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!

The Aesthetics of 7th Sea: City of Five Sails

The Aesthetics of 7th Sea: City of Five Sails

 

By David Lapp and Rhiannon McCullough

From the Weird West to Théah, adding a new card game to Pine Box Entertainment’s lineup has been quite the adventure. When we continued Doomtown, we already had an established game to move forward on. Creating one from scratch has been a whole different beast, and quite a rewarding challenge at that. 7th Sea: City of Five Sails is currently still in development as design and playtest continue to work hard to bring you this amazing swashbuckling game. At the same time, we are also working on card layout and art and we wanted to give you a first look at one of the card types, Risks.

What are Risks?

In the 7th Sea roleplaying game, Risks are defined as important actions that could impact the story:

“When you’re playing 7th Sea, you’ll find that your Hero is put in all kinds of tough situations, moments in which real danger or disastrous consequences lay just around the corner. Your Hero takes actions in response to those threats and consequences—Risks—in the hopes of saving the day, warding off fate, or just plain staying alive!”

The Risks in 7th Sea: City of Five Sails represent actions taken in both the main phase and ‘Maneuvers’ that occur during combat. They affect the outcome of the turn and what you can do with your crew.

Nation Specific and Neutral

During deck construction, players will be able to field cards specific to their own Nation, along with those of a pool of Neutral cards to form a 35-40 card play deck. While the actual rules of play remain a work in progress, we hope you are as excited as we are about the layout and graphic design itself.

The following layouts are from some Risk cards that share certain characteristics. The name and cost appear at the top. The symbol for the Nation is in the middle of the card, towards the right. This Nation symbol and the ‘RPT’ combat values at the lower left are a nod to the original 7th Sea card game actions. The Riposte, Parry, and Thrust values are signified by symbols and occur in the same top to bottom order on every card. The card’s main abilities appear in a text box to the right of the RPT values. As in Doomtown, the flavor text listed below the text box help tell the story accompanying the written fiction you will find in card set releases and online. Please note that some terms are subject to change. For instance, the word ‘Character’ may be replaced with ‘Crew’ as we continue to develop and assign terms that are flavorful and appropriate, but also clear and concise to our players.


The Iron Reply (Eisen Nation) is only used in Combat, due to its Maneuver text.


Valiant Spirit (Montaigne Nation) is useful both outside of Combat for its Action, or in Combat for its Maneuver. ‘En Garde’ refers to the act of a straightening a card, thus once again making it ready for use.

Lastly, we have Bleed Out, a Neutral card available only to Villain Leaders. This card adds Wounds to a Character. Characters will be able to take Wounds up to their Resolve rating. That’s right, there will be an opportunity to play the bad guys.😊

Complementing the art, the new card templates have been designed to capture the sense of swashbuckling adventure and feel of the original CCG design. At the same time, we hope that the cards for 7th Sea: City of Five Sails are both readable and aesthetically modern.

Besides developing 7th Sea: City of Five Sails, David is also currently the Lead Developer for Doomtown. Rhiannon is an illustrator and gamer from the Northeast and a graduate of The University of Hawai’i Mānoa. She has previously worked with Dark Steel Games as an illustrator.

What to Expect from 7th Sea: City of Five Sails

What to Expect from 7th Sea: City of Five Sails

A 7th Sea: City of Five Sails Playtest Article

I’m Max, one of the playtesters on the new 7th Sea: City of Five Sails card game under development from Pine Box Entertainment. Today I’ll provide a partial overview of what you can expect from the upcoming game. 

But first, let me introduce myself, a game player from a rainy ol’ island known to you all as England. I’ve been playing card games for the last 12 years – I started, like most, with Magic: The Gathering and did my time travelling around for Grand Prix and Pro Tour Qualifiers. In 2012, I discovered Android: Netrunner, and the whole game changed, as I discovered LCGs in a big way. Since then, I have played almost all of them in some way, shape, or form. I’ve also done my time with some non-LCG games throughout the years, primarily Pokémon and AEG era L5R. So, don’t be surprised when, for context, I reference various other card games. So, with the boring introductions done and dusted, let’s talk 7th Sea: City of Five Sails, and some of the features you can expect. Please note all mechanics are still in development and you may find changes in the final product.

Approaches

Approach cards are fundamental to 7th Sea: City of Five Sails for determining initiative for the turn. They also set your starting Panache – the stat that determines how many cards you will draw at the start of the turn. If you are familiar with the Game of Thrones LCG, this is similar to the Plot Deck. Although the effects are less dramatic, Approaches tend to enhance your game plan for the turn rather than define it. 

You’ll be coming to your games armed with 7 of these Approaches selected, forming their own mini-deck. You choose one Approach each turn, and then you’re off to the races (or a deadly back-alley brawl, at the very least)!

Locations

You won’t face off against your opponent in some imaginary, theoretical battlefield. Oh no, you’ll duel it out at three locations across the City of Five Sails. These are less like the Deeds in Doomtown, and more like planets in the old Warhammer 40,000 Conquest LCG. 

At each of these locations (The Docks, The Forum, and The Grand Bazaar) you will deal Neutral Cards from the Search Deck (more on that below). Control these locations to earn “Hero Points,” and also use them as the base to launch your noble (or nefarious) plans. 

“Search Deck” (Playtest Term)

The Search Deck really sets 7th Sea: City of Five Sails apart from other games. Between you and your opponent sits a Neutral Search Deck. This deck is fixed, it will be the same for everyone playing the game around the world. During the game you’ll be dealing one card per Location each turn. 

The Search Deck contains events, characters, and attachments for players to lay claim to. Some decks rely on the Search Deck to get their game plan going, whilst some for the most part operate independent of it. All players, however, will need to be aware of what is coming out of it each turn, as it really is full of treasures. Even if you don’t want a particular revealed card, you might just want to stop your opponent from getting their hands on it.   

Skulking and Scheming

The heart and soul of the game takes place in the Skulking and Scheming phase. Here you will tussle with your opponent at each location, with you and your opponent alternating taking actions.

These actions form the core of the game, ranging from challenging your opponent’s characters, playing Risks (action card), and moving your characters around Five Sails in an attempt to dominate the city! The alternating action taking (I go, U go in classic gaming parlance) is core to the game. To reference the short lived Star Wars Destiny game, sequential flow makes the game feel fast and engaging to play. 

Riposte, Parry, Thrust

Combat in 7th Sea is, dare I say it, flippin’ fantastic. You see, every card in your deck has a Riposte, Parry, and Thrust value (RPT from here on out). 

Once you and your opponent are locked in combat, you’ll alternate playing these cards in a deadly, swashbuckling duel. Play a card with 1 Riposte? Deflect a damage, and send it back to your opponent. Parry? Get that damage away from me! Thrust? I’ll take the hit, but I’m slinging some of my own damage back at you. Combat only ends when there is no more damage ‘incoming’ at either player, and some of these combats become epic battles of back-and-forth card play.

Just like the Poker Hand mechanic in Doomtown, this combat system drips with theme. You feel like a Musketeer or a swashbuckler every time. It also makes deckbuilding both fun and challenging. Maybe there is a really powerful card, but its RPT values aren’t great, or there’s a lower powered card but when you’re in combat, its high RPT values allow you to dominate and win the battle. Oh, and yes, some cards have points in each RPT stat, and you get to use all of them when you play them into a duel. 

Concluding Thoughts

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed this little insight into the game as it currently stands. I’ve not delved too deep into the details, as we’re still thrashing some of them out during playtesting. Hopefully this has let you know some of the things you can expect. At some point, I hope to share with you all more insights about 7th Sea: City of Five Sails’ Factions, along with tips about deckbuilding and general game play strategy. 

 

Announcing 7th Sea: The City of Five Sails

Announcing 7th Sea: The City of Five Sails

An Evolving Tabletop Game set in Theah’s Most Interesting City

Cover Art, by Charles Urbach

Pine Box Entertainment is proud to announce the development of a new experience for 7th Sea fans in the form of a hybrid card game/board. Folks familiar with our Doomtown game will find familiar concepts in area control and a player driven storyline. Players will choose a Faction vying for control of the City of Five Sails. Their Leader and Crew, along with hired mercenaries will battle and duel over three Locations with the city. Throughout the game, they must use Influence, Brawn, and Finesse to outmaneuver and defeat their opponent. Five Sails is a port city with five districts representing the five countries surrounding its border. But most importantly, it is itself a free city, operating independently from any of those outside influences. As such, it is a frequent destination for travelers, explorers, pirates, people wishing to hide, and those who are looking for them. Not only are there inhabitants from the five border countries, but the city is a hub of activity for traders and pirates from all over Théah. This makes Five Sails’ population as diverse and random as its interpretation of laws.

Five Sails is a game of swashbuckling, sorcery, piracy, adventure, political intrigue, and skullduggery within the city. This is not a game of naval combat. While we did not go back to the format of the original 7th Sea CCG, we believe that Five Sails retains the heart and soul of the original game at its core. We will feature key elements from the 7th Sea roleplaying game, incorporated into a rich, storyline driven tabletop experience. Players engage in combat duels that go back and forth with impending damage. Parry, riposte, and thrust at your opponent with the assistance of plot cards and attachments to damage and eliminate opposing crew members and mercenaries. Each Leader has their own unique playstyle with additional ways to obtain Hero Points, and forge a path towards victory. Alternatively, controlling the locations or assassinating the enemy leader will lead to domination over the city.

 


Iron Reply, Eisen specific faction card. Art by Mirco Paganessi

Each Day players will reveal a Scheme card that helps determine their goal for the turn. A communal mercenary deck will reveal Events, Artifacts, and Characters at the locations that players can Recruit to aid their cause. Setting the game in the City of Five Sails gives us the freedom to build a solid ongoing story and depiction of various nationalities and secret societies that bring more of the flavor of the world into the game.

We anticipate the first interactive, player driven storyline experience as a key part of our inaugural world championship at GenCon 2022. At this tournament and through local organized play, players will be able to determine the direction of the storyline fiction. Players will also be able to alter the communal mercenary deck for future expansions, as the city and storyline evolve with an expanding card pool and additional factions. The key thing about the mercenary deck is that each card bears a unique number. As the story progresses, characters may permanently join a Leader or new events disrupt the City of Five Sails. When this happens, a new card with that number will be printed to update this communal deck, replacing the one that is going away. This way we can keep the ebb and flow of the bustling, dynamic port city alive over time and keep you on your toes along the way. The cards used for the current pool will be noted and provided at organized play gatherings.


Maya del Rioja, Loyal Crew member of the Castile faction, led by Soline el Gato. Art by Waclaw Wysocki

The initial box set, containing everything you need to play 7th Sea:The City of Five Sails, will follow the story of Five Sails as initially presented in the 7th Sea Roleplaying Game:

The history of Five Sails goes back six hundred years before the First Prophet. When the Numanari came conquering across this land, they found a fort built by a now-unknown warlord. They took the fort for its strategic location, erecting their own wooden walls and port. The fort eventually became a town with a castle. Stone walls ran over 5 kilometers all the way around, protecting the people from invaders. Those walls still stand, and you can see them dividing the “inner city” from the “outer city.”

Five Sails has seen its share of battles, each conflict wounding some part of the city, calling for rebuilding and restructuring. In addition to the battles, the city has suffered fires and plagues, further erasing older parts of the city for newer structures. This has made the city’s interior a bit of a maze with older buildings eclipsed by newer, tight alleyways that twist and turn and sometimes end in walls, stairways leading to nowhere and other architectural oddities.

In the 1400’s, a Vodacce prince named Dalmatia claimed the city as his own and his family held it for nearly two hundred years. However, the War of the Cross rolled over the city, and within those thirty years, Five Sails changed hands hundreds of times. As the war raged on, Five Sails became a kind of home for mercenaries and pirates looking for coin and trying to find refuge from the war.

When the Nations finally declared peace and the War of the Cross ended, the city was in shambles. Five different Nations claimed ownership of the city. Anastasia Russo, the appointed mayor, found opportunity in the chaos and declared Five Sails an independent city, free of any national hand. She gathered a handful of war-weary veterans to enforce her claim. A bold move for certain, but thanks to her army of mercenaries and a fleet of pirates, she was able to maintain her claim. Five Sails was a free city.

Since then, the city has remained both united and divided. Five Sails is divided into five districts, each maintained by a “governor” (the titles are different for each district). Every three years, the governors elect a mayor who runs the city’s bureaucracy and infrastructure. Because the mayor must win the favor of the governors, many outside the city see her as a kind of puppet holding a rubber stamp, but that is further from the truth than such scholars know. The governor assigns commanders for the city’s watch, army and navy, giving her considerable power. Those who fall under her disfavor can find life very difficult in Five Sails, regardless of their status. In other words, the relationship between the governors and the mayor is a delicate balance.

 


Iron and Velvet, Ussura specific faction card. Art by Manuel Castanon

 

The featured cover art by Charles Urbach depicts the four musketeers available for play with the Montaigne faction, led by Odette de Dubois. Throughout the coming months we will continue to preview elements of this game as new art, fiction, and card templating become available. We are excited for this project and will be continuing to work closely with Chaosium on being part of the future of 7th Sea.

Designers Case Lopez and Robert Croy have recently been joined by Legend of the Five Rings CCG designer Chris Medico and Transformers TCG designer Case Kiyonaga as the game has evolved from the initial presentation in the The Jade Throne Podcast and version of the game shown to 7th Sea fans last year.

Those not familiar with the 7th Sea property can check it out here.

Stay up to date with news on all our projects by following the various Pine Box Entertainment social media outlets listed here.

Folks looking to join playtest can do so by emailing us at pineboxentertainment@gmail.com.

 

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.

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.