Announcing Doomtown: Weird West Edition

Announcing Doomtown: Weird West Edition

Weird West Edition

 

  • New ways to play with your existing collection, including Solo Play, Co-Op, 2v1, and more. 
  • Doomtown Goes Digital: Play online with our new officially supported platform: Doomtown: Online! 
  • The Latest Rules Revision: All of the latest updates, including new ones, to keep Strategy and Fun at the heart of Doomtown. 
  • 100% compatible with your current Doomtown collection.The original Deadlands: The Weird West card game is getting a new base set and a refreshed environment; stay tuned for the Kickstarter launching August 17 by signing up here.

“The Year is 1876, but the history is not our own…”. This was how Pinnacle Entertainment Group’s Deadlands role playing game was introduced way back in 1996. AEG (Alderac Entertainment Group) licensed the alternate history setting and in 1998 created a collectible card game that would inspire an incredible fan base.

AEG relaunched Doomtown: Reloaded in 2014, and in 2016, Pinnacle and Pine Box took over to expand and support this beloved game and its die-hard community. 

So much has been accomplished since then. Pine Box’s first expansion, ‘There Comes A Reckoning,’ was funded through Kickstarter and brought Doomtown from Deadlands’ the Great Maze to the rest of the Weird West. This initial expansion introduced cards for four of Deadlands’ big bads, the “Servitors”, as well as key characters such as Morgan Lash and the Cackler.

We didn’t stop there though. Through player driven storyline interaction, Pine Box took Doomtown to the town of Tombstone, Arizona, creating a trilogy of expansions aptly titled “Too Tough to Die,” “Out for Blood,” and “Hell’s Comin’ With Me.” The team and players walked the boardwalk in Tombstone itself at our 2019 Doomtown Destination Event. In 2020, we continued to explore the Weird West with our latest expansion, “Welcome to Deadwood,” bringing our unique card total to 269 new options for players to enjoy. 

A New Base Set

On August 17, 2021, Doomtown: The Weird West Edition will come to Kickstarter to usher in a new era for this beloved property. Doomtown is a deep, strategic, constructible card game that features unique movement and poker-driven combat. For those unfamiliar with Doomtown and its current iteration, you read all about it here.  

At the Tombstone Destination Event, our design team discussed the current status of the player base and card pool. Two issues needed to be resolved: 

  1. Cards inherited from the AEG era of the game, such as Unprepared and Calling the Cavalry, had become problematic for the game.
  2. A large cardpool and old, out of print expansions were making it difficult to add fresh blood to our existing posse of players.

After much discussion, we decided the best way forward was to create a new Base Set.Shortly after our meeting in Tombstone, work began on it in earnest.

This new Base Set serves as a launching point for new and existing players into the latest evolution of the game. For the Standard format of Doomtown organised play events, all cards from the AEG Base Set to “Blood Moon Rising” will no longer be legal for tournament play. Some legacy cards will be removed while others will receive an update, clarifying rules interactions and balancing effects that proved problematic in their original iteration.

The following sets will remain legal for Standard tournament play: There Comes A Reckoning, Too Tough to Die, Out for Blood, Hell’s Comin’ With Me, and Welcome to Deadwood. 

The AEG era will still be supported as a Legacy format that includes all expansions, which can be found listed here

Fear Level/Town Square Markers, Solo play, Co-op 2v1 story scenarios, Multiplayer

 Not only are we introducing a new Base Set, we’ve got much more to offer as we continue our exploration of the Weird West beyond Gomorra and Tombstone into Deadwood, South Dakota!

The new Base Set includes four new variants of play, including:

  • Introduction Mulligan
  • Clock Timer Fear Level
  • Deadly Shootout
  • Town Control

 These options are sure to entice Greenhorn and Veteran players into alternative methods of play. For example, we implement an updated version of Classic Doomtown’s Fear Level. Instead of empowering Abomination dudes, this variant adds a clock timer.  As with all things Deadlands, Evil is a choice. Do you try and fight the encroaching darkness or choose to take advantage of it?

Tackle solo scenarios highlighting key facets of the game. You can also replay key storyline moments in a new 2v1 Boss mode:

  • Showdown at the Clanton Ranch
  • Showstopper 

But that’s not all, these scenarios feature the return of Event type cards from Classic Doomtown. While Events in Classic were part of deck construction, a separate Event deck will influence these scenarios.

What Else Is New?

Not only are there a variety of new ways to play, the rules are updating too, pardners! These changes serve both to make the game new-player friendly, while also clarifying potential issues for existing players. Some key changes include:

  • Kung Fu is now mechanically similar to Spells and Gadgets
  • Deed costs and production tweaked to promote town building and allowing for more Dudes to enter play
  • Problematic cards have been addressed, e.g. an updated version of “Unprepared”
  • Token Dude Statistics have been updated
  • Core Deeds no longer count against your Starting Dude limit

Last and certainly not least, more than 30 new cards join this set alongside many returning favorites.That’s just an overview of all the ways we think community feedback has helped us make a better experience for new players and veterans alike.

Pine Box UK

Our new UK partners at Inquisitive Goblin ensure the new Base Set, existing expansions, and future expansions will be available at an affordable rate to our friends across the pond.

Organized Play 

Our next Organized Play Series features a new Control/Influence dial, Revolver Faction Spinners, Stud/Draw Coins, and brand-new promotional cards. This is part of our upcoming Undertaker program where Pine Box Entertainment volunteer players receive various promotional items to distribute to their FLGS to promote Doomtown and other games.

 Story Plans

The continuation of Doomtown and the move from Gomorra to Tombstone created three major storylines:

-Stone and a Hard Place: The tale of Lucy’s fate and the hunt for her killer continues and concludes as the posse continues to avenge her (as told by Jason Pere)

-Twilight Protocol: The latest fiction by Jeff Bailey wraps up the Abram Grothe v. Mason Adler storyline originally presented through WildCards and currently being transcribed into fiction (as told by Ronnie Andrew Gouge)

-Aces Low: The tale of Jonah Essex traveling from Gomorra to Deadwood (as told by Owen Lean)

All of the current storylines will be wrapped up as Dave Hogg takes over as Doomtown Story Lead to bring us into a new era. All future sets will be designed in mind with the continuation of a main storyline and a more cohesive fiction plan for all players to follow.

Digital Plans

Through COVID-19, players have been able to enjoy Doomtown on TTS, OCTGN, and Untap, but we’ve also been working on an official browser-based online platform specific to Doomtown that features all the proper tokens, our gorgeous playmats, card packs, promos, animations, premium subscriptions, and more! This ensures the future of Doomtown contains a digital version that complements the physical cards and accessories. All backers of the Kickstarter will have access to this feature, and a preview video can be found here.

Previews

From now until the 17th of August, every Tuesday and Friday will feature spoilers of cards from the new Base Set. You can track spoilers and news on all things Doomtown via our various social media outlets listed here.


Why are we doing a Kickstarter?

We are going back to a Kickstarter for this project due to the success of “There Comes A Reckoning,” and also to create outreach regarding our existing product line. 

What’s to Follow?

On August 19, 2021, Pine Box Entertainment and our partners at Pinnacle Entertainment Group invite players to join us in the town of Deadwood for the 25th Anniversary of Deadlands, This celebration held during the Kickstarter campaign will feature the world championship Marshal of Deadwood event, a ‘Traitor’ variant round-up, Dueling in Deadwood, Greenhorn Shooting Range, Deadlands roleplaying sessions and a variety of expeditions in town. Check out the full schedule here pardners.

Doomtown will continue with future expansions and organized play for the standard and Legacy formats.Thank you so much to all our fans and players for supporting us and welcoming Doomtown into its next iteration.

Announcing Doomtown Online

Announcing Doomtown Online

by Aaron Schnabel

The wind sighs forlornly down the dusty street. Townsfolk hide behind wooden shutters and closed doors. Two groups face off from each other, the only sound the rustling of dusters and the clanking of spurs. The silence is sundered by the sound of a shot and chaos is unfettered. It lasts only moments, and yet to the participants, it seems to go on forever. When the smoke clears and the gunfire fades away, there is only one person left standing in the street…

Doomtown is a game of heroes and villains, cowboys and rustlers, magic and machines. The game’s mechanics meet these themes in an evocative fashion that few other card games have managed to replicate. Nothing compares to the excitement of maneuvering your dudes around town from one deed to another, hoping to catch your opponent off-guard and remove their influential dudes from play with a clever feint of movement and action. Sometimes it just comes down to the luck of the cards and hoping you can pull that 5 of a kind you so desperately need…

Playing Doomtown in person is undoubtedly the most fun and fulfilling way to play the game for the majority of people. But as evidenced by the entire last year, live play isn’t always possible. So where do gamers turn to get their fix when they can’t meet up at the local watering hole to sling some cardboard? The internet of course!

 

I played a lot of Android: Netrunner before getting more seriously into Doomtown. For A:NR, I played online via the fantastic website jinteki.net, which is easy to use via fully automating the various steps of the game along with the card interactions. Thus, I found playing A:NR online a breeze. Just create an account, pull in a deck, and away you go. No client to install, no messing around with downloads, etc.

 

 

So, one of my biggest wishes for the game has always been a clone of jinteki.net for Doomtown. When I started playing Doomtown, OCTGN was pretty much the only game in town if you wanted to play online. A lot of people have put a lot of work into maintaining the Doomtown module for OCTGN and I deeply appreciate their efforts. However, there remain severe barriers to entry with OCTGN that mean that it often feels like you’re spending more energy managing OCTGN itself rather than playing the game.

 

These obstacles mean that the client isn’t widely adopted, which makes it harder to play Doomtown when you want to. This last year has shown that we need robust, easy to use tools to engage in our hobbies and social gatherings when it isn’t possible to do so in person.

 

 

Frustrated with OCTGN’s limitations, I took it upon myself to update an old Tabletop Simulator mod that Blargg (our wonderful dtdb.co admin!) had originally put together. I got it  up to date with the latest expansions and, with PBE’s permission, posted it to the Steam workshop. I saw this as another avenue for people to play Doomtown, especially those that can’t or won’t use OCTGN. The mod has proven to be fairly popular, and I’m grateful that it has

 

gotten people playing Doomtown again, or playing for the first time. For me though, it’s always been a stopgap.

 

Similarly, Doomtown modules were recently added to untap.in and a couple of other online platforms. On one hand, this is great as it allows more people to engage with the game. On the other hand, it’s become a bit of a problem since the online player base is splintered between several different platforms.

 

 

In addition, PBE took on the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and moved all of their scheduled 2020 tournaments online. This was fantastic as it gave people a chance to still play the game with officially sanctioned events and prizes. At the same time, trying to manage which platform players would use, mediating disputes if one player wanted to use OCTGN and another could only use TTS, etc. was an ongoing problem. it became clear that a single, unified platform that was easy to use and available to everyone was necessary to ensure the growth of the game and to bring the online community together.

 

As it turns out, Blargg had once already started building exactly what I’d long hoped for: a web-based, platform agnostic, fully automated game client for Doomtown. Rather than being based on jinteki.net however, it was forked from theironthrone.net source code, which uses javascript instead of clojure for the card automation.

 

For various reasons, he wasn’t able to finish it and bring it online. Thankfully though, someone else decided to step up, take that code base, and complete the project.

 

Thus, was born Doomtown Online. While not 100% feature complete, the client is already at a point where you can play a full game of Doomtown with a good chunk of fully scripted cards. You can even play with cards that are not yet implemented, as there are commands to allow you to manually manage the game state!

 

 

As soon as the project was announced on the Doomtown discord server, I knew I had to jump on board and help out wherever I could. I volunteered to set up a test server with the client on it, so that we could test features and games in a real environment. I learned how to use git and started fumbling my way through contributing card automations. Other people joined in to help with test automation, etc. We now have a small but dedicated team working on this project, rushing to get it to the finish line.

 

None of this would be possible without the hard work and dedication of the guy who started the project, who has held my hand through every step of my journey with it, and has shown great patience and excitement for the future of Doomtown. Known as trimm on the discord server, he’s been amazing to work with. I wanted everyone to get to know him a bit better, so we did a short interview:

 

 

What is your name, occupation and city of residence?

 

Milan Melisik (Melišík), senior programmer, Prague – Czech Republic (Slovakian by origin)

 

How long have you been playing Doomtown and how did you first get introduced to the game?

 

I think it was back in 2014. I had my eye on the game even before then, but was finally persuaded to pick it up by my friend janosikm. I have been playing it only against him since then. My first game against another opponent was in the OCTGN league against Prodigy and I remember being really nervous.

 

What is it about Doomtown that appeals to you over other card games?

 

My first card game was A Game of Thrones first edition. I was playing with my colleague who introduced me to card games. I fell in love with the deck building, but the second edition did not fulfill my expectations so I started to look for something else. Doomtown won because of the theme, unique deck building, and because I love westerns. The fantasy/horror was more like a bonus.

 

 

How did you first get involved in contributing to the Doomtown community?

 

Thanks to the Covid situation, and because our office was closed, I was not able to play Doomtown. Because of this, I decided to try OCTGN. When playing Doomtown on OCTGN, as a programmer, I saw a lot of opportunities for improvement. Also, because I wanted to learn some Python, I decided to fix some bugs, then add some small features and later big ones. That pointed me to the discord community which is great and helped me a lot.

 

What led you to decide to start the Doomtown Online project? Why start a new project rather than just improving existing ones (OCTGN, TTS, etc)

 

Even as I was improving OCTGN, I was aware of its shortcomings, especially that it was not available on other platforms. The TTS module is good, but I wanted to have a great level of automation which is not easily done on TTS. As I mentioned before, I started with the Game of Thrones card game therefore I was familiar with its online client (theironthrone aka throneteki).It seemed like perfect inspiration for the Doomtown client especially when I found out there already was an attempt to create it by Blargg, so a big part was already done.

 

 

What are the advantages of doomtown.online over the other platforms (OCTGN, TTS, untapped)

Since it is browser based, it is not platform dependent and therefore is accessible to a much broader player base. The background that is reused from throneteki has been proven over time so it was a solid base for the client. The level of automation, if done properly, can be a huge advantage, especially for new players.

 

What has been the biggest hurdle you’ve had to overcome while working on the project? What’s been the biggest success?

 

The single biggest hurdle was a first step to merge the older Blargg client version with newer throneteki and have a stable code that we can build upon. The greatest moment and feeling was when the client was deployed on the server and I was able to play it for the first time with my friend janosikm.

 

 

Anything else you want to share?

 

This project would not be possible without throneteki so I would like to express my great thanks to people who developed it. Also, I would like to thank Blargg, because it would take much longer if not for the older client version created by him. Finally, I hope the client will serve as an addition to the already great Doomtown game and that it will help bring in more players who can experience this gem of a card game.

 

I want to add a very special thank you to the wonderful people at Pine Box Entertainment. They have been supportive of this endeavour the entire time, and when they told us that they wanted to make it the official and sole online client for Doomtown it was exciting, humbling and daunting. Thanks to them for keeping this game alive and going.

 

 

So, when can you expect to join others in the dusty streets of Doomtown Online? Look for the official launch in August 2021!

Doomtown as A Deadlands Action Deck

Doomtown as A Deadlands Action Deck

 

Greetings pardners! If you followed the new Deadlands: The Weird West Kickstarter, or were one of the backers, you may know fulfillment has begun on getting out the stunning new version of this beloved RPG. To celebrate, we’d like to present some ideas on how you can use your Doomtown cards, while also playing Deadlands.

 

Those new to tabletop RPGs or the Savage Worlds game system will find that combat initiative uses a unique system of each player receiving a playing card from a regular 54-card poker deck. Not only can you use your Doomtown cards to fulfill this function, it can also operate as a tool for the Gamemaster.

 

The deck featured here on dtdb.co, presents a deck that you can use for the Doomtown card game. You can also shuffle this deck to produce random dudes, deeds, goods, or events that can occur within your Deadlands game. You can either shuffle the deck and pull from it at random, or divide the piles into suits. Need to identify what weapon your baddies are using in a particular fight? Draw randomly from the hearts for your Goods! Need an NPC to appear to interact with the posse? Draw from your spades for an inspired Dude to enter the scene!

 

 

Jordan Caves-Callarman, Marshal of the WildCards Deadlands live show on Twitch, explains his usage of Doomtown cards with the RPG:

“I use Doomtown cards for all sorts of things when I’m GMing Deadlands. They can be great visual aids for NPCs or enemies like I used them in our game for the Deadlands Kickstarter, and when I ran the Twilight Protocol event games my players got a kick out of being handed cards representing items and relics they came across. There are also a ton of colorful location cards you can lay out to better illustrate the places your posse visit – set them up as you would in a game of Doomtown to create an easy map of a frontier town’s main street!

 

Having visual aids at the table is great, but what I really like about using Doomtown cards as a GM, are all the details. Between the colorful names, the card art, and the flavor text, there are plenty of jumping-off points on any given card for coming up with memorable NPCs, items, and locations – you can use them as-is, or just keep what inspires you and drop the rest. Grab a couple of Action cards to lay down when there are complications in your players’ best-laid plans, or use them to spark ideas for fun plot wrinkles to add to your session.”  

 

 

Jordan Pridgen, who portrayed Gabriel Pryor in the WildCards show adds the following:

As an RPG player, your character is everything. Whether you’re sitting down for a single one-off session with some new friends at a convention (remember those?) or building something for a long-term campaign, you want your character to really have legs. Sure sometimes you have the perfect idea right off the bat, but if you’re a new player who isn’t used to the scope of the Weird West, or an experienced dice-slinger who feels like they want to branch out, you won’t find a better font of cool character ideas than Doomtown.

Personally, I’ve found Doomtown to be flush with inspiration. You can basically pick any dude from any set and start the sparks of character innovation burning. I mean sure if you base a character off of “Dynamite” Jacc you might want to have a spare ready, but even a card as simple as the wonderfully named “Androcles Brocklehurst” could lead you to build an old-school southern lawyer with money and connections (and maybe a little bit of corruption if you dig deep enough), who frankly I know I’d have a great time playing.

On the other end of the spectrum, the stylish masked burglar Jim Hexter, or the unconventional besuited martial artist Feichi Suitcase” Lee, could make for unforgettable PCs with quirks that will really help you motivate and drive your personal story. Heck, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that cards like “Quaterman” and “Post-a-tron” were part of the inspiration for my character Midas Buchanan’s mechanical child “Christopher” on Wild Cards. So if you’re thinking about getting into Deadlands RPG, or even just looking for some new takes on the world, give Doomtown a look. And hey, come join us for a few games on the discord while you’re at it!”

 

 

We recommend the following list to start out, or make your own pardner!

 

Smith & Robards Trade Show (Out for Blood): You can include this with your Clubs or Diamonds.

 

Dude (13)

1x Theo Whateley-Boyer (Ghost Town)

1x “Mahogany” Jackson (Ghost Town)

1x Henry Moran (Ghost Town)

1x “Thunder Boy” Nabbe (Blood Moon Rising)

1x Adrián Vallejo (There Comes a Reckoning)

1x Johnny Brocklehurst (There Comes a Reckoning)

1x Agent Provocateur (There Comes a Reckoning)

1x F1 Burch (There Comes a Reckoning)

1x Cooper Grannon (Hell’s Comin’ With Me)

1x New Varney Nosferatu (Welcome to Deadwood)

1x Clementine Lepp (Base Set)

1x Funtime Freddy (Frontier Justice)

1x El Grajo (No Turning Back)

 

Deed (13)

1x Walters Creek Distillery (Ghost Town)

1x Epitaph Branch Office (There Comes a Reckoning)

1x Gateway Station (Out for Blood)

1x Rham’s Readings (Hell’s Comin’ With Me)

1x Land Purchase (Welcome to Deadwood)

1x The Town Hall (Base Set)

1x Stagecoach Office (Base Set)

1x Cattle Market (Base Set)

1x Bunkhouse (Base Set)

1x General Store (Base Set)

1x Telegraph Office (Base Set)

1x The Mayor’s Office (Election Day Slaughter)

1x Huntsmen’s Society (No Turning Back)

 

Goods (13)

1x Jael’s Guile (Dirty Deeds)

1x LeMat Revolver (Bad Medicine)

1x Tusk (Ghost Town)

1x Essence of Armitage (The Curtain Rises)

1x Bowie Knife (Blood Moon Rising)

1x Scattergun (Out for Blood)

1x Peacemaker (Base Set)

1x Pearl-Handled Revolver (Base Set)

1x Flame-Thrower (Base Set)

1x Legendary Holster (Base Set)

1x Holy Wheel Gun (Double Dealin’)

1x Outlaw Mask (Faith and Fear)

1x Idol of Tlazolteotl (Immovable Object, Unstoppable Force)

 

Action (13)

1x Framed (Ghost Town)

1x Putting The Pieces Together (The Curtain Rises)

1x Calling The Cavalry (The Showstopper)

1x Hostile Takeover (Too Tough to Die)

1x Frontier Feud (Hell’s Comin’ With Me)

1x As Nature and God Intended (Welcome to Deadwood)

1x Hired Guns (Base Set)

1x Ambush (Base Set)

1x Kidnappin’ (Base Set)

1x Bounty Hunter (Base Set)

1x A Coach Comes to Town (Base Set)

1x A Secret Tunnel (Base Set)

1x Ol’ Fashioned Hangin’ (No Turning Back)

 

Cards featured includes those up to the recent Welcome to Deadwood expansion, available now from the Pine Box Entertainment store or your FLGS!

 

To get caught up on the status of the Weird West as it related to Doomtown, check out our new video detailing more ways in which Deadlands ties into Doomtown!

A Legacy Reexamined

A Legacy Reexamined

by Robert Campbell with Konstantinos Thoukydidis

After our interview with the current and previous design team, Playtest Lead Robert Campbell spoke to previous design team member Konstantinos Thoukydidis to discuss his design process, favourite cards and more. Known by his online handle of “db0” to many community members, Thoukydidis also provided us with a haul worth of any of Silas Aims’ robberies: a cache of old design diaries considered lost when AEG’s Doomtown articles were taken down. Our thanks to him for his previous design work, the articles, and partaking in this interview.


(The following interview has been lightly edited for clarity)

Q: How did your design process work – did you tend to start from theme or mechanics?

The theme was mostly handled by the story team but a lot of the time they did get ideas from the card names I thought to go with my card designs. Typically, I started from the card design. Quite often that started from me wanting to either cover an existing gameplay hole or provide a new archetype to play with, such as experimental gadgets, grifter tech, or sidekick tech, and so on.

As I was thinking of card ideas at all times, I usually kept a massive document of potential ideas to choose from. As I would implement ideas out of it, I would prioritize new ones from that document as per the needs of the game and its various archetypes.

When addressing overall weaknesses in the game, I tended to be more reactive. It’s not always easy to see problems in the metagame, due to the small scale of playtesting and us leading the published cards by 2 sets or so. So I had to pay a lot of attention to the meta and address potential issues before they started frustrating the community too much. If I waited until a deck archetype dominated to take action, it would take too long to fix without nerfs. I believe it’s primarily this aspect that allowed us to avoid any bans during my run as lead designer.

When promoting new archetypes, I usually had the concept running in my head and new ideas to fit that archetype would pop-in constantly. However, setting up something new can be quite tricky, as seen by how difficult it was to get experimental gadgets off the ground. My plan there was typically to start with overall useful cards of an archetype, that would work good enough outside it. Then I’d start adding more and more synergies, where a deck built around it could form when a lot of synergistic cards could be added together.

Q: Which card design are you most proud of?

I feel like Yagn’s Mechanical Skeleton (also a sample where story used my card concept without much changes btw) was a very important card as it put gadgets on the map, but also elegant enough in its design to easily slide into most gadget builds while also supporting quite a few possible archetypes (horse tech and gadget dudes to name two).

As simple as this card looks today, it was also something out of a “proof of concept” card for me, as I was hearing a few people in discussions complaining that “gadgets can never be good due to their extra costs over other skills.” I set out to prove them wrong because another way to look at the cost being too high, is that the effect is too weak. So I set out to design a gadget which provides such bang-for-the-buck, that one cannot undervalue its usefulness-to-cost ratio. As it turns out, I managed to strike (imho) precisely the golden balance of gadget-cost/usefulness as I didn’t have to tweak the card almost at all before it went to print.

An interesting point about Yagn’s however, is that it crystalized for me the direction to move for a core aspect of gadgets.

Note: you can link to my design diary for gadgets here if you want.

(EDITORIAL NOTE – this is now archived in one place with other original design diaries. For the gadgets, search for: The philosophy of science )

 Namely, multipurpose; whereas other goods tend to cover one aspect of your gameplan (shootouts, influence, control, etc), gadgets are allowed to do more than 1 thing at once in the same card. Therefore they save you card space in your deck for more versatile cards. Yagn’s handles this like a pro, providing Shootout strength, Shootout defense, Influence, anti-Control, and ‘Tech’ in one card. 

Q: Are there any cards you designed that you feel were underutilized?

Hmm, quite difficult to tell as I’m omniscient so I can’t really know if I’m just not seeing it myself. I want to say I expected Signing Over the Stores would see a lot more play as the benefits it gives out of one card are massive. It has a big risk (Job in the town square) but it also gives massive benefits: 3x “Tutor” effect + cost reduction + unboot on non-defense. It worked amazingly well for me in my playtest builds, but I never saw it hit the table against me. But as I said, maybe I just wasn’t playing in the right meta. A deck built around this and someone like Byrne could be quite brutal.

Q: Are there particular cards or decktypes that were a pleasant or unpleasant surprise to you?

I definitely did not see Spirit Fortress coming! The initial design was that the Totem player would be spreading spirits around, but combining cards like Nicodemus opened a can of worms! Fortunately as far as meta-warping effects go, it was not a disaster like something that caused an unchecked landslide would be, and people could tech against it enough until we could provide more tools to deal with it in later expansions.

I also did not foresee the Showboating becoming such a linchpin card! We did playtest for that exact scenario but we deemed it too weak to base a deck around. How wrong we were!

Q: What are some of your favorite cards you designed and why are you fond if them?

Hmm, I would like to say

  • Calling the Cavalry for making Horse Tech not just viable, but a force to be reckoned with.
  • Morgan Regulators for giving MCC straight up fighting power and for being a card with such a powerful meta effect, that just its existence is enough to scare people out of making non-interactive slide decks.
  • Behold White Bull for walking an extremely fine line with an effect that can be inherently unfun to face, using a stat that is otherwise useless in shootouts, and going through a ton of playtesting arguments, to provide a finisher for an already really difficult-to-design kung-fu Tao.
  • Travis Moone for being the first Grifter and the way I managed to cut through the Gordian Knot that was at the time the two bitter arguments in the design team over having Mulligan at all, or not. To be fair, if I would design TM against today, his ability would not require a boot 🙂
  • And of course, the Fixer who is literally based on a ‘shopped picture of myself at a Heavy Metal concert 😀

Q: What did you enjoy playing for casual matches?

That would totally be my “I Can Dance All Day” deck which I was running since “beta” days. It plays to Doomtown’s strengths by masterfully playing the maneuvering game, but also not being afraid to duke it out at the right moment.

Q: What did you enjoy playing for competitive matches? 

I honestly was not much into competitive matches as there was no scene where I was. The only tournament I played in was the Final  EU Marshall event where I played a near-bicyle deck in a vain attempt to not do to well in the ranking. 

But given my previous experience, I always liked to play unconventional and new decks in tournaments and attempt to disrupt the meta. AKA I could always win with jank, but jank that I trained myself to play to perfection!

Q: Are there any questions/topics you wanted to bring up that didn’t come up from the interview questions?

On Game Design in general:

In case anyone was wondering why I kinda dropped off the face of the earth after AEG cancelled the game: Even though I love the game to death, I was also doing a massive amount of effort when leading DTR design. On top of the aforementioned design duties, I was project-managing the playtest teams, writing articles, crafting the OCTGN client for online gaming (and PT), discussing the game on Facebook (a lot of arguing why Gadgets don’t really suck), and of course, just playing online now and then. It was kinda all-consuming for me for 3 years, so when the game got cancelled, I was so burnt-out that I honestly didn’t even want to think about the game anymore, nevermind play it. I have still not really played a DTR game since that time.

For people who want to get into game design, as rewarding as it is, you need to make sure you’re not overdoing it. Stick to your role and try to get other people to handle other parts.

On new DTR design:

I like the direction the game is going, even though I’m really out of the loop lately. One thing I worry is that I see a lot of the same mistakes we did with the gadgets back in the day, where we were effectively creating slightly better versions of existing goods, with a massive increase in costs (booting, skill check etc). I have not played with the new gadgets of course, but this is just my impression on reading the cards and comparing them with the early gadgets with had like the flamethrower.

on DTR design in general:

When I joined the DTR team, I was not really there to design, so I didn’t have that much input from the get-go. Initially I was there just to provide the playtest client. I kinda took over when other devs dropped out and AEG realized I was decent at it. Unfortunately, because I was not there from the start and we had very little time to adjust the game once I joined, a lot of the rules of DTR stayed the same from the Doomtown Classic. 

I really wished I had pushed further for some things like mulligans and more factionalization. One thing that I don’t like about Doomtown is how you have all those cool dudes in your deck, but in 80% of the game, you’re stuck playing with your starting posse only. Making the faction leaders discount was my last attempt to make them see some play. 

Had I been designing the game from scratch again, I would have really liked to find a way to make more dudes hit the play each game. I also think the economy of DTR is very old school design and it could be significantly streamlined to allow for more card playing and less worrying about Ghost Rock upkeep and so on.

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.

Fear and Grifting in Doomtown – Welcome to Deadwood Spoilers

Fear and Grifting in Doomtown – Welcome to Deadwood Spoilers

by Derek McConnell (LastWalter)

I’ve been tracking spoilers for Doomtown since 2018, starting with the upcoming release (at the time) of Too Tough to Die, and here we are three sets later. Last time, in Hell’s Coming With Me I got my own card to spoil, Tawodi, but this time they’ve given me a whole article and I’ve got some great cards to share with you folks.

This ain’t my first rodeo

Grifters used to be popular and nearly omnipresent throughout decks. Nowadays, few of them show up in decks outside Den of Thieves, particularly since the errata to Rico Rodegain. Gone are the days of Travis Moone in every starting gang, as starting dudes have become more compelling and decks have become more consistent. My personal theory is that this is partially because the original cycle of grifters lacked influence. Additionally, most starting posses contained Willa Mae or Henry to catch bullets, along with some dudes with influence plus a designated stud shooter. After all that, it could be hard to find the ghost rock to pay for a grifter while also losing another source of influence. In Welcome to Deadwood however, the new grifters come buffed with the most important stat in the game, along useful start of the game abilities. You’ve seen the rest, now let’s look at the best:

Now that you’ve met Lew, let’s review what he brings to the Fearmongers. Firstly, he is the third Huckster 0 that only costs 3 GR. Lew has an influence advantage over Funtime Freddy, and a bullet advantage over Papa Marias, depending on what you need. Lew’s ‘Grift’ doesn’t demand Freddy’s ‘ultimate sacrifice,’ and allows you to search the top 6 cards of your deck for an abomination or mystical goods to start the game with. Note, however, that Lew must put any unkept cards back on top of the deck in the same order, rather than shuffle. This is not always a bad thing, as it allows you to exert some influence over that all-important initial lowball. If you see a full house or other high-ranking hand, you can break it up by taking a card. Forewarned is forearmed as they say, and Lew’s precognition can help you plan how to spend your initial ghost rock or plan your first day’s actions.

Beyond the corner case of fixing your starting lowball hand, Lew can snag variety of juicy targets. Prior to Welcome to Deadwood, there were 34 abominations for him to hunt, and another 18 non-Unique Mystical goods. Welcome to Deadwood adds three more abominations for Lew to procure, of which we’ve already met the New Varney Nosferatu and I’ll reveal the other two below. Note that our new grifter cannot grab Unique Mystical goods. Items such as Essence of Armitage, Magnum Opus Tenebri, and Stone Idol play well with abominations. By all means pack ‘em in your deck, just realize that Lew cannot find them for you.

You want this stuff, but it’s too rare for Lew to find.

Starting the game with at least one Mystical goods provides good synergy with several recent cards such as Bayou Vermilion Railroad, Vivene Goldsun, and Auntie Sinister hope to leverage an early Mystical goods. Don’t forget about our old friends, The Flying Popescus. This deck can swap out Papa Marias for Lew Esquilin and still use Bayou Vermilion Railroad to play a cheap Mystical goods each turn while impacting your opponent’s deeds. Lew helps ensure that the deck gets off to a good start, and you can add the recently spoiled Bad Beat to add additional economic pressure. Beyond that Lew can set up Abomination decks as well! He probably works best with cheap abominations, because you’re going to be putting them in your starting hand. The 3 value already has a few cheap abominations that we can steal from Anarchists, and Welcome to Deadwood has a new one to add to the mix:

 

Look at this thing! Paralysis Mark is BACK – well, not quite. However, here is another cheap abomination for Lew to find, and something to recur with cards like Ivor Hawley XP and Soul Cage.

I’ll leave you with the last of Welcome to Deadwood’s three new abominations. 

The Angler only costs 3 with 1 upkeep for a 0 Stud, can call out other 7s (Ambrose Douglas, Diego Linares, and Mariel Lewis all come to mind as potential hunting targets), as well as discarding a card to change his value (and thus his target!). Oh, and the Stone Idol and other value reducing cards let The Angler hook even high value dudes. Keep in mind what starters you are likely to see when building around The Angler, as they are the most likely dudes to be around to bump off.

Yes, it’s a good time to bring fear and loathing to your area. Welcome to Deadwood!

This concludes our Grifter articles for the upcoming Welcome to Deadwood expansion, available for pre-order through your FLGS or Pine Box Entertainment.