I don't have time to write a full Forge-style Actual Play report right now, so I'm just posting a raving endorsement here for now.Contenders
I finally got the chance to play it last night. We had a group of three, which turned out to be perfect. We told the story of "Nickels" Malone, "Pimp Jim" McClosky, and "The Hammer" Schlamacher, as their fortunes rose and fell in Desert City. We had a blast.
We played for about 3.5 hours, which got us very close to endgame, but not quite there. We decided to go into endgame anyway, with the scores we had at the time. There were no happy endings, but they were all very cool. I ended up working for a mob-run casino, still unsure if Betty really loved me for me, or for my money.
The game delivers on all fronts. The system fully supports the style of play, the boxing mechanic is easy to learn but has some deeper strategies (and is fun), and it's really easy to get going for a one-shot. I can't say enough good things about the game. I'll probably do a full review soon.
Everyone else: Talk about your Contenders experiences here, if you want. Or ask me questions. I'm in love with this game.