The Gunslinger’s Path: Miracles

The Gunslinger’s Path: Miracles

by Joe James

What are Miracles?

Miracles are one of Doomtown: Reloaded’s spell types, along side hexes and spirits. These can only be used by (attached to) Blessed dudes, primarily found in the Law Dogs plus some 108 Righteous Bandits. Miracles can punish opposing wicked dudes, while offering resilience via buffing your dudes or sparing them from death.

How do miracles win?

Many criticisms of Miracles decks stems from the perception that “not losing” is often a poor way to win a game. With the release of Blood Moon Rising, and especially Father Tolarios, the scales seemed to tip enough to make miracle decks a solid, competitive choice.

Miracle decks have several paths towards victory:

1) Forced Attrition: This involves using spells like Get Behind Me, Satan and Lay on Hands to keep your dudes alive, while at the same time using actions like Point Blank and Takin’ Ya With Me to inflict a casualty here and there until you whittle your opponents dudes/influence down enough to win.

 

2) Natural Attrition: My personal go-to method for Blessed, this takes away the forced casualties of Point Blank and Takin Ya With Me, and instead has a strong draw structure aimed at legal full houses and 4 of a kinds. Combine this with casualty reduction plus cheatin’ punishment, and you will naturally chip away at your opponents’ posse, turn after turn.

 

3) Cheating Through the Pain: Casualty reduction allows you to build a very tightly structured deck that cheats as much as possible. All the while, use your miracles to  soak up any cheatin’ punishment your opponent dishes out. The goal is to quickly run them out of cheatin’ punishments so you can go with consistent cheatin’ 5 of a kinds. This style also benefits from buff miracles, like Sentinel, Holy Roller, or Onward Christian Soldiers to facilitate those 5 of a kinds.

 

4) “Voltron” buffing: This uses a combination of miracles and goods, like Holy Roller, Consecration, Sentinel, and Tlalocs Furies (especially on Erik Samson) to give one dude a huge stud bullet rating. Your uber-stud can potentially take on a whole posse alone. Point Blank goes well with this strategy as well, to help leverage your high stud dude. This type of build finds itself vulnerable to Pistol Whip, Sun In Yer Eyes, and Unprepared. Smart players track early lowballs and discards for those telltale 3s, 5s, and 10 values (along with LawDogs starting Xiong “Wendy” Cheng.” In this case, one of the other strategies may work better than stud buffing.

Strengths of miracles

Looking at the list of miracles, one notices a variety of effects. There are buffs, movement, casualty reduction, unbooting, cheatin’ punishment, and control point generation, among others. This gives miracle decks many options for different strategies. Thus when you see a miracle deck across the table from you, you cannot be sure which of these strategies confronts you.

With the release of Father Tolarios, Law Dogs Blessed decks have the option to put more off-value miracles into their deck to take advantage of the variety of powerful effects. He can quickly search them out to both power up your Blessed, while simultaneously improving your draw structure and removing the low value cards from your deck to increase the odds of making a spell check pull. All spell decks have to weigh the risks of adding low value (but often powerful) cards. More of them will mean a higher chance of failing your spell pulls, but if you can effectively leverage Tolarios then you can greatly mitigate what would normally be a risky situation.

Weaknesses of miracles

Like all spell decks, miracles suffer from a reliance on their spell casters (Blessed). If you lose all your starting Blessed, not only do you lose their attached miracles, but you cannot play any miracles until you bring another Blessed into play. Your opponent will most likely target your Blessed with their Kidnappin’, Mugging, or Unprepared.

And again like other spell decks, miracle decks have pull requirements for their spells to succeed. This means low value cards either cannot be included, or at the very least utilized sparingly, limiting the card pool for Blessed decks.

As mentioned briefly above, miracle decks often suffer from the “not losing” strategy being difficult to leverage into an actual winning strategy. The card pool for miracles has expanded enough to largely mitigate this former weakness, but it requires a combination of miracles and other non-miracle cards in the deck. Unlike hexes, for example, who have access to spells that kill (Soul Blast, Festering Grasp) or take over other dudes (Puppet), the power of miracles are often more subtle and require different strategies.

One last weakness of miracles is that, as of the time of writing, the options for Blessed dudes are not as deep and rich as other spell types. The release of Father Tolarios was a huge boon for Law Dogs Blessed, but options for starting posses remain rather limited for all factions.

What you should learn playing with and against miracles

Play miracles, and explore their different effects for yourself. You will learn which spells work for your particular deck, and which ones do not. If you start Tolarios, you can include a wide range of toolbox effects to help against nearly any deck you will face. Plus you will learn how to maneuver around town to best take advantage of his ability.

At the time of writing there are also two drifter Blessed, which will allow miracles in any faction. Sister Lois Otwell works well with Sword of the Spirit and allows your melee dudes to keep their bullets high even against unbooted weapons, and Félix Amador can take advantage of cards like Get Behind Me, Satan! and Confession that become more powerful with a higher blessed skill rating.

Playing against miracles can sometimes seem like trying to bash against a brick wall. It can be very difficult to actually kill any of their dudes, due to their impressive staying power. You will have to use a combination of:

1) Movement to split up their Blessed and pick off dudes.

2) Action cards like Unprepared, Mugging, and Pistol Whips against their Blessed.

3) Multiple shootouts in a turn, since spells can only be used once a turn.

4) Early aggression: as with all spell decks, miracles often takes time to get rolling. So hit them before they can set up, and you can often inflict some solid damage, including the removal of a Blessed or two.

Examples

Carter’s attrition:

https://dtdb.co/en/decklist/2367/abram-s-attrition-kublacon-best-of-the-bunch

This deck exemplifies the ‘forced attrition’ type above. This deck predates There Comes a Reckoning, so it may benefit from adding Intercession with K’s as a main value.

108 Righteous Bandits Blessed:

https://dtdb.co/en/decklist/2476/gencon-2017-world-championship-top-8-hymnal-bully-beatdown

This is a fun 108 Blessed deck that leverages Stevie Lyndon to never fail a spell pull for Onward Christian Soldiers Amazing Grace. Yes, it relies heavily upon Stevie as the deck’s sole Blessed, but at the same time is not dead in the water without him. Miracles are not a primary driver of this deck, but they are a powerful addition.

My recent OCTGN league winning Law Dogs Deck:

https://dtdb.co/en/decklist/2616/blessed-dogs-1st-place-octgn-servitor-series

I have made several versions of this deck, but they all run the same basic strategy of combining the natural strengths of Law Dogs with powerful miracles and Tolarios. This results in hard to kill dudes who heavily punish opposing wanted dudes. All my various versions fall into some combination of the natural and forced attrition strategies above.

New Ban and Errata

New Ban and Errata

From Community Manager, David Lapp:
As Pine Box Entertainment prepares for each of Doomtown: Reloaded’s Organised Play Series, we consider feedback from a variety of sources. Notes and observations about player experiences and analysis of tourney decks help PBE understand how cards can affect player experience in a tournament setting. You may recall that for PAX Unplugged, we debuted an experience in which players helped tell the upcoming fiction. Our focus is to make attending PBE hosted events we host to be fun and entertaining experiences. Sometimes we need to look at altering or banning cards. Bans do not necessarily arise from cards having high power levels, but also cards creating a negative experience that may result in players not wishing to attend organized events. In looking towards to the Tombstone Series, Worlds, and Convention Events planned in 2018, PBE identified two cards to take action on: Showboating and Nicodemus Whateley.

Showboating: Ban effective immediately: Showboating will no longer be a legal card for organised play events.

Nicodemus Whateley: Errata, effective immediately, as follows:
While your dudes are at in-town deeds, they gain the ability: “Noon, Boot: If this dude has 1 or more influence, give Nicodemus a control point, to a maximum of 3.”
At the end of Sundown, or if he is ever at home, Nicodemus loses all his control points.

We hope you understand Pine Box Entertainment’s decisions as detailed below. Feel free, however, to still use these cards as you normally would in casual play. Remember for the errata, it remains that Nicodemus may still gain Control Points (to put him above 3) through other means, such as Hunter Protections or Desolation Row. Also, regardless of where the points come from, they still all go away at the end of Sundown or if he ever returns home.

From Design Team, Emre Guzelsu:
Showboating Ban

Showboating’s ban stems from 2 main reasons:
First, the card violates the fundamental contract of DTR of player interaction being the game’s primary driver. A card like Showboating allows you to win the game simply by casting spells to no actual effect. While the card opened up a variety of new win condition paths, it ultimately just fueled too many NPE (Negative Play Experience) decks. As such, pulling it from the environment is the best path forward in protecting the game’s health.

Second, the card has been an incredible drag on design and playtest. When literally every skill check has to be measured against whether it fuels Showboating, that’s a severe indicator that the card has problems. By hitting the Fortress deck type (which these changes should do), we can hopefully open up the design of Spirits more in the future. This would be impossible with Showboating in the meta as any good card for Eagle Wardens was fundamentally a good card for Fortress. Hopefully this will make our job easier in providing fun and balanced cards to the players, and allow us to free up space to not need to measure every single card against it’s enabling of Showboating.

Nico Errata
Nico will be errata’ed to have a cap of 3. We did this for 2 main reasons:
First, Nico’s errata will help cut Fortress off from its incredible CP (Control Point) ‘bomb power’ (and the Landslide deck type ability to do the same in some circumstances). CP bombs are not necessarily bad for the game, but an uncapped CP bomb makes the game swingy to the point that we always have to worry about it beyond what is normal. This will hopefully keep Nico useful without making him overbearing.

Second, this errata brings Nico in line with our current design philosophy. Uncapped cards did not cause much of a problem in the early game due to few available options. As the game has grown, however, the lack of future proofing has started to cause problems. This will hopefully cap the problems that Nico can cause for us and we won’t have to worry about him as much.

From Playtest Team Member, Mark Geisler:

Showboating breaks what I always felt was a cardinal unwritten rule. Control Points may be challenged and fought for. Allie is booted in the town square so can be called out. Deeds can be taken control of. Establish who’s in Charge – Meet the New Boss- Technological Exhibition are all jobs that can be opposed. Showboating can only be stopped if you use targeted removal. It allows for decks to have a win condition solely built around non-player interaction. Showboating has become a burden on design space as well as making decks non-viable if they did not run large amounts of targeted removal.

Nicodemus Whateley has always been a strong way to push for victory, but action needed to be taken after ‘Spirit Fortress’ decks began using Beyond The Veil which created a tremendous number of nearly uncounterable control points. If Nicodemus and his ‘voters’ occupied Maza Gangs Hideout or Whateley Family Estate, the opponent could only stop the massive influx of control points if they either had a movement ability, removal job, or booting resistance (against the Estate). Nicodemus holding his Family Estate can still create a strong number of Control Points, but it will no longer be available as the sole win condition for Spirit Fortress decks.