by Joe James
The folks at Pine Box sure know how to host memorable events! I wasn’t able to make Kilroy’s Meet & Greet this year, nor the Bicycle event (both of which I’ve attended in previous years and were fun events). I did, however, start Gencon off with a bang in the Deadlands RPG event ran by David Hogg, taking on the role of an overconfident Travis Moone. Despite nearly getting killed a couple of times, I had a great time. I highly recommend attending any of David’s RPG sessions – he is a fantastic GM.
That evening I had a few drinks with my fellow OCTGN-er DeVon (aka: shekky_ducky), while scrambling to make my deck for the next morning’s Dead Man’s Hand event. I had already made a deck, but ended up liking it so much I decided to use it for Saturday’s Championship tourney instead. We ended up with a brew that took similar notes from my 108 Drunken Masters deck, run out of Den of Thieves. The deck spewed out lots of 1 ghost rock chump dudes with aces, eights, and fives as the fifth alternate Dead Mans Hand variant. This strange brew took me to a 3-1 record, only losing to the dreaded and undefeated Stone himself. I managed to get into 19 shootouts over 4 games!
Friday after the tournament was spent in some rare non-Doomtown related board gaming, and it was immediately off to the main event Saturday! The tournament report is below, but suffice to say I did not expect to end the day undefeated. After the tourney, I enjoyed an absolutely fantastic dinner with the Pine Box folks and fellow playtesters. David Orange’s always-fun Call Out event put the icing on an already great day of Doomtown. I stayed up later than I probably should have. But as you’ll see with just about everyone else who plays Doomtown, it’s all about the love of the game.
It always astonishes me how amazing this community is. Between the Deadlands RPG event, Dead Mans Hand event, the main event, and the Saturday night Call Out, I got to see friends old and new, and play lots of games of Doomtown. I’ve said it before, but each year it becomes less like a community and more like a family. I couldn’t ask for a better “family” vacation, and look forward to the next gathering that I’m able to make!
Gencon NA Championship Swiss Rounds
I tried to go on the offensive early, but he quickly set up with Auto-Gatling and other gadgets, fending off my initial assaults on his fortress. I caused some damage, but his gadgets started spiraling out of control and I wasn’t sure what I could do to fight against it. As he had no other deeds and other than Hellstromme, I wasn’t sure how he intended to get any CP to win. Then came the Technological Exhibition and I had my answer. I also had a way to fight him outside his fortress, namely two Sun in Yer Eyes, ready for his two gigantic studs.
I think he stayed too long in the shootout, as he was doing ok with his Decimator Array and Force Field. When Erik ran low on money and had no more decimators left, he drew a very low hand against my very high one with no recourse. At that point it was pretty much game over. 1-0
Round 2: David Hogg
I quickly realized that David had a weak, straight structure with lots of red cards, so I knew I could be as aggressive as I wanted. He got some early Phantasm’s and other spells, including a game changing Puppet (always game changing when it hits the board, especially when the opponent has low value dudes like I did) on Valeria. I was able to Ambush Valeria shortly after, when she wandered into the town square. David fought with her alone, since she was aced either way, and while normally that may be the right move, if you’re going against Inner Struggle like I have, it can be dangerous as the cheatin’ punishment sticks around forever. He probably didn’t know I had that, and his deck wasn’t made for fighting much anyway so it was a fine choice, even if Valeria died a terrible death.
Lots more Phantasm’s, Phantom Fingers, three Blood Curses, and other hexes (including another Puppet) joined his side. Meanwhile I played out a few more dudes and goods, including a Legendary Holster. David wisely avoided any further shootouts the rest of the game, and since my deck was light on kill jobs, it was a continual dance of trying to stay alive through the barrage of influence loss, my dudes getting Phantasm’ed into his home, and more and more deeds and dudes on his side. Luckily Baijiu Jar and Hired Guns helped find enough influence to keep me in the game and in control of most of his deeds.
It was obvious this game was going to time. With all the blood curses going off, plus his Avie Cline Exp 1 stealing my my 3 CP Allie, if time were called toward the end of the day he would win, and if it were called at the beginning I would win. There was 2 minutes left when all actions were spent for the day, and I played as quickly as I could to get through to the next day so he could have a fair chance. It was just enough time for him to re-puppet my Allie and time was called. The 6CP swing wasn’t quite enough (off by 1 point, I think) and the win at time was mine (which was basically a coin flip win, unfortunately).
This was a very good game of chess and move/counter move tactics, and I was pretty sure if I saw this deck in the top 8 I’d be screwed! 2-0
Round 3: Chase with original 108 Blessed
Very early I got a shotgun down, and used it to defend against a Kidnappin’ (day 1 I think). He only lost two dudes who cost 1 GR each. Chase later said he regretted that move, as losing those bullet catchers meant some other important dudes died later on. While we were both quite belligerent and having a lot of shooty fun, it didn’t end well for him and he conceded. 3-0
Round 4: Jacob with Gadgetorium & Wagners Memorial Ranch
I learned from my game with Erik round 1, and immediately for my first action, shot a dude over to his ranch with Asakichi. This let me call out his dude before he could get an Auto-Gatling down, but I did not succeed and he managed to build up some. I constantly kept up pressure, trading my cheap dudes for his more important ones. While I think he won a majority of the shootouts, it wasn’t enough and I ground him down enough to seal the win. 4-0
Round 5: Rich Carter’s Full Moon Brotherhood https://dtdb.co/en/decklist/2781/gencon-eraser-gencon-2
FMB is generally not a great match up for my deck, since it can turn off both Longwei and Randall. Nevertheless, facing yet another in this tournament in the form of last year’s Marshal surprised me. Carter fought off an early ambush against Leon (I think), shaking my confidence. But I just played a ton of dudes, slapped on a Baijiu Jar or two, and took over the town while threatening shootouts the moment he stepped outside his home. We had some shootouts that generally went ok for me since he couldn’t find enough cheatin’ punishment, so he stayed in his home more often than not.
My glaring weakness of not enough kill jobs, combined with Carter getting an occasional dude with 2-3 influence on the board meant the game would most likely go to time. I tried to fix that by sending for Allie (Hired Guns is so versatile!), but she quickly ended up Plagued, rendering her unusable. When time was called I was pretty far ahead, with almost as much control as his influence, plus all my influence. This meant I had my second timed win (which is just about as bad as one loss). 5-0
Sundays Top 8
Top 8: Robert with Original Sloane https://dtdb.co/en/decklist/2777/gencon-top-8-classic-sloane
We both anticipated some bloody shootouts, and agreed the game would probably not go very long. He started Allie, so the clock began tickin’ from day 1.
I saved my belligerence for day 2 so I could have Benjamin join the fun. Robert deflected my first few onslaughts with minimal losses on his side, and it didn’t look great for me. I believe for day 2 he had 4 control to my 4 influence. If he’d stepped onto my deed with Barton, I would have been forced to fight him with one of my influence dudes (something I generally avoid!). He decided to play it safe, since he held such a commanding lead. I can’t say that was the right or wrong decision at the time… very hard call there. Barton would have fought alone. If Robert had lost him, it would have been very bad.
Staying on the non-belligerent side, he passed and we went into day 3. I rebuilt my drunken army and I caught him cheatin’, and his Allie was caught by a Coachwhip. That gave me plenty of time to rebuild, and after a couple of days and another shootout or two he only had two dudes and several deeds on both sides of the board. The game ended in a series of chess moves that didn’t have many good choices for him to make, and I sealed the win. Close game overall – bloody early and bloody often, just as we predicted!
Top 4: Jevon with Full Moon Brotherhood & Grimme https://dtdb.co/en/decklist/2770/sixes-and-sevens-na-2018-top-4-
This game was recorded, and Pine Box will have it available to watch when it is uploaded. I remember hiring tons of dudes, having tons of shootouts, and not inflicting a whole lot of damage. I got an early Inner Struggle down in lowball, but there was only one shootout I was able to have a legal hand when his was cheatin’, and that was when he got a cheatin 5 of a kind against my legal 4 of a kind. I thought that would be well enough to win the shootout since he was only drawing 6 cards, but that still left me down a hand rank.
Jevon used his home to constantly blank Longwei. I got a ton of hired guns, tightening my draw structure so that Legendary Holster was the only remaining off value card. The discarded off value dudes quickly came back on the table, so while I didn’t need Longwei, he would have surely helped in some shootouts.
I think this game had the most shootouts I’ve ever been in – it must have been close to a dozen separate shootouts. The game was coming close to time, and with his Experienced Ivor, he was ahead in tie breakers. I had some influence dudes in my hand, but instead, I simply hired more 1 GR dudes to fight him off my deeds, but I lacked sufficient time to make it happen.
Jevon had a hard exit time that wouldn’t allow a finals match, and graciously conceded before time expired. We both lamented about not enjoying timed games, especially in top 8 matches, but knew why it existed.
I did not feel good about going onto the finals since it Jevon should have moved on. But consider the alternative – him conceding in the finals? Talk about anti-climatic! I spoke with Carter before our game to talk about giving Jevon the top design-a-card prize regardless of the outcome, and of course he (and the Pine Box folks) agreed.
Well, I felt a little better with that (only a little!), but now on to the finals! I would do my best in Jevon’s place.
PS. I counted sixteen cards in my boot hill at the end of this game! There were a couple of jokers, some cards aced from This’ll Hurt and Sight Beyond Sight, but there must have been a solid 7-8 dudes at least!
Finals: Rich Carter with Full Moon Brotherhood https://dtdb.co/en/decklist/2781/gencon-eraser-gencon-2
Carter and I had spoken a decent amount about our first game, and some mistakes aside, he didn’t think he could do well against my against my deck without plenty of cheatin’ punishment. I played a similar styled deck the day before in the Dead Man’s Hand tournament (a similar style to this, but in Den of Thieves), and he knew this deck featured a similar style of cheat-through-the-pain along with a pile of cheap bodies. Unless there’s lots of cheatin’ punishment, it’s tough to cut through. I had Faithful Hounds to eat his Jaels, so he would likely face an uphill battle without plenty of additional punishment.
Laura Scott kindly took notes for this game and let me snap pictures of them. Thank you Laura!
Day 1 I used hired guns to get Luke, along with a Baijiu Jar, and Carter got a couple of deeds. Luke called out his Ambrose in the town square, who refused, and then continued on his way to Hellstromme Plant #9 where Black Owl awaited. Valeria joined the fight with Black Owl versus Luke. Valeria got Sun In her Eyes, and we both ended up with a cheatin’ full house.
Carter used Flight of the Lepus to send Luke back home booted, then proceeded to go to the town square to call out my booted Xiaodan, who Leon (who has a Forget) had booted earlier. He must accept (not that I wouldn’t have any way!) and another fight was on. Carter got a pretty bad shootout hand: a two pair to my cheatin’ full house. With no punishment, his Valeria and Black Owl both ended up taking dirt naps in Boot Hill. Looking back on it now, that shootout most likely determined the game.
I sat on his deeds to deny most of his non-home income, hired more cheap dudes, deeds, and a shotgun over the next couple days.
Finally Carter got a Jaels Guile on Ambrose, and with my Mayor’s Office on the table, had to do something. Leon booted Randall who was sitting on an adjacent deed. I could see what was coming, so I sent Benjamin to protect the booted Randall. Ambrose came over for a fight, during which Benjamin was unprepared. I drew a straight 6 with Longwei’s help and Carter drew 5, change 2. I luckily managed a legal full house, which was enough to seal the win. Technically his Jake could have popped over to a deed to force another fight, but Luke + Shotgun would have followed to clean things up, so it was game.
I look forward to seeing Carter’s deck and his report, curious as to his thoughts on what sort of luck made its way to his play and shootout hands. Obviously the fight where he lost Valeria was a bad hand, and a crucial victory for me, but if he’d had a second cheatin’ punishment for that fight things might have been very different.
Either way, I think it was just a bad matchup for Carter, but he played a tough situation well. I haven’t been able to play Carter before, but I very much enjoyed playing against, and watching him play. I look forward to working with him in his new role as the Design lead!
“So did you win a bunch of money?” my non-Doomtown-playing friends and family ask when they hear the news. I sure didn’t, and I wouldn’t have it any other way! Big cash prizes would skew these sorts of events from equal parts competitive and fun, to something less fun. I can’t say enough about how great this community is, and while I’m confident we’d never lose our fun bantering back and forth even during top 8 rounds, adding big prizes would take away something special this game has that few others do.
The “trophy” whiskey flask and case are absolutely gorgeous, as are the top 8 playmat, and top 4 ivory Doc Holliday. Imagine how lucky I must feel to be able to name a card from a tournament last year, and this year see it come to life in ivory form! Pine Box also announced they would be getting Marshal badges for all post-AEG Marshals. These sorts of prizes are simply priceless.
I hope this report inspires others, who may have previously been hesitant, to take their latest brew to the next big event. You won’t find a better, more friendly group of players – I promise. I hope to see you there!