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Subject: On deckbuilding frustrations in Doomtown... rss

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Jeff Blye
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First, let me start off by saying that I enjoy the gameplay of DTR. I think it is a well designed game. I really like the story of the game that has been developing. However, at this point I'm just not sold on the deckbuilding part. Let me explain what I mean.

I have played a ton of card games (collectible and not) over the years. Normally, I really enjoy making, tweaking, and experimenting with decks and combos. I'm a "Johnny" if you are familiar with those categories. Even a game like Netrunner, which wasn't my favorite, had deckbuilding that was very fun. But my deckbuilding experiences in DTR feel more like an exercise in frustration.

I think the point of contention for me is that making decks in DTR is like being a slave to the draw structure. It is too restrictive for my tastes. I think of all these cool (sometimes wacky) combos or deck ideas, sit down to make it only to realize that my deck would require umpteen different values or 2 or 3 of the cards I want are the same value and therefore I can't take them in multiples.

I feel this is further exacerbated by some of the Design choices. For example, one deck I've played around with is based on horses. Right now we have horses on values A, 5, 6, 7, 9, J. Dudes who synergize with horses are values 5, 8, 8, 9, 10, Q. Actions that play off of horses are on 3, 6, 7, 8, 9. Now, I realize a deck won't be able to take all of these cards, but that covers every value except 2, 4, and K! Why so spread out? Why not focus on values around the horses? Why is there no horse with a blasted value of 8?!

Now, I know that decks can be made without sticking to a strict draw structure, but that carries a different type of restriction. There really only seem to be a couple of deck types that work that way. I am beginning to feel that deckbuilding in DTR just doesn't work for a Johnny like me. Am I wrong?
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aragorn543 wrote:


Why is there no horse with a blasted value of 8?!



Cowboys only 8 their horses when desperate...
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Lou Lessing
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It definitely is more restrictive than, say, Magic.

I think it's designed around a bigger card pool. In a year or two we'll have horses on all the numbers.
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David Boeren
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Yes, we are very early in the game so over time there will be more value flexibility.
 
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Robbie M.
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brisingre wrote:
It definitely is more restrictive than, say, Magic.

I think it's designed around a bigger card pool. In a year or two we'll have horses on all the numbers.

That's kind of funny. Hey Jeff, in 2 years you'll be able to make your horse deck.
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Jeff Blye
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therealtheshader wrote:


Cowboys only 8 their horses when desperate...


Have you seen the cows Morgan has been producing around here? I'd say I'm pretty desperate.
 
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Troy Hughes
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aragorn543 wrote:
therealtheshader wrote:


Cowboys only 8 their horses when desperate...


Have you seen the cows Morgan has been producing around here? I'd say I'm pretty desperate.


Nah, they're tasty. Eating one of them beeves gives you a warm glow!
 
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Epimer
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aragorn543 wrote:


I feel this is further exacerbated by some of the Design choices. For example, one deck I've played around with is based on horses. Right now we have horses on values A, 5, 6, 7, 9, J. Dudes who synergize with horses are values 5, 8, 8, 9, 10, Q. Actions that play off of horses are on 3, 6, 7, 8, 9. Now, I realize a deck won't be able to take all of these cards, but that covers every value except 2, 4, and K! Why so spread out? Why not focus on values around the horses? Why is there no horse with a blasted value of 8?!


I think that what you've described there actually results in more interesting deck building decisions.

Imagine a world where all the horsey goods, actions and dudes were dead on three different values. In that world, your decisions for making a horsey deck are effectively made for you: you include all of those innately synergistic cards and, lo and behold, it also sorts out your draw structure. Job done.

That sounds really boring to me. The beauty and the challenge of Doomtown deckbuilding is, to a large extent, having to balance card synergies vs their actual values and, as a result, having to decide how far from your core deck concept to deviate for the sake of your deck structure (or vice versa if you want to include high-impact cards that are outside your chosen values).
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Troy Hughes
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Epimer wrote:
aragorn543 wrote:


I feel this is further exacerbated by some of the Design choices. For example, one deck I've played around with is based on horses. Right now we have horses on values A, 5, 6, 7, 9, J. Dudes who synergize with horses are values 5, 8, 8, 9, 10, Q. Actions that play off of horses are on 3, 6, 7, 8, 9. Now, I realize a deck won't be able to take all of these cards, but that covers every value except 2, 4, and K! Why so spread out? Why not focus on values around the horses? Why is there no horse with a blasted value of 8?!


I think that what you've described there actually results in more interesting deck building decisions.

Imagine a world where all the horsey goods, actions and dudes were dead on three different values. In that world, your decisions for making a horsey deck are effectively made for you: you include all of those innately synergistic cards and, lo and behold, it also sorts out your draw structure. Job done.

That sounds really boring to me. The beauty and the challenge of Doomtown deckbuilding is, to a large extent, having to balance card synergies vs their actual values and, as a result, having to decide how far from your core deck concept to deviate for the sake of your deck structure (or vice versa if you want to include high-impact cards that are outside your chosen values).


Well said! If it was easy, everybody'd be doing it.
 
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roborob wrote:
That's kind of funny. Hey Jeff, in 2 years you'll be able to make your horse deck.


Sure better than when all we had was Fallen Empires and Homelands!
 
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Jeff Blye
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Really, so you think it is more interesting that a great many decks restrict themselves to only the cards contained in three values (barring a few outliers)? You basically pick a couple of cards and then just fill in the remaining with the cards that might work the best in the values you've chosen?

Okay, to each his own. I personally would rather make decks primarily concerned with what the cards do, rather than an extra, outside thing like value.

And, no, I'm not saying it would be better to have all the horse cards on 3 different values. Maybe 5 or 6 would be a good number, but definitely not 10 like we have now. I guess it is just me personally, wanting to make a deck with such and such cards and only being able to include a third of them due to value ends up annoying me, rather than being fun or challenging. I almost never like decks I make because of this.

I'd like to see Design come up with a clever way to help decks with less emphasis on draw structure be able to hold their own in shootouts. Not just avoid them, but have a chance of winning in some way. There are a few cards like this already, but they are too easily countered and too few in number to work well.
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Armand
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Jeff, you are spot on. There's way too much, "It will be good a couple hundred dollars from now".

And yes, it is ridiculous that there is no viable use for all those horse cards in any even remotely competitive meta.

For a 2.0 version there are a lot of things that have clearly not been thought through or adequately playtested.

I think there's much too much emphasis on churning out product and not nearly enough on making a game that will stand the test of time. That is the nature of lcg's, but it doesn't need to be.
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Ricard Lopez
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It's true that pure horse decks are not a thing yet, but why don't you take a look to this deck http://dtdb.co/en/decklist/994/oddities-6-7-8-rope-ride-em-d...-# ?. It's a interesting mix of abominations and horses, not perfect, but fun to play.

I honestly think designers are doing a great job. I haven't seen any other LCG with so many working deck archetypes possibilities. Every faction has at least three. With the cardpool we've got, I'd say it's quite satisfying.
 
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Epimer
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aragorn543 wrote:
Really, so you think it is more interesting that a great many decks restrict themselves to only the cards contained in three values (barring a few outliers)? You basically pick a couple of cards and then just fill in the remaining with the cards that might work the best in the values you've chosen?


No, I don't, and that isn't what I said. This is a bit reductive. Even if Doomtown deckbuilding was restricted to 3x16 structures, that still presents a reasonable level of decision making, i.e. which three values, and which cards within those values. I agree that isn't very interesting, but I think it's important to establish that there is still quite a large decision space within this theoretical, narrow design choice.

But that isn't a limitation in Doomtown, and that itself presents an interesting choice. 3x16 cheats a lot, and cheating punishment is arguably becoming stronger as the game evolves, and hence "3x16 or not" itself becomes an interesting decision from a risk/reward perspective. But this is a bit of a digression.

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Okay, to each his own. I personally would rather make decks primarily concerned with what the cards do, rather than an extra, outside thing like value.


This is a false dichotomy. The challenge is not in choosing card effects or draw structure, it's in balancing the two.

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And, no, I'm not saying it would be better to have all the horse cards on 3 different values. Maybe 5 or 6 would be a good number, but definitely not 10 like we have now. I guess it is just me personally, wanting to make a deck with such and such cards and only being able to include a third of them due to value ends up annoying me, rather than being fun or challenging. I almost never like decks I make because of this.


I also think that considering these things purely from a value perspective is overly reductive. For example, including an off value action card is not the same as including an off value good or deed, because action cards cycle back into your deck in a way that a good or a deed doesn't (once it's been played). This, again, provides interesting decision space when considering how far to deviate from your intial draw structure. This is further emphasised with dudes, where if they're in your starting posse then matters far less if they're on value with e.g. horsey cards.

Coming back to your original issue with horsey decks: there is already a card to help with a spread in values for horse goods in Horse Wranglin', so you don't need to be restricted to the values of the particular horses that you want to include, as you can fetch them at will. In any case, I think that the Oddities deck linked above shows that you actually have a good range of options in the 6, 7, and 8 values already, and it's mostly in action cards, where the value arguably matters the most for the reasons set out above.

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I'd like to see Design come up with a clever way to help decks with less emphasis on draw structure be able to hold their own in shootouts. Not just avoid them, but have a chance of winning in some way. There are a few cards like this already, but they are too easily countered and too few in number to work well.


Well, firstly I think this might be a bit "moon on a stick", but on the other hand I think it's fair to say that there are already clever ways to gain an advantage - if not directly by winning a shootout - that aren't tied to shootout hands. The most obvious one is Landslide decks, but there are also subtler ones.

Mortimer Parsons Legendary Holster decks, for example, intend to use Legendary Holster to eliminate one opposing dude then flee the shootout without comparing hand ranks by making use of Mortimer Parson's trait. I have a Legendary Holster deck that uses Make The Smart Choice to do a similar thing without the influence penalty, and that is a kind of combo deck with Kidnappin' and Make The Smart Choice as a combo (with Make The Smart Choice serving double duty as a means to cheaply get out deeds using the Morgan home ability).

Fourth Ring control decks are similarly less concerned about shootout structure (although they tend to be relatively tight as a consequence of focusing on high values for successful hex pulls anyway) as they aim to control the board state rather than raw shootout muscle. And they also have access to hand rank manipulation in things like Hex Slingin', It's Not Who You Know..., Magical Distraction, Ace in the Hole, etc.

There are rumblings of an Oddities/Nicodemus Whateley/Bunkhouse deck that aims to rush to a first turn victory by snowballing out more control points on the first turn than the opponent can deal with. That's effectively a combo deck where Bunkhouse is a combo piece that synergises with cheap, 0 influence abominations (Pagliccio, The Brute, Bobo) and doesn't card about draw structure. I personally don't think it would ever win a game against anyone who starts a sensible amount of influence, but it's still a thing that exists and is apparently played in some metas.

My (long-winded) point being that there are already ways to build decks that don't care about shootout structures but are more concerned about card abilities, just not in the extreme way that a Landslide deck is. The interactions between cards in those decks are subtler than straight up MTG-style combo wombo decks, but they're still there.
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Troy Hughes
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I like building decks in DT:R. I like playing DT:R.

If you don't, that's fine by me. If you do, let's play a game!

What's the point in another internet discussion of opinions, once it's clear that "you think this way and I think this other way"?

 
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I like discussing opinions of board games. If you don't, that's fine by me, but why are you reading bgg forums?
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David Boeren
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aragorn543 wrote:
I personally would rather make decks primarily concerned with what the cards do, rather than an extra, outside thing like value.


If you're looking for this, there are already many many other card games offering this type of deck building, including some very good ones. As far as I know, only Doomtown and Star Wars do anything else BUT choose each individual card based on what they do.

But to pick the one game that diverges the most from this style of deck design, which should be well-known in advance how it works, and then complain about your choice seems a bit odd. Just take it as "I tried Rocky Road and I didn't like it that much, going back to Vanilla now".
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Jeff Blye
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I'm considering doing just that. The "problem", if you will, is that I like many aspects of the theme, really like the story, and enjoy how the game plays out on the table. I just don't think I like the draw structure thing. Or, at least not how it has been implemented within the various deck archetypes.

I was curious if anyone had a perspective that might change how I look at it, or if anyone else felt the same. Apparently, a few people do, and a few people are more interested in defending it with arguments than having a discussion.
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I definitely agree with your concerns on the issue. I think, currently, too much of the game is decided in the draw structure unless you play one of the few decks that are made not to shoot at all.

I think one of the things that could have helped this out, would be to retrict to 3x a card instead of 4x. That would mean using three values would only take up 36 cards of your deck. It would average the shootout hands slightly lower. It's not something that I've thought through a lot, but after being gunned down enough times by a 1-2 draw 3x16 dude, I feel the same way.
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aermet69 wrote:
I definitely agree with your concerns on the issue. I think, currently, too much of the game is decided in the draw structure unless you play one of the few decks that are made not to shoot at all.

I think one of the things that could have helped this out, would be to retrict to 3x a card instead of 4x. That would mean using three values would only take up 36 cards of your deck. It would average the shootout hands slightly lower. It's not something that I've thought through a lot, but after being gunned down enough times by a 1-2 draw 3x16 dude, I feel the same way.


Play more anti-cheating cards?
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So I didn't read the entire thread, but I just want it to be known that I am currently rocking a very effective and fun Horse deck. It doesn't even include Mechanical Horse OR Clown Carriage/Abominations. It starts the most effective Horse synergy dudes, and is a Straight Flush deck ranging from 3 to 8 in clubs, the only Horse action I decided to leave out was Fresh Horses. It's a great a deck because my mobility and "Ridden Downs" make it hard for people to take my deeds, but at the same time, the longer the game goes, the better it is for me because I am getting the red values out.

It's currently my favorite deck

I can see both sides, how some people would find the restrictions in deckbuilding frustrating. I personally enjoy the restrictions.
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casper jorgensen
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Epimer wrote:
aermet69 wrote:
I definitely agree with your concerns on the issue. I think, currently, too much of the game is decided in the draw structure unless you play one of the few decks that are made not to shoot at all.

I think one of the things that could have helped this out, would be to retrict to 3x a card instead of 4x. That would mean using three values would only take up 36 cards of your deck. It would average the shootout hands slightly lower. It's not something that I've thought through a lot, but after being gunned down enough times by a 1-2 draw 3x16 dude, I feel the same way.


Play more anti-cheating cards?


So the solution to combat retrictive deckbuilding is to restrict it even further, by forcing people to play a lot of anti-cheat cards?

I know what you mean, but it's a really bad solution honestly. I played a tournament a while back when the card pool was smaller with a pretty solid LD stud, Straight Flush deck. It featured 4x Coachwhip and 2x Bottom Dealing. I think dedicating 6 cards is reasonably high. In the game where I needed them, I never saw them.

When I build the Silly Judge deck, I played a whooping 12-14 anti-cheat cards. That seemed to be enough to consistently have one when I needed one. But given that most of these don't have other effects, I just had a clogged hand of anti-cheat if people didn't cheat enough.

The way DTR works, there is a very real chance that you won't get to see a card even if you play 4 copies. I've played Horse decks, where I never got a horse into play the entire game even though I played 6 horses and 4 pullers.
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David Boeren
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Cycling cards is important IMHO. Always discard your one card per turn and include enough cheap/free non-conditional cards that you can play a chunk of your hand if you need to dig for a needed card.

To some extent, the restrictions you're talking about are just "playing the game". You can build a Netrunner deck that has crappy economy and no icebreakers, but it's not gonna win unless you have some extreme tricks t circumvent the regular flow of the game. You can build a Cthulhu or Thrones deck with poor icon strength, but again it's going to struggle unless you've got some alternate way of getting around the normal game structure.

It's the same here. Shootouts are a part of the game, they're in the rules. Every deck has to either be able to shoot, or have a plan of how to not have to like Landslide. Both options take space in your deck. The less well you want to shoot, the more "free" room you have for taking any card you want. It's a tradeoff and should be viewed as such.

One thing that's different between Doomtown and most other card games is the pool size. It's a lot easier to build a whole deck that works around the game's main flow when you have a big pool to draw from. Doomtown doesn't have that yet. In addition, as the pool grows it will become less of an issue as it will be more likely that you can find an on-value card that's similar to the off-value card you really wanted and not have to compromise as much.
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Jeff Blye
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aermet69 wrote:

I think one of the things that could have helped this out, would be to retrict to 3x a card instead of 4x. That would mean using three values would only take up 36 cards of your deck. It would average the shootout hands slightly lower.


That...is a great suggestion for a house rule. Another idea I had was to limit it to 8 cards of any particular number. So, you could have four copies of two different suits of 8, but then none of the other two. That would also lower shootout draw averages.
 
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Jeff Blye
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gmbalbee wrote:
So I didn't read the entire thread, but I just want it to be known that I am currently rocking a very effective and fun Horse deck. It doesn't even include Mechanical Horse OR Clown Carriage/Abominations. It starts the most effective Horse synergy dudes, and is a Straight Flush deck ranging from 3 to 8 in clubs, the only Horse action I decided to leave out was Fresh Horses. It's a great a deck because my mobility and "Ridden Downs" make it hard for people to take my deeds, but at the same time, the longer the game goes, the better it is for me because I am getting the red values out.

It's currently my favorite deck


Do you have a decklist for this? I'm very curious about it.

gmbalbee wrote:
I can see both sides, how some people would find the restrictions in deckbuilding frustrating. I personally enjoy the restrictions.


That's cool if you like it. I'm not out to convince anybody that does that they shouldn't. Just looking for some discussion about it. I'm glad you can see where I'm coming from, though.
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