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Subject: Tell me where we're going wrong rss

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David Boeren
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I've been working on teaching Doomtown to some of the other local players and tonight we had some games that didn't work very well. My assumption is that it's bad play that led to this result but I want to be able to explain exactly WHY the plays were bad and what could have been done instead in order to try to rescue interest in the game.

The main pattern went like this:

He was playing Sweetrock (original). He started with Mick Caples, Robert Northrop, and some other inconsequential guys. I think he had about 8 gold rock left.

Turn 1 he plays Ninth Circle Mine (costs 5, produces 3), pulls with Mick, and moves Robert Northrop there to set himself up to earn tons of money.


I'm playing Whateleys (original). I start with Jack Brash, Silas Peacock, Jebediah Whateley, and Astoreth Whateley. I move my guys up into Town Square, move Jack to his mine, and call him out.

He accepts and puts all his guys in his posse. I have a 2-stud and some draw, he has only draw, so I win by 5 ranks and take out his guys. At sundown I have 1 control from his mine and he has no Dudes so I win.

Next game is almost the same except he puts in Big Jake & Scooter to have a better shooter (still just a 3-draw though). He plays a 5/+3 deed on the first turn, we move up and shoot him to heck, and he concedes.

So here's what I think went wrong, hoping that a more experienced player can confirm and/or add to this.

1. Starting dudes may have been bad. He could use a Stud, the deck had Jim Macneil, Austin Stoker, Walkin' Dead. The first two are pretty pricy but he could have afforded Walkin' Dead. He could maybe have used more Influence in his starting dudes too.

2. Playing a Deed that uses so much of your cash and has a control point (making it vulnerable) when you can't defend it yet seems like a bad play to me. Should have put out a smaller deed, or held off and used that money to put in Dudes instead until you CAN defend it. Alternately, if you had more Influence in the starting dudes then 1 Control wouldn't be so much of a vulnerability.

3. Accepting the shootout when the game is on the line if you lose and your guys are worse shooters was a poor choice. He could have booted home and his control would have kept him from losing the game.

4. In addition, if he he just let me occupy his deed then that ties up some of my dudes that aren't really gaining me anything other than shutting down his stuff. i.e. - it's probably not as bad as it looks. He might be able to pick on my other guys or just keep playing more deeds - we can't be everywhere and soon there will be enough deeds that it boots me to move between them.

So, that's my take. What would you (the experienced player) have done differently?

Is there a good way to punish premature aggression? What do you do with your guys if you know they're probably going to go home booted if they go to your first deed? Wait for your opponent to invade and then counter by moving into Town Square? Sit at home?
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Eric Jome
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What's going wrong? Seems to me like a lot.

dboeren wrote:
I move my guys up into Town Square, move Jack to his mine, and call him out.


You know you can't call someone out if you're booted, right? Jack is one of only 2 or 3 guys in the game with a broken ability to, with no ability to react, move AND call someone out. So, even if you played it right and no booted dude called out another dude, you still sucker punched a person new to the game. You should be telling people how Jack works so they know they will get called out by him. Better would be not to play Jack, a badly designed card on a good day. I mean, you could just play Lode Camper, Los Ojos, or Landslide and really dominate play too... but why? Why aren't you playing to have fun with the game instead? Why not teach the game instead of play cutthroat with new players? Of course they're gonna hate it if you first turn kill them because they don't know how a card in play works.

Quote:
He accepts and puts all his guys in his posse.


If it was Jack calling him out, he was booted and can't refuse. But when you say "accepts" it makes me wonder if you played it right. Also, why would someone posse up if they were going to get slaughtered? After all...

Quote:
I have a 2-stud and some draw, he has only draw...


This is a situation where he loses, especially if his deck cannot shoot first turn. You should tell him he's going to lose the fight. You should tell him about Jack so he doesn't boot there in the first place. If you don't, you should tell him how he's going to lose if he posses up. That's teaching and learning.

Look. On turn one, with any deck, you could both march all your dudes to town square and blow each other away. Why don't you? Because you might lose. No appreciation of how the game is won or lost means no ability to play it right. Don't go all in on the first turn. Don't go all in unless you are sure you can win.

Quote:
Next game is almost the same except he puts in Big Jake & Scooter to have a better shooter (still just a 3-draw though).


Draw dudes cannot shoot. At all. Ever. Draw dudes fail at shootouts. A 10 draw posse will lose to a 2 stud posse. Draw is what you force on another player with Out of Ammo to make them lose. You should tell your friend that - no shooting with Draws.

Zeke Hillard. Abel Owens. Billy No-neck. Montana Holland. Mad Dog Campbell. Hoodoo. Cain Regen. Lots of dudes for Sweetrock to play to get a stud to start.

Also, did you say had 8 rock left? Or 8 rock after upkeep? You should be spending almost all your starting rock, especially as Sweetrock as you should win every lowball. No upkeep. 6+ influence. 2 or so left over... here;

http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/294184/choosing-starting-dud...

Quote:
Starting dudes may have been bad. He could use a Stud, the deck had Jim Macneil, Austin Stoker, Walkin' Dead.


Those are all bad and all not starters. Sweetrock normal starters are;

Adrian Townsend
Max Baine
Mick Caples
Sandra Harris
Byron St. James
Mortimer Jones
Abel Owens
Cain Regen
Cassidy Greene
Charlie Landers (exp or inexp)
Mr. Bones
Mad Dog Campbell

More if you're willing to do 1 upkeep.

Quote:
Playing a Deed that uses so much of your cash and has a control point (making it vulnerable) when you can't defend it yet seems like a bad play to me.


Not really. Play it. Just don't defend it. Next turn, play another. Then another. As you have 6+ influence in your starting posse, 3 or 4 control in play is no problem. After all, you won't be shooting out, that's not Sweetrock. Too many deeds means the opponent cannot block and defend them all.

Remember, you get nothing from deeds you control but don't own. Just a control point. No income.

Quote:
Alternately, if you had more Influence in the starting dudes then 1 Control wouldn't be so much of a vulnerability.


Egads. You should have 6+ with Sweetrock. And you should not be shooting out if you don't know if you can win.

Quote:
Accepting the shootout when the game is on the line if you lose and your guys are worse shooters was a poor choice.


Quite!

Quote:
In addition, if he he just let me occupy his deed then that ties up some of my dudes that aren't really gaining me anything other than shutting down his stuff.


Exactly!

Quote:
Is there a good way to punish premature aggression?


Losing isn't enough to inspire a change of tactics? I'm not sure what else would send a clearer message. "This move lost me the game" should mean "okay, don't make that move".

Quote:
What do you do with your guys if you know they're probably going to go home booted if they go to your first deed?


I play Rumors on them. And Nyctophobia. And they lose.

Or I pass and play another next turn. And another the turn after.

Quote:
Sit at home?


Where it is safe. And I live. And I build up. And eventually win.
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Eric Jome
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http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1125248/games-ending-too-soo...
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David Boeren
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We're all newbies who don't know the rules well, so it's quite possible that in addition to tactical mistakes we're also making rules mistakes. Before last night I think I've played a total of 2-3 games, not counting playing against myself at home to learn the rules.

Also, before these two games I lost against him playing Sioux Union against the same Sweetrock deck when Eagle Rock was killed in a shootout by his Stud guys in what I wrote off as just real bad luck. My intent in that game was just to move onto his deed and play Claim Jumper but then he moved more influence in so I thought I'd remove some influence that way... This lucky shootout victory may have influenced him to believe that he could do it again.

I should also mention that we're using the Reloaded rules with the old cards (and have replaced all Events and any cards that mention the Fear Level).


cosine wrote:
dboeren wrote:
I move my guys up into Town Square, move Jack to his mine, and call him out.


You know you can't call someone out if you're booted, right? Jack is one of only 2 or 3 guys in the game with a broken ability to, with no ability to react, move AND call someone out. So, even if you played it right and no booted dude called out another dude, you still sucker punched a person new to the game. You should be telling people how Jack works so they know they will get called out by him. Better would be not to play Jack, a badly designed card on a good day. I mean, you could just play Lode Camper, Los Ojos, or Landslide and really dominate play too... but why? Why aren't you playing to have fun with the game instead? Why not teach the game instead of play cutthroat with new players? Of course they're gonna hate it if you first turn kill them because they don't know how a card in play works.


In the Movin' rules it says that a dude can move from their home to Town Square without booting. Then it says that a dude can move from the Town Square to an in-town deed without booting. ergo, in two moves you can get from your home to any in-town deed without booting. I move once, then I move again. Is this not correct?

I didn't use any special ability on Jack Brash, for my purposes he was just some guy with Stud. My collection is fairly small (bought a box of cards off a BGG'er) and he was chosen purely on being a low-priced Stud for the deck. If he's considered a broken card though, I'll replace him. Honestly, I thought I *was* playing to have fun with the game, and I figured not having some sort of starting Stud would be hamstringing myself with a non-stay-at-home deck. Also, I'm not sure how he can do what you say, the ability on his card says "Shootout: Boot Jack to target a Stud Dude in the opposing posse. The Dude becomes a Draw until the end of the shootout." I don't see anything about moving and calling out or being unavoidable.


cosine wrote:
Quote:
He accepts and puts all his guys in his posse.


If it was Jack calling him out, he was booted and can't refuse. But when you say "accepts" it makes me wonder if you played it right. Also, why would someone posse up if they were going to get slaughtered? After all...


I believe his thinking was that his strike was valuable (and doubled) so that he wanted to defend it at all costs. Lack of experience.


cosine wrote:
Quote:
I have a 2-stud and some draw, he has only draw...


This is a situation where he loses, especially if his deck cannot shoot first turn. You should tell him he's going to lose the fight. You should tell him about Jack so he doesn't boot there in the first place. If you don't, you should tell him how he's going to lose if he posses up. That's teaching and learning.

Look. On turn one, with any deck, you could both march all your dudes to town square and blow each other away. Why don't you? Because you might lose. No appreciation of how the game is won or lost means no ability to play it right. Don't go all in on the first turn. Don't go all in unless you are sure you can win.


Agreed. A few games ago when I started I thought as him that a big Draw number was worth something in a fight but over time that hasn't proven to work out very well Well, not unless you have a card that converts him to a Stud anyway.


cosine wrote:
Quote:
Next game is almost the same except he puts in Big Jake & Scooter to have a better shooter (still just a 3-draw though).


Draw dudes cannot shoot. At all. Ever. Draw dudes fail at shootouts. A 10 draw posse will lose to a 2 stud posse. Draw is what you force on another player with Out of Ammo to make them lose. You should tell your friend that - no shooting with Draws.

Zeke Hillard. Abel Owens. Billy No-neck. Montana Holland. Mad Dog Campbell. Hoodoo. Cain Regen. Lots of dudes for Sweetrock to play to get a stud to start.


I'll take a look and see if I can tune up the deck's Dude selection.


cosine wrote:
Also, did you say had 8 rock left? Or 8 rock after upkeep? You should be spending almost all your starting rock, especially as Sweetrock as you should win every lowball. No upkeep. 6+ influence. 2 or so left over...


Yes, I believe he had 8 out of his starting 20 ghost rock left after paying for his starting dudes the first Whatleys game. A bit less the second one. Presumably the remainder was intended to be used to play some Deeds on the first turn. On my side I kept I think 4 ghost rock for the same purpose. And yes, he did win lowball every single turn of all 3 games.


cosine wrote:
Quote:
Starting dudes may have been bad. He could use a Stud, the deck had Jim Macneil, Austin Stoker, Walkin' Dead.


Those are all bad and all not starters. Sweetrock normal starters are;

Adrian Townsend
Max Baine
Mick Caples
Sandra Harris
Byron St. James
Mortimer Jones
Abel Owens
Cain Regen
Cassidy Greene
Charlie Landers (exp or inexp)
Mr. Bones
Mad Dog Campbell

More if you're willing to do 1 upkeep.


I'll see how many of these I have copies of and work on the deck. I'm certain I've seen at least some of those names. Max Baine, Mick Caples, and Sandra Harris are already in the deck, and I know I have some version of Charlie Landers.


cosine wrote:
Quote:
Playing a Deed that uses so much of your cash and has a control point (making it vulnerable) when you can't defend it yet seems like a bad play to me.


Not really. Play it. Just don't defend it. Next turn, play another. Then another. As you have 6+ influence in your starting posse, 3 or 4 control in play is no problem. After all, you won't be shooting out, that's not Sweetrock. Too many deeds means the opponent cannot block and defend them all.

Remember, you get nothing from deeds you control but don't own. Just a control point. No income.


OK, good to know that's not actually an error. You don't get income from a Deed you don't play either after all.


cosine wrote:
Quote:
Alternately, if you had more Influence in the starting dudes then 1 Control wouldn't be so much of a vulnerability.


Egads. You should have 6+ with Sweetrock. And you should not be shooting out if you don't know if you can win.


So, bad selection of starting dudes and/or poor dudes in the deck. Something else I will do is make a list for each deck of the "recommended" starting dudes to help avoid this problem.


cosine wrote:
Quote:
Accepting the shootout when the game is on the line if you lose and your guys are worse shooters was a poor choice.


Quite!

Quote:
In addition, if he he just let me occupy his deed then that ties up some of my dudes that aren't really gaining me anything other than shutting down his stuff.


Exactly!

Quote:
Is there a good way to punish premature aggression?


Losing isn't enough to inspire a change of tactics? I'm not sure what else would send a clearer message. "This move lost me the game" should mean "okay, don't make that move".

Quote:
What do you do with your guys if you know they're probably going to go home booted if they go to your first deed?


I play Rumors on them. And Nyctophobia. And they lose.

Or I pass and play another next turn. And another the turn after.

Quote:
Sit at home?


Where it is safe. And I live. And I build up. And eventually win.


I will pass on all of this advice. I know I've got copies of Rumors, will look for Nyctophobia.

Thanks for taking the time to help us out, it's much appreciated and hopefully things will go better for next week's games.
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Eric Jome
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dboeren wrote:
This lucky shootout victory may have influenced him to believe that he could do it again.


And thus is described the history and success of the casino.

Quote:
I should also mention that we're using the Reloaded rules with the old cards (and have replaced all Events and any cards that mention the Fear Level).


Well, it'll be a bit awkward. But it should go okay. I wouldn't revise actual card text personally. Maybe just the deck construction and casualty rules will be sufficient for an image of Reloaded.

Quote:
In the Movin' rules it says that a dude can move from their home to Town Square without booting. Then it says that a dude can move from the Town Square to an in-town deed without booting. ergo, in two moves you can get from your home to any in-town deed without booting. I move once, then I move again. Is this not correct?


True! But a 5/3 strike is not in town. All strikes are out of town. You must boot to go there.

Quote:
Jack Brash


My mistake. Confused with Jack Whateley;

Jack Whateley, Seven of Spades, Whateley faction
Cost 8, Upkeep 1
0 Stud, 2 Influence
Reaction: Boot Jack immediately before Nightfall to target another player's Dude who is alone at an in-town location. Jack moves to that location and calls the Dude out to a shootout that cannot be refused. Jack gains a +2 Bullet bonus until after Nightfall.

He's "Jack The Ripper"... please disregard thoughts about this card above.

Quote:
If he's considered a broken card though, I'll replace him.


Jack Brash is a fine card. It was my misunderstanding.

Quote:
I believe his thinking was that his strike was valuable (and doubled) so that he wanted to defend it at all costs.


Cost turned out to be pretty high, though, eh? Lost game. Worth one turns income to risk losing the game?

Quote:
A few games ago when I started I thought as him that a big Draw number was worth something in a fight but over time that hasn't proven to work out very well.


You know, in Reloaded, I wouldn't be surprised to see an effort to make Draw dudes more than chaff in a shootout.

Quote:
Max Baine, Mick Caples, and Sandra Harris are already in the deck, and I know I have some version of Charlie Landers.


Solid! You could always post a deck list if you want.

Quote:
You don't get income from a Deed you don't play either after all.


True! Only Landed Rats gets that. And whoever controls the Fickle Fortune Strike. It's a card game... exceptions abound. But generally, you have to own it to collect on it.

Quote:
Something else I will do is make a list for each deck of the "recommended" starting dudes to help avoid this problem.


Bravo!
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cosine wrote:
Quote:
I should also mention that we're using the Reloaded rules with the old cards (and have replaced all Events and any cards that mention the Fear Level).


Well, it'll be a bit awkward. But it should go okay. I wouldn't revise actual card text personally. Maybe just the deck construction and casualty rules will be sufficient for an image of Reloaded.


All we've done so far is remove the Events I think. I don't think I actually found any cards based on the Fear level but I did try to scan for them. No text has changed, and I've confirmed that the decks follow the Reloaded rules of no more than 4x of each suit/value combo. It's just temporary until the new game comes out so I can put up with some short term awkwardness.


cosine wrote:
Quote:
In the Movin' rules it says that a dude can move from their home to Town Square without booting. Then it says that a dude can move from the Town Square to an in-town deed without booting. ergo, in two moves you can get from your home to any in-town deed without booting. I move once, then I move again. Is this not correct?


True! But a 5/3 strike is not in town. All strikes are out of town. You must boot to go there.


Aha! OK, that makes sense with two caveats:
1. It could have been a non-Strike deed and the same situation would occur
2. In the Reloaded rules it has to say "Out of Town" to qualify. Strikes were an implied "Out of Town" only in the old rules. So, that's probably how we missed it although now that you mention it I do recall having seen something of that sort in the old rules before.


cosine wrote:
Quote:
Jack Brash


My mistake. Confused with Jack Whateley; Jack Brash is a fine card. It was my misunderstanding.


No problem.


cosine wrote:
Quote:
I believe his thinking was that his strike was valuable (and doubled) so that he wanted to defend it at all costs.


Cost turned out to be pretty high, though, eh? Lost game. Worth one turns income to risk losing the game?


I will need to make sure everyone gets this message. I think it's the hidden part of the draw that obscures certain death. If we're playing a game of Call of Cthulhu for instance, everyone can clearly see that the other guy has more Combat icons than you and you're definitely going to lose a fight. Here, you can never be 100% sure, and poker with redraws and possibly shootout actions as well is a complex enough subject that without experience it's hard to make a good mental estimate of your chances. Anything sufficiently unknown probably degenerates to 50:50


cosine wrote:
Quote:
A few games ago when I started I thought as him that a big Draw number was worth something in a fight but over time that hasn't proven to work out very well.


You know, in Reloaded, I wouldn't be surprised to see an effort to make Draw dudes more than chaff in a shootout.


That would be a good thing, I hope you're right, at least for the higher-numbered ones. A draw-0 should still suck because we need to represent things like schoolmarms and telegraph operators and clerks too. I sent some draws along with Jack Brash just to add a few redraws after the initial draw but there's no question the Stud is doing the heavy lifting.


cosine wrote:
Quote:
Max Baine, Mick Caples, and Sandra Harris are already in the deck, and I know I have some version of Charlie Landers.


Solid! You could always post a deck list if you want.


I believe I will do just that. I've got multiple decks that are going to need reworking and it will take some time, especially since I will need to "negotiate" for them to split up popular card values to ensure everyone gets to put some 4x4's in their deck for a reasonable shooting structure. So, it won't be up tomorrow but once I've got something I'll post all six decks and let the veterans take a gander. I'm going to be out of town this weekend so probably I will work on them next week.


cosine wrote:
Quote:
You don't get income from a Deed you don't play either after all.


True! Only Landed Rats gets that. And whoever controls the Fickle Fortune Strike. It's a card game... exceptions abound. But generally, you have to own it to collect on it.


I had actually meant "you don't get income from a deed that remains unplayed in your hand" but good point. Also Claim Jumper. But playing the deed will either give you income OR tie up enemy dudes, plus getting it out of your hand will let you draw an additional card and cycle your deck faster. So whatever happens you're getting some sort of benefits out of it.


cosine wrote:
Quote:
Something else I will do is make a list for each deck of the "recommended" starting dudes to help avoid this problem.


Bravo!


These will be posted along with the deck lists mentioned above.
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dboeren wrote:
It could have been a non-Strike deed and the same situation would occur.


True. But you'd be unbooted at an in town deed. When you were called out, you could decline and go home booted instead. And an out of town deed you could both boot to ... maybe no shootout this turn, but the person with more influence there will have control. And that's usually Sweetrock. Which means next turn, they collect. You call them out and they run home... and play another deed.

This is the game. Moving among deeds. Competing for control. Splitting gangs and looking for the shootouts you can force and win while dodging those you'll lose.
 
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Also, while shootouts are sexy fun, Doomtown at it's heart is an economic (or at least resource management) game. Very little worthwhile is free - you need GR to pay for the toys.

That said, to me that is where Reloaded has changed the math the most. You rarely start the game in a comfortable spot - e.g. dudes have upkeep, you don't have enough production, you have to start out w/o being able to defend. In some ways, I think the new drifters will grasp Reloaded faster than the grizzled vets - it really is 'new town, new rules, new math'.

For playing classic now, if the newbies 'get' movement, basics of shootout resolution, and the very bare outlines of 'CP > INF' For the Win, it'll be good practice for Reloaded.
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davido wrote:
For playing classic now, if the newbies 'get' movement, basics of shootout resolution, and the very bare outlines of 'CP > INF' For the Win, it'll be good practice for Reloaded.


I couldn't agree more. Rather than try to shoehorn the old game into the new, just play the old one. Maybe use the new bounty and casualty rules as they are easy to bolt on, but don't bother trying to move to the new economy or new balance.
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