Law Dogs – A Strategic Primer

Law Dogs – A Strategic Primer

by Dave “Doomdog” Hogg

The Weird West isn’t a safe place.  If the outlaws don’t get you, then one of the many unspeakable horrors that prowl the night probably will.  The lives of those sworn to uphold the law and defend the peace aren’t easy, that’s for sure.  In Doomtown Reloaded, the Law Dogs outfit is home to the lawmen and women of the West, including  Sheriffs, Deputies and the various townsfolk who support them in their duties.  As this is the Weird West and sometimes a simple bullet isn’t enough to deal with a problem, the Law Dogs also have support from Blessed characters (dudes gifted with divine powers to fight against the darkness creeping into the world) and Mad Scientists (inventors using the power of ghost rock to further technology).

Why Play Law Dogs?

If you like the Shootout aspect of Doomtown, chances are you’ll like the Law Dogs.  The faction is home to some of the best shooters in the game, backed up by some impressive support dudes, goods and actions that work well with their themes.   Law Dogs builds are often thus aggressive decks that are either constantly on the attack with access to multiple jobs and forced call-outs or else using their strong shootout presence to hold the Town Square and play an area denial game.  There are plenty of different avenues you can take when deck building to add a twist to the shootout-focused approach to keep your opponents guessing.  This shootout strength also means that the Law Dogs are well placed to benefit from the Legend Jasper Stone.

Upholdin’ the Law

In game, the Law Dogs have a number of themes, and they frequently overlap so the cards can find use in many different decks.  The main one is interactions with bounties.  The Law Dogs base set Outfit provides a reliable way to place bounties on dudes to enable these effects, while The Arsenal allows aggressive play against wanted dudes for decks using Miracles or Gadgets.  Supporting them are dudes that can place bounties on opposing dudes, such as Andrew Burton and Stewart Davidson.  There are several dudes within the outfit who gain bonuses when facing wanted dudes in shootouts, such as Wylie Jenks or “Thunder Boy” Nabbe. Other dudes can impose penalties on the wanted dudes themselves; Hattie DeLorre and Vasilis the Boar are good examples.  The bounty interactions aren’t all shootout-reliant.  Dudes like Father Tolarios and Dr. Dayl Burnett can remove a bounty from an opposing dude to gain a powerful effect, Clyde Owens is an aggressive dude great for chasing wanted dudes around town or attacking them at home and Elmore Rhine may make wanted dudes think twice about occupying your deeds.  Both versions of Judge Harry Somerset start jobs that target wanted dudes, and there are decks built entirely around this ability.

In addition to the dudes, there are a number of other cards that interact with or generate bounties that are definitely worth looking at for a Law Dogs deck.  Deeds include B&B Attorneys, which can increase the bounty of an already wanted dude or reduce the bounties on your own dudes (beware as opponents can also use this if they control B&B Attorneys!).  The Gomorra Gazette, when used in conjunction with bounty-generating abilities, can provide a nice boost to your income.  Gomorra Jail rewards you with control points for bringing in wanted dudes alive.  

Goods you may want to consider include Bluetick, a Sidekick that helps you chase down wanted dudes.  Dog’s Duster provides some nice bonuses, and also enables your dude to call out wanted dudes hiding at home.  Combine them with Tin Star and there’s no escaping the law.  The Evidence can add bounty to or remove it from dudes.   

Actions provide ways to attack wanted dudes with Ol’ Fashioned Hangin’ and Bounty Hunter, while Tresspassin’ and Framed add to your options for increasing bounties on dudes.  Too Much Attention can boot a wanted dude, so is a great surprise card that can disrupt an opponent’s plans or be used to set up a callout that can’t be refused.

Another theme is effects that reward you for revealing a legal draw hand when your opponent reveals a Cheatin’ draw hand, or that just punish an opposing Cheatin’ hand.  The Justice in Exile Outfit’s bounty generating trait operates along these lines.  Philip Swinford and Tommy Harden are other good examples of this type of effect.  Philip’s trait can trigger in both the Gamblin’ phase and during Shootouts, even when he isn’t in the posse.  Card cycling is a powerful effect, and during a shootout against a Cheatin’ opponent it can really pay off if you draw into a Cheatin’ Resolution action that you can then play!  Tommy can give your opponent headaches during shootouts when they can make a higher ranked Cheatin’ hand than they can a legal one, as his trait can cancel out the rank advantage.  Many decks will be aiming for Full Houses and Four-of -a-Kinds, ranks seven and eight respectively, so he can easily swing a shootout from a loss to a win, or break a tie.  Decks wanting to take advantage of these anti-Cheatin’ effects will want to bring plenty of cards that inflict penalties to opposing dudes’ bullets, or remove dudes from shootouts.  The fewer cards your opponent has to form their draw hands with, the more likely they are to be forced to cheat.

Many Law Dogs dudes have the Deputy keyword.  While this in itself has no in-game effect, there are several abilities and traits that reference it.  Faster on the Draw is a strong Shootout action that gives extra bonuses to Deputies so is often found in Law Dogs decks.  Zoe Halbrook‘s Mad Scientist skill is increased by the number of Deputies at her location, Rafi Hamid can move Deputies into shootouts at Government deeds and Erin Knight can move your Deputies into her posse.  Abram Grothe has a very strong ability that unboots all Deputies at his and adjacent locations – great when used in the Town Square.  The Abram’s Crusaders Outfit gives bonuses to Deputies with Melee Weapons and Miracles attached, and can also give any dude the Deputy Keyword.

Finally, there are a couple of Law Dogs dudes that interact with deeds that have the Government keyword.  The aforementioned Rafi Hamid is one, and Constance Daughtry is the other.  Constance is incredibly useful with the Law Dogs Outfit, especially when at a Government deed.  There are a couple of other interactions with the Government keyword worth mentioning.  Notary Public  is a deed that, when booted alongside a Government deed, can add a bounty to a dude.  Legal Instruments is a goods that when attached to a deed gives it the Government keyword and provides influence and value bonuses to Deputies at that deed.

Here is an example of a deck that makes use of some of these cards and themes, piloted to the top eight cut at the 2017 World Championship by kollatt.  By focusing on adding bounties to dudes and constantly attacking through jobs and Bounty Hunters it keeps the pressure on its opponent and aims for a quick win.

https://dtdb.co/en/decklist/2471/gencon-world-championship-event-exile-aggro-top-8

Keepin’ God’s Peace

The Blessed act primarily as support for the main Law Dogs cast.  Rev. Perry Inbody has a great ability that affords your dudes extra mobility, Father Tolarios searches your deck for key Miracles and Mystical Goods, and Riorden O’Lithen and Ebenezer Springfield can spread Bounties among opposing dudes.  Others are more aggressive in nature.  Erik Samson and Abram Grothe are both at their best when fighting with Melee Weapons, while Deborah West is great for running jobs.  

The Blessed are the only dudes that can equip Miracles, a spell type that is less direct than Hexes and Spirits but that offers some powerful buff and casualty reduction abilities.  Onward Christian Soldiers not only strengthens your dudes’ bullets, but also protects them from being modified by opposing card effects.  Get Behind Me, Satan! and Shield of Faith keep your dudes alive in Shootouts, enabling you to outlast an opponent due to attrition or survive a bad hand.  Lay On Hands is there for when the casualty reduction isn’t enough.  Walk the Path is a versatile movement spell, able to be used to outmanoeuvre opponents during Noon or bring backup into Shootouts.  Amazing Grace provides bonus influence, protection from influence reduction and enables your Blessed to refuse the next call-out without going home booted, which is great for getting past a busy Town Square.  Of note to the Law Dogs are Confession, which can add bounties to dudes, and Fiery Rhetoric, a job that can give your Blessed control points equal to the number of opposing wanted dudes in play.

Using the abilities of Father Tolarios and the Legend Ezekiah Grimme, you could build a deck that runs one or two copies of lots of different Miracles and get the relevant ones for your matchup in to play quickly.

Here is an example of a deck using Blessed that also made it to the top eight cut at the 2017 World Championship piloted by prodigy.  It brings a variety of Miracles and makes use of Father Tolarios to search for the best one to help deal with whatever situation it is faced with.

https://dtdb.co/en/decklist/2482/blessed-dogs-we-re-there-top-8-gencon-2017-marshal

 

We’re Gonna Need A Bigger Gun

The Law Dogs’ Mad Scientists are few in number, so like the Blessed they are best used in a support role.  Both Zoe Halbrook and Janosz Pratt have particular interactions with Weapon Gadgets – Zoe can only invent Weapons, while Janosz can ‘jury rig’ a Weapon Gadget from your discard pile in a shootout.  Andreas Andregg and Mortimer Parsons provide solid stud bullets and influence but little interesting besides on the Mad Science front.  Mortimer requires you to play legal in shootouts or he goes home booted and sets his influence to zero, which if you can absorb the influence hit can allow for some bold plays that you intentionally cheat to escape from.  Drew Beauman can immediately invent a gadget without booting if your draw hand is legal and your opponent’s is Cheatin’, which can be useful for inventin’ twice in one turn.  Dr. Dayl Burnett can also invent a Gadget without booting, and at a reduced difficulty, by removing a bounty from an opposing dude.

With two of their six in-faction Scientists focused on Weapon Gadgets, and with Weapon Gadget difficulties generally being in the mid range, giving access to some good Law Dogs support cards, Law Dog gadgeteers are best off focused on equipping their allies with big guns.  Weapons like Auto-Revolver and Aetheric Shockwave Inducer are interesting choices for decks using The Arsenal Outfit, as neither needs to boot for an ability so can be used for the Outfit’s ability instead.   This also makes them good candidates for use with with the Legend Darius Hellstromme.  Hydro-Puncher is a Melee Weapon Gadget that could see use with Abram’s Crusaders.  Also of note to the Law Dogs is the Culpability Scientizer.  This crime-predicting gizmo works very well with The Arsenal and for setting up other cards that rely on dudes being wanted.  However with a low value of three it may be risky to combine it with other, higher difficulty gadgets.

I couldn’t find any recent examples of Law Dogs Gadget decks on dtdb, so I’ve posted one of my own for you to take a look at that uses some of the things I’ve discussed above.

https://dtdb.co/en/decklist/2490/we-re-gonna-need-a-bigger-gun

The Fourth Ring – A Strategic Primer

The Fourth Ring – A Strategic Primer

by Anders ‘Suzy309’ Kernel 

So you want to join the Circus, do you? Well, I cant blame you. We have magical hexes of incredulous power, we have clowns with hammers and knives, we have freaks of nature and a potential cannibal! So welcome to the Circus! Oh, did I mention clowns? We have lots of clowns

4th Ring offer a variety of deck possibilities from high value shooters over abomination attrition to movement and board control. Whether you are an returning Whateley fan from Doomtown Classic, a control player or you just like to play with monsters, 4th Ring has something to offer you. I’m going to wet your appetite by talking about some of the deck types that you’ll find in the Circus and some of the key cards for our great faction.

Control… With a Bang?!?

One of the first deck types for 4th Ring was a control deck which is winning by lowering your opponents influence using Blood Curse and Rumors and controlling your opponents movement with Paralysis Mark and Phantasm. These hexes has the double effect of letting you isolate your opponents weaker influence dudes so you could call them out, without those pestering studs to protect them. The more trigger-happy versions of the deck are often packing a heavy amount of Unprepared and Hex Slingin’ ensuring a devastating hand rank manipulation, if your opponent should force you into a shootout.

Other cards frequently used in these decks are Shadow Walk, one of the absolutely best movement cards of the game, often combined with Soul Blast for a quite devastating effect in a shootout or just used for controlling opponents deeds, without having to walk over a contested town square. Another addition are the game winning Puppet hex. While costly at 2 Ghost Rock and often hard to use, this hex is game winning when used to take control of your opponents stud or just taking the last influence from her, after you have her dudes booted all over town. The choice of having Soul Blast and Puppet in your deck however, also brings the risk of failing your Hex pulls, so be careful how many you bring and always keep track of where they are!

The values often used for these decks are high: 8, 9, 10, J and Q which are the values of the hexes and actions mentioned above. If you feel frisky, or just want to remember the old ways, you can include the old family estate to bring back jokers or hexes while also bringing more options for booting your opponents dudes. If you do so, I’d recommend also bringing our very own femme fatale, Avie Cline. Those two combined makes for a great house of horrors! Starting posses for these decks often include Leon as an indispensable but expensive control dude, Valeria as a good huckster and cheap stud and Freddy to get that starting hex you need, if you don’t have it in hand. Oh, and don’t forget your all around great General Store for those hex sales! A stable in most 4th Ring decks. The home used for these decks are the original 4th Ring – still one of the strongest homes in the game as it gives your economy a boost, while at the same time giving you card draw!

Here is a prime example of a 4th Ring control deck, by Gozik:

https://dtdb.co/en/decklist/1507/the-most-consistent-deck-1st-moscow-5-0-

An abominable good time!

What is scarier than a clown? A dead clown returning from Elephant Hill to rip your gizzards out, that’s what! So that is exactly what we have! The second kind of deck I’ll talk about today is the abomination (or abom) deck. An abomination deck often builds on the idea of winning the game by attrition in shootouts. Simply put, we’ll just keep bringing them abominations back into the fray till all your dudes are plain dead.

To do so there are 3 important cards. The first is Raising Hell which is straight out of the base set. Use this cunning little trick to either get your favorite critter back from the dead, or ace your Harvester from the hand and bring it in via the hex. It can bring both firepower and great attrition value, if used on the Brute. The second card is the very popular Soul Cage. Using this card in lowball or in a shootout where your opponent decides to cheat, can bring the even the biggest abomination to the table such Smiling Tom or The Ghostly Gun. That last one could then be used to manipulate your own shootout hand, just a little trick to get by, if you need it. The last card is our very own Ringmaster, Ivor Hawley himself! Ivor feeds on the fear created by all your abominations, living or dead and thus becomes cheaper the more darling creatures we have out. If that isn’t enough, he’ll even bring some back from the grave when he comes, a nice combination with Freddy and a hex or just to pull a few Pagliaccio back into the game. There are few abom decks that doesn’t have at least one Ivor in them these days.

Now, the normal starting home of an abom deck is The Oddities of Nature, which makes sense as it gives our aboms some much needed influence on town square. However, they still lack that influence for taking over your opponents deeds! To mitigate this, why not give Tyx a Fancy New Hat? Or you can always use Hawley’s Rose to make a good first impression. Another good influence option is to bring Karl to your starting posse, often combined with Freddy, Tyx and a few Pagliaccios. Just remember only to bring abominations to the table if you want to keep his influence around.

An important choice when building an abom deck is whether or not to use hexes, which will also influence your values for the deck. Normal values for an abom deck is 2, 6, 8, 10, Q and K, with a hex heavy deck focusing on the higher values. That gives us access to some wonderful actions as Takin’ Ya With Me and Buried Treasure to ace your own abominations, but also Point Blank for those big studs to use. Remember to bring your own Undertaker to take advantage of the thriving business you will create at town square, and if you run 2s, why not bring a little Bottom Dealin’ as a surprise for your opponent.

Here is a typical efficient deck from mplain, Abominable:

https://dtdb.co/en/decklist/2131/-moscow-op5-winner-abominable

A mystical condition!

Aside from hexes and clowns, the circus can also offer a variety of curios and mystical conditions! With dudes as Valeria and Dabney it is possible for the circus to dable into the arts of mystical gadget creation, offering a wide variety of possibilities as Jack-In-A-Box, Holy Wheel Gun and even a Clown Carriage to ease the transport of our fragile friends. The new Devil’s Six-Gun is also a mystical gadget – perhaps suitable for creating a 4th Ring straight flush deck or just oulling Jokers in when you need them. Talking about mystical, Junior is always happy to help us get what we need. A great card is the Stone Idol, which not only makes our hexes easier to cast but also giving us the possibility of using cards as Forced Quarantine. Speaking of diseases, a plague struck Gomorrah recently, and those lost to it often returned into our service known as The Blighted, a great way to boost our abominations! To kickstart all of that it would be wise to bring Jia Mein, perhaps with a Festering Grasp to threaten your opponent.

Here is a deck by Doomdog showing some of the fun you can have at the circus with the gadgets at hand:

https://dtdb.co/en/decklist/2483/mystical-murder-mages

I hope this has given you an intro into one of the finest factions in Doomtown. As we get closer to the Kickstarter the 5th of September more and more cards are revealed that will inspire new and terrifying decks for the 4th Ring. I hope to meet you in the tent. If not, watch the shadows…

Mirror, Mirror – GenCon 50

Mirror, Mirror – GenCon 50

Another year of our annual Doomtown gathering at Gencon, Indianapolis is in the books. Last year I wrote an article following the Marshal event. I noted it would be the last Doomtown article I would write for the Gazette under AEG’s auspices. I hoped at the time that Doomtown: Reloaded would continue. Sure enough, Pine Box Entertainment and Pinnacle Entertainment Group will launch DT:R’s expansion There Comes A Reckoning via Kickstarter on September 5. Last year I wrote about my experience as a player, while this year I’d like to take you all behind the scenes of my role of Tournament Organizer.

Earlier this year, PBE submitted events for Doomtown, as PEG had tasked us with not only creating new product for Doomtown: Reloaded, but also with maintaining Organized Play. From previous experience, we knew that players disliked having to ‘grind in’ to play in the main event. We also wanted to do something different from the AEG’s Marshal event. This resulted in advising GenCon 50 of the changing of the guard and that PBE would like to host the 2017 World Championship for Doomtown: Reloaded. Before the championships, we gave players a chance to try out TCaR’s Servitors via the Evil Is A Choice Event with each player receiving a full-bleed version of their chosen Servitor. As the Gomorra Community Council hosted some community events last year, we wanted to keep in that tradition of bringing players together to have the option to get to know each other and flip some cardboard ‘after hours’.

Pre-planning resulted in a rather hectic Wednesday. Besides Trade Day, Alex Wirges and I ran around Indy gathering up supplies. Then we hosted our first official Meet and Greet at Kilroy’s where we set up our Servitor Challenge Booth sign. Early arriving Doomies included: Zac Seldon, our GenCon 2016 Runner-Up; Robert Campbell, our 2017 European Champion; and Scott Wisely, my Grudge Match challenge opponent. Phillip Sullivan, a local who won the Indianapolis Epitaph Event and who I had talked with about revitalizing community interest, brought his family. He and his father also attended both the Servitors and Championship events. As more Doomies poured in, Alex and I started handing out a new series of promos: Meet PBE. At GenCon, and in future events, players can receive a full-bleed promo specific to PBE team members. For myself, I have Clementine Lepp (with an A marked in the appropriate spot for a respelling), an Alexis Mirges Scoop Hound for Alex, and Arnold Stewart for meeting David Orange, who headed up our demos. Don’t worry folks, we intend to have these on us at future in person events (next being PAX: Unplugged in Philadelphia starting November 16). Scott Wisely’s Law Dogs called me out, as Scott indicated last year he’s beaten every US and UK Marshal and we never got our match in. I broke out an updated version of my old Oddities deck (https://dtdb.co/en/decklist/2484/grudge-match-gencon-2017-community-event), with Tyx and Valeria taking down Thunder Boy and his crew.

Following this event we went over to the Hyatt for a community gathering featuring a 5 player Bicycle game in our annual Bike Rally Event. There we enjoyed some homebrew by Joseph Mencarini, who brought us Tyxarglenak (dry cider), Welcome to Tombstone (British pub ale), and Ace in the Hole (IPA). Jevon Heath was the last to be knocked out in the event, and received a Deadlands print entitled ’A Friendly Game.’ We gave out some bottlecap token prototypes, continuing to do so throughout the convention. Based on the response, we will continue making them for future kits.

The PBE crew took Thursday off, but Jason Schulte hosted “Partners for a Day” an official Doomtown team event. Friday morning, the amazing Scott Wisely and Heidi Cook led our team in organizing an amazing first official tournament as we hosted the “Evil Is A Choice.” Heidi and Scott ran the event with British efficiency and aplomb. After the gunfire and spells had settled, James Meredith emerged victorious with Ezekiah Grimme guiding the Fourth Ring (https://dtdb.co/en/decklist/2472/i-chose-evil-1st-place-gencon-2017-evil-is-a-choice). James thus earned the right to Name A Card of a future Legend, choosing Tombstone’s Doc Holliday!

Throughout the day we enjoyed meeting everyone that came up to our HQ table to talk about Doomtown. While our event tables were in a section further back in Hall C, our main HQ table occupied a strategic location in by a concession stand and in front of the pathway where all the convention foot traffic came through. Hundreds of people came up to us to talk about Doomtown; whether they were excited about the continuation, didn’t know that Doomtown lives on, or just wanted to thank us for continuing their beloved game. It was truly amazing to see the genuine excitement people had.

Saturday my wife Christine cosplayed Avie Cline, handing out promotional flyers for the September 5th Kickstarter, meeting even more passerbys that wanted to talk about Doomtown. Alex Wirges represented PBE at the Pinnacle Entertainment Group Seminar to inform Savage Worlds fans that Doomtown will become an integral part of the Deadlands experience and announce additional cards as stretch goals. David Orange continued with demos, while the PBE Rules Team and I headed up the main World Championship event. Richard Carter, long time player and champion in the Classic Doomtown, emerged victorious with the 108 Righteous Bandits over DeVon Green’s Desolation Row. Both decklists can be found at dtdb.com.

https://dtdb.co/en/decklist/2481/gencon-2017-marshal-108-shooting-slide

https://dtdb.co/en/decklist/2469/gencon-2017-world-championship-2nd-place

We learned quite a bit being on the other side of the tables this year. Armed with that knowledge, PBE plans on hosting even more successful events. Starting with PAX Unplugged this November, we will provide decks for convention attendees that want to jump in and play. We will also videotape games to present to the community for commentary. We truly hope all the Doomies we’ve gotten to meet so far will join us, as we will also be hosting a community event November 16th to kick things off and provide an exclusive promo card for the convention.

Lastly, I want to thank each and every amazing member of this community. The positive vibe from all of you has been outmatched in all my years of playing card games. Not only were you a pleasure to run events for, you offered to bring us refreshments, engaged passerbys, and made everyone feel welcome. We could not ask for a better group of players 🙂 Last, and most certainly not least, a special shoutout to Mark Wootton, the developer responsible for bringing Doomtown Reloaded back to life for AEG, who brought us original DT:R art proofs to award as prizes.

Week of the Reckoning: The Road to Hell

Week of the Reckoning: The Road to Hell

The Week of the Reckoning is a series of articles focused on the four Servitors who serve as the first Legend cards for Doomtown: Reloaded. These articles are written by play test team members and are meant to be a guide to the strategies the Servitors add to the game.

by David Avery

Darius Hellstromme is the scientific genius of Salt Lake City and Pestilence’s Servitor. On the face of it, he is the simplest of the servitors to use as he gives your gadget weapons a significant upgrade. At -1 starting ghost rock, he is affordable without too much disruption to your starting posse. His down side only applies if you are the leader, so as long as you’re not the one starting trouble he won’t cause you any pain. He can cut across your ability to exert early pressure on blitz decks. As long as you can survive the first turn and get some guns out, things will start to swing your way.

Hellstromme is most likely to find a home amongst either Morgan Cattle Company or Law Dogs due to their plethora of mad scientists churning out his weapons of death. Yagn’s Mechanical Skeleton is the main gadget weapon seeing play at the moment. This now further threatens your opponent by acing an otherwise safe discard, unless they can boot it before resolution. Diego Linares diligently churns out skeletons for Morgan. With the arrival of Stewart Davidson, the Law Dogs can now also reliably use mechanical skeletons as Dr. Dayl allows you to run lower value cards such as faster on the draw. Hydro Puncher fits well into both these decks turning your Skeletons into dude booting immovable studs.

Once There Comes a Reckoning is released, Prof. Roe makes the Bio Charged Neutraliser far more viable. Luke the Errand Boy passing the Neutraliser to your shooter ensures you always have a gun ready for Hellstromme.

A posse packing both Asyncoil Guns and Aetheric Shockwave Inducers becomes a greater threat serving Hellstromme with the asyncoil gun reaching parity with the ubiquitous shotgun. Both gadgets also trigger Showboating, allowing you rack up CP’s on dudes.

If you feel really ambitious, why not try Valeria Batten and Diable en Boîte in a low value hex deck. Use Mirror, Mirror plus Shotgun and the Legendary Holster. You will ace a lot of opposing dudes.

Overall Hellstromme puts gadgets back up with hexes and spirits. Your opponent will have think carefully before going up against dudes packing ghost rock powered guns and that’s how it should be.

Week of the Reckoning: Grim Servant O’ Death

Week of the Reckoning: Grim Servant O’ Death

The Week of the Reckoning is a series of articles focused on the four Servitors who serve as the first Legend cards for Doomtown: Reloaded. These articles are written by play test team members and are meant to be a guide to the strategies the Servitors add to the game.

by David Hogg

If you choose to ally with Jasper Stone, you’re taking the side of Death. In the Deadlands RPG, Stone is the meanest gun in the Weird West, serving as Death’s Right Hand and The Reckoners’ trouble-shooter. Heroes who repeatedly foil the Reckoner’s schemes will receive a visit from The Deathly Drifter, and it won’t end well for them. It isn’t for nothing Stone is known as ‘The Hero Killer’.

In Doomtown Reloaded, Stone encourages you to take perhaps the most direct path to victory. If you kill all your opponent’s dudes, they can’t contest the game. However, Stone prefers besting his victims in one-on-one duels. This is reflected in his traits and abilities. Except at home only your shooter contributes to your draw hand bonuses. Once you choose your shooter they get a nice two-bullet boost for forming draw hands if they’re opposing the dude Stone has targeted for death. If the targeted dude is aced at any point during the Shootout, your shooter gains a permanent control point and an extra bullet. Stone doesn’t come cheap either – he reduces your starting stash by two Ghost Rock. However when Tales from the Epitaph releases this sting can be lessened with help from Agent Provocateur.

When it comes to building a deck, Stone favors fast, targeted aggression. You’re probably going to want to build a tight three-value deck for early shootout consistency to support that. Plus you need to ensure you have a way to encourage your opponent to fight before they’re ready. This could be through running removal jobs or enforced callouts such as Kidnappin’ and Bounty Hunter (though note that if you’re using Bounty Hunter you’ll need dudes other than the Gunslinger token in your posse to benefit from Stone’s ability), or quickly building up control points through use of cards like Allie Hensman and The Sloane Gang.

Stone also favors stud dudes, as getting more cards to choose from for your draw hand means you’ll have a better chance of winning the shootout and acing Stone’s target. Even though only your shooter gets the bullet bonus and contributes to draw hands, going into a fight with a single stud dude is a risk as your opponent might have brought “Wendy” Cheng or Mariel Lewis, or be holding action cards such as Sun in Yer Eyes or Pistol Whip that can seriously ruin your plans. Having multiple stud dudes in your posse increases your chances of having one to select as your shooter. Weapons that protect or grant stud status such as Peacemaker and Pearl-Handled Revolver can be a real boon, as can ways to bring dudes back into your posse or prevent them from leaving in the first place such as the Horses Pinto and Pedro. The action card The Stakes Just Rose does both these things!

Clever targeting with Stone’s ability can also maximise your gains from it. Rather than choosing the dude you really want to kill, look at your opponent’s posse and think about who they’re likely to ace first if the shootout doesn’t go their way. Willa Mae MacGowan is a prime target, as are other cheap, influence lacking dudes. As you’re looking for aces rather than discards, increasing your winning margin is also worth looking at. Outgunned and Calling the Cavalry are both ways to boost your hand rank and have good synergy with cards that work well with Stone.

You can use cards like Shotgun and Legendary Holster to ace Stone’s target. As these happen before shooters are declared, the shootout will need to reach Step 2 for you to get the permanent control point and bullet bonus. This means your dudes need to stay around for, and survive, the entire shootout. With Stone’s target gone you won’t be benefitting from the extra two bullets for draw hands either! Acing effects that occur during the Resolution step may be a safer bet. Using Coachwhip! on a Cheatin’ opponent will ensure you hit your target if you stay legal. As the shooter’s bullet bonus lasts until the end of the round, if they are unbooted and a stud they can cause some real pain with Point Blank. Unboot those studs with Missed!

If you play aggressively, sending multiple dudes into shootouts or on jobs, you might not want to play too many deeds with control points as you’ll have a harder time defending them. If your plan works you’ll soon be eliminating opposing influence and gaining control points from Stone. Thus look for on-value deeds that provide efficient economy first and foremost and maybe consider doubling up on one or two deeds that work best with your deck on each value.