SNAP Review – Most Wanted
You’re on your way to being an infamous outlaw in the Wild West – but who can become the Most Wanted?
Most Wanted is a game for 2-8 players from North Star Games, designed by Ken Gruhl, Quentin Weir (Happy Salmon), and Dominic Crapuchettes (the Evolution series).
Listen up as Andrew and Anitra share how to become the most infamous outlaw in this fast, easy-to-learn game.
Your goal is to climb the ladder depicted on the scoreboard, representing each character’s notoriety. You’ll go up if you successfully perform robberies or win duels, but you’ll go down if you fail at an action and can’t pay bail.
How to Play
Each player draws 5 cards and places their chosen outlaw next to the scoreboard.
On your turn, pick a single action:
Robbery (Pony Express, Stagecoach, or Train)
If you select a Robbery action, play cards from your hand, face down. (2 for Pony Express, 3 for Stagecoach, 4 for Train)
All other players may also choose to participate in this robbery. Anyone who joins will also play the same number of cards from their hand. Once every player has decided whether they’re in or out, reveal the cards.
The player with the best hand wins the points that correspond to the type of Robbery. If no one else participated, you win automatically! (Incentive for other players to get in there and try their luck!) Anyone who participated in the Robbery but lost must pay Bail. If you cannot afford your bail, you move backwards on the scoreboard.
This sets up a strange dynamic that drives the game: you’re trying to get points, but sometimes you need to stop and make money instead, so you can afford to pay bail when you lose a Robbery or a Duel.
How do you get money? Do some Honest Labor! If you select this action, discard as many face-up cards as you’d like, all the same color. For each card, receive 2 bags of money.
Hate your cards? Go to church and refresh your soul!
If you select Church as your action, you may discard as many cards from your hand as you’d like. Then draw up until you have a hand of 7 cards (instead of the usual 5).
If you’re looking to increase your own notoriety while taking another fellow down a peg, challenge them to a Duel! (We think this is the most fun action.)
If you select Duel, select a player to challenge, then choose a hand size: either 1 or 2 cards. Then both players play a face-down hand. When both are ready, reveal.
The winner gets points equal to the loser’s Bail. The loser must pay Bail if they are able; otherwise they move backwards down the scoreboard.
Determining Winning Hands
The scoring works like poker, but simplified, since hands are 4 cards or fewer. No straights or flushes, just pairs, 3 of a kind, etc.
The complete ranking of possible hands in Most Wanted:
High Card < Pair < 2 Pair < 3 of a Kind < 4 of a Kind.
The cards in Most Wanted only run from 6 (low) through Ace (high). This means that a 6 is always the lowest card.
However, the designers came up with a way around this, called “Double Cross”. If a hand of all Aces is played (yes, a single Ace if you’re playing a single card hand), then a hand of all 6s wins over the hand of all Aces.
Even More to Try
All of this would be enough to keep Most Wanted as a fun party-type game, but you can shake it up with some other actions. Each of the non-robbery actions has an alternate action on the other side of the card.
Saloon changes how you can refresh your hand (more cards, but pay money), Dishonest Labor lets you bluff about which cards you’re discarding – more risk and more reward, and Shootout lets you challenge multiple players to a DUEL at the same time.
I’ve also heard a rumor about wilder adventures even farther west, with new actions that link money to cards, even larger rewards, and actions that call for straights and other poker hands. The Most Wanted Travel Guide introduces new cards and a longer style of play, almost like a campaign, where your band of outlaws travels to different “cities”, each with a different setup of available actions.
There is a lot in this box!
We think Most Wanted captures the feelings you’d have playing a friendly game of poker. However, the stakes for each hand get higher as you climb the “ladder”.
There’s something about a wild west theme that encourages our friend group to make bad impressions and lots of goofing around about duels, “varmints”, tumbleweeds, etc. The theme combines very well with the poker-style hands.
Anitra has noticed that a lot of kids get interested in poker around the ages of 7 or 8. Most Wanted is a simple way to introduce some poker concepts and not worry about bidding or gambling.
The opportunity for mismatched stakes in the duels (some players at 1 or 0 bail while others are at 3 bail) is a great catch-up mechanic, and it makes for fun drama. Wouldn’t you like an opportunity to take down Billy the Kid, especially when you’re a no-name, two-bit thief?
We had a lot of fun with Most Wanted, and would rate it 3½ horseshoes out of 5. The Family Gamers recommends it for any time you’d like a poker-styled game, but especially for a larger group. Find it on Amazon, or ask for it at your local game store.
The Family Gamers received a copy of Most Wanted from North Star Games for this review.
SNAP review music is Magellan, provided courtesy of You Bred Raptors?
Age: 10+ (we say 8+)
Play Time: 15-35 minutes