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Western Legends is the closest board game to Red Dead Redemption I've played, and it's getting a story-driven spin-off

Build up a town, Deadwood-style, with “permanent” changes based on your decisions.

Image credit: Kolossal Games

Western Legends is one of my favourite open-world board games, throwing players into a Wild West sandbox where they’re free to explore and earn fame - or infamy - however they like. You could become a revered bounty hunter, a feared cattle-rustling outlaw, a money-making gold prospector or even a poker star - or a mix of all of these and more.

The freedom and variety of Western Legends makes it the closest thing I’ve ever played to a Red Dead Redemption board game, with a simple yet entertaining morality system that means players on the side of the law can hunt down their rivals who decide to rack up a wanted level and a novel use of poker cards to both resolve shootouts and let you kick back and play cards in the saloon if you prefer.

Compared to Rockstar’s epic rootin’ and shootin’ video game and its sequel, Western Legends is a good bit more breezy - playing in under two hours - but it’s a still a rip-roaring tour through all the Wild West tropes you’d hope for. (While avoiding many of those best left in the 19th century.)

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Since designer Hervé Lemaître’s board game hits tables in 2018, it’s been followed by a number of expansions, adding new faces to its roster of playable historical figures - from Bass Reeves to Annie Oakley - and rules for the likes of travelling merchants, the chance to own properties and even a train to be heisted by the brave.

Now, Lemaître and publisher Kolossal Games are following up the original Western Legends with a new standalone spin-off that looks to put more of a focus on its storytelling elements.

Western Legends Stories applies the open-world gameplay of its predecessor to a campaign told over six episodic scenarios, similar to other campaign-based legacy games such as Gloomhaven or Pandemic Legacy.

The campaign centres on an up-and-coming town on the American frontier, which players will build up from a small trading post to a bustling hub, Deadwood-style, as they play through each chapter. The campaign will seemingly follow a number of the settlement’s inhabitants, with players’ characters able to newly interact with NPCs and influence the town’s development throughout the story. The game will play with between two and five players, with each session expected to last between 90 minutes and three hours - so expect to finish the whole campaign in around 10 to 20 hours overall based on that.

Image credit: Kolossal Games

As well as the familiar wanted system, duels, robberies and mining found in Western Legends, Stories will introduce fresh mechanics for hunting and buildings, with Kolossal saying that - as with other legacy games - some of the players’ decisions during their adventures will result in “permanent” changes to the town and its surrounding landscape. (A teaser image shows a map spanning from snowy mountains to rivers and plains.) Exactly how permanent those changes will be, we’ll find out.

That’s about all we know for now, but I’m personally excited to see a full follow-up to Western Legends that seems to be playing with some ambitious ideas. We should hear more ahead of a planned Kickstarter campaign in Q3 this year, with a release expected in 2025.

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