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Deadlands: Doomtown» Forums » Variants

Subject: A New Shootout At High Noon - Better, Faster, Stronger rss

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Eric Jome
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In an attempt to provide two constructed decks to play well against one another, featuring the best of game's nature as well as all the core functions, I've put together the following two decks. I recommend you build these and play them against one another, especially as an LCG or intro type game.

The decks use similar structures and have similar power. They focus on common cards and strong interactions. They have theme and character as well as mechanical balance. I'll be following up with more information, analysis and tweaks, but here's the initial presentation;

---------------------------------------------

Blackjacks - Rachel's Gang (18 ghost rock start, +4 per turn)

Starting Posse (5 cards)

Charlie Landers
Father Juan Navarro
Mae Parker
Ely Parker
Cassidy Greene

Total cost: 15 of 18
Total upkeep: 1
Influence: 4
Best shooting hand to start: 3 stud, 4 draw

Actions Core (18 cards)

1 Ace In the Hole
2 Ambush
1 Double Dealin'
1 ... Today, I Am
1 Arson
1 Foreclosure
1 Attitude
1 Bad Tequila
1 One Eyed Jacks Are Wild
1 Jackelope Stampede
2 Kidnapping
1 Bad to the Bone
2 Shortcut
1 Friends In Low Places
1 Head 'em Off at the Pass

Deeds & Improvements (10 cards)

1 The Perch
1 LAD Saloon
1 Ninth Circle Mine
1 Polecat Saloon
1 Old Moon Saloon
1 Green-Eye Saloon
1 Nick's Never Closes
1 Faro Table
1 Rough And Tumble Saloon
1 The Barber's Shop

Dudes (9 cards)

1 Alfred Barkum, Jr.
1 Lawrence Goodman
1 Wendigo Garrison
1 Lilith Vandekamp
1 The Twitch
1 Andrew Garret
1 Skunky Swade
1 Andra Miles
1 Mad Dog Campbell

Other cards (10 cards)

1 Kenny
1 New Hat
1 Bolt-Action Rifle
1 Shotgun
1 Sawed-off Shotgun
1 Buffalo Rifle
1 Still
1 Whiskey Flask
1 Pearl-Handled Revolver
1 Blood Money

---------------------------------------------

Law Dogs - Original Home (19 ghost rock, +3 per turn)

Starting Posse (4 cards)

Charlie Flatbush
Cordelia "Corky" Hendricks
Jesse Radcliffe
Jessie Freemont exp

Total cost: 17 of 19
Total upkeep: 0
Influence: 6
Best shooting hand: 3 stud, 2 draw

Actions Core (18 cards)

1 Ace in the Hole
1 Bum Rush
1 Double Dealin'
1 Warrant
1 Bounty Hunter
1 Here Comes The Cavalry
1 Pistol Whip
1 Attitude
1 Friendly Game
1 Run Outta Town
1 Jackelope Stampede
2 What This Town Needs Is..
1 No Funny Stuff
1 Divided Loyalties
1 Take Cover
1 Caught With Your Pants Down
1 Clean Up The Town

Deeds & Improvements (13 cards)

1 Gomorra Gazette
1 Horse Racetrack
1 New Town Hall
1 Jail
1 T & Q Cattle Ranch
1 The Dentist's Office
1 Sheriff's Shaft
1 Circle K Ranch
1 Miss Coutreau's
1 Pony Express
1 The Bathhouse
1 The Alright Corral
1 Tombstone Dispatch Branch Office

Dudes (8 cards)

1 Carson Gage
1 Deputy Milo Powell
1 Judge Fayllen Wells
1 Xiong "Wendy" Cheng
1 Deputy John Templeton
1 Deputy Dave Montreal
1 Judge Henry Warwick
1 Nash Bilton

Other Cards (9 cards)

2 Roan
1 Home Is Where Nothin' Ever Happens
1 Buffalo Rifle
2 Mustang
1 Pearl-Handled Revolver
1 Spurs
1 A Coach Comes to Town
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Donald Gardner
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I like it!

After a quick inspection, the two decks look well balanced, and should be pretty evenly matched. Lots of fun cards and tricks to play. And to me it emphasises the fundamental fight between the Law Dogs and Black Jacks; doing fun things that make you Wanted, and punishing Wanted dudes.

I very much like the fact that they are not bicycle decks; cheatin' is such a fundamental part of the Doomtown experience that it seems a real shame to ignore it.

The cards look pretty attainable, with nothing that should prove too hard to find (or substitute if need be).

I suspect the LD deck doesn't have the ghost rock to support it, but did you think about adding the Courthouse?

Is the absence of strikes a reflection of the original Shootout at High Noon, or are you attempting to focus on the in-town aspects of the game?

My 2 bits!
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Davido
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iuchiban wrote:

Lots of fun cards and tricks to play. And to me it emphasises the fundamental fight between the Law Dogs and Black Jacks; doing fun things that make you Wanted, and punishing Wanted dudes.


"fun cards" equals JOBS-one of the most thematic and 'in your face' interactive aspects of Doomtown. The Jobs really also help flesh out the 'back story' and give the Dudes motivation and 'things to do in town' as they take the fight to the other guys.

Overall, the Cheatin'! cards are diverse and deal out appropriate levels of punishment. The exception, of course, are the Jackalope Stampedes aka "Killer Bunnies". This is a staple in nearly any deck that packs Cheatin'! reactions, but is probably overpowered for n00b decks. If nothing else, for learning purposes, you might consider
a) No first turn Jackalopes
b) No Jackalopes played on a lowball hand (as one has no decisions to make whether to cheat or not in lowball).
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Colin Scanlan
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Wonderful work Eric, thankyou for these! We will give them a try.
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Tim Meyer
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davido wrote:
a) No first turn Jackalopes


This was a standing Rule in my local league as far too many decks fell prey to opening losses. Newer players and less creative players often "hone in" on a value or two for 4K/FH and would lose before they even got a chance to play.
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Eric Jome
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iuchiban wrote:
I like it!


Thank you. This hasn't undergone enough playtesting, but I have confidence it won't need major reworking.

Quote:
doing fun things that make you Wanted, and punishing Wanted dudes.


Quite. Here, it has thematically the "good guys" versus "bad guys" aspects as well as good game mechanical ways to emphasize that. The Blackjacks are likely to become Wanted by doing criminal Jobs - Kidnapping and Ambushing.

Quote:
I very much like the fact that they are not bicycle decks.


I felt that was important too. Each has a very similar structure designed to shoot about equally well and be Cheatin! about equally often - they'll both degenerate into Flush and Straight Flush, with some chances to hit Full House if care is taken.

Quote:
The cards look pretty attainable, with nothing that should prove too hard to find (or substitute if need be).


Indeed, I avoided rares almost completely. I'd like to do another version of this pair with more of the harder to get cards. In reality, the only people to likely build this kind of thing will be old hands with big collections - people likely to have a copy of Blackjack to spare, for example.

Quote:
I suspect the LD deck doesn't have the ghost rock to support it, but did you think about adding the Courthouse?


The Courthouse is a rare. It's also a non-interactive, relatively boring card. It is nicely thematic in some ways, but it's also not really a very Wild West sort of thing either. I don't think I'd put it in even if I was building in that direction.

And the LD deck should do fine for ghost rock - it has 2 copies of What This Town Needs Is... to help fetch up a rock producing deed. It's got higher starting influence for the extra card and no upkeep.

Quote:
Is the absence of strikes a reflection of the original Shootout at High Noon, or are you attempting to focus on the in-town aspects of the game?


Strikes are the devil and should at most be used in moderation if at all. You'll notice that virtually every deed has control points and produces rock. That's the way it should be. Pointless little strikes that just produce ghost rock break the economic cycle of the game and lead to giant piles of cash for no point - long grindy games.

Also, strikes inhibit the good Chess moving nature of the game if used too much. They aren't thematically good either - a strike should be a big find, a rare and special location.
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Eric Jome
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davido wrote:
The exception, of course, are the Jackalope Stampedes aka "Killer Bunnies". This is a staple in nearly any deck that packs Cheatin'! reactions, but is probably overpowered for n00b decks.


I am shocked at your lack of moral fortitude sir. Shocked and disappointed. :)

Firstly, regardless of personal feelings about Jackelope Stampede, neither of these decks is going to be Cheatin! enough to create a serious number of discarded cards. If they are Cheatin! more than 1 time at the start, I'd be shocked. So, it is completely unnecessary to tone down the Stampede on the first turn or in this situation at all.

But, I cannot believe people have this reaction to Jackelope Stampede! This is the most important card in the design of the game! It does yourself and anyone you are teaching a grave disservice - indeed, it completely misrepresents the game - to not play Jackelope Stampede as printed and in every deck. This card is foundational and elemental to good deck design and game play. It represents the best of the best in this game, many of the good ideas of the game wrapped into one.

I can see I should probably dust off the Cheatin! article I was working on again... people have fallen from the purer faith.
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Eric Jome
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harrowed777 wrote:
This was a standing Rule in my local league as far too many decks fell prey to opening losses.


When your deck doesn't work, I believe these games are predicated on you changing your deck, not on you changing the rules of the game.

Ain't no one. I mean No One. Ain't no one played decks that were Cheatin! as much as me. I regularly was laughed at by luminaries of the game as sure to lose every game to Jackelope Stampede. I actually attempted to win games by shootin' out. Tournament games. We played in leagues where every person started Mr. Bones and packed a couple of Jackelopes and I still played 2 values 4 of each suit and did fine.

There is nothing in Jackelope Stampede you cannot build around. Cheatin! cards represent one of the best game design qualities in Doomtown - a push your luck element most games can only envy. Don't throw that away because your deck one time wasn't built well enough to survive a Jackelope Stampede.
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Tim Meyer
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It wasn't a one time thing, and it wasn't about me.

It was about:

New player to the league (2-3 weeks playing doomtown) shows up for an event, and using his limited cards stock has naively built a 4k/5k/FH deck. They pay for their dudes. Draw opening lowball. Cheat. Jackalope Stampede. They don't even own the card, or if they do they don't quite get it. Well they get to learn now. Discard a dude. New Hand. Cheatin'. Discard a dude. New hand. Cheatin'. Etc. Now new player has no opening dudes, no money to buy more. Regular player drops turn 1 CP. *Plays Final Fantasy victory music*

The player didn't get the chance to play. They lost before the first noon action. Was it a lesson they would learn eventually? Sure. Building decks that cheat regularly can cost you games. Happens even in low occurrence cheating decks.

But if you are a newer player paying $5 to play the game, and it's over before you start, what is the likelyhood you are going to do it again?

Stampede can make the game less fun. That's what we were trying to avoid.
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Tim Meyer
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And speaking of Staples.

A shootout deck/job without Massacre? That's just wrong.
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Eric Jome
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harrowed777 wrote:
Was it a lesson they would learn eventually? Sure.
'

Ze case. She is, how you Eenglish say, le rested.
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Eric Jome
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harrowed777 wrote:
A shootout deck/job without Massacre? That's just wrong.


It is not a good card.

Remember, the goal here is not to win. It is to play. For the same reason I didn't build a deck full of Shadow Man or Lord Grimley's or Burnt Offering hijinks, I didn't put this card in the decks. Massacre is excessively expensive, highly risky, and decisively game ending.

Frankly, it should probably not have Home Is Where Nothing Ever Happens for much the same reason - it runs counter to the basic action here.
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Dennison Milenkaya
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Agreed on the Cheatin'! and Massacre wisdom that Preacher Eric imparts upon the masses. Completely.

As to Mr. Bones: stupid card that should've never been printed. Cheatin'! is about takin' chances and hoping you get away with it. Mr. Bones takes all the chance out of that. There's no longer this exciting moment where you reveal your Cheatin'! hand and wait for your opponent to reveal whether you get smashed for it or not. You just do and your know you do long before you do.

Doomtown had this kind of game-designers' remorse phase where it had this awesome mechanic about illegal draw hands and then tried really hard to backtrack and make them unplayable.

I'm thankful that it ended when it did. Power creep was creepin' up and bad cards that everyone must always use all the time because they're that good (and that's how you identify a badly designed card) started giving the game (where so many different play styles were valid) a very same-y feeling. Boo, Mr. Bones. Boo.
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Eric Jome
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I like Mr. Bones. I like seeing more people use him. Personally, I'd like to see a similar guy - small value, cheap cost, utility drifter - for just about ever specialty. There should be;

1) A 0 draw dude at about 2 value, 2 cost, 1 upkeep, 1 influence, with the same reaction that is on Den of Eastern Delights.

2) A 0 draw dude at about 3 value, 3 cost, 1 upkeep, 1 influence, with the same ability as Gareth Comes To Town or an inverse Francis Whateley - boot to disrupt a spell... or challenge all dudes with more than 3 spells attached to an unrefusable shootout that bypasses things like Shadow Man.

3) A 1 stud, 1 influence, 3 value, 3 cost, 0 upkeep dude

4) A 0 draw dude, Ace value, 2 cost, 0 upkeep, 1 influence that can boot to ace itself to get a dude from your discard pile and put it into play, reducing the cost by 2. Another similar dude for Deeds would be good too. And another pair of dudes to search your deck for the same.

5) A 0 draw dude, Ace value, 3 cost, 1 upkeep, 1 influence with the same ability as the Pony Express - better though would be a Deed anyone could start in play that would be the same as the Pony Express; Controller boots to discard a card then draw one.

6) A Francis Whateley style dude for miracles and for gadgets and for spirits - it'd be great if it was a drifter or 4 drifters, one each skill, and ideally they would allow you to put spells attached to them onto another dude when they are aced.

Ideally, all these should be Non-unique.

To me the game was still in it's infancy of card design, with far too many silly, useless flavor story cards clogging up the game pool and not enough core strategy, elemental game play cards. What others I sometimes think feel were "power cards" are just cards that aren't awful and informed important strategies.

Someday I'll get around to fixing up a mini expansion of this stuff. Maybe I'll put it together before Gencon... anyone got a good series of GIMP tutorials on Youtube?
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Keith Spragg
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cosine wrote:
There is nothing in Jackelope Stampede you cannot build around.


In a pair of pre-built decks that you are using to teach someone, the new player cannot build anything! That first time experience is key, as it is the difference between the player enjoying the game and playing more, and hating it immediately.

Jackelopes is a key card in the game, but the so is 'The Lode', yet I wouldn't advocate either being in the starter game. Just as much as I wouldn't introduce Wrath of God if I were building Magic intro decks.

I strongly doubt a new player would just take these decks to a tournament without having played more games against the teacher's own more powerful decks. During these games, it should become obvious that the decks are outclassed by the big-boy decks, and the bunnies can make an appearence, too.

K
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Eric Jome
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keithspragg wrote:
In a pair of pre-built decks that you are using to teach someone, the new player cannot build anything!


Umm... I already built it? No one needs to build around it here because I already did? These decks won't be Cheatin! enough for a Jackelope Stampede to be any more than a glorified Double Dealin'.

Quote:
That first time experience is key, as it is the difference between the player enjoying the game and playing more, and hating it immediately.


And I stand by these decks as giving a first rate play experience. Fun and engaging. Not fake and foolish like the real Shootout At High Noon or one that doesn't have real Cheatin! cards.

But that's pretty silly anyway. The game is long dead. There are no "new players". There is no "future" but dusting off old bits of fun as we coast into oblivion.

Quote:
Jackelopes is a key card in the game, but the so is 'The Lode', yet I wouldn't advocate either being in the starter game.


The Lode is not a game defining card. The Lode is just a boring power card that ends games. The fundamental game play of all Doomtown converges around finding a reason to put two gangs in proximity for a shootout. The Lode rather dully and predictably does this by making a hugely powerful, game ending deed requiring everything on the board to move there... very heavy handed, very uninteresting. The approach I make here is jobs. Jobs were always a much more exciting and interesting approach to putting two gangs together for fireworks.

Jobs should have been the foundation of the game.

Quote:
Just as much as I wouldn't introduce Wrath of God if I were building Magic intro decks.


Then your games of Magic would be poorly served. Wrath of God is an essential component of an entire strategic wing of Magic, without which the game is much poorer. No control decks. All aggro decks.

Quote:
I strongly doubt a new player would just take these decks to a tournament...


No one should ever take anything like either one of these decks to a tournament. Ever. These are not powerful decks. These are fun decks. Decks only "good" in the sense that they'll provide a carefully constructed, engaging match only between each other. I have made it, I feel, abundantly clear that this is the purpose of these decks - having a fun "board gamey" game of Doomtown.
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Keith Spragg
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I understand what you're saying about having built the decks correctly, but there is the chance of back to back 1st turn lowball cheatin' hands. I still remember the first time I got bunnied, and how frustrating it was. I guess, it's a necessary evil!

Re: Magic. I played a lot of Magic, and did a lot of teaching, too. WoG is not the be all and end all of control. Yes, it is the first card that was so universally powerful, and there are deck archetypes that use it that are typically thought of as control; however, control decks are not how you teach someone to play Magic. That is because countermagic is inherently boring to play against, and difficult to grasp to play until you understand more than just the basics of card advantage. Tempo plays a far greater role in teaching Magic (for me), and can be control too. 'Who's the beat down' is the best CCG article ever, and has always helped me explain things better to those learning. Can I also just add, your writing on Doomtown has been enlightening, and you also have a similar procedural/methodical style to Zvi.

New players - I'm trying to convince my friends to pick up the game, as I have a box of (other people's) decks built. For now, we'll just be playing two basic decks, similar in style to your's, but not as good, or probably as balanced! Will be looking to rebuild in light of what I have available.

Totally agree with 'doomtown as a board game' idea, it's what I'm aiming for, long term.
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Eric Jome
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keithspragg wrote:
I understand what you're saying about having built the decks correctly, but there is the chance of back to back 1st turn lowball cheatin' hands.


In the extremely unlikely chance that one player is Cheatin! in the opening lowball and the other player has the one Jackelope Stampede in their deck in their hand and plays it, the Cheatin! player discards as follows;

1st re-do) Blackjacks, Mae Parker - still at 4 influence
2nd re-do) Blackjacks, Charlie Landers - still at 3 influence

1st re-do) Law Dogs, "Corky" Hendricks - still at 5 influence
2nd re-do) Law Dogs, Jessie Fremont - still at 4 influence

Note that neither deck has the ability to, even winning lowball, play more than 1 or 2 control on the first turn. Thus, neither of these extremely unlikely outcomes are going to produce a game winning situation as expressed in the concerns above.
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Colin Scanlan
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I'm hoping we are all on the same page regarding that "Doomtown as a board game" idea.

In a week's time, I will introduce Doomtown to a few of the people in our boardgaming group. I will hand out decks, we will carefully go through the rules, stage a shootout, step through a couple of rounds with open hands, and then... play.

No matter what happens, no one is going to rush out and buy Doomtown. The game is dead. I can guarantee that nobody is going to be interested in deck building in the slightest. There are no tournaments to attend around here; very likely there are no Doomtown owners at all besides me for a 100 miles.

The best I can hope for, is that they will enjoy it - and want to play again. (And again.) And the biggest decision they will want to make is: "Hmmm, Law Dogs again? - I can see some good tricks to play now - or maybe I'll give the Whateley deck a go this time?"

But I will, finally, get to enjoy this great game once more.

It doesn't matter at all if the decks are sub-par at tournament level. I never want to see a second-round win in my life. The decks just have to be a) competent against each other, and b) fun to play. I can see that Eric really gets this. And the easier those decks are to build, the more owners can enjoy the game with their collections large and small.

The thing is, Doomtown is still often discussed in various forums as if the CCG was still alive. It ain't, of course. To me, dropping the Lode on the table will at best shorten a fun game, and at worst, really annoy somebody to the point that they won't ever play again. It's not like they will go away and build a Lode-beating deck or anything. If Doomtown doesn't deliver what is perceived to be a balanced, fun play experience, then my gaming cohorts will simply find other games to play.


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