Hi, my name is Brian Fox, and I am addicted to Doomtown.
I had heard quite a bit about Doomtown in its previous incarnation, but never gotten around to playing it. At the time, I was actively involved with 3-4 CCGs, and just didn’t have the time to dedicate to another, as cool as the setting sounded. I’ve always enjoyed settings that have a basis in real world situations supplemented with magical or mystical overtones, whether it be Shadowrun and its cyberpunk theme in near future Seattle, or Romance of the Three Kingdoms circa 2nd-3rd century AD China.
This time around, my plate is a bit devoid in the CCG department for a variety of reasons. I had A LOT of friends very excited for the relaunch of Doomtown, and while I wasn’t playing many CCGs I wasn’t giving serious thought to delving into another, mainly due to real life commitments. All of that changed once I arrived at GenCon, and got to see the game in action. After observing just a few games in the AEG area in the gaming hall, combined with games on our hotel floor thursday night, I knew I was going to have to give this another look.
Suffice it to say, I was hooked immediately. There are an enormous amount of decisions to be made in any given game. It felt like chess combined with a deckbuilding game in a way. It may sound odd to compare Doomtown to a deckbuilding game, but each game you’re basically trying to set up a battlefield that is contoured to your decks strengths, increasing in power consistently as the game progresses.
There are also many lines of play over the course of any given game, which is one of the truest tests to determine how skill-oriented a game is. Although being new to Doomtown had some disadvantages such as being a bit unfamiliar with the card pool, there is an advantage in seeing things from a fresh perspective, so your perceptions aren’t tainted by what is ‘expected’. A couple examples come to mind. When I was playing against Law Dogs, I would put all of my deeds to the right of my Outfit, instead of branching out to both the left and the right. When some players questioned why I would do that, I said that since Clyde (who is generally started against MCC) wants to go straight to my home and start pecking off Dudes, I wanted to give him one less deed he can boot to join for Shootout purposes. A second scenario was playing duplicates of a couple deeds. I was told that it was basically the accepted norm to only play one of each deed, since excess copies are effectively useless once you have one in play. I feel that there were enough reasons to justify running duplicates of a couple. Between using Pony Express to cycle and Gomorra Parish to Ace your extra copies, they weren’t completely dead cards if you drew your extras late game.
I unfortunately did not take notes during my matches, since I can safely say my expectations going in were not to win the whole event. A couple things stuck out to me over the course of 2 days of tournament play though. First, the best way to attack MCC is to stifle their early ghost rock production, and that is most easily achieved by starting as many cheap guys with influence that you can find. If MCC is able to generate 6-7 rock a turn starting on turn 3, it’s going to be very difficult to keep up with the inevitable flood of deeds that will hit the table. Camping your posse on MCC’s deeds and leaving the rest in Town Square will let you pull ahead in the tempo race, which is absolutely vital in this matchup. Tempo is important in any game, but it is of paramount importance against MCC. Once I get rolling, it’s hard to slow me down. Second, and related to the first point, is that Clyde Owens is terribly overrated against MCC. My finals opponent Jim Despaw decided to flood the board with his starting posse, and relegated Clyde to the midgame. This was a genius move on his part, where 90% of players would’ve taken the accepted route of starting Clyde. Clyde takes up a lot of resources, and has 2 upkeep. If a Law Dogs player starts Clyde and he can’t kill a couple characters the first 2-3 turns, Law Dogs has basically lost. They can’t overcome the tempo loss.
In conclusion, I’d like to thank all of my opponents throughout the few days of play. Everyone was extremely nice and welcoming to the community. A few specific people come to mind that I would like to mention. Geoff Prugh was the one showing people the ropes when I sauntered by, and he graciously gave up his spot in the game to help teach me on the spot. He explained things extremely well, and helped what could’ve been a rough barrier to entry in regards to terms be a lot less difficult than it could’ve been. More importantly, he clued me in to MCC, knowing my affinity for playing defensive control decks in L5R.
AJ Valle got the pleasure of beating the crap out of me for about 2 days straight while I was learning the game. I was HORRIBLE in the beginning, and taking forever to make decisions (not a new thing for people that have seen me play card games). He was very patient, and always obliged me with another game when I would immediately say ‘alright one more’ for about the 10th time. It’s very important to play against players better than you if you want to improve your game, and AJ definitely smacked me around quite a bit on Thursday and Friday.
Finally, Jim Despaw was the other person who gave me quite a few test games over the course of the weekend, and just so happened to be my finals opponent on Sunday. I like to think I have a pretty good eye for catching who the elite players are in a CCG, and Jim consistently throughout the weekend showed himself to be the best player I would watch or play against. Watching him navigate the Town while bottling up my production game after game helped me develop an understanding of the game that I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t faced such quality competition. Also, the final game of the tournament, which lasted over 2 hours by itself, was one of the most complex and rewarding wins I’ve had in almost 20 years of playing CCGs. It was basically a two hour game of chess where I don’t feel either side made any significant errors.
For those interested, here is my decklist:
Morgan Cattle Company
Steven Wiles x2
Make the Smart Choice x4
One Good Turn x4
Pistol Whip x4
Pony Express x2
Circle M Ranch x2
The Union Casino x2
Yan Li’s Tailoring
Killer Bunnies Casino