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Deadlands: Doomtown» Forums » Sessions

Subject: CCG Journey Week 5 - Doomtown rss

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Mike Haverty
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This is the fifth in my ongoing journey back in time to the CCGs I own and used to play (or never actually played, as the case may be, too often), chronicled in this meta geeklist: My Journey Back to CCGs.

The Game
I bought a little of this not long after it came out, but never got to play it. A few years back, I split a big lot off Ebay with my usual posse, but I'm not sure we ever made decks and played after splitting up the goods, heh. From what I recall, it seemed like a pretty good game, and I've always liked AEG's games, so I was looking forward to trying this out again.


The Decks
First I sorted all my cards by suit (which also corresponds to general card type) and then rank and card name. I looked over a couple threads by

Eric Jome
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that were helpful in giving an overview of deck-building strategy, so I set out to make at least a couple different decks. I have home cards for Blackjacks, Law Dogs, Sweetrock, Sioux Union, Maze Rats, and two different Whateleys (Family Estate and Extended Family).

For whatever reason (maybe because Johnny B was doin' it), I decided to make my first deck a bicycle deck, so called because it features a single card of each suit/rank combo, like a regular deck of playing cards. This both simplifies and complicates deck-building, as far as I can tell. I just went through each suit/rank and looked for the card I liked best. I ended up making this a Law Dog deck with lots of weapons -- I figured my shootout hands would be weak with a bicycle deck, so I best help 'em out with some good gear.

Then I noticed something. My Law Dogs outfit card has an ability that keys off putting Wanted dudes in Jail, and... I don't have a Jail card. :/ But, Johnny B. had a different Law Dogs card, one that makes gear cheaper, so I would borrow that for our first play (and he would borrow my Sweetrock outfit card).

I only own one Joker (apparently from an InQuest magazine), so it would go into the bicycle deck to help out with draw hands.

For grins, I decided to make a Dead Man's Hand deck next. 8 of spades and clubs, Aces of spades and clubs, and the Jack of Diamonds, makes the highest ranking draw hand in the game; even with a bad draw, I figure I ought to be getting trips or full houses with some regularity. I ended up using 5x of the 5 cards in the hand (no more than 4x of any given card, of course), leaving me with 27 for the "playable" part of the deck. I decided to go with the Whateleys Extended Family and grabbed a few abominations and Ezzie the Harrowed Harlot, along with some family members. I felt like I didn't have much room for deeds, so I only took 3, but put in several cards for taking ownership of opponent deeds (Claim Jumper) as well as ways to mess with opponent win threasholds (reducing their influence or control points). To make the draw hands stronger, I also tried to pack more 8s and Js so I'd hopefully be getting lots of four or five of a kind and full houses, even if I didn't get the Dead Man's Hand.

I suspected strongly that both my decks sucked, but what the hell.

The Play
So, Johnny B. was in training this week, so BV made the trek north to meet me for lunch and a game of Doomtown.

Brian Vogle
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Jenks
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He took the Law Dogs and I got the Whateleys. We went over some of the rules and off we went.

First off, I guess it didn't really dawn on me that making a strong drawing deck meant always losing in the Gamblin' Phase, which essentially gave me -1 income every turn and gave BV +1 income. Secondly, my plan of having few Deeds in the Whateley deck and concentrating on stealing them from opponents had a few flaws. First, until I could put that plan into action, my income was horrible. Second, it stalls if my opponent isn't putting out income-producing deeds for me to go after. My deck was in constant financial difficulties. I did get out the Pony Express for some card cycling, but wasn't having much luck of it.

I decided to try picking off some Law Dogs while waiting for new Deeds to be put into play. After drawing great (bad) lowball hands every turn, I felt like I could take one Dude up against a posse of his Dudes. Well, not really. Despite having a stacked deck, I only mustered a 3 of a kind in the first shootout, while he drew his Joker and managed a Full House. With my poor income, losing a Dude really hurt.

I tried some maneuvering to isolate one of his Dudes next. His street had gained a location on either side of his home and his gang was spread all over. I used Basil Whateley's ability to boot a Dude to pin down one of his Dudes at home, leaving Wendy by herself at one end of the street with Jenny Cooper (I think that's her name) the only possible ally. Well, BV made a good play here. He joined the posse with Jenny, booting her, and then used her ability to run home and bring a replacement into the posse, which let him get the booted deputy at home into the fight. As far as we can tell, if an ability doesn't say anything 'bout booted/unbooted requirements, then they aren't, um, required. So, we played she could use her ability even if booted, and that she could bring in a Dude who was already booted. I lost that shootout, my poor Headless Horseman's Draw 3 bullet rating not giving him enough to beat the Law Dogs.

Partially because we were running low on time, I used Basil to pin down another one of his Dudes in Town Square on the next turn and attacked with two of my Dudes. Amazingly, I got nothing in my shootout hand - Jack high and lost both my Dudes, which had the added effect of dropping my total influence to 1, letting the Law Dogs win at Nightfall with 3 Control Points.

The Verdict
We both really enjoyed the game. The Law Dogs deck seemed to be working out okay... the extra income from winning lowball all the time, plus a more rounded selection of cards (especially having more Deeds/Diamonds) let him establish a steady income and get more cards into play. The Whateley deck needs tuning. I think one could build a low-Deed count deck but only with careful consideration of income. Also, it seems apparent that you can't rely on just a stacked deck to win shootouts, especially once the opposing Dudes get weapons on them.

I'm going to leave the Law Dogs deck alone, tweak the Whateleys, and maybe make one more deck to try out. I'd really like to see this in 3p or 4p play, but 2p plays just fine. Maybe we can get another game in later this week.

Notes on the Journey
Just some notes on which games are receiving play as the CCG Journey continues. Here are my CCG play stats since we started.

Magic = 13
AGOT = 10
Shadowrun = 2
VS = 2
Doomtown = 1

Magic is receiving a little helpin' hand here because we've all bought Duels of the Planeswalkers on XBox Live Arcade. It is a really well-implemented game, with 16 AI fights in a campaign, some puzzle challenges, and of course ranked and unranked online play. I'm sure our time playing that is helping stoke the flames for face to face Magic. (I don't log non-face-to-face game plays, so all play stats are for real.)
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Davido
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Whateley Extended Family is fun, but tough to play. The trap is all those free upkeep (with the WEF home advantage) Terrors and Abominations. Problem is, those dudes have little influence and are vulnerable to control point flooding. So you bring in the Dudes such as Basil Whateley and others who have influence. But they have upkeep, then you want to equip them w/ hexes and so it goes. Really, the WEF has to be aggressive and go after Dudes if deeds aren't available. BTW, the 0/1 strikes are your friends and as face values are good for pulls as well. I'd lay off the DMH for now, and try for a 4 of a kind deck centered on Jacks and 8's or 7's (coz there so many good cards at those values) that will draw to full house or better most times. Good session report of a great game
 
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Eric Jome
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Franklin
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I would dearly love to see deck lists for one or both.
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Mike Haverty
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Law Dogs

Spades
A The Amazing Xemo
2 Charlie Flatbush
3 Jenny Cooper
4 Tao Cheng
5 Lilith Vandekamp
6 Wendy Cheng
7 Deputy John Templeton
8 Deputy Dave Montreal
9 Judge Henry Warwick
T Nash Bilton
J Nate Hunter
Q Mr. Slate
K Nate Hunter exp2

Clubs
A Puttin' the Heat On
2 Both Barrels
3 Con Game Gone Bad
4 Ace in the Hole
5 Guilt by Association
6 Bounty Hunter
7 Bad Tequila
8 What This Town Needs Is...
9 Flamin' Barrels
T Lost in the Badlands
J Termite Infestation
Q Between the Cracks
K Clean Up the Town

Hearts
A Christmas Day
2 Bull Whip
3 New Hat
4 Bolt-action Rifle
5 Shotgun
6 Cold-iron Bullets
7 Buffalo Rifle
8 Ammo Belt
9 Pair of Six-shooters
T Bone-tipped Bullets
J Penny Farthing (Be seeing you = awesome)
Q Bowie Knife
K Quick-draw Holster

Diamonds
A The Courthouse
2 Buffalo Chip Saloon
3 Hell's End Mine
4 Sunnyside Hotel
5 Dispatch Office
6 The Gilded Feather
7 The Lucky Dog Lode
8 Fu Leng's Laundry
9 Top of the World Lode
T Orphanage
J Pike's Puddle Mine
Q Harlot's Haven Strike
K Tombstone Dispatch Branch Office

I already tweaked the Whateley deck so I can't really give you an accurate list of what it had. Actually, I played the tweaked Whateleys today against Johnny B's bicycle Sweetrock Western Branch deck. It won this with better draws in the shootouts, although his deck had some saving cards in it so it took a bit before I started killing off his guys. The DMH is pretty hard to get, and it doesn't help when I "accidentally" play some of the draw cards. He also got too much upkeep out and then couldn't play new cards.

In fact, I think that's what's throwing me for a loop, really. It is unintuitive, at least coming from a range of other CCGs, that you're really playing with 2 decks shuffled into 1 - your shootout cards and your "actually play these" cards.

We're digging it, it's just a little more learning curve than some other games; it's not "pick up and play" like VS or Magic, say.
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howl hollow howl
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SiddGames wrote:
I played the tweaked Whateleys today against Johnny B's bicycle Sweetrock Western Branch deck. It won this with better draws in the shootouts

which should usually be the case when playing bicycle vs. non-bicycle. Normally, bicycle is a restrictive deck-building format agreed on ahead of time. That is, you'll have bicycle tournaments, and non-bicycle tournaments.

I like to keep one bicycle and one non-bicycle per faction. I try to build the bicycle decks to be as good as possible; for the non-bicycles, I totally go for theme, fun, trying out new cards/combos, etc.
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Eric Jome
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SiddGames wrote:
In fact, I think that's what's throwing me for a loop, really. It is unintuitive, at least coming from a range of other CCGs, that you're really playing with 2 decks shuffled into 1 - your shootout cards and your "actually play these" cards.

We're digging it, it's just a little more learning curve than some other games; it's not "pick up and play" like VS or Magic, say.


Most definitely. Doomtown is a game for which it is very hard to build an effective deck. Draw well in shootouts, but don't cheat too much - that's a tall order. It took me months of hard work to hone my deck to a point where I felt I could do well in tournaments.

Really, historically, all the most dominating decks tended to be non-shooters. That's what made my Supershooter deck so strange. I would post it on the mailing list at the time, people would laugh at me telling me I was never going to amount to anything with it... and before they knew it I was shoveling dirt on their pine box at the next tournament. Even Killer Kerry, with a rep for being all that in a shootout, was put in her place by the Supershooter... it took the likes of Mark Greenholdt's Shadow Puppet deck, Andrew Davidson's Sweetrock Landslide deck, or Jason Jung's Lode camping Blackjacks to stop me... only a darn fool would try to fight me directly - which never stopped anyone from thinking they were fast enough to try.

If you want to build a deck around shooting, you've hit upon the most essential part - there are cards you play and cards you don't play. Keep thinking along those lines and you'll be a master in no time.

And yeah, you don't just whip up a deck and start playing. Doomtown is hard in the deck building phase and equally hard in the playing.
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Mike Haverty
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We played three more games tonight. Johnny B. had a new Agency deck, built around 10s and 3s for shooting. I tried my new experimental Yellow Bellied Sweetrock deck (plenty of deeds and lots of running away / saving cards like Medicine, Helping Hand, Kenny, Lucky Ted, etc) and then my new Blackjack deck which was built with a little shooting (not focused into two halves, per se, but focusing the play cards toward several values for shooting synergy).

My cowards were crushed (twice). I realized afterward that since the win condition is CP > Influence, that my non-killing deck didn't really have any way to reduce his Inf, and that all that running away made it hard for me to hold onto my CP, haha. Well duh. I think this deck will be dismantled and a new Sweetrock deck will be built with a small but dedicated shooting portion, Inf-reducing card effects, and more low-cost CP deeds to get CP up a little faster.

The Blackjacks did a lot better, and I think I may have just misplayed them, as I still lost. These guys are a money machine with their home card ability! I think this deck won't be totally dismantled, but will be revised with stronger shooting capabilities and more jobs.

I've noticed that we aren't doing may jobs. In fact, I don't know if we've done a single job in 5 games so far. I think we're underutilizing that, although part of it is that we're still getting up to speed on the importance of shootouts in deck construction. It's one thing to read the strategy articles on it, and another to see it in action.

We also are starting to see how deep the deckbuilding can be. It's really tough trying to account for many different things AND remain strong in shootouts. We're finding that weapons alone don't cut it; even if you're getting to see more cards in the shootout draw, it's hard to make up for it against a purpose-built shooting deck. I think in about 6 or 7 shootouts, the weakest hand Johnny B's deck produced was a Full House. The best I did was tie in rank (but still lost) on a Sniper during a big shootout, resulting in us each losing a big stud -- and this was with Regen Cain + Gatling Gun (making him an 11 stud) vs his 7 (I think) stud. It was brutal.

I've upped my rating of Doomtown by 1 point, heh.
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Kenneth Sheffield
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"And yeah, you don't just whip up a deck and start playing. Doomtown is hard in the deck building phase and equally hard in the playing."

ACK!!! Kinda... Please DO just whip up a deck and start playing! Just don't expect to win. Plan to see how it works and be prepared to tweak. Even the best tournament decks were being tweaked occasionally. Seriously, build a deck and play worst case you lose but at least you probably had a good time.
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Mike Haverty
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Oh yeah, every game has been fun and educational. The more I play, the more I admire the set design, in terms of balancing suit/value for pulls and shootouts vs card utility and cost, etc. We're digging it.
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