A Warm Welcome to my Blog

Saturday, 24 September 2022

Shoot Out at Big Jim's Saloon

There was great rejoicing recently in Vagabond Manor when the Mad Lord Snapcase graced us with a visit from his lands in the south. There's not been much activity up here, mainly because I've not done anything but his visit spurred me on with some terrain building and we played 5 games during his 4 day visit and I intend to try and record some of these at least.

We wanted to play a simple western game and so chose to do the traditional Hollywood quick draw gunfight in Main Street and this is how it went down.

Dawn breaks, the sun shines, it’s going to be another hot day in Little Whiskey, the same as yesterday, the same as every day in this part of New Mexico. The streets are quiet at this time in the morning, I say streets but there’s really only Main Street and a couple of paths leading off from it. Don’t get to thinking this is any more than a way station on the Stage and Freight route that runs to Las Vegas New Mexico
It is though, a magnet for every drifter and saddle tramp who passes through this section of the Territory, and the businesses prosper because there’s not much competition within a 50 mile radius.

Little Whiskey was founded some 5 years ago in 1860 something, no one is really sure the exact year but everyone knows this is Whiskey Jack’s town. He owns large chunks of the place but as there’s only 6 buildings and 8 businesses if you don’t count his bathhouse that’s not a big brag. 

In addition there are 3 Cribs for the Independent Soiled Doves although I’ve not taken them into account in the total given. Blond Edna’s Whore House has an interest in one or two of the Cribs and Jack the same, this has created friction in the past. Ownership here is always a little fluid and tends to side with the stronger party in any dispute.

The town is named Little Whiskey because originally when the only buildings here were the Tail Feathers Saloon and Big Jim's Corral, a stranger arrived asking for beer, only to be told - there's no beer, no water and only a little whiskey. Jack found that amusing and so the town was named, if you can call it that.

Chester drives the Wells Fargo Stage run, and this is key to the town’s prosperity, bribery was involved in the choice of the route through the Territory but Chester saw none of this money, which might explain why he always drives the horses too fast. It looks like his lead black stallion has broken the traces and he utters a loud WHOA when he sees what’s happening up ahead.

This might be the Westmoorland Grocery Store but round the back and up the stairs, Blonde Edna’s Whorehouse turns a greater and faster profit. Two of the girls and Madame Pearl De Ville are taking the air on the balcony they're gazing into the street below where this days entertainment is just about to start. Below them Sarah the Manager of the Westmoorland surveys the scene with distaste.

As I said the town’s not large but there’s always plenty of folk engaged in some activity or other.

Murder, robbery, flirtation, - you know the sort of thing, this is the West and as wild as it gets.

Today there’s an altercation between 'The Judge' and Shawnee Mary Thompson. No ones quite sure what it's about but then again no one cares either.

They walk towards each other shouting insults, 'The Judge' is fronting ruffians of the worse kind and Mary has some of the local yokels backing her play.

The protagonists stop about 15 paces apart and there’s some hard staring taking place. Who will blink first. Mary shouts a final insult that goads her antagonist into action.

The man in black goes for his gun, more a twitch of his hand but is then distracted by one of the fluttering Doves on the balcony. He glances her way, smiling, then to his horror realizes his mistake. Everyone else pulls their shooting iron at the infinitesimal movement of his hand and before he can clear leather they all blaze away.

The gun fire spooks one of the horses and it kicks out at Rob Tilney Junior, knocking him to the ground and when Rob Tilney tries to intervene the horse rears up and stamps on him hard.

Rob is not the first casualty though, Johnny Vagabond is down in a pool of blood – his blood! Another of Mary’s supporters The Swede has taken a bullet and fallen where he stood. Lucky Joe Turner puts a shot into Emma de Witt and she’s also rolling on the ground.

Then it all went dark, as a sandstorm blew in out of the west, cutting visibility down to about 10 paces and making movement difficult for everyone.

Lucky Joe Turner moved forward into the dust storm firing his gun as he went. Katie McBride fingered the trigger on her shotgun but her boss Sarah O'Rioidan motioned her inside and muttered, leave these idiots to shoot it out. 
If any one follows us inside, blow their damn fool head off.

As you know, Texas Red is no mans fool and she's taken cover behind the store front, but is unable to get a clear shot because of the two women on the boardwalk.

You might think Lucky Joe Turner was lucky not to get shot by Katie but he was really lucky to hear a rumbling noise behind him.

STAMPEDE – the storm had frightened the cattle and they broke down the fence and ploughed up the street. Big Jim in their path was trampled into the dust by flying hooves. In the distance and largely unseen because the storm was still raging Mary and The Judge have been hit by flying bullets and lay bleeding on the ground

Lucky Joe Turner jumped out of the way of the stampede and faced off to Colonel 'Barmy' Bertram Snapcase who was trying to hide behind the 4” x 4” wooden post holding up the balcony.

That's not going to work for long.

Texas Red was still frustrated as Joe blocked her line of sight to Snapcase, he was just visible through the dust but she couldn’t fire for fear of hitting Joe and that might have led to renaming him Unlucky Joe Turner.

The herd stomped down Main Street failing to trample any of the downed gunfighters. Obviously a fastidious lot and they didn't like to get blood on their hooves I suppose.

Whiskey Jack steps out into the street after the longhorns have passed and shouts to Bill Samuelson, "you no good son of a bitch, that's Johnny Vagabond you shot" and unloads both shotgun barrels in Bills direction, missing with each.

Jack must have been drinking his own corn liquor again, it'll send him blind if it doesn't kill him first.

Probably through lead poisoning if this continues.

I worry for the Mad Lord as the stampede heads in his direction but he doesn’t seem concerned and starts crooning 'get along little doogies, get along kind of slow' which doesn't seem to make much difference to their speed.

Another event card was drawn and Rose was drawn into Blonde Edna’s, probably to see some old flame. We’ll never know because there was an almighty harrumph from Snapcase as his ancestor Colonel Bertram Barmy Snapcase shot Lucky? Joe Turner, before taking lead himself from Texas Red who had finally got a clear line of sight.

Then some grumpy old timer woken by all the noise saw Texas Red’s back. I hate those damn Red Headed Southerners he muttered, and just at that moment the dust storm abated.

It must have un-nerved him because he unloaded his shotgun into her back, she pitched forward over the cabbages and carrots that little Martha had been trying unsuccessfully to sell.

Blast and tarnation she’s got blood all over her vegetables and that’s soaking up the sand and dust, no one will buy them now!

Snapcase finds out the hard way that cover needs to be bigger than 4” wide and Joe finds out that any cover is better than no cover.

The final body count seems to show that the worse kind of ruffians will survive when good men and women fall by the wayside.

Maybe there’s a lesson in that, as the Snapcase clan mourned the loss of Barmy Bertram the onlookers were left arguing about some of the events they'd seen. One unexplained one was that as Texas Red pulled her gun she accidentally shot someone who wasn't who she was aiming for, no one was sure who it was? Johnny Vagabond, Unlucky Joe Turner, maybe the Mad Lord can remember but I'm damn sure I can't!

We used a card draw system as described to me on the Lead Adventurers Forum, the idea was to try and build up a bit of tension rather than go straight to dice rolls. This led to The Judge drawing his gun first a good result for him, but we also used an Event Deck devised by me and produced by his Lordship which lead to him being distracted by the pretty girls on the balcony, a bad result for him. 

Once they had gone for their guns we had an event card each turn which led to some of the stranger events taking place, these might have had you scratching your head during my description of the fight and wondering what the hell was going on.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed our sojourn in Little Whiskey, I certainly did.


  1. A interesting and surprising gunfight John, all the extra events made it very interesting to a normal shoot em up.

    1. Hi Dave, good to hear from you, hope you are well. I wanted to try and get 2 games in in 1 day so opted for them starting faced off in the street. Neither of us ran for cover and just duked it out.

      I'm never really happy with most western scenarios where 2 gangs enter an empty town and start shooting, much prefer it when the townsfolk have their 2 cents worth as well.

  2. Wow!! What a labour of love!! Awesome-looking table and minis, plus an excellent AAR. Thanks ever so much for taking the time to post this - it must have taken an eternity to get all the pics & text up. I'm not very familiar with Western gaming, so this was particularly interesting for me so I could see how the rules worked. The card decks seemed to work well too.

    1. Hi Blax I did a much more complex game a few years ago when my 2 wargaming buddies came up here and put a lot of time into creating the town and scenario. Of course we played all day and didn't finish by a long way. :)
      I'm really pleased with the card deck, we made it sort of generic, so there's a card that says Fire and a picture of a flaming building. The last game it was obviously going to be a building catching fire, but this game it was going to be one character opening fire. Martin made the cards and they are superb.

  3. Great looking game. I love the little details like the signs. Seemed like a heck of a lot of events happened.....as expected or the whims of the dice?

    1. Hi Dave, thanks, I wanted lots going on that was outside our control, so I think you could argue that there were too many events, it would be a bit unrealistic in real life. What it meant in game terms was that Martin and I were shooting at each other but various townsfolk also started shooting at a specific gunfighter for a specific reason. It makes it more fun and unpredictable, which is how I like my games.
      Cheers and thanks for chiming in.

  4. What another epic tale from Little Whiskey, a game very befitting for visitors and told i your very unique style. I do wonder though how Joe got the sobriquet "Lucky" as he seemed to be anything but !
    LIttle Whiskey seems to have got a few more advertisments on its walls than I remember!

    1. Hi Joe Hope you are well, sorry I've not got round to checking how you are.

      You're right about Joe but Lucky Joe distinguishes him from Holy Joe Zabadak. You were one of my event cards in this game although the card didn't get turned up. On the last picture of the body count your figure is in the bottom left corner with the white hair and beard, brandishing a cross and double barrelled shotgun. A brilliant figure in my opinion and inspired by your Bog Image.
      No there's nothing new in the town build, I put it all away after the last game, 3 or 4 years ago and this is the first time it's been out since then.

  5. Loved this "Return to Little Whiskey" and all of the action and chaos. What a blast! (so to speak) The ambience shines through in the figures and scenery and your reportage.
    Dave (aka Fitz-Badger)

  6. Hi Dave, it's good to hear from you, 3 Dave's commenting, it sounds like a good hand for a game of Brag, I wonder if it beats 3 three's ;)

    It was good to have the town back on the table and to save time we used it for the next game set 60 or so years later when the Mabel Street Mob tried to raid the bank.
    Thanks for dropping by and letting me know you did.

  7. Blooming 'eck. There's more goes on, in a day, in Little Whiskey than on Emmerdale Farm. And the place has a higher accident rate than that fictional English county of Midsomer. Does the place have a doctor's office? Who'd need to go prospecting, when you could make your fortune patching up people after a good day's shoot out.

    Nicely reported and illustrated post John.

    1. Hi Roy hope you are good, I haven't watched Emmerdale for years, decades even so I'm not surprised that there's more goes on in Little Whiskey. Indeed I would have thought there's more going on in the local cemetary than Emmerdale but what do I know.
      Take care