Last month, I enjoyed playing Card Cowboy, a wee wild west adventure which uses cards to tell silly stories. As you cross the land in search of revenge, you build a hand of cards representing resources and events, which you use to resolve situations—often with strange and surprising results. What does happen if you try to lasso a villain with a mezcal worm? That free version was fun, and now the devs have expanded it into a £2 paid version with new cards, conundrums, and voice acting. It too is fun!
As I explained last time, the destination is less important than the journey:
“Off you go, crossing the map by hitting nodes which are all events. Maybe you join a pocker game which turns sour. Maybe you stumble across a hanging. Maybe you hit a farm and try to woo his son. Maybe you find buried treasure. Your options in these events are dictated by your cards.
“In Card Cowboy, you have hitpoints as a number then everything else is a card. Your horse, items, money, and allies are cards, used by dragging them into the card slots on events. Some cards even represent happenings like a wedding or rodeo. Most cards are consumed when used but you’ll get more to replace them, rolling with the punches. This gets weird mighty fast. Any card can be used in any event, see, and they often have bespoke outcomes to weird situations.
“What happens if you try to evade accusations of cheating in poker by using a baby? What happens if you offer a wedding card to a farmer seeking help? And what can I use this circus card for? At one point, I tried to fight my nemesis by offering him money for his head.”
Half the fun of each 20-minute run is in discovering strange outcomes. Not every situation has a bespoke solution for every card, but plenty oddity awakes. I’ve accidentally robbed people, accidentally caught dysentery, accidentally declared my love for my horse, accidentally formed a large posse composed one oil baron and a load of babies, and more. Even if I don’t win, I’ve enjoyed living the strange final days of my cowboy. And yes, I think it’s funny that the new narration is clearly inserting separate recordings for card nouns into sentences.
I’ve seen plenty of new cards and events in the new version, and look forward to discovering more then combining them. Helpfully, it adds a ‘cardpedia’ tracking which cards you’ve found. The new Steam achievements offer strange challenges and suggestions, too.
Card Cowboy’s expanded version is available from Steam for Windows and Mac. With the 10% launch week discount, it’s only £1.88/€2.15/$2.69. The original game jam version is still available pay-what-you-want (with no minimum) on Itch.io, which I suppose you can treat as a demo.