Saddle-Up!--A Double-Take Review of Longhorn


Howdy, y'all! Ahem. I mean, hey everyone! Today we're going to review Longhorn, a 2-player game set in the wild west. You and your opponent will play as two feared outlaws: Eagle Jenkins and Jessie Artist, as you try to steal cattle from the peaceful cowpokes of northern Mexico. A few gold nuggets along the way wouldn't hurt either! So is Longhorn a rootin'-tootin' good time!? Or does it fall flat into a cow pie? Let's find out!

The Components

9 Location tiles--They're double sided, but each side is identical. 

19 Action Tokens--These consist of everything from gold nuggets, which give you extra points at the end of the game, to the Sheriff who arrests you and causes you to lose the game right away!

2 Outlaw Wanted tokens--These just tell you who you are, in case you've forgotten.

1 Outlaw Token--This is a big, red wooden disk. You'll put two stickers on it, one of each of the outlaws.

36 Wooden Cow Meeples (would that make them Mooples?)--There are 9 each of four colors: black, white, orange, and green.

Jeremiah--All of the components are great. I always cringe a little when I have to put a sticker on a component--mostly because I'm afraid I'll totally mess it up and ruin the component. And there were a few cows that seemed to come out of manufacturing with shorter legs than the others. All in all, the game looks great, the artwork is perfect for the setting, and they even threw in a Blue Orange sticker--thanks guys!

Firestone--I didn't notice if I had any stumpy cows. The components are good quality, and I really like the evocative artwork. And that Blue Orange sticker is already on my game bin!


The Setup

Setup is very simple: You randomly place the location tiles in a 3x3 grid, and then randomly place a number of cows on each tile equal to the number value on the tile. Then you randomly place one Action token on each tile--but if the Sheriff token is selected, make sure he goes on Nugget Hill. Choose which outlaw each of you will play, and then toss the disk to see who goes first. If you go first, the other player selects where you start.

Jeremiah--Setup is easy, and quick, we were able to play back-to-back-to-back etc. with almost no down time. It would have been nice to have a little cloth bag to put tokens and cows into so you can randomly pull and place them, but we just used the box lid and held it under the table.

Firestone--Yeah, I was definitely wishing for a cloth bag. But the varying tiles, mooples, and Action tokens means every game will be a little different, and I like that. 


The Gameplay

The turn consists of just a few steps:

Step 1 - Raid! The player whose turn it is raids the tile the player token is on. They do so by taking all of the cattle of one color on the current tile.

Step 2 - Move and Flip! After you've raided, it's time to get outta town,. The active player moves the token the same number of spaces as the number of cows you just stole--but always to a tile with cows on it. Then flip the token over, starting the next player's turn! 

It's that easy...or is it? There's a few things to know. If you steal the last of the cattle on a tile, you activate the special Ability token on that tile. You can only move orthogonally, and you can't return to the same tile on the same movement--no jumping back and forth. If you can't move to a tile that has cattle on it, the game ends and you add up the points. Being forced to activate a tile with the Sheriff Action token means getting arrested and is an automatic loss. Finally, scoring all 9 of one color of cattle is an automatic win!

Once the game end is triggered--provided no one got arrested or scored all 9 of a color--you add up your points, and this is what really drives the strategy of the game.

Points are awarded for each cow in your herd. The value of each one is determined by how many are left on the board--$100 per cow of the same color left in play. So if you have 3 white cattle, and there are 4 left in play, then you score $1200 for your white cattle. The player with the most points is the best outlaw, and therefore wins!

The Verdict

Jeremiah--Uhmmm wow! What a fun little game. I love that it truly is a 10-15 minute filler but is full of give-and-take tactics, and lots of jockeying for position. The theme is great and fun and we really had a great time with this one!

Firestone--I immediately thought of Five Tribes--which isn't surprising since Bruno Cathala designed both games. My 7-year-old had NO interest in playing, but I finally convinced him, and he immediately wanted to play again. And then again. And then the next day. And then teach it to Mom and Son the Elder. He's still trying to work through the strategy, but he's having a blast doing it. 

Jeremiah--Like I said earlier, I would liked maybe a little bag to stuff the components into for random drawing, but at the great price point, Longhorn packs a ton of fun in a small package!

Firestone--My components problem is that the box is just a little too small to fit everything well. You really have to work to get everything to fit and get the box lid to lay flat. But that's a very small thing.

Jeremiah--The scoring mechanism makes this a really tough game to master. There's a great balance between nabbing up certain colors, but trying to leave enough on the board so your cattle are worth something. It makes for a really fun and delicate balance in the game!

Firestone--Yeah, and I like trying to set things up so my opponent doesn't get good stuff. And forcing your opponent to take the Sheriff and lose the game is VERY satisfying (but tough). 

The random setup stuff is good, but that does mean sometimes you'll just have a terrible setup, one where your opponent always ends up with great stuff and you end up with garbage and rattlesnakes. But it really is a 10-minute filler, so you just play again. It happens. 

Jeremiah's Final Verdict--Longhorn is a great, GREAT filler game. We had a lot of fun with it, and the learning curve is super fast! Its only "fault" is that it's two-player only, but if you're looking for a great two-player filler, look no further! Strategic tension, and a lot of fun, are found in this small package!

Firestone's Final Verdict--Longhorn is a great little filler. It's small. It's short. It's got great artwork and components. And it gives you nice decisions to make. This is definitely going in my Blue Orange-stickered gaming bin for a while. 

Theology of Games would like to thank Blue Orange Games for providing review copies of Longhorn. This in no way affected our opinions on the game. 

Have you played Longhorn yet? What did you think? Let us know in the comments. And thanks for reading!