by Richard Carter
What sort of things are in store for the future of Doomtown? Funny you should ask. Out For Blood spoilers have begun, and included in this article is the first card that I designed, Carter Richardson, my prize card for stumbling into the winner’s circle at GenCon 2017. A variation on the personal card of mine from my Classic Doomtown days, Carter is itching to join the fray against wanted dudes, and not just in the service of the Law Dogs.
The art for this card is by fellow Marshal David Hammond, commissioned to honor another Marshal
But then what?
Well, at some point in the testing of Too Tough To Die, Emre Guzelsu, Lead Design for Doomtown, came up with the idea to have a set composed of playtester designs to follow after Out for Blood. He provided loose design goals (like “a Shootout action on Jack”) and I may have gone a little nuts. I submitted 62 cards to hit all the requested design guidelines, admittedly not all of them good. When Emre decided to move on to a new project, my prodigious submissions put me on the short list for successors to take over the reins of Doomtown.
But enough about me. What about the next set?
I cannot take credit for all the ideas that are to come, only share that credit with the rest of the playtesters. But it became my job to wrangle all the ideas, pass judgement on some, and make up new ones.
What goes in to designing a Doomtown card?
Alchemy – Science, Art, Magic, and no small measure of Luck.
After 20 years of playing this game (between both versions), I like to think that I have a good feel for how all those pieces come together. Each card in this game is whatever it is (Dude, Deed, etc.), as well as its suit and value for making poker hands. Sometimes one can balance a card by stacking it in a value with the cards that it works best with. This particularly holds true for actions and items, forcing the deck builder to choose which card effect they want most. Alternatively, placing the card on a value full of effects that are not complementary, either makes it a value splash or lacking direct synergy.
Another consideration when it comes to selecting a value for a card is competition. With the constraints of Doomtown deck design, there are only 4 cards on a value/suit that get to be in the deck. Anything new introduced needs to compete for the slot like a sports tryout or an orchestra audition. This can be obvious, “we do not yet have a Law Dog Blessed on this value”, or more nuanced, “if we put this shootout action on a 3, will it see play compared to Stakes Just Rose and Sun In Yer Eyes?” Thinking about things like this keeps all the Fear Monger Abominations from being in the same two values, and that then correlates to deck value decisions not looking like they are being spoon fed by design. As the card pool grows, the competition on values increases, and new cards might have to get interesting to earn a spot in the final 56 card set.
Some ideas come to me over the course of playing games. The game state will make me think “wouldn’t it be cool if?” – sometimes it is a combination of cards that begin to tell a story, and the card idea is the logical extension of that story. Other times I will put myself in a right proper western frame and let my mind amble about, imagine western scenes, and, to be completely honest, adopt a twang and drawl. Unfortunately I do not get to play games locally nearly as much as I would like, but I have a wealth of games lodged in my memory to draw from, and I do not fear running out of ideas any time soon.
With this, the Pine Box team welcomes Richard Carter with open arms and looks forward to a new day in the world of Doomtown.