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Subject: Everything that sucks about... Doomtown: Reloaded rss

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Christian Heckmann
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Everything that sucks about...



Doomtown: Reloaded



To read up on the concept of and motivation behind this review series, check up on the first review I posted under the „Everything that sucks about...“-banner.


What is it about?

„Doomtown: Reloaded“ is a collectible card game set in the Deadlands-RPG-universe. It plays two to four players, takes a half to two hour and incorporates mechanics like hand management, area control and betting.


Everything that sucks about it:

- „Doomtown: Reloaded“ in itself is more free-form than any other CCG I've played. That's great and all, because you can pursue very different strategies, but it's also quite daunting for new players. While other games give you a rather strict path to victory, „Doomtown: Reloaded“ just tells you what you need to accomplish by the end of a round, gives you a pat on the back and sets you loose. There's no real sense of stakes for anyone playing the game for the first few times, so there's a very steep learning curve here and it usually takes a few nosedives before you start to develop a feel for the reading of game situations and a general idea of what you'll be doing to play efficiently.

- Not only is it that the intricacies of „Doomtown: Reloaded“ are pretty tough to wrap your head around, but it's also the complexity of the most basic rules that can scare you away from the game. Good thing they added that tutorial to the game. Bad thing that it only works with the pre-constructed decks, so if you want to play said tutorial with different people, you'll need to reconstruct those decks every single time.

- Luck of the draw, not only concerning the poker hands but also your playing hands for a turn, can lead to the game going of the rails from time to time. I've seen rather experienced players giving in to that „Jon Longstride enters the town square“ - „Well, I guess Steele Archer comes to the town square as well“ - „Oh yeah? Well, than look who's accompanying Jon“ downward-spiral that tends to end the game with a giant shootout during the first turn, because there was just nothing else to do.

- An overseeable game of „Doomtown: Reloaded“ can be quite a table hog. Yeah, you can cram everything into lesser space, but then the game tends to get confusing, with special abilities getting covered up, possession of items, position of dudes and compositions of posses getting unclear, bounties sliding around, etc.

- Having a fine-tuned deck but always drawing badly for the given situation can be disheartening. Especially true for the Fourth Ring. Hucksters without Hexes aren't that great. Also there are few things that are more frustrating than seeing the exact cards that could have helped you at the moment being discarded in a shootout.

- Also, shootouts are so damn fun that it's a shame the repercussions are so harsh. I know, it's an intrinsic part of the game, but yeah, it'd be great to be able to blast away without being afraid to hand your opponent the game.

- Player aids would have been great. The town-boards that are provided are a neat idea but contain very limited information and tend to worsen the space problem. At least they started to supply hand-rank-overviews with every single expansion, but for example high-noon-action-overviews would help the flow of the game greatly.

- I guess that's an age-old CCG-problem, but there are some cards which are clearly more useful than others.

- Games can span a wide variety of lengths. I've seen games finish in twenty minutes. I've seen games take two hours. This unpredictability turns the game into one that you don't just whip out on a whim if there's half an hour to kill.


Things that especially suck not:

- Well, pretty much anything else. But if I had to point to a single thing, it's the Ghostly Gun. Not the most useful dude, but man, that guy looks awesome.


What I think:

Let me make one thing clear: I love, I absolutely adore „Doomtown: Reloaded“. It was the theme that drew me in, because I have always had a thing for western themes mixed with the supernatural, but I've never really been a fan of collectible games. I can't say that „Doomtown: Reloaded“ changed that general sentiment, but nevertheless I've been snatching up every single expansion to this game as quickly as possible. And I don't even have a regular gaming partner for this. Which isn't that crippling. If you taught the game a few times, you'll get the hang of how to familiarize people with it. And the preconstructed decks aren't half bad. But the game itself... Wow, the city building aspect, coupled with the kind of squadbased skirmishing, the various strategies, the bluffing, the freeform playstyle... I've seen someone describe it as a mixture between the bluffing and risk-calculation of „Poker“ with the tactical movement of „Chess“. With theme and flavor and friggin' supernatural cowboys slinging hexes at abominations. I'm rambling here, right? So to encapsulate everything: „Doomtown: Reloaded“ is a great, great game, transcending the usual bounds of abstraction that most other card games succumb to. It's tough to learn and teach and not every single game of it will be great, but when it all comes together, it works so immensely well that I can't help but wholeheartedly admire the game, despite everything that sucks about it.


If you liked what you read, check out and subscribe to my „Everything that sucks“-geeklist to be notified about new reviews.
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So it goes.
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Shillington
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"I've seen rather experienced players giving in to that „Jon Longstride enters the town square“ - „Well, I guess Steele Archer comes to the town square as well“ - „Oh yeah? Well, than look who's accompanying Jon“ downward-spiral that tends to end the game with a giant shootout during the first turn, because there was just nothing else to do."

I wouldn't call those people "rather experienced players." If there's nothing else to do you pass, you don't go picking fights just for the sake of doing something. Also, the previous version of the game from the 90s was a collectible card game, but Doomtown: Reloaded is a living card game with no collectible aspect whatsoever. Otherwise nice review!

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David Boeren
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Interesting approach for a review. Some parts I agree with, others less so.

Free-form and unclear what to do if you're a beginner:
Absolutely true, the big learning curve is one of the biggest issues in building a community and it's MUCH better to learn from an experienced player than to try to learn yourself for this reason, they can coach you through what you ought to be doing and watching for.

Complex rules:
I guess it depends on what you're comparing to. Being a veteran of many LCGs it didn't stand out too much to me. I can say that the two big points beginners seem to get hung up on are the movement rules and how to calculate your shootout bullets. The playmat seems to help a little with movement, plus I suggest that you always point out WHY there is an exception for moving to your own home from Town Square (to avoid an endless loop).

Luck of the draw:
It's got the normal card game luck because it's made of cards. Shootouts have some added luck, this is minimized in a properly made deck but I agree it's pretty bad in the core decks. I hate using those because it gives a very misleading impression of what the game is like. Another stumbling block to new player acquisition.

"I've seen rather experienced players giving in to that":
This one I disagree with. What you're describing is a thing that beginners do, rarely experienced players unless it's a special situation like "we're out of time, let's just finish this game with a bang".


Finally, I would slightly disagree with you on The Ghostly Gun. He's not great but he isn't that bad. You're getting a shooter, good influence, and an escape hatch special ability. He's slightly costly, but it's because he can do several different things. Cards that do exactly one thing are cheaper and easier to use though and it's easy to be unsure about his special ability so I think he gets a bit of a bad rep. I will agree that he was a little better early on when 4th Ring struggled more for influence.
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Christian Heckmann
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troybowers wrote:
I wouldn't call those people "rather experienced players." If there's nothing else to do you pass, you don't go picking fights just for the sake of doing something. Also, the previous version of the game from the 90s was a collectible card game, but Doomtown: Reloaded is a living card game with no collectible aspect whatsoever. Otherwise nice review!

Technically speaking, it's not an LCG, because as far as I'm aware, that term was trademarked by FFG and therefore can't legaly be applied to "Doomtown: Reloaded". Hence it's not part of the LCG-family here on the geek. But you're right, I shouldn't have called it "collectible". I should have used the term "customizable".
dboeren wrote:
Finally, I would slightly disagree with you on The Ghostly Gun. He's not great but he isn't that bad. You're getting a shooter, good influence, and an escape hatch special ability. He's slightly costly, but it's because he can do several different things. Cards that do exactly one thing are cheaper and easier to use though and it's easy to be unsure about his special ability so I think he gets a bit of a bad rep. I will agree that he was a little better early on when 4th Ring struggled more for influence.

No need to disagree, I didn't mean it the way it was written (forgetting momentarily what "not the most useful" usually means in English), I just meant it literally, as in "he's not the best dude in the game".
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David Boeren
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True, they cannot use the licensed "LCG" name, but it does follow a nearly identical model and I think people have defaulted to the LCG term for lack of a better unambiguous generic term even if AEG can't officially say it themselves

No worries on Ghostly Gun, I didn't even think about it being due to language misunderstandings.
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Patrick
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dboeren wrote:
True, they cannot use the licensed "LCG" name, but it does follow a nearly identical model and I think people have defaulted to the LCG term for lack of a better unambiguous generic term even if AEG can't officially say it themselves

No worries on Ghostly Gun, I didn't even think about it being due to language misunderstandings.

I believe the correct term used for AEG games is ECG – Expandable Card Game.
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Pas L
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I'm not sure the things that suck section here is as strong as it could be, I think you go pretty shallow on the whole lcg(ecg) side of things, with the need for semi-regular play, devoting time and energy and money to keep buying products, etc.

Coupled with the time to learn how to play, the table space and complexity, I think this game requires a fair bit more investment to get pleasure from than the usual, which I think would/could be a fairly significant drawback for some people.
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Christian Heckmann
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lamaros wrote:
I'm not sure the things that suck section here is as strong as it could be, I think you go pretty shallow on the whole lcg(ecg) side of things, with the need for semi-regular play, devoting time and energy and money to keep buying products, etc.

Coupled with the time to learn how to play, the table space and complexity, I think this game requires a fair bit more investment to get pleasure from than the usual, which I think would/could be a fairly significant drawback for some people.

You're right, I was grasping at straws here, because I really can't find that much fault in the game What you said could be added, but I think those are "inherten problems" of the whole CCG/LCG-genre, so I thought it would be a bit redundant.
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Well, i'm still having fun building decks with almost only core set cards and one expansion (though i'm buying them all anyway and i had to buy the special edition, so i have 4 of every core set card if need be..).
With my current deck i felt that i always lost when i made some crucial mistake, not because the other guy had a much better card.

It's true that when teaching people it can be a bit tricky to get them not to go all-in on day 1 because "i had nothing else to do, passing is boring".
Also, never play with the core set decks when teaching, i specifically told them we're only going to try out the mechanics and that the draw structures are weak, but both were like "damn i only won/lost on luck while shooting, seems like a stupid game".

The game is so great tactically, if you know how to move and how to control your luck. Timing is key. In movies they don't round up all their buddies and shoot each other in the first 5 minutes, just because someone entered the saloon, too
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dboeren wrote:
"I've seen rather experienced players giving in to that":
This one I disagree with. What you're describing is a thing that beginners do, rarely experienced players unless it's a special situation like "we're out of time, let's just finish this game with a bang".


This. I remember one VERY recent game that I was playing (on OCTGN) where going in, I told my opponent that we only had 1 hour to play. It turned into a chess match, and with about 10 minutes left I said "screw it", and went after him. I would have beat him too, if it weren't for those meddling DMH's.
 
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