In Desperados, players are card sharpers, highwaymen or bank robbers who want to “earn” what they need to live out the rest of their lives in comfort. Well, most players fall into that category, but one takes the role of marshal and tries to keep the other players honest.
During set-up, a money tile is placed in each bank, a poker tile in each city without a bank, and a stagecoach in a randomly-determined city. Each outlaw starts in a city, and the marshal has both a marshal token and a number of sheriffs equal to the number of outlaws, with these tokens starting wherever the marshal places them.
The game lasts five turns, with five movement cards played by each player in each turn. Each player has an individual hand of movement cards, including a “Saloon” card that allows a player to stay in the same location. The marshal moves the stagecoach, moves each sheriff (or leaves them in place), then the marshal and the outlaws alternate laying five face-down movement cards. If an outlaw wants to take an action in a city – robbing a bank, a card game, or a stagecoach – he must show his location card to the marshal, then place his wooden disk on that location.