by Joe James

“Listen, Mr. Kansas Law Dog. Law don’t go around here. Savvy?” -Ike Clanton, ‘Tombstone’

When the smoke settled from the Marshal event at Gen Con ‘23 this year – and there was a lot of smoke, no small part thanks to DeVon Green’s Deadwood Miners Alliance – only the Outlaws remained.  It was a great event with a healthy 21 folks (blackjack!), where we got to see the first Gen Con of the Weird West era.  Events of this caliber often have mixed tales of chance, drama, and hilarity – but I reckon this one ranks toward the top.  I had a chance to speak with our new Marshal, so take a seat by the campfire and join me for this wonderful tale.

Before we get to the interview, I want to briefly set up the backstory.  It’s 2017, and two folks you may find familiar are sitting at the final table of the Gen Con Marshal event:  Richard Carter and DeVon Green.  DeVon’s Desolation Row straight flush clubs deck was already infamous in the online circles, especially with me personally, as he and I had faced off countless times in both the online leagues and in casual play.  I think it’s fair to say that deck was, and remains one of the most dreaded decks I ever faced.  Carter’s 108 Righteous Bandits took that event by storm, and while I’m sure DeVon was disappointed at having been so close, it was an impressive showing.  It was also the first time many folks had seen such a draw structure do so well in a big event like this.  

Devon v. Max Way in 2017 Seminfinals


Fast forward to Gen Con ‘23, and after an unlikely climb back to the top, DeVon found himself back at the final table – no doubt the Gen Con tourney of ‘17 still fresh in mind.  I’ve seen his deck, and its various iterations in action for many years, so it didn’t seem an unlikely climb to me at the time.  But read my interview with him to see why he thought otherwise.

(some interview questions are edited to not give away surprises, DeVon’s words are unedited.)

Joe James: I heard your Gen Con story was a bit of a rollercoaster of emotion – what happened?

DeVon: Up until about two weeks before the event, I wasn’t planning to attend Gen Con at all. Like many others, I’d skipped the past few years because of the pandemic and I was pretty bummed that I was going to have to miss another one. Not only had I not bought a badge, but I also hadn’t gone through the dogfight of securing housing. That cinched it for me. Finding a hotel room in Indianapolis two weeks before the event was THE hurdle I simply didn’t have the will to jump. Then I found a reminder email from Orbitz in my spam folder: I’d reserved a room in August of 2022 when I was sulking about having to miss Gen Con that year! I immediately scheduled my PTO and cobbled together a last minute travel plan. The rest is history.

Joe James: Things didn’t quite go as planned during the swiss portion of the tournament, did they?

DeVon: Making it to the top 8 in the first place was surreal. My deck performed well enough in my first qualifying game, but after I lost the next two in a row, I’d given up hope. My last minute plans to attend Gen Con meant that the friend who’d agreed to come with me couldn’t get Thursday and Friday off to drive up with me, so I was planning to drop from the tournament altogether and pick him up at the airport. Then, of course, I won my fourth and fifth games of Swiss and just barely managed to edge into the top 8! I was stunned. I actually had to go to Google to confirm the way Swiss rankings worked, because I couldn’t believe I was suddenly eligible after giving up entirely.

When the announcement officially came that I had made the cut, I abandoned my friend to an Uber ride (sorry, Christian!) so I could face off against AJ and then Alex, the very two who’d defeated me just a few hours beforehand! I’m not prone to mystical thinking, but if there was ever a reason to believe in fate, this was it.


Joe James: Throughout the day, in what ways was your deck working, and in what ways was it not?

DeVon: For the most part, my deck did all the things it was built to do: forced my opponents into confrontation, disarmed most heavy threats, and consistently drew legal flushes, all while amassing control in the town square. I’ve played this deck so many times it’s become almost formulaic for me. The misfires came when the cards couldn’t align themselves into a straight flush in a few crucial shootouts. 

And, of course, once when my own anxiety caused me to misuse This’ll Hurt in the Morning in my first match against AJ. I had him discard a jack and an ace, neglecting to notice his draw structure and the fact that his formerly cheatin’ hand already contained two other jacks!


Joe James: Do you have any advice for anyone who is either considering dipping their toe into organized Doomtown events, or for those who have, but want to take it up a notch?

DeVon: For anyone considering playing Doomtown competitively, my advice is simply to do it. Your level of experience doesn’t matter. The best way to get better at this or anything is simply to do it. Repeatedly. Until you’re almost sick of it. Then do it some more.


Joe James: What draws you to Doomtown?

DeVon: Doomtown is the first strategic deckbuilder I’ve ever played. I actually learned it before Magic, which I still haven’t taken to. Christian, the friend who’s tagged along on the majority of my Doomtown exploits thus far, introduced me to it. He bought one copy of the base game on a whim one day and we played multiplayer with his then roommate, setting out the full set on his dining room table and drafting until we’d each formed a full deck of 52 cards. We didn’t get all the rules right (I had a Gunslinger in the starting posse of my first deck!), but I fell in love with the possibility of taking all these different cards with their varying flavors and making something unique. To date, that is my favorite part of this game: the creativity that it inspires in its players.

Joe James: Anything else you’d like to share?

DeVon: I am eternally grateful to the dedicated team at Pine Box Entertainment who have continued to keep this game alive and kicking over the troubles of the past few years. These live events are vital to the maintenance of this community and I am so glad to have been able to participate all the times that I have.

Thanks to DeVon for sharing his thoughts, and congratulations again on the Marshal victory!  I can’t speak for him, but I’m sure he would agree when I say that being able to play Doomtown online was hugely influential in learning the game.  Back then it was all on OCTGN, but now we have the cross-platform, fully scripted, which works on any modern web browser.  Whether you lack a local playgroup, or simply want to supplement your in-person games, come join our friendly, helpful online community.