A surprisingly realistic game about making money as an actor on the set of a low-budget Western that can be role-played to the hilt by a dedicated gaming group and enjoyed as a casual family game. Slick new presentation after a successful Kickstarter campaign makes this a must-own game from the folks at Cheapass.
|Deadwood Studios USA||Cheapass Games||Board Game|
In The Box
Kickstarter backers will know that they got what they paid for, and those who didn’t get in on the funding will be impressed with the quality of everything contained in the box. The playing area is built from four cardboard sections decorated with some fine art from Phil Foglio, a longtime Cheapass collaborator (Girl Genius: The Works and Brawl: Club Foglio) and great illustrator.
Packed in with the board you’ll find a set of six small ivory dice used for rolls and six larger–and brightly colored–dice representing each player’s movement around the board. You also get a set of cards showing different scenarios in need of actors and cardboard markers for keeping score or tracking actions during each round of play. Every item packed into the box feels like it had lots of quality control and creative direction so Deadwood Studios USA will be a game you’ll happily keep in circulation for a long time.
How It Plays
Making a living as an actor is hard. The backlot of what may be the world’s corniest cowboy flick has some well-paying roles, but you’ll need to hustle and make good decisions if you hope to walk away rich. Players arrive at Deadwood Studios USA completely green and acting for scraps, represented by a single pip showing on each character die. You move around the board picking appropriate roles and eventually have a chance to level-up at the Casting Office. What’s brilliant about the gameplay is that scenes include several roles, forcing players to constantly evaluate strategy. Will you grab cheap work, save up dough, and jump in as a bit player for a windfall on scenes in progress? Or will you trade your money and fame to jockey for better parts, looking for big-budget movies and starring roles?
Neither of these are sustainable for an entire game, just representative of the spectrum of choices you’ll make. Other than reading the set-up for scenes–complete with signature Cheapass humor–that pay homage to a lifetime of cliche Westerns, the basic gameplay is accessible to very young players. Even younger ones (under 10 years) can easily grasp the need to balance risk and reward when deciding whether to literally roll the dice on an impromptu performance, or rehearse a bit and improve the odds.
It’s like a role-playing game about actors boiled down to the part where you shout out cheesy lines on camera, and with none of the boring off-camera bits to worry about. Easy to learn with plenty of variety during replays.
The idea is cool and it’s great even with two players. A good strategy is to save up and skip a level at the Casting Office so you don’t spend too much money.