The Rummy genre of card games have been around for a long time and has spawned a lot of variants that have created their own twist on the set collection mechanic. As a matter of fact about two weeks ago I looked at Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper which just so happens to have been made by one of the designers of Wyatt Earp, Mike Fitzgerald. With Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper Mike Fitzgerald took what he liked from Wyatt Earp and tried to improve on it. While Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper is a good game, I think the predecessor Wyatt Earp is the superior Rummy game.
How to Play
Place the seven reward posters in a circle in the middle of the table. Place $1,000 on each poster. The cards are shuffled and ten cards are dealt to each player. The rest of the cards form the draw pile with the top card being flipped over to start the discard pile. Each player takes a summary card. The player to the left of the dealer starts the first hand.
A Player’s Turn
A player’s turn consists of three steps:
- Draw a card(s)
- Play a card(s)
- Discard a card
To begin a turn the player must draw a card(s). The player has two choices. The player may draw the top card from the discard pile or they may draw the top two cards from the draw pile.
After drawing cards, the player has the option of playing cards. In Wyatt Earp there are two different types of cards. On a player’s turn they may only play one sheriff card which has a star along the left side of the card. Each sheriff card has a special effect which is described in the Sheriff Cards section below.
The player can also play as many outlaw cards of as many outlaws as they want as long as they follow the rules regarding playing outlaw cards. If there are currently no outlaw cards of a particular outlaw/color in play, the player must play at least three outlaw cards of that outlaw to form a set. If there is already a set for a particular outlaw in play, the player can play as many outlaw cards as they want for that outlaw. When outlaw cards are played the player adds money (from the bank) to the corresponding outlaw poster. $1,000 is added for each outlaw card played minus $1,000. So if three outlaw cards were played, $2,000 ($3,000-$1,000) would be added to the corresponding poster. If only one card was played no money ($1,000-$1,000) would be added to the corresponding poster.
After a player has finished playing cards they must discard one of their cards to the discard pile.
End of Hand and Scoring
A hand can end in one of three ways. The most likely situation is when a player discards the last card from their hand. The game also can end when a player plays the last card in their hand on another player’s turn (use of a Wyatt Earp card to prevent a hideout from being played). Finally the game can end if the players go through the entire deck of cards twice without a player running out of cards.
When a hand ends, scoring takes place. Scoring is done for each outlaw poster and follows this process.
- The players count up the CP (the number in the top left corner) on all of the cards played for the outlaw being scored. If the outlaw has less than 8 CP, all of the money on that card stays on the poster for the next hand. Scoring moves onto the next outlaw.
- If an outlaw has more than 8 CP, players count up their individual CP for that outlaw. If the player with the most CP has at least five more CP than the player with the second most CP, the player with the most CP takes all of the money on the outlaw’s poster. Scoring then moves to the next outlaw.
- If an outlaw has more than 8 CP but the player with the most CP does not have five more CP than the player with the second most CP; the money on the poster will be shared among multiple players. All players within 4 CP of the player with the most CP will share in the money on the poster. The player with the most CP begins by taking $2,000 from the poster. $1,000 is then given to each eligible player (starting with the player with the second most CP) in order based on how much CP they played. If there is still money remaining after ever eligible player has taken $1,000, it loops back to the player with the most CP who takes an additional $1,000 and so on. If two players are tied with the same amount of CP and there is not enough money to pay them both $1,000; neither player gets the remaining money. Scoring then moves onto the next outlaw.
After all of the outlaws have been scored, if the players have enough $1,000 tokens they cash them in for $5,000 tokens. Players count up how much money they have. If a player has at least $25,000, the game ends. The player with the most money wins the game.
If no player has more than $25,000, a new hand is played. The player to the left of the previous dealer becomes the new dealer and they deal ten cards to each player. $1,000 is added to each poster even if there is money already on the poster.
Other than the outlaw cards, there are several sheriff cards that have special effects which are as follows:
Photo: There is one photo card for every outlaw in the game. A photo card can only be played if a set for the corresponding outlaw has already been played (by any player). By playing the photo card, the corresponding outlaw has four more CP and the player adds $1,000 to the outlaw’s poster (from the bank). The photo card is added to any outlaw cards of the same outlaw already played by the player or the photo card will be the start of cards for that outlaw.
Stagecoach Robbery, Bank Robbery, Fastest Gun: These three cards are grouped together since they work similarly. When any of these cards are played, the player flips over the top card of the draw pile. If the card has a bullet hole in it, the effect of the card that was played is applied. If the card does not have a bullet hole the card that was played is discarded and the card’s effect is not applied. When successful all three of these cards can only be applied to outlaws that the player has already played outlaw or photo cards for. When successful the Stagecoach Robbery card adds one CP and $3,000 to the outlaw of the player’s choice. The Bank Robbery card adds two CP and $1,000 to the outlaw of the player’s choice . The Fastest Gun card adds three CP and $1,000 to the outlaw of the player’s choice. Whenever a Fastest Gun card is successfully played it will discard any Fastest Gun cards played out in front of any players.
Most Wanted: With the Most Wanted card the player can choose one of two options. The first option does not require a shot (drawing a card with a bullet hole). With this option the player can ask for a specific outlaw card from the other players’ hands. Starting with the player to their left or right, the player has to give them the outlaw card if they have the one asked for. If they don’t have one the next player is asked and so on. Whenever the player gets a card, the player does not get to ask any other players. If none of the players have the card, the player gets nothing for playing the card. The other option requires the player to draw a bullet card. If they successfully draw a bullet card they can take one outlaw card (adding it to their hand) that another player played out in front of them.
Hideout: When a player plays a hideout card they need to draw a bullet hole card from the draw pile in order for its’ effect to activate. When a bullet hole card is drawn the player chooses another player to play the card against. The card is played against all of the cards of one outlaw played by that player. Those cards no longer add any CP to an outlaw and won’t impact scoring at the end of a round. The hideout stays in place until a Wyatt Earp card is played to remove it (see next paragraph).
Wyatt Earp: A Wyatt Earp card can be played in three different ways. The card can be played to draw the top two cards from the draw pile. The card can also be used to draw a card from the discard pile. The player can choose any card from the discard pile except another Wyatt Earp card and adds it to their hand. If the player takes any sheriff card they can play it immediately. The final way to use a Wyatt Earp card is to remove a hideout card. To play the card in this way though you have to draw a bullet hole card.
As I already mentioned we at Geeky Hobbies recently played Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper. Just like Mystery Rummy, Wyatt Earp is a Rummy style game that tries to add a few more mechanics to the Rummy genre to spice it up. At its’ core Wyatt Earp is a pretty simple and accessible set collection game. I would say the game takes five to ten minutes to learn. Of the two games I would say that Wyatt Earp is easier to learn than Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper since the mechanics are a little easier to grasp for people who have never played the game before. That is the main reason that I think Wyatt Earp is the better game.
While Wyatt Earp and Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper are both games based off of Rummy and thus share quite a few mechanics, the two games actually feel quite a bit differently. In Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper you are playing cards for points as you try to impact who becomes Jack the Ripper. You also might want to get all of the suspect cards played so you can play the Ripper Escapes card and win the hand. In Wyatt Earp you are mostly focused on trying to stay in position to receive rewards from as many outlaws as possible while also trying to squeeze other players out from receiving part of the reward money.
Being a card game there is obviously a lot of luck in Wyatt Earp. If you draw the right cards you have a better chance at winning after all. What I like about Wyatt Earp is that you can make moves no matter what cards you get that can help you earn reward money. While the mechanics are pretty simple there is a surprising amount of strategy in maintaining your position with all of the outlaws. Good card play may not win you the game but it will improve your odds.
Trying to maintain control over the different outlaws is the area I enjoyed most in Wyatt Earp. A lot of the sheriff cards can be played to change who has the majority for a particular outlaw. Getting a majority for a outlaw guarantees you the most money from that outlaw but it is even better to be able to take all of the reward for a given outlaw. This back and forth of trying to stay in the running for a reward while trying to take all of the reward for a different outlaw is where Wyatt Earp shines.
One of the more interesting mechanics in Wyatt Earp is the idea of the bullet hole cards. Most of the sheriff cards in the game require you to draw a bullet hole card in order to play them. I like this idea because the sheriff cards can really help players so having to draw a bullet hole card adds a little risk to playing these cards. This mechanic also makes it harder and harder to play cards that require a bullet hole card the further in a hand you get. Since the only cards that have a bullet hole in them are outlaw cards, as more outlaw cards get played it becomes harder to draw one. This means players are more likely to play game changing cards earlier in a hand rather than at the very end.
For the most part I would say that the cards are pretty balanced. I personally think the photo card is overpowered though. I like the idea of the photo cards but they give you the most CP and are much easier to play than most sheriff cards. If you are able to play a photo card for an outlaw you are very likely to share or claim the whole reward for that outlaw. Most of the sheriff cards require you to draw a bullet hole card to play them limiting their power. The photo card doesn’t require you to though. The only thing preventing a player from playing a photo card is one set of cards has to be played for that outlaw. If no one plays cards for that outlaw you won’t be able to play the photo card. Since sets are played for most outlaws, you will usually be able to play most photo cards. That is why I think the photo cards should either be worth 3 CP or require you to draw a bullet hole card in order to play it.
While I really enjoyed Wyatt Earp, the biggest problem I had with the game is that it is a little on the long side. The game will probably speed up the more you play it but for your first couple of games it takes longer than it should. The game has a suggested length of 45 minutes to an hour but at least for your first couple of games I think it will be closer to 90 minutes unless one player gets quite lucky. If you have a lot of players who suffer from analysis paralysis the game can kind of overstay its welcome.
Like all Rio Grande Games, the components for Wyatt Earp are quite good. The game’s artwork in particular is fantastic. The artwork really adds to the game’s theme.The cards are laid out well since you can always find the information you need. The text on the cards could be a little bigger though since it is quite hard to read at times. Once you are familiar with the game it is not that big of an issue but it can be an issue for people who have never played the game before. The cardboard pieces are quite good since they are made of thick sturdy cardboard.
Overall I enjoyed my time with Wyatt Earp. While the core of the game is a basic set collection game, the new mechanics add enough to the game to reduce some of the luck while adding some interesting strategy to the game. I really liked the mechanic of trying to maintain a majority in different outlaws while trying to wedge out other players so you don’t have to share the reward with them. I also like the mechanics of drawing bullet hole cards. The only complaints I really had with the game are that the photo cards are a little overpowered and the game takes longer than it probably should.
If you don’t really like Rummy/set collection style games I don’t think you will like Wyatt Earp. If you like Rummy though and like the wild west theme I think you will really enjoy Wyatt Earp.
If you would like to purchase Wyatt Earp you can purchase it on Amazon.