by Russell Smith

A few years back, Miles Hayton burst on to the London Doomtown community with a win in the first tournament we saw him in. A true gent, a real study in the methods of card gaming, and a really funny guy, he made a huge impression upon several of us from that moment onwards.

I missed that tournament, but was delighted to have met him not long afterwards. He soon became a regular at our casual Doomtown Thursday nights and we got into some incredible discussions about deck design philosophy and play styles. Mostly because I would repeatedly opt for some increasingly outlandish concept that I would usually fail to get to work, while he would bring in a ruthlessly effective deck that destroyed us on multiple occasions. If you saw the horrified faces he would pull when I tried out an idea and tanked miserably with it, you’d swear I was doing it deliberately just to wind him up. And sometimes I would.

But I credit him with improving my gameplay as much as anyone. We took it as a challenge to turn up with something that could hold up to his incredible designs. Rather than mocking my style, he taught me how to own it that critical bit better. Nobody ever explained to me the method of shootout hand deck builds better than he did; the percentages without ever delving into the maths, the principles of symmetry and breaking it thus. He also demonstrated countermeasures for particularly brutal cards and combos.

While we were all puzzling out how to make an Eagle Wardens deck fly, he showed us, with his usual fiercely competitive flair. He’d made the starting posse of Enapay, Francisco Rosales, Mariel Lewis, Willa Mae Macgowan and Zachary Deloria truly fearsome. In turn that made venturing into the town square something opponents did at their peril. That opened a door for the First Peoples as a force to be reckoned with even outside the Spirit Fortress archetype from that day on.

And let me tell you, he would have been delighted with the latest evolution of the faction. Outside Doomtown, he instructed jujitsu with a calm authority seemingly at odds with his relative youth. I’ve seen video footage of just how adored he was by kids he taught; that incredible sense of humour of his coming out at every turn, yet his charges taking in everything he said. This is the guy who named one of his decks, ‘I’ve Four Hawleys’ yet never told us that until after he had utterly hammered us into the ground by showing us why. He didn’t stop laughing for a full ten minutes once he had. It was actually kind of infectious.

The reason I mention this of course is that he was known outside Doomtown circles as ‘Ninja Miles.’ Now obviously we didn’t have a Weird West Ninja when we discussed with the design team about a tribute to this outstanding individual. Roughly translating from Japanese as ‘A scout’, or ‘keeping watch,’ who better to Warden the Wardens as were, than one of our own? When we knew of Kung Fu making its way to the faction in the way that it has, there was no question about our requirements from the London crew.

So here he is, immortalised in the game he loved, in the most fitting tribute we could find for him. Not to mention, if I do say so myself, an outstanding piece of artwork too. Sometime in May or June of 2019, we plan to have our first memorial event for Miles, which will have a First Peoples theme of some sort. We’ll be raising some cash for charity this way, add in some prize support and above all, playing in the spirit of the way Miles would have had it –a fun day out. For whoever can make it, we’d love to see you there. It would be our honour, just as it was to have known the incredible Miles Hayton.