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.