Thanksgiving the First Peoples

Thanksgiving the First Peoples

Pine Box Entertainment maintains a Discord Channel for Doomtown fans to discuss the game. Our players are a lively and diverse group of people. One of our playtesters and online tourney organizers summarized a recent discussion of Indigenous Peoples and their role in Doomtown. He also followed up by interviewing two of the more active participants. We therefore present this article to our larger readership.

(The following has been lightly edited for grammar and clarity.)

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Thanksgiving and The First Peoples in Doomtown
Article and Interviews by Joe James (Prodigy)

Last month there was a fascinating discussion about Indigenous Peoples Day in the Doomtown Discord general chat. The discussion had two main topics: the real history of Thanksgiving and the Indigenous Peoples of the colonial North American Northeast, and the representation of the First Peoples in Doomtown. I learned just how ignorant I was about both topics, and was very moved by the conversation.

To the first topic, I can now say that the history I learned about Thanksgiving as a child was heavily edited to favor the Pilgrims. Most of us know, by now, the terrible things that Christopher Columbus did, and why there is a move to change away from the national day in his namesake, and toward Indigenous Peoples day. It should not have surprised me, then, that there is much of the same whitewashing when it comes to the history of Thanksgiving. Whole books have been written on this, so I won’t get into all the details. Instead I encourage everyone to do just a little research on this topic, so we can help honor the memories, even if just the smallest bit, of the tribes who endured great suffering and loss. 

On the second topic, we discussed the First Peoples in Doomtown. For those not familiar with Doomtown, the game is set in an alternate history in the late 19th century, and the First Peoples are one of the six factions you can play. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw one of the Doomtown players, who has Native American ancestry, make the following quote: “The representation in art and narrative in Doomtown: Reloaded makes me feel seen, and while not everything from it is perfect, most of it resonates with me. That is huge, especially when what I am used to seeing from gaming HURTS me.” 

Again, I shouldn’t be surprised. Anyone who knows the Doomtown community (Pine Box, the former Doomtown: Reloaded team at AEG, and the players alike) knows you cannot find a more genuinely good group of people. There are plenty of other game companies out there who have their hearts in the right place, but I wondered why Pine Box had so much success in their portrayal of indigenous peoples in their game, while so many others fell short? Into the conversation stepped someone from Pine Box to help explain.

It is these two individuals I interviewed for this article: Tamsyn Goodnow from the Pine Box team, and a Doomtown player named David Gordon Buresh. I hope this article, and these interviews, help put Thanksgiving more into perspective, showcase some perhaps-unknown successes of the Pine Box team, and also inspire other game designers to do better by the minorities that play their games or have minority portrayals in the games themselves. 


Tamsyn Goodnow

First, can you tell us what you do with Pine Box? What are your roles and responsibilities there, and how long have you been with them?

My two primary focuses at Pine Box are as a layout designer (I handle cards, rulebooks, packaging, Drive Thru Cards print files, etc.) and asset manager (essentially, I try to help keep our digital files in well sorted order so we can retrieve things easily). But on top of that, I also work on the flavor and art teams for Doomtown: naming cards, writing flavor text, selecting art, etc. 

I’ve actually been with Pine Box from day one! As an active member of the fan community, I was more than thrilled to join the team when we had the opportunity to continue Doomtown. Imagine, getting to continue a game that I first was acquainted with in elementary school. So surreal! 

What is your connection and/or personal experience with the indigenous peoples of North America?

My family history is very European through and through as one side has a lot of Scottish background abd tge other side rooted in the Chesapeake Bay and Appalachia for centuries with folks from all over). I’m from the Appalachia region of North Carolina that isn’t all too far from the Eastern Band of Cherokee. Although I’ve never lived there, my parents met while working for the outdoor drama Unto These Hills that the tribe had been performing for decades. 

So I grew up visiting there every now and then, and it made a big impact on me. In school by and large, the indigenous peoples of North Carolina are treated in the past tense like they’re nothing but historical fact. Seeing the local signage written in the Cherokee syllabary, visiting their cultural center and museum, all those things really opened my eyes to the disconnect between the lived reality still going on today, and the way American culture writ large doesn’t discuss the first peoples of this continent in a contemporary fashion.

How do those connections and/or experiences, along with other relevant life experiences, help shape your work on the design team?

As I touched on in my previous answer, it really shaped that I need to look past the viewpoint of non-indigenous peoples to try and capture more accurate representation. My eyes were opened in Cherokee, NC simply by listening to and respecting the perspective I encountered there. So if I’m naming a first peoples character, I try to come up with that character’s background, give them identity and specificity: are they Hopi? Navajo? Choctaw? What language and naming conventions would be predominant in their culture? Are they from the local area the game is exploring, or visiting from another part of the continent? 

To do that, a large part of what I do is go to the best sources possible for that information, such as websites provided by the Navajo Nation. And there are so many languages still being spoken just within the US today! You can find great resources put together by folks who actually speak these languages, who practice these naming conventions. Who practice them today, not just centuries ago! So a lot of what I’m really trying to do is what I did when visiting Cherokee: listen, acknowledge, and respect. 

I think most people would agree that having diversity among any team, whether its a design team of a card game, or a whole company itself, is something that should be sought after – both for the representation of different groups, as well as the rich ideas and experiences that can help shape and grow a successful team or company (among plenty of other reasons). However, with small companies like Pine Box, there is only so much room for diversity. What is your advice for other game designers, or teams of any kind, to mimic the success Pine Box has had so far? 

That really is such a difficult hurdle with a small team! But I go back to what I was just saying above: research, and listen. Those are key. Don’t just go on your assumptions you already have. Seek out the voices you need to represent, and truly listen to what they’re saying. 

I also find it useful to think about how I want to be respected and understood when it comes to where I’m from and who I am. So while my life experiences as a queer woman from Appalachia are of their own unique perspectives, I can take how I want people to respect my views on those lived experiences, and try to give others that same type of respect on theirs. 

And always be ready to learn, because you will make mistakes; to err is human. But if you’ve already built a great foundation of respect, you’ll find it’s much easier to rectify those mistakes! 

Are there any areas where Pine Box falls short, or could improve more on?

Just speaking about my own processes and what I bring to the cards, I’ve been reflecting on how I want to use the backgrounds I create for these characters to expand folks’ understanding of the richness and diversity of the various peoples, cultures, and nations of this continent, but with a game that’s set in the late 19th century, is most of our audience still operating under the assumption that this is all history? Am I helping make that leap to understanding that these cultures, peoples, and nations are still here today? I mean, so many Americans still think the Mayans just vanished! So I feel like I’m still struggling to really make that connection for most folks to look up from the game, and want to take a look at things today. It feels very elusive. 

Do you have any other thoughts you’d like to share with the readers on this Thanksgiving Day article?

If, like myself, you’re not from an indigenous culture and are interested in learning more about the complicated legacy (to put it mildly) around this holiday, and gaining a more well rounded understanding of the perspectives of various indigenous governments, peoples, and people today, I’d highly recommend as a starting point that you look up what nation(s) and/or culture(s) are most local to where you live. See what perspectives you can find from their online resources about how they mark the day. Try to look for publications by those nations and their people, and learn from those perspectives. 


David Gordon Buresh

Tell us a little about yourself: Where are you from and what is your ancestry? What sorts of games have you played, and what are a few of your favorites?

My name is David Gordon Buresh. I am a writer, game designer, and game design consultant. I am from Vermont, which is where my mother’s family comes from. My maternal grandfather was St. Francis Sokoki Abenaki and my maternal grandmother was from the Sault Ste Marie tribe of the Chippewa people. I was raised as part of the Cowasuck Band of the Pennacook-Abenaki, and I have ties to the Nulhegan Band of the Abenaki. So, in short, I am a mixed race Native American person, living in New England with a whole lot of passing privilege. As a writer, I review games for the Cardboard Republic, Thus I have an extensive background in playing games, and have since I was a young child. For favorites, I am partial to Final Fantasy 6, Cribbage, and Legend of the Five Rings, though that last one is definitely a complicated relationship.

When did you start playing Doomtown, and what drew you into the game?

I FIRST started playing Doomtown back during its first run, in the late1990’s. I did not stick with it, as I did not have a community for it and it did not hook me as tightly as L5R. When Doomtown: Reloaded came out, I tried it a couple times for a review, which was positive. It was not until L5R went on hiatus in 2015 due to its sale to Fantasy Flight Games that I started playing it regularly at my friendly local game shop (shout out to Pandemonium Games in Boston). What drew me into the game was the strategy of placement, movement, and building a board. What truly surprised and delighted me was how Native American characters were depicted in the art of this game, something that is still not very common in the gaming hobby at large.

Can you talk a little about your perspective of the First Peoples in Doomtown (flavor, mechanics, artwork – anything you wish)? What are some things Pine Box got right, and what are some things they could improve on?

To explain my perspective first, I am a mixed race Native American living in New England, far from the area depicted by this game and not related to the peoples shown in this game. That being said, it was amazing that my first impression of the First Peoples showed them as a people with English names. Chief Stephen Seven-Eagles is named Stephen. That’s huge. You have Marcia Ridge (whom I saw as being, like me, mixed race Native American) and Butch Deuces alongside characters named Black Elk and Bloody Teeth. And then you have Jackson Trouble, which is a name that is both Native American (Trouble) and English. The first impression of any game is always going to be names and art, and Doomtown: Reloaded gets it right. Mechanically, I like how the First Peoples are focused around strong Influence, and are just good at holding their territory. This resonates massively with the push in indigenous communities to reclaim what has been taken from us by colonization, and to establish our own place which is indisputably ours. Seeing Geronimo as a Shaman, also, was an awesome correct choice made by Pine Box.

For what Pine Box can improve on, this is a lot harder of a question. From a Native American perspective, I would be interested to see more Native American characters in groups who are not First Peoples, and possibly show them even tapping into mystical options which are not Shaman. As my Aunt puts it, my tribe, the Abenaki, became Catholic in the 1600’s because the Jesuits showed up with wool; if all you had was buckskin to keep out a New England winter, you’d convert for wool too.

As a white male of European descent, I was completely unaware (but not surprised) of the problematic nature of indigenous peoples representation when it comes to games, be it board games, card games, or roleplaying games, just to name a few. Without calling out specific games or companies, what are some examples of things they’ve gotten wrong?

Hoo, this is an expansive topic, and one which I really do not have space here to go into. Honestly, start with almost any other game set in the Wild West, especially miniatures games. You can even look at some older versions of Doomtown and Deadlands. If you want specific to Native Americans, many games depict them as either A) magical, B) dead, C) dressed in buckskins and feathers, or D) some combination of the above. But you don’t have to just limit it there. Indigenous-coded monsters and non-humans are so commonplace in fantasy that it is genuinely easier to identify the games where monsters and non-humans are not inherently “tribal”, “savage”, or “primitive”. Colonialism is so hard-baked into the adventure formula that it really is inescapable.


What advice do you have for design teams and game companies who wish to do better by their players who have historically been overlooked or misrepresented?

As I said earlier, I can only speak to my own experience. However, the first and most important step is including these people in your creative process. Include them early, solicit their feedback, listen to their feedback, and pay them for their work. Hire sensitivity consultants who come from the communities and groups you wish to depict in your game.

Do you have any other thoughts to share for this Thanksgiving Day article? 

As a Native American who lives in New England, our history of Thanksgiving is very different than the one most people are told. For many Native Americans in the United States, this is not an uncommon experience. Often, our stories are told to us by others who are not part of us, and many of these stories are structured in a way where we are a footnote to our own history. So, to anyone else reading this article, I would like to leave you with the three statements we rally behind in the United American Indians of New England, which should always be the starting point for any depictions of Native Americans in your stories.

We are not vanishing.
We are not conquered.
We are as strong as ever.

Community Classics: Booted Dudes Episode 1

Community Classics: Booted Dudes Episode 1

On July 1st, 2020 – Pine Box Entertainment celebrated our third anniversary. With the world being what it is, and our focus on our upcoming projects – we sort of forgot to celebrate. No worries though, we’re still going to do so, and in style. Over Doomtown’s storied, and often unpredictable, past there has been one thing that has driven it. The community.

In order properly celebrate, we must celebrate the community. So we’re excited to post and share Booted Dudes Episode 1 for posterity and your enjoyment! Expect more in the future.

Black Lives Matter

In light of the atrocities committed continuously against Black lives in the world, and the continued calls for justice and reform, Pine Box Entertainment stands in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Pine Box Entertainment prides ourselves on the diversity of our workplace and the content creators we work with. That does not mean we can’t do better. And to be forthright, too many gaming spaces have not been truly welcoming to Black peoples and other people of color.

We can do better to support our community, and particularly our supporters and fellow gamers suffering from their own experiences with racism. Our company is committed to further educating ourselves on how to be the best Allies we can be. We recognize that there will likely be mistakes in our path as we struggle against systemic racism. We can only hope to learn from our mistakes to be a better company and individuals in support of others. It is not enough for us to be not-racist; we must be anti-racist.

We will continue to speak out in support of this movement and diversity. We embrace player-driven stories and gameplay, and our community always comes first. We want to make sure it’s a community where Black gamers are welcome. If you ever feel or hear that our community is failing in this regard, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We want to be a company that you can have a dialogue with to make things better in this world.

Thank you to those on our team and in this community that pushed us to speak out and will always push us to be better.

Pine Box Entertainment recommends checking out this great list of Black creators you can support, noted here: https://www.highlevelgames.ca/blog/great-games-black-rpg-creators-and-publishers

Sincerely,
The Pine Box Entertainment Team

Hosting Effective Doomtown Demos

Hosting Effective Doomtown Demos

by David Orange

An effective demo BRIEFLY introduces a new player to a game. Demos should last no more than 15-20 minutes.   What follows is a sample script for introducing Doomtown. This script uses the Learn to Play decks found at:

http://pineboxentertainment.com/learn-to-play/

or

 https://www.drivethrucards.com/product/311410/Learn-to-Play-Outlaws

https://www.drivethrucards.com/product/311409/Learn-to-Play-Law-Dogs

 

or recreate these decks from your own collection using these decklists: Law Dogs vs. Outlaws

 

Preparation:  set out boards and separate control point and influence tokens, along with the different ghost rock denominations. Pull outfit card, starting posse, and each faction’s starting hand. Set the starting influences diagonal from each other in the left center of the play space.

 

Law Dogs starting posse: Law Dogs Outfit, Clementine Lepp, Philip Swinford, Tommy Harden, Erik Samson, and Willa Mae McGowan.  Start with 4 GR, 2 income, 4 Influence. Set the following cards aside to form your starting hand: Yan Li’s Tailoring, Winchester Model 1873, Sun in Your Eyes, Faster on the Draw, and It’s Not What You Know.

 

The Sloane Gang starting cards:  Allie Hensman, Clementine Lepp, Lawrence Blackwood, Barton Everest, Jacqueline Isham.  Start with 3 GR, 2 Income, 3 Influence. Set the following cards aside to form your starting hand: Charlie’s Place, Cattle Market, LeMat Revolver, Bad Company, and Samantha “Sammy” Cook.

 

YOU are conducting the demo. Use the paragraph breaks to allow time for the New Player (NP) to ‘breathe,’ take stock of the situation, and ask questions. Be aware of body language to slow down and let the NP know that you can take time to backtrack and clarify.

 

YOU:  Howdy, I’m YOU and I’d like to welcome you to Doomtown. You are trying to gain control of a western town called Gomorra where cowpokes good and bad use guns, steampunk gadgets, spells of all sorts, and death is sometimes just a minor inconvenience. 

 

YOU: In Doomtown, six factions vie for control of the town. Today, the local bad guys, the Sloane Gang, are in town, up to no good. Meanwhile, the Law Dogs have sworn to uphold the peace and thus put a stop to the Sloane Gang’s nefarious misdeeds.

 

YOU:  This is a demo, where we will go through two turns or ‘days’ in Gomorra. The first day will introduce the cards and their attributes, as well as the four phases of each turn.  The second day will culminate in combat via shootout. 

 

YOU:  You take the Sloane Gang, while I’ll take the Law Dogs. Go ahead and look through your deck.  What do you notice that is familiar? Different? 

 

YOU: Yes, we play poker here in Gomorra. 52 cards plus 2 jokers, with the 4 standard suits ‘numbered’ Ace through King just like you’d expect.  Except Aces are low and Kings high. Notice that some cards seem to show up more than you’d expect?  Yes, this looks like a regular deck of cards, but it sure ain’t yer dear ol’ Pappy’s poker deck. 

 

What if I were to tell you to draw five cards off the top of a regular deck?  Would you expect to get a good poker hand just by chance?  Now, suppose you got to draw a whole bunch more than 5 cards off the top, you likin’ yer chances better? Suppose I told you that just like good ol’ Draw Poker, you could discard and redraw some cards. Better yet, discard and redraw from the deck you’re holding? Even better, no? Deck construction is important, and hold that thought as you’ll shortly learn why. 

 

YOU:  Each suit serves a specific function in Doomtown.  Spades are the characters or Dudes that can move to locations and help you control the town.  Diamonds are those locations or Deeds that grant abilities, income, and yes, control of Gomorra.  Hearts attach to Dudes – either physical goods such as weapons, horses, or gadgets; or spells that certain Dudes can learn to use. Finally, Clubs are action cards that are usually one-shot abilities that you can use to spring tactical surprises on your opponent.

 

YOU:  Now, what is the most important thing that you’d like to know about Doomtown?

YOU: Correct, How do you win a game of Doomtown? For all the card play and movement, you win by having more Control Points than your opponent has Influence.  The blue circles on some cards represent Control Points, while the red circles on other cards represent Influence.  Notice how I’ve stacked the Influence tokens in the right center of the board.  Say I play Yan Li’s Tailoring. I gain 1 Control Point. No big deal, right? Now say during the game I gain several more Control Points. Notice how my Control Points exceed your Influence. That means you’d have to either gain more influence or take over some of my control points. That could mean a shootout. By the way, what’s a good way to remove Influence? Yep, shoot ‘em. Dead people usually don’t have much influence while taking dirt naps in a pine box six feet under.

 

YOU: Great, now we’re ready to play a couple of rounds of Doomtown. To ensure that we experience the most common situations, I’ve already hired our starting gangs and pre-built our opening hands.  The Sloane Gang is your “Outfit Card,” It is your ‘home base,’ where your Dudes start and enter play.  Each outfit has an ability that helps define your overall strategy and goals. The ‘18’ at the lower left is your starting money or ‘ghost rock.’ the ‘+3’ at the lower right is your income each turn. With your starting money you can hire up to 5 dudes for your starting posse, keeping any leftover change. I’ve already done that for you, so you can place those 5 dudes behind your outfit card.  Those dudes all together have 3 influence and cost 15 ghost rock, so you have 3 ghost rock left over. 

 

Most dudes are aligned with a particular faction. The enclosed star indicates dudes that work for my Law Dogs. Your dudes mostly have the crossed pistols of The Sloane Gang. Dudes lacking a faction symbol are drifters and are more willing to sign on with any faction. Notice we both have a gal named Clementine Lepp in our starting posses?  She’s a barkeep and if you’ve got the money, honey, she’ll serve you any ol’ time. In game terms it means that we can each play a copy of a dude. But each side can only have ONE copy of that dude in play at a time. 

 

Remember what I said about drawing and redrawing cards in combat, e.g. shootouts?  For now, just know that Dudes with silver bullets are studs and will let you draw more cards in shootouts. Brass bullets are draws and let you redraw cards after you’ve drawn your initial poker hand. We’ll revisit this more when we get to shootouts during the second turn.


YOU: Each turn represents one day in Doomtown.  Each day has four phases: Gambling, Upkeep, High Noon, and Sundown:

1)  Gambling determines who goes first each day, using a game of lowball poker. 


2)  Upkeep is when you collect ghost rock from your deeds, and pay your dudes’ upkeep to keep them in play. 


3)  High Noon is when most of the game’s action occurs as players bring new dudes and goods into play, maneuver around town, use Noon abilities, and get into shootouts. 


4)   Sundown is when victory is determined. If no one has won, then everyone gets to draw new cards, unboot or reset their cards, and get ready for the next day. 


 

YOU: Set aside your starting hand and posse, and go ahead and shuffle the rest of the deck a few times. Have you played card games such as Magic: The Gathering, Pokemon, etc. before? In a regular game, you would now deal yourself five cards as your starting hand.


YOU: Now we can play through two turns of Doomtown. Remember how stacked your deck is? Well, Pardner that would be a mighty unfair advantage when going against someone who plays clean.  So we start each day by playing a round of Lowball. It’s like regular poker, except the LOWEST hand wins. In this case, the WINNER gains the ante and also gets to go first, including taking the first action in a shootout. Place one ghost rock (the ante) in the center. I’ll do the same. Draw five cards off the top of your deck and reveal them face up.  [WINNER] gets the ante and is the WINNER for this turn. [WINNER] gets this token to remind us that they go first.

(This demo will assume that NP wins turn 1 lowball and YOU win 2nd turn.)

🡪 NP indicates New Player actions that YOU narrate as you alternate with your own actions.

 

YOU:  We now do upkeep and collect our ghost rock or income for the turn.  Notice that your Barton Everest and my Erik Samson have a “1” in the lower right corner. That means these dudes require payment every turn, otherwise they become unhired. If you can not or will not pay them, then they immediately go to your discard pile. All dudes with “0” upkeep stay loyal and remain in play once hired.  Since our outfits each produce three ghost rock each turn, that means we each gain two ghost rock for our stash.

 

YOU: Now we are in the High Noon phase of turn 1. There are six High Noon actions or plays: Shoppin’, Movin’, Actin’, Tradin’, Passin’, and Callin’ Out.  Note that Callin’ Out is the ACTION that initiates a Shootout. Thus a Shootout isn’t a play unto itself, but the RESULT of a Callin’ Out noon action.  This first turn, we will focus on the non-Callin’ Out plays. Turn 2 will see a Callin’ Out result in a shootout. If you choose not to perform an action, you can Pass. If BOTH players Pass one after the other, then High Noon is over, and we move on to Sundown. But if a player passes and the other player performs a non-Passin’ action, the turn continues and that player once again has an opportunity to make a play or take an action.

 

NP: Since you won Lowball, you get to play first. Go Shoppin’ for Charlie’s Place. It costs 3 GR, which you pay to the bank. Charlie’s Place gives you 2 GR income, which means if you control it at the start of your turn, you gain 2 GR in addition to the 3 GR from your outfit, minus any upkeep. Its blue poker chip enclosing a ‘1’ indicates that it confers a Control Point. Place its CP chip opposite my influence.  Remember that gaining control points helps towards winning the game. Right now, I have nothing to worry about, but if that blue stack exceeds my red influence chips at the end of the turn, I lose the game and vice versa. Place the card adjacent to your outfit card (doesn’t matter which side).


YOU: I will use a Shoppin’ play to bring a Deed called Yan Li’s Tailoring into play.  It is similar to Charlie’s Place in that it costs 3 GR, gives me 2 GR income, and also confers a Control Point. Likewise, I place it adjacent to my outfit.

 

NP:  Next, you can do a Movin’ action to move Clementine Lepp to Charlie’s Place. Unlike some other card games, in Doomtown you can actually move your dudes from one location to another. In general, when you move a Dude, they have to ‘boot’ – e.g. for the most part, they can’t move any more that day. But there are three ‘free moves’ that do not require booting.  You can move from your outfit’s home to an adjacent location on either side of the home. That’s what you just did with Clementine. You can also make a free move from your home to the town square.  Finally, from the town square, you can make a free move to any other location in town that is not your home. You will need to boot if you return to your own home location. 

 

On the other hand, you can move ANYWHERE in town (or even out of town if a deed indicates such), but you have to tucker yourself out getting there and thus usually end up booted.  This is an important trade off. Taking your time getting somewhere leaves you mobile and able to respond later in the turn. But, your opponent can see you coming and prepare for your eventual arrival. Conversely, a sudden movement can catch your opponent napping, but you lose the flexibility of mobility and options later on in the turn.

 

Read the text on Clementine’s card. This text stands alone without being prefaced by a word like NOON or SHOOTOUT. That means it is a trait that is always active throughout the day when triggered. Notice that Charlie’s Place has two bold-faced words at the top of its box: Public and Saloon. These are Keywords that can trigger abilities or traits on certain cards.  In this case, the Saloon keyword triggers Clementine’s trait. So go ahead an put an influence chip on her, and remember it counts as part of your total influence while she remains at the Saloon. Oh and notice that she can’t be called out there – everyone, good and bad, loves Clementine and the libations she dispenses.

YOU: Yan Li’s has a Noon ABILITY – it can give a dude an additional influence for the day.  So I “Boot” Yan Li’s by turning it sideways to indicate that I’ve used its ability and can‘t use it again until next turn.  I’m going to place a red influence chip on Philip Swinford. He’s lookin’ mighty fine as he now has an additional influence to her base of 1 influence. I now have 5 total influence.

 

NP: NP: Move Allie Hensman to the town square. Again, this is a free move and she remains unbooted.  

 

YOU: Outfits can have traits or abilities like regular cards. I’m going to boot the Law Dogs outfit and use its ability by also booting my Clementine Lepp. I can now make a dude Wanted by placing a Bounty (1 GR coin) on an opposing dude. A dude can accumulate multiple bounties.  If a bountied dude is discarded or Aced (permanently removed from play) by an opponent’s action, that opponent collects any bounty placed upon that dude. So this is one way to gain ghost rock. Clementine will place a bounty upon Barton Everest.

 

NP: Jacqueline Isham joins Allie by moving to the town square.

 

YOU: I’m not ready to engage in a shootout just yet. So I’ll wait and see what happens and PASS.

 

NP: Boot Allie to use her ability and gain a Control Point.  While you now have 2 control points, I have plenty of influence, so I’m not in danger of losing, yet.  


YOU: Once again, I Pass.

 

YOU: Now, boot your outfit and Jacqueline Isham.  You’ll get either a ghost rock or control point IF Jacqueline is still in the town square during Sundown. So place a green chip on her to indicate the provisional status.  While booted dudes are vulnerable to callouts (they can’t refuse as we’ll see next turn), I notice that the ladies are protected by Barton and his friends standing by at the ready at your adjacent home.

 

This first turn demonstrated the possible noon actions except Callin’ Out (we’ll get to that next turn) and Tradin’, which is simply transferring a goods from one dude to another. But for now, you pass, and that ends the High Noon phase and we move on to Sundown.

 

YOU: Now we come to the Sundown phase. We check for victory. I have 5 influence to your 2 control points. You have 5 influence to my 1 control point. The game continues. For Jacqueline Isham, I’d take the ghost rock for now. But you can sometimes apply pressure (or win a game) by taking the control point.  Noon effects now expire, so I remove Clementine’s Influence gained via Yan Li’s Tailoring ability. Go ahead and discard Samantha “Sammy” Cooke and draw back up to five cards. I choose not to discard, and draw one card to bet back up to five as well. Dudes remain at their locations, but we unboot/straighten all cards. That ends the first turn and your first day in Gomorra. We are now ready for Turn 2.

 

YOU: This second turn will set up a Callin’ Out action that leads to a shootout. We will do the shootout two ways. First, straight up pure firepower using only bullets. Following that, we’ll mitigate the lethality with various tricks and stratagems. Once again, we each put in a ghost rock for our Ante and draw five card, laying them face up for your lowball hand.

[this narrative assumes that LD wins lowball]

 

YOU: This time, I won Lowball, so I get to take the Ante.  We both gain two more ghost rock from our Deeds along with base 3 GR from our outfits, and still have to pay one upkeep. Thus we each gain four ghost rock.  

 

YOU: Again, I put Yan Li’s influence on Philip Swinford, who once more has 2 influence.

NP: Barton Everest goes Shoppin’ for a nice shiny LeMat Revolver. Pay the two ghost rock to the bank and attach the weapon to Barton by placing it underneath so that the plus one bullet is showing. This indicates while Barton wields the LeMat, he has a total of three bullets. While the LeMat’s bullet is brass colored, it adds one bullet to the owner’s type. In Barton’s case, that means the LeMat adds one STUD bullet and in a shootout, Barton will now draw 3 additional cards pending other modifiers. 

 

YOU: I boot my Law Dogs outfit and Philip Swinford to place a bounty on Allie Hensman.


NP:  Move Barton Everest to Charlie’s Place. As before, this is a ‘free’ move from your home to an adjacent deed, so Barton remains unbooted and free to move elsewhere.

 

YOU: The Law Dogs believe in “Peace through superior firepower,” so Tommy Harden goes Shoppin’ for a spanking new Winchester Rifle. I pay a ghost rock and attach it to Tommy. Its +1 means that Tommy is now a 2 stud.

 

NP: Boot Charlie’s Place to use its ability on Barton.  After downing a shot of liquid courage, Barton now has a total of five stud bullets. That means in a shootout, he’ll draw ten cards off the top without any further assistance. That’s like TWO hands to make one great one. YIKES! Put a +2 token on him as a reminder that the effects wear off during Sundown.


YOU: Patience is a virtue, and Tommy is a virtuous man. He will PASS.

 

NP: While liquored up, Barton starts consorting with some Bad Company. Playing that card gives Barton another three bullets, making him a fearsome 8 stud. In a shootout, absent any other modifiers, Barton would draw 13 cards off the top. Gulp!

 

YOU: I don’t like the way this is going, so time to put a stop to these shenanigans. Tommy Harden moves to the town square.

 

NP: Undeterred by the law watching her every move, Allie once again boots to gain another Control Point. You have a total of three Control Points.

 

YOU: This has gone far enough. So as a noon action, Tommy Harden calls out Allie Hensman. If a called out dude is unbooted, they can turn tail and run home where they become booted. Thus the advantage of cowardice is living to fight another day.  Booted dudes, however, cannot refuse call outs. So while Allie’s ability is powerful (remember gaining control points is the path towards victory), it is risky as it leaves her vulnerable to callouts.  She does, however, have friends to help her out.  But in formal game terms, Allie accepts the callout. This now leads to a shootout. We’ll do this two ways – straight up and with tricks galore.

 

YOU: The first step is to form posses. Tommy is the Dude who initiated the callout and is the Leader. Allie, the called out Dude, becomes the Mark.  Most dudes don’t like fightin’ on their own. So they round up a posse of dudes to help them dispatch the pesky varmints opposing them.  The Leader forms their posse first, followed by the Mark. Dudes at the shootout’s location do not have to move, and can join even if already booted. Dudes at adjacent locations can boot to join the posse, and as such cannot join if already booted.  Willa Mae McGowan and Erik Samson boot to join Tommy’s posse.

 

NP:  Dudes at the Mark’s location do not HAVE to join a posse, but can do so, even if booted. In this case, Jacqueline Isham joins to help defend Allie. Barton, sauced up on Clementine’s hootch, boots and joins the fun. Note that Jacqueline has an ability that “when Jacqueline joins a mark’s posse… becomes a stud.” Jacqueline now becomes a 2 stud.

 

YOU: Now that posses are formed, starting with the WINNER, one can play cards that say: SHOOTOUT on them. Again, both players conduct shootout actions until both consecutively pass.  We’ll first play this straight up without actions and both of us will pass.

YOU: First, each player declares their shooter, with the Leader declaring first. Generally, you’ll want your dude with the most stud bullets to be your shooter. I declare Tommy Harden as my shooter. Note that you can declare anyone in your posse as the shooter. They can be booted and don’t have to be the Leader or the Mark. Go ahead and make Barton Everest your shooter.  Now we tally up those bullets. Your shooter gets their FULL amount of bullets. That would be 2 for me and a whopping 8 for Barton. Other studs in your posse contribute ONE additional bullet, no matter how many actual bullets they have. So Jacqueline Isham currently is a two stud, but since she’s in a supporting role, she only adds ONE stud bullet to effectively increase Barton’s total to nine stud. For my Law Dogs, Willa Mae McGowan and Erik Samson each add one draw bullet to my posse. Since Erik is NOT the shooter, he only adds ONE bullet of his type, in this case a draw. Allie Hensman has two brass or draw bullets, but will only add ONE draw bonus to support Barton. This means that AFTER we each draw our full allotment of cards, we can each discard and redraw one card (you) or one two cards (me) to increase our chances of making an even better poker hand. 

 

YOU: You always draw a base hand of five cards. You then add your total stud bonus to the base five cards. So Barton gets to draw FOURTEEN cards. Tommy is a two stud, so he’ll draw SEVEN cards. The goal is to  make the BEST poker hand possible according to this hand rank chart. In general, a full house (rank 7) is the minimum hand you should expect to see in a competitive shootout. Remember, however, that our decks are stuffed to the gills with repeated cards, so four or even five of a kinds are not only possible, but quite likely to occur. Now see what you have the most of. Discard one of the other cards and redraw one. I’ll discard and redraw TWO cards.

NP: If you have a Joker (or two), you can use those as wild cards. But even without Jokers, you should have a five of a kind. Remember, we said this wasn’t yer dear ol’ Pappy’s poker deck.  Go ahead and keep your best poker hand, most likely five of a kind and discard the rest.  Jokers are a one time use and are removed from the game afterwards. So for now, if you have a five of a kind, keep it and discard the other nine cards, including any jokers.  If you discard Jokers, they can come back as you reshuffle and redraw your deck. Now that we each have our best five card poker hand, we lay them down and compare.

 

YOU: You have a five of a kind to my full house. Remember, there are only four suits in the deck, and at least one of your suits is duplicated. Thus, your hand is considered Cheatin’.  Notice that Barton’s text is a trait, it happens automatically when triggered. He therefore increases Cheatin’ hands by one rank. So your five of a kind is now considered a Dead Man’s Hand – the highest possible rank.  On the other hand, I start with a full house.  Both Philip Swinford and Tommy Harden have applicable traits.  Philip doesn’t have to be in the shootout for his trait to apply, so I discard a card and draw one into my hand.  Tommy’s trait means that my hand is now equivalent to a straight flush. That is two ranks below yours, 11 to 9. Thus I must take two casualties. Discarding counts as one casualty, but acing (permanently remove from the game) covers two casualties. I can either discard two dudes or ace one dude.  I will ace Willa Mae.  Now we decide if we skedaddle back home (booted) or stay for another round. But each round at least one dude from each posse remains, we go through the same procedure of making shootout plays and choosing a shooter – it doesn’t have to be the same as initially – indeed, if you discard or ace your shooter, you will need a new shooter for the subsequent round(s).  Now is a good time to send Allie home, since at home she (and those precious control points) are largely safe from further attacks.

 

YOU:  But let’s reset the shootout as it was originally.  What you just saw was how devastating stud bullets can be. It was very easy for you to get a top-flight hand that you knew that Barton could modify. If you were concerned about Cheatin’ punishment, you could keep your hand good, but legal, especially with using one or both of your Jokers.  Now let’s try the shootout with some trickery and stratagems. 

 

YOU: Posses remain as they were, and Barton comes swaggering in with a total of 14 stud bullets, backed up by a draw. Tommy has 2 stud bullets, backed up by two draws.  But now, I play a Sun In Your Eyes on Barton.  He loses two bullets, but more importantly becomes a draw.

 

NP: You can play a Shootout action if you have one or PASS.

[resolve as needed, main point is LD should easily win this, utilizing the Winchester’s ability]. 

 

YOU: I now play Faster on the Draw on Tommy to give him +1 bullets and a total of 3 stud bullets. In turn, Tommy chooses to affect Jacqueline loses who loses2 bullets and becomes a 0 stud. So now, while Jacqueline is still a stud, she can’t draw any additional cards as a main shooter. Nevertheless, she can add 1 stud bullet in a support role.

NP: Pass

 

YOU: Tommy boots both his Winchester and himself to gain yet another bullet, for a total of 4 stud bullets.

So go ahead and keep Barton your shooter. You’ll draw six cards and can discard and redraw up to that many (all discards at once, then all redraws at once). Allie doesn’t help. Tommy is a 4 stud, so he’ll draw a total of nine cards, and Willa Mae and Erik mean that after your original draw, you can discard and redraw up to two cards. 

YOU: Unless you top decked a full house or four of a kind (remember your jokers were either used or discarded last time), you’re now between a rock and a hard place. You keep either a pair, three of a kind, or if you’re feeling adventurous, two pair and then redraw as many as you discarded.

[check discard to see what you have most of remaining]

.Sooooo let’s play it out.

[Assume either cheatin’ FH or legal 3K for NP and a Legal FH LD]

Legal FH  to Cheatin’ FH [LD 8, TSG 8 🡪 Tommy 10, Barton 9 🡪 LD 2GR to play INWYK LD 10, TSG 5 etc.] 5 casualties etc. (can play It’s Not What You Know to lower legal hand by 1 rank to ‘break tie’ etc.)

Legal FH to Legal 2P or 3K rank 8 to rank 3 or 4 🡪 lots of casualties

TL;DR 🡪 Card draw is king.  Survive a round to deke out good cards/jokers etc. 

Emphasize the importance of spuds/bullet catchers vs. influence/studs etc.

 

Also point out the role of winning Lowball and first actions etc.

Wrap up demo here-NP should have seen all of the phases of a turn and all of the noon plays (not Tradin’).

–> Still interested and you have time? NOW you can play a game
(give ’em the option to ‘seed with the deed’ or straight up).

PRACTICE THIS SOLO and with an experienced friend/opponent.
If you can do this smoothly, you will have an effective 20-30 minute demo that shows off the core mechanics and plays of Doomtown.

 

As a wise teacher once said, “Teach your first day of the year with the wisdom and insight of your last. Teach your last day with the passion and enthusiasm of your first day.” So it is with gaming demos.

 

Some topics to consider for longer or subsequent demos:

  • Movin’ to out of town deeds or to an opponent’s deed
  • Changes to control and production/income via deed takeover
  • Experienced dudes and non-unique dudes
  • Jobs
  • Spells and Gadgets n pulls
  • Deck construction

Around the Deadlands: Doomtown Story in 2020

Around the Deadlands: Doomtown Story in 2020

As we previously presented Pine Box Entertainment’s plans for 2019, we’d like to now take the time to discuss the plans for Doomtown fiction in 2020. If you haven’t read it yet, head on over the Gomorra Dispatch and check out the standalone tale, “The Temptation of Brother Petrovic,” based on decisions made by you, the players, at GenghisCon.

Earlier this year, we featured a three story continuing the Tombstone storyline after the events that occurred at the Doomtown Destination Event in Tombstone, as detailed in “Falling Star.” Act I: The Aftermath, April 1882, Act II: The Search for Coot Jenkins, and Act III: The Castle, continuing the hunt for Lucy’s killer. 

The following is our plans for the Doomtown fiction team for the rest of 2020.

Jason Pere will continue these post Doomtown events that last left us with a posse heading to Gettysburg. Join us as the story leads back to Tombstone. At this point, Jeff Bailey will usher in a new chapter for the town too tough to die.

Owen Lean, in coordination with the UK Marshall Badge event, will bring us the first fiction on the path to Deadwood as we follow Jonah Essex and his new posse, determined by the players at GenCon 2019: Christine Perfect, Allie Hensman, Tonton Macoute. This fiction will also introduce a new character, “Dynamite” Jacc, created by Gen Con winner Chase Causey, and debuting this fall in the next Doomtown expansion, ‘Welcome to Deadwood.’

With COVID-19 currently placing organized play on hold, we continue to plan for fiction that will be based on the interactions this game offers it’s players, and thus plan further stories accordingly based on what events can occur later this year. Stay safe everyone and thank you for continuing to follow us around the Weird West.

Doomtown Update: COVID 19

Doomtown Update: COVID 19

Greetings Doomtown Players,

In the wake of everything going on in the world, we just wanted to say be safe. We’re very connected to our player base, and we’re here for you if you need anything. Regarding upcoming organized play with the Savage Lands Series, we will constantly update our calendar with entry dates moving to TBD (Rescheduled) in the initial column. Already, the Doomtown UK Marshall Badge Event has been rescheduled for August 22 and the Doomtown Texas Ranger Badge Event at ChupacabraCon has been postponed to August 15. For the upcoming conventions, we’re working on brand new demo decks to start giving out to all greenhorns willing to enter the world of the Weird West. We have contacted all the round-up organizers to advise them to use discretion and keep us informed in the coming months as their events are rescheduled. The Copenhagen Destination Event is very much being monitored, as it is the only Badge event on the schedule not tied to a convention. We urge you all not to make plans to attend until such time as we can definitely confirm that this event is indeed a go; there is a possibility it may change dates and location.

So, what have we been up to recently? If you’re following us on Patreon, you’re getting updates on our trip to GAMA Trade Show, some progress and background on My Little Demon: The Unglittering. Soon we will have some additional projects to talk about along with an upcoming Backwater fiction. We’re also hard at work finalizing art choices for the next Doomtown expansion, tentatively titled, “Welcome to Deadwood.” If you’re stuck at home with friends and family, drop us a line at pineboxentertainment@gmail.com if you’re interested in playtesting Doomtown, MLD, Backwater, or any of our other upcoming projects. In addition, we are in the process of reopening the online store at pineboxentertainment.com, which will soon feature Doomtown products and beginner/faction themed bundles.

We encourage all of you to game responsibly and hopefully we can join you sooner than later and get back in the physical community of gaming. Remember that Doomtown can also be played online via OCTGN, which has a dedicated channel on the Doomtown Discord server, with folks happy to help wrangle in new drifters.

With love,

The Pine Box Entertainment Team