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Gutshot Hits it Big at Mini-Con

“Colonel’s Daughter Runs off with Yankee Cattle Rustler!
Horrible Gunfight in the Livery Stable and nearby building. Dead men and horses Everywhere! Undertaker will be very busy for the week.”

HOUSTON, Texas -- “I never thought they would shoot the horses. It just never occurred to me that they’d be so cruel,” said Mike Mitchell, co-founder of Hawgleg Publishing, as he scratched his head during the game. “My wife loves horse – she’s gonna be pissed.”

Mitchell, and the Gutshot Posse, were riding high with Midnight Comics for their Memorial Day Weekend Mini Convention. The convention ran Friday through Monday, May 23-26, 2003 at the store's location in West Houston.

Things got bloody as The Colonel opened fire on the horses to prevent his daughter from eloping with that Yankee cattle rustler.

Indeed, as the scenario, “Love and Bullets,” was being played out to a full table of 12 players, (with numerous onlookers and cheerers), once again the Gutshot Posse was shocked, and yet pleasantly surprised, at the ability of the players to out-think the scenario and come up with something “Just plain mean.”


The adventure had very simple premise: The Colonel’s daughter, Missy, was eloping with a Yankee cattle rustler named Billy. who was aided by his gang. The Colonel gathered his men to stop them. Victory conditions were, likewise, very simple: Missy and Billy had to ride out of town, and the Colonel’s men had to stop them. The Colonel then decided to do something so obvious that Mitchell had missed it: he went in and started shooting the horses.

"This is the third time I've run this particular Adventure," he said shaking his head. "And this is the first time anyone's done a pre-emptive strike on the livestock."

The Midnight Comics Mini-Con – held Memorial Day Weekend -- was the first convention play test game that both creator Mike Murphy and co-creator Mike Mitchell had attended together, and with no previous pre-game prepping; they worked like it was very common for them to do this all the time.

“Mike Mitchell and I have not only been best friends for almost 15 years now, we have been gaming partners for that same time. The best part about that is that we both know what we want out of this game, and that is that we both want this to be the best set of Western Miniatures Rules out there.” Murphy said proudly. “I'm pretty dang happy and proud of the way that Mike handled this event.”

Indeed, by the time Mitchell arrived at Midnight Comics at 7:55 p.m. to run the game scheduled for 8 p.m., a small crowd had assembled and waited in anticipation. New players, and former players from the Owlcon play tests waited as the town was set out, and the two teams formed.

“We had 12 players in this game, which is by far the largest Gutshot game I have ever run.” Mitchell said afterward, while Mike Murphy added that this was about the average size of the play tests he had run in Vegas.

“One of the things I really liked watching was just how quickly the players caught onto the rules,” Murphy said.

A group of 12 players gathered around the West Texas Town of Rattlesnake Bend, girding their loins for the carnage to come.

"The simplicity system that Mitchell and I came up with has proven that it works, and works very well. In fact I was overall quite pleased with just how popular the game seems to be in even this rough format that we have. This gives us all the more confidence that our final released product will be well received,” he concluded.

The enthusiasm for – and the overall enjoyment of – the game were evident by the loudness of the cheers from the players and onlookers watching the scenario unfold. “There were moments in the game that the cheering caused the rest of the convention to just ‘go quiet,’ and watch us,” Murphy said, smiling.

With Mitchell acting as Game Marshal, and Murphy pulling the names and assisting with judgment calls on situations, players were soon involved in fast and furious Old West Gunfight Action.

Joe Zaucha reacts in shock as his Character, "Stumpy," gets a nasty case of lead poisoning -- courtesy of a double-barreled shotgun blast.
In the end though, true love won the day, as the Colonel’s loyal sidekick, Stumpy (played by Joe Zaucha), was the first to go meet his maker, (courtesy of a double-barreled sawed-off shotgun), but he was soon followed by the Colonel himself. Quickly in succession, the rest of the Colonel's gang died at the hands of Barnes Brother’s, until only the half breed-bounty hunter, John Gray-Cloud, went down in a blaze of glory.

So in the end, the guy got the gal… the gal got the guy…. the gang went straight… and the little West Texas Town of Rattlesnake Bend was freed of the Colonel’s influence, as the undertaker went about his business.

After the game, Murphy tallied up all of the individual Victory Points and it resulted in a four-way tie! This resulted in a “dice off” and two players tied for the high roles. Matt Jeffers, playing Missy, and Jonathan Kirkland, playing Simon Barnes, went into “sudden death” and settled it “once and fer all” with a Gutshot “showdown” in the streets.

When the smoke cleared, the winner was Jonathan Kirkland who grinned beneath his beard as he accepted his prize of a Gutshot Stainless Steel Coffee Mug.

The mug, as well as T-shirts, hats, mousepads, and other items, are all available at the Gutshot General Store.

Mike Murphy presents the evening's prize to Jonathan Kirkland.

Even after the game was over, many players hung around to talk about how great it was, and how much they enjoyed it.

“In the end, listening to them tell us how much they liked it was what we really liked to hear. It only reinforced our beliefs in our system.” Murphy said with a smile. “I think a lot of games have moved away from the idea of “fun” to the idea of ‘winning.’ This puts gaming back to where it’s fast, easy, and you can have a blast doing it.”

Mitchell agreed, adding “In all, the First Midnight Comics Mini-Con was a huge hit. John Simmons and Joe Zaucha deserve a lot of credit for putting together such a great mini-convention. The venue was great, the organization was amazing… I’m really impressed. We will definitely be back next year.. and probably sooner.”

Posted: May 29, 2003

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Note: The Adventure, "Love and Bullets," will be available for free download from The Lone Star Saloon! This includes all Character descriptions, maps, and information you need to run this game for yourselves! If ya do, take some photos, write it up, and send it in! We'd love to find out how it turns out when you play it!

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