4. (Shotgun)
Xavier: CV4, Con5, Cool4. (Trapdoor Carbine)
A competent and well-armed bunch!

TURNS 1-3:
They assembled behind the church an hour before sundown and dismounted.

Leaving Xavier to guard the horses, the other three bandidos began to close in on the sheriff’s office under cover of the broken ground.

The Gang acted unopposed for these three turns, with none of the other characters having any chance to spot or reason to activate. They crept toward Cardoza, keeping behind a shallow ridge.

The gang’s movement takes them to the edge of the broken ground, and into the deputy’s line-of-sight... he rolls to spot, but notices nothing.

An instant later, Jorge ‘pops up’ from behind the ridge, and puts a .45-70 round through the deputy’s chest as casually as if he were putting down a snake-bit mule.

(In game terms, Jorge rolled 2D6 as he drew a bead on the deputy, and, with 2 successes, neither flinched nor rushed his shot. In 6GS, men who can keep their heads in a gunfight are lethal!)
The deputy topples off the boardwalk, dead before he hits the ground.

Enrique dashes across the open ground at the end of the street, intending to pass a gun through the jailhouse bars to Tequila!

Joe & Chico get a chance to react to the gunshot – both men pass 2D6, and get to act.

Flattening themselves in the saloon doorway, they see Enrique run across the end of the street... Joe tries a snapshot with his Henry rifle, but hesitates ... and only manages to wound the running outlaw.

Enrique takes a “Shot At” test for coming under fire. He passes one dice, and must “Duck Down”. Out in the open, that would plainly be suicide... Enrique about turns and throws himself back into the broken ground!

Jorge takes a “Got a Shot” reaction test because, although the bandits aren’t the active party, Joe & Chico have entered his line of sight. Passing both dice, he coolly levels his carbine and fires... incapacitating Chico!

The townspeople get a chance to react to the mayhem outside... the Sheriff fails to spot that his deputy is down, and keeps his gun on Tequila.

The customer- who had just left the Hardware store when the shooting started -dashes for the corner of the saloon to take cover.

While Mr. J. C. Forester, proprietor of the hardware store, grabs his Sharps Cavalry Carbine and heads for the street.

Winning initiative, Joe bursts out of the saloon doorway and throws himself into more solid cover behind a stack of lumber outside the hardware store, Jorge firing – but missing- as he goes.

The gang act next... cursing Enrique for a coward, Jaime sprints toward the jail in a second attempt to pass Tequila a weapon.

Both Joe & J.C. Forester get a “Got a Shot” reaction test... and both pass! Two bullets kick up dirt at Jaime’s feet.

Failing his “Shot At” test, Jaime cowers round the corner of the jail... unfortunately for Tequila, the wrong corner.

Jorge takes a deep breath and does his best to blow Joe’s head off – missing again.
The Gang win initiative, and Jaime spends another fruitless round attempting to pass a gun through the bars of Tequila’s cell, but being driven back round the corner by near-misses from Joe and the West’s hardest hardware merchant.
In their respective actions, Joe and Jorge try to shoot one another, but succeed only in increasing the lead content of the local topsoil.
Meanwhile, at the far end of the street, both the owner of the general store and his customer have decided enough is enough, and prepare to defend the town. Unfortunately, neither has a long-range weapon (shotgun & handgun respectively) and both are out of effective range.
Again, Initiative favours the gang.

Jorge turns his gun on J. C. Forester and shoots him down like a dog.

Jaime again exposes himself to Joe’s fire, this time holding his nerve, and passing a pistol through the jailhouse window.
(The Sheriff gets a roll to spot this, but fails!)

It’s Joe’s action next, and Jaime’s luck has run out. As the bandit stands reaching up to the window, he makes a perfect target... Joe shoots him dead.

The tide of battle has turned against the forces of law and order!

Winning initiative, Jorge fires another shot at Joe – who drops like a stone!

Is this the end for our hero?
Meanwhile, we roll to determine Tequila’s course of action... will he back-shoot the Sheriff, and take the chance that he can shoot the lock off the cell door? Or will he try to force the Sheriff to release him at gunpoint?
He tries the latter, cocking his pistol to get the Sheriff’s attention: “The key, gringo... eef joo won’ to leeve!”
We give the Sheriff a reaction test... uncharacteristically for such a stalwart character, he fails – and turns his gun on Tequila!
It’s a “Draw” reaction test... both men roll 1D6 & add their CV: the Draw... is a draw!
The character with the highest Coolness will fire first.
A hammer falls.

Tequila slides down his cell wall... his pistol falls, forgotten.

During the drawing of cards for initiative, a 10th Court card comes up... 6GS’s mechanism for determining nightfall.
We’re near to a conclusion and decide to play out the last moves, with suitable penalties to range and spotting.

The Sheriff eases open the back door and peers around the corner of the building.

He spots Jorge (and the useless Enrique, who, lacking a long-range weapon, couldn’t contribute anything to the firefight from his position.)
Jorge sees only the gathering darkness.
He waits. The town is silent. Tequila doesn’t appear.
Both he and Enrique get reaction tests every round to determine their actions.
Predictably, after a couple of rounds, Enrique starts to get antsy and slides away.
With a final glance at the darkened jailhouse, Jorge follows.
Joe & Chico both survive, incapacitated rather than killed.
Joe earns 120 campaign points for a scenario victory – halved because he ended the scenario out-of-action, halved again because the victory points are shared with the Cardoza Sheriff’s Office.
He splits the points with one sidekick, but earns 10 solo points for a gunfight kill (Jaime).
Joe: 25pts, Chico: 15pts.
Because the scenario played out in... well... about two hours... we had time for a quick:
Joe & Chico both spend a month’s campaign time recovering from their wounds.
(6GS uses 1-month time intervals)
The next month of campaign time turns up a ‘Capture’ scenario.
Anything for an easy life, we have the Cardoza County Sheriff receive word that the surviving members of the Torres Gang are holed up in an abandoned Mennonite Mission in the badlands.
Joe & Chico agree to help, but decline to be deputized... Deputies don’t get bounty!
(Speaking of which, the Sheriff does have a new deputy... looks a heck of a lot like the old one, too.)

The Mission building sits on a low rise in the middle of the table, surrounded by a broken terrain of hills and arroyos.

I randomly determined who would be inside, who would be on guard, and where they would be positioned.
Lawrence nominated his preferred table-edge for set-up and approach, and we diced for it: 1, 2, & 3 – the other table edges, 4, 5 or 6 – the chosen side.
With a roll of one, the posse approached from the East, leaving their horses out of sight and approaching on foot.

The group split up, with the peace officers inclining toward the front of the building, and the gunfighters toward the back.

Initially, luck was with them. Enrique, standing guard, was on the far side of the building.

So their first moves went unnoticed.

The fearsome Jorge, however, was on-form as usual.

Having randomly determined his position in the building, he had a line-of-sight to the peace officers... and he’s not the sort to fail a spot roll!
Reacting, he broke the nearest window with the butt of his carbine – which alerted Enrique, who began to race around to that side of the building.

Rounding the corner, Enrique finds he has a shot at the deputy, and takes it... only to find the lawman was j-u-s-t out of range! (Neither he nor the deputy could have known that, so we let it play out.) The wasted shot turned out to be deadly enough, though, as the deputy lost his nerve and headed for the hills!

Never one to let the chance of a good old back-shooting pass him by, Jorge put a bullet between the fleeing deputy’s shoulder blades, killing him outright.

(If there’s a third brother in that family, I’m betting he doesn’t go into law enforcement!)

Joe & Chico took advantage of the activity on the side of the Mission to creep up to the rear unnoticed, and positioned themselves – Joe by the window, Chico by the door.

The first the bandits knew of their presence was the bang as Chico kicked the door in, fanning his pistol as he burst into the church.

(In 6GS you can fire up to three pistol rounds at up to three targets – providing they’re no more than 4” apart.)
Chico had decided to fire twice at the nearer man – Xavier – and once at the farther – Jorge.
His bullets threw Xavier dead across the pews; but missed Jorge.
Joe, too, had declared Xavier as his target... that right there is one dead bandido!

Jorge’s reaction, though, was devastating – despite penalties for being attacked from behind, he passed his reaction test and shot Chico clean through the heart.

Enrique chose that moment to burst into the mission, eliciting a “Got a Shot” reaction from Joe, who blew him right back out of the door again – dead.

At close range, Joe and Jorge blazed away at each other... and for the second scenario running, Joe was incapacitated by Jorge’s deadly-accurate fire.

Enough was enough, though. Jorge had no way of knowing who was out there, and decided to make good his escape, grabbing his saddlebags and heading for the gang’s horses.

He was almost there when a shot from the Sheriff’s revolver sent him sprawling in the dust.

The ‘Code of the West’ is all very well... but Jorge was just too darn dangerous to take any chances with.

Again, Joe had survived, and if he hadn’t exactly won, at least been on the winning side.

More recovery time lies ahead... and after that, perhaps a rethink about how many sidekicks to take along on a job!
Pictures by Lawrence (mahotsukai) and Richard (herkybird)
Commentary by Phil Hope

Rules: THW’s 1st edition Six Gun Sound.


  1. Nice report and pics. First time I've seen the Wild West stuff out. Nice looking scenery and figures!

  2. Very nice batrep! Love the pics!

  3. Great report! I'm going to have to finish my western minis!