Hell’s Comin’ With Me – Texas Rangers Join the Fight Against the Darkness

Hell’s Comin’ With Me – Texas Rangers Join the Fight Against the Darkness

by Daniel Lundsby with an introduction by David Lapp

One of the most famous Texas Rangers in the Deadlands Universe is Hank “One-Eye” Ketchum. Hank was a pivotal hero against the Reckoners and other strange events that plagued the Weird West. He got his nickname from a rather gruesome event. Ketchum was in the field hospital at Gettysburg on the last day of the battle. There a surgeon was possessed by an evil spirit and began hacking off patients’ body parts. The madman plucked out Hank’s eye with a surgeon’s probe, but the indomitable Ketchum and a few other survivors chased the Butcher off. Hank spent years hunting for the Butcher, and finally tracked him to Dodge City (as detailed in the Independence Day dime novel and the events that followed in the City O’Gloom). Hank has been a stalwart of the brand up until his demise as featured in Stone and a Hard Place and detailed in the epilogue of the Cackler graphic novel. In Doomtown, Wendy and Lucy found Hank’s body and Ranger Bible via fiction and roleplaying session at the major round-up in Manchester, UK at Worlds 2018.


Among the Legends joining the fight against darkness in Hell’s Coming With Me is Hank Ketchum. Hank’s design focused on finding a way to bring the Ranger motto “One Riot, One Ranger” into Doomtown. Early versions did this by giving your dude a bullet bonus based on the number of dudes that the  opposing posse outnumbered yours. However, this proved problematic when combined with certain weapons. In particular, the ability to use Hank for Legendary Holster hit-and-run tactics didn’t feel particularly heroic.

Instead of the bullet bonus, the ability shifted to something that would help a dude survive going solo against seemingly impossible odds. Originally a Shootout ability, Hank became a Resolution effect after a group of playtesters, unhappy with how unreliable this was, experimented with the change. The requirement of printed Influence was also added after testing demonstrated how Hank could otherwise be used with token dudes and expendables to put pressure on opponents with very little risk.

The penalty associated with Hank also evolved. Originally you couldn’t have dudes join your posse if you were the leader, but as the ability changed, the penalty did as well. It ended up with the current version that requires picking your highest grit dude as shooter if you’re the leader. While nowhere near as harsh as the earlier version, it’s still worth considering when selecting your dudes. For example, the Law Dog Dynamic Duo of Thunder Boy and Hattie don’t work so well under Hank’s guidance. And even if you’re careful about the dudes in your posse, it doesn’t take much for the opponent to ruin your well laid plans.

Hank is most useful when you’re planning to send dudes into solo fights. Maybe you’re fighting solo because you’re trying out the new Frontier Feud, or maybe the dude has their own reasons to head out alone, like Mason Adler, Sister Mary or Joan McGruder. With Joan, one of the new dudes joining the game in Hell’s Coming With Me, it’s worth noting that one of her traits (“Joan cannot flee shootouts, or be sent home from a shootout”) means that if Hank makes her Harrowed, she can’t be sent home to cover a single casualty. Instead, she will stay in the fight, effectively meaning you avoid the casualty since you have no legal way to cover it. Whether this is actually a benefit depends entirely upon the shootout she’s in.

Besides careful dude selection, various Goods can support a deck featuring Hank. Sidekicks give your lone dude a greater chance of surviving. Weapons can help ensure that your highest grit dude is also a capable gunslinger, whether it’s a Peacemaker to make sure your high-grit dude stays a stud, or a Yagn’s Mechanical Skeleton to promote a low-value dude to preferred shooter status. Hiding in the Shadows is also worth looking at, whether it’s to protect your lone dude or to make sure your opponent doesn’t meddle with your designated shooter.

Here’s an aggressive Sloane deck, using Hank to support Johnny Ringo in his bid to take away the supporting bullets of the opposing posse. Besides Hank, dudes are also kept alive by sidekicks, including the new Scratch, and by Takin’ Cover, also from the new set.

Hell’s Comin’ With Me is currently available for preorder for consumers and retailers and will be shipping March 2020.

 

Hell’s Comin’ With Me: Andrew Lane

Hell’s Comin’ With Me: Andrew Lane

by David Hogg

Hell’s Comin’ With Me introduces three new Legend cards, joining Doc Holliday in representing heroes of the Weird West. Andrew Lane, a.k.a. The Ghost is a powerful Harrowed who has worked for The Agency and Union Blue Railroad, and bears more than a passing resemblance to former President Abraham Lincoln.

Early iterations of Andrew Lane focused on the Agency spy gadgets theme. One ability featured the ability to make one of your dudes a temporary Mad Scientist or have Lane himself invent a gadget. Both abilities proved to be too powerful during playtesting, and penalties and limitations to balance them made Lane too niche and difficult to use. Eventually the focus was shifted to something similar but different. 

The Agency is the Union’s first line of defence against the horrors of the Reckoning, and Agents are always armed to deal with any threat.  Andrew Lane reflects this with his ability and trait working around the Weapon keyword. As Weapons are a common type of goods, this means Lane can provide support to a wide variety of decks. Lane still brings the benefits of his spycraft knowledge, specifically the use of Concealed Weapons. Much like the action card of that name, he allows you to attach a Weapon to one of your dudes mid-shootout. The benefit to using him over the action card is having access to the ability every day, while freeing up space in your deck for other actions such as Faster on the Draw, Technological Exhibition, or Disarm

Lane’s ability lets you make a variety of surprise plays, such as making a callout with a draw dude and then having them pull out a Pearl Handled Revolver once the fight starts, or dropping another Cheatin’ Resolution Weapon such as Quickdraw Handgun into a fight after your first one was Pistol Whipped home. Andrew Lane allows you to make bluffs that the similar Doomsday Supply would not. With a Shotgun in your discard pile and Doomsday Supply in play, an opponent will most likely avoid getting into shootouts with their low value dudes. With Andrew Lane that Shotgun in your discard pile could mean there’s another one in your hand. Without one in your discard pile you might simply be able to catch your opponent unawares and ace their unsuspecting dude. Against an opponent with a lot of Melee Weapons you can bait them into a shootout then remove their bullet bonuses by playing a non-Melee Weapon, and so on. 

Lane’s ability isn’t restricted to regular weapons either. As long as you have an unbooted scientist for inventin’, Lane can let your dudes pull powerful Gadget Weapons out of nowhere, making him a strong ally for decks that employ a number of them.  Being able to attach Weapons mid-shootout can also give you an advantage when attempting a Job. Normally you might spend an action attaching a Weapon before running a Job, giving your opponent an action to respond. Lane lets you avoid that step, allowing for faster more aggressive play.  This is particularly true when your dudes are in town square and would normally take multiple actions to attach a Weapon. 

If you’re a fan of the mind games side of Doomtown, Lane is a really fun Legend to use. Here’s a straightforward Law Dogs deck that packs a variety of Weapons to use with Andrew Lane.  Shotgun, Scattergun and Pearl-Handled Revolver are all good surprises to spring on your opponent!

How to Design a Legend…or Three

How to Design a Legend…or Three

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.