Introduction to the Legends of the Weird West
by David Lapp
In August 2017, the Pine Box Entertainment playtest team analyzed the four Servitors in the following write-ups: Grimme, Raven, Stone, and Hellstromme. These cards were introduced as a brand new card type, Legend, that debuted in There Comes A Reckoning. During playtest for this first expansion that would continue Doomtown, the team discussed the possibility of hero Legends. Players were given the opportunity to name the first one via an event at GenCon 50, which resulted in Doc Holliday being released in Out for Blood. Inspired by the Twilight Protocol Trilogy storyline events last year, three additional heroes from the Deadlands universe were planned for inclusion in Hell’s Comin With Me. The following details the Design Diary for these cards. Over the next few weeks, members of the playtest team will in turn present each new legend in detail. We hope you enjoy these new additions to Doomtown.
How to Design a Legend…or Three
by Richard Carter
It will be, … wait for it, … Legendary
Very early in the process of working on Hell’s Comin’ With Me (a set that will be ripe for another tale), I was tasked with coming up with more Legends. Doc Holliday had already been designed, and the Pine Box Team wanted an additional trio of heroes to oppose the efforts of the four Servitors from There Comes a Reckoning (TCAR).
Unfortunately for me, I had not been involved with the design or the playtest of the TCAR Servitors. I had heard from veteran playtesters that those four cards were major pains and that they went through several major revisions and rewrites. The upside is that my only exposure to the Legends card type was the five that worked out, so I had a good conceptual template to work with.
I was given the option of doing some of the three in this set and the rest in the set to follow. I made the bold decision to do all three in one go, in an effort to put the opposition to the Servitors in place in time for Tombstone (alas production timelines would defeat this goal). This also created three instant casualties among the cards that had already been selected to be in Hell’s Comin’ With Me.
Hank Ketchum, Andrew Lane, and Lacy O’Malley were to be the rest of the Twilight Legion to assist Doc Holliday in saving the day. I hit the fiction. Since Andrew Lane was the operational head of The Agency in the West, and Hank Ketchum was the leader of the Texas Rangers, I papered my mental sweat lodge with Classic Doomtown Texas Rangers and Agency cards. Somewhere in my vision quest I decided that I would have the Twilight Legion be bright contrasts to the Servitors. Doc Holiday was already out there as the spellcaster parallel for Grimme. “One Riot, One Ranger” lead to Hank Ketchum to take the mantle of the ‘one big bad dude’ concept like Jasper Stone. Hellstromme’s gadget centric concept could be well opposed by the Agency’s gadget trickery. This left Lacy O’Malley to contrast and contest with Raven for the duty of board control / chess tactics.
In the fiction, Hank Ketchum has survived more deadly encounters than he should and has the scars to show for it. I wanted an idea that would promote and endorse fighting solo. Early ideas included bullet bonuses based on the size of the opposing posse or reduction of casualties, but they caused more problems than they solved. In the end, having the static penalty of who to select as the shooter can force some dudes out of the conflict that might have otherwise participated (Henry Moran / Jaqueline Isham), or create some interesting repercussions when hitting targets with shootout penalties. The initial plan was to put the “make your solo dude Harrowed” as a Shootout action, but there were too many options to bring other dudes into the shootout after triggering. Even worse was that you could trigger Hank and then win the shootout (how is that worse?), and have wasted your save ability. As a Resolution action, it can be taken when it will best serve you to save your dude in a tied shootout.
One of the themes of the Agency in the Classic Doomtown CCG was gadgets, and this is where I started. Playtesters were quite resistant to initial ideas that allowed the building of a gadget without having a mad scientist (shipping the gadget operational from back East). I conceived their “Men in Black Dusters” forcing shootouts, but that was too strong. I also created ideas to boot gadgets to do things, but those were unsatisfactory. In the end, I decided not to tie Andrew Lane down to gadgets, as that route lopsidedly and innately supports only two factions (Law Dogs and Entrepreneurs). Being able to deploy a weapon during a shootout can change the course of the fight, or serve to mitigate the damage your opponent does first with something like a Pistol Whip.
Lacy O’Malley was the biggest challenge. Finding something to parallel the complexity of Raven was a daunting goal, and more so to tie into the theme of an intrepid reporter for the Epitaph. I had a handful of ideas involving Headlines, but they hinged too heavily on the strength of those particular cards. During the course of designing Lacy I stumbled on the idea of “no old news” – and this ended up being the path to take. Restricting access to your discard pile needed to come as part of the package, as Kung Fu, Maggie Harris, and Hired Guns would turn the higher card cycling into too much strength. I wanted to come up with some sort of Noon action to take, but in the end I could not come up with anything that we liked. (I have since come up with ideas, but too late). What ended up happening is that I set out to contrast Raven (ostensibly the most complicated Legend) and ended up with the most simple Legend.
A fine tip of the hat to all the playtesters who challenged my ideas, reminded me of card interactions that slipped my mind, and called out my crazy for what it was. Making sure that new Legends are both playable and comparable to the existing ones continues to be tricky, as well as ensuring that they don’t work too well with some outfits. We shall see what the future of Legends holds.
Hell’s Comin’ With Me is currently available for preorder for consumers and retailers and will be shipping March 2020.