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Wacky, Wacky West by Mayfair Games

By Carl Swanson, editor of Classic Toy Trains
Published: November 10, 2010
Wacky, Wacky West
Product: Don’t be fooled by the silly theme and cartoonish artwork. This easy to learn family friendly board game offers a surprisingly wide range of strategic choices in a package that’s rootin’, tootin’ fun.

Wacky, Wacky West is a re-theming of the game Drunter und Drüber, which won Germany’s prestigious Spiel des Jahres (Game of the Year) award in 1991. The game’s designer, Klaus Teuber, went on to design The Settlers of Catan a few years later.

In Wacky, Wacky West, two to four players take turns laying road, river, or railroad tiles across a board representing the comical Old West town of Rossdorf. The action is fast and your goal is easy to understand, but not easy to achieve. The box contains a game board, four player tokens, six objective cards, 32 voting cards and 60 street, rail, and river tiles. The four-page color rule booklet is exceptionally clear and well-organized. Most people will have a good understanding of the game after a quick read-though.

Gameplay: Each player picks a corner of the board to serve as their starting location. The corner they choose determines if they will build roads, rivers, or tracks. The players are then given a number of the corresponding cardboard tiles they will use to build across the board as the game progresses. Players also draw a random secret objective card (saloon, bank, general store, etc.). Each of these buildings is represented multiple times on the board, but if a tile is laid on top of one, the building and its victory points are eliminated.

The goal is to keep the other players from laying tiles on top of your objective buildings while you flatten as many of theirs as you can. There are six objective cards and only four players, so bluffing can be an effective (and fun) strategy.  

Now, the townsfolk in these parts are very protective of their outhouses, which are scattered thickly across the board. Before you can lay a tile on an outhouse, a vote must be taken of all the players. Each player selects and lays down either a yes, a no, or an undecided card. As the yes or no cards are not returned after the vote (undecided cards are returned), the vote cards are a limited resource that must be carefully managed.

For example, a rival player announces an intention to place a tile that would obliterate an outhouse. You notice that this move would also threaten a 2-victory-point building that matches your objective card. As much as you want to prevent that building’s destruction, you might be better served hoarding those precious votes to fend off potential threats to your 4- and 5-victory-point buildings later. The action is fast and furious. A complete game takes 30 to 45 minutes.

The artwork and components are nothing to write home about but get the job done. The outhouses never fail to amuse younger players, and that’s important because this is one terrific family game, with kids as young as eight able to give adults a run for their money. And, oh, if your children figure out your objective buildings and decide to band together (as mine did), get ready for a serious beatdown!

Marketing: Some games sell themselves with magnificent art and elegant components. This isn’t one of them. The reverse side of the box has a good illustration of what the game looks like set up and does a fair job of explaining the game’s interesting mechanics. Unfortunately, the flavor text on the box prattles on at length about the history of Rossdorf, which is neither particularly interesting nor amusing.

Demonstrating the game in-store is a possibility, but it takes a little while for the fun to become apparent. If you know teachers interested in bringing games into the classroom, this game would be a solid choice. It takes relatively little time to explain, encourages logical thinking, and students will love the silly theme.

Your best bet is to watch for customers eyeing the family game section and be ready with a strong recommendation, especially if their kids are somewhere in the tweens. They’ll thank you for it later – and then you can sell them The Settlers of Catan!

Product: Wacky, Wacky West
Publisher: Mayfair Games
ISBN: 1-56905-198-4
MSRP: $35
Availability: Check with your favorite game distributor or visit Mayfair Games

Kid-friendly game that Mom and Dad will enjoy playing
Encourages player interaction
Excellent choice for parents of preteens
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