>Intro >Ideas >Basics >Test >Play >Examples

Doomtown Card Game

Card Combo Concepts and Deck Design

Like the other Doomtown pages here at Frothersunite, this little series of pages is aiming to fill the niches other sites fail to fill.
At any of the other good Doomtown sites (see the related Frothersunite DT links) you can find lists of tried and trusted decks; from tournament winners to fun bicycles, as well as a range of obvious and not-so-obvious card combos - the 'Crow's Nest' has a superb database resource for both.

What we hope to do with these pages is try and give an insight into how to put a decent deck together. Hopefully, this advice will help provide the new player, especially one who is struggling with designing their own original decks, with some basic tenants and example blueprints for how to look at the cards and their inter-relationships when considering game strategy.

Also included is a more detailed disection of some card combinations to show how they can be used as the conceptual backbone for designing a deck around. This will hopefully take you from the initial core idea for a fun and/or winning deck strategy, through interaction with other cards for support of the main deck theme, and finally offer some tried decks by way of example of the finished product.

Getting Deck Ideas

The way these pages have been approached is by trying to consider, break-down and explain the process by which we DT players here at Frothers Unite! go about the process of creating new decks to play.

This is usually kicked of by looking at the cards, either perusing our collections looking for new ideas and combinations or getting ideas for new combinations and strategies whilst playing. The latter can be either from others' decks - seeing a way other people's ideas can be improved or mutated to suit our own ends or else trying to stop a particular deck that just keeps whipping us - or by a process of evolutionary development of our own failed ideas.

You'll only get fresh ideas by looking at the cards, and inspiration can often be found due to a bit of lateral thinking along lines you never noticed before, even though you've looked at that same card a hundred times before.

Footfalls by R.K. Post
Footfalls, rk post. Card art for 'Sherrif Syn'.
Once you have a fledgling idea for a deck, then get out all the cards you have that you think may be relevant to it and lay them out ordered by suit and rank. This is a good way to immediately spot the strengths and weaknesses that maybe be inherent for the deck you have in mind.

Often a pattern will become clear, suggesting how an idea may be executed in a deck by doing this. For instance, if all the cards are clustered around a couple of numbers then it may be worth designing a shootout deck based on 4 and 5 of a kind hands; alternatively, if the cards are sequential then try to fill any gaps and build a deck pulling straights.
If you want to play a deck using spells but all the associated cards seem to be low value then immediately you can see you will either have to rethink it or try and introduce a good proportion of high value cards, otherwise all the spell pulls will fail.

Remember though, once you have a basic concept for a deck, keep it simple and try to include only those cards that stick to the plan.
There is a great temptation with Doomtown, as with all card games, to try and include every nifty little action going. One of the most common mistakes seen with deck design, especially with new players and especially with those that have never played a CCG before, is to try and build a deck out of only those nifty action and shoot out cards. The deck has no central theme and as such the player is not playing to any particular plan. They are reacting only to the cards and strategies of the other players. On the whole, this is a big mistake in Doomtown, even more so than other card games, because the deck is limited to 52 cards.
What tends to happen is that although the player has the cards in their deck to counter almost any situation, they rarely get the right cards at the right time in their play hand. Either that or they end up holding onto a particular card ready to counter a situation that has previously occurred in the game, all the while missing other opportunities. This kind of strategy just doesn't work in my opinion.

Doomtown is an aggressive game. By that I don't mean that you always have to play shootout decks, it is possible to play a turtling, defensive deck and still win. What I mean is it is aggressive in the way a player should pursue their game plan. Like most strategy games, it is much better to be proactive, forcing the other players to play to your strategy and your strengths, than it is to play in a reactive manner, trying to beat other players on the terms they have dictated. Remember that it is not enough to put together a deck that just stops the other person winning, you must primarily be aiming to win yourself.

So keep your deck simple. Try to go for only one or two main ideas and keep the cards in your deck aligned to these ideas, with perhaps just a few others to counter any weaknesses. And once you start playing keep the game plan in mind and prosecute it with the utmost vigour, without being sidetracked into unnecessary shootouts or actions.

Basic Strategies

There are several different ways to win in Doomtown, but only 2 basic strategies. It may be obvious, but it is worth going over them again here.
That Simple by beet
Its That Simple, by beet. Card art for 'Its That Simple'.
  1. Maxing out Control Points.
    The idea here is just to put out a lot of Control Point deeds, so much so that an opponent can't put out dudes with influence fast enough to keep up. Of course the secret is keeping control of the deeds once you've put them out. A variation on this is to include Victory Points since these cannot be taken away from you once gained.

  2. Reduce the Opponents Influence.
    These decks require some way to remove the opponents dudes with influence so that a win can be made with only 1 or 2 Control Points. There are a lot of ways to do this, from the basic one of killing off the opponents dudes in shootouts to action and spell cards that reduce a dudes influence.

Most decks are a combination of these strategies of course, but each usually favours one or the other. Keep this in mind when building your deck and know which your's favours.

Once you have an idea for a deck, consider carefully which Outfit card it most suits. Often your deck ideas will be prompted with a specific Outfit in mind, but when they are not weigh up the pros and cons of each before deciding. Your Outfit card is in play for you from the start of the game, and will be with you throughout the game. It is the most reliable card in your deck. As such you should be doing everything you can to make sure you are getting the most from its ability, if you're not then you are wasting one of your prime resources.

The Test Bed

Don't be afraid to put together experimental decks and give them a go. It doesn't matter if you lose, and often this is the only way to spot the flaw in an otherwise brilliant plan. Sometimes you can do something about it, sometimes it's back to the drawing board. However, there are a few simple things you can do to see if a deck idea is going to work before hand:
  1. If you havn't already done so when building the deck, lay out all the cards sequentially by value and separate row for each suit and look through them. This will immediately show you where the strong points of the deck are and where its weak points are. If you have few dudes, and/or low influence, then you could be in trouble if others play alot of control point deeds, especially early on. If you have few control point deeds then you may have trouble getting the control points you need to win, especially later in the game.

  2. Put the deck together and then try a mock solo play through a few times, pulling play hands and the occasional theoretical shootout hand, considering your dudes you have in play that you think would be involved. This is a good way to see how long you have to wait to get crucial cards you need for your combos or tactics to work and will give you a good idea how often you will get caught cheating. It is also useful for indicating how good the economics of your deck are. Many decks can be crippled because they don't have the ghost rock to pay for crucial high cost cards at the right time.

  3. A lot of players seem surprised when they come across a rival strategy that foils their own carefully constructed deck and fail to have any kind of back-up plan. Consider the deck that you have put together and think if you were playing against it, how would you design a deck specifically to beat it. If you can, try and put in cards that will plug these weaknesses, without having to take out so many cards that you iridiamably damage the deck's strategy. Sometimes this just isn't possible, so at the least, learn the weaknesses of your deck and how to play to hide or minimise them. Then, when another player looks like they may have a strategy that could cause you problems, you can perhaps compensate for it by changing your own tactics accordingly.

  4. Read the text on the cards in your deck, especially those that are crucial to the strategy you have in mind. You just end up looking like a plank if your deck fails because you didn't realise 'Hostile Takeover' doesn't work on strikes, or some other equally obvious blunder. Eh, Colonel?

Play to Win, but Play for Fun

Always try to play to the best of your ability.
Think about the actions that you are undertaking, though obviously try not to take hours over each turn.
Avoid unnecessary actions, especially shootouts, but once you see what needs to be down don't be afraid to take a chance and go for it.
Don't stop trying in a game and give up just because your best shooter got caught by a 'Snakebite' early in the game, or you made a schoolboy error and started with the wrong starting dudes.
Remember you are playing for fun above all else, your opponents' as well as your own.
Make a game of it, and if you do lose then lose with dignity. Don't launch into a whinging diatribe of why the other player's deck is a boring and rubbish turtling deck after they've given you a sound hiding, because you built a shootout deck without any jobs in it and so couldn't call them out at home - or any other equally lame and pathetic excuses.
If you do get beat, congratulate the other player, ask them about their deck and ideas, learn from it and build a better deck yourself so you can return the favour next time round.

Combo and Deck Examples

The idea behind these combo and deck ideas is to try and give an example of how an initial inspiration can be developed to produce a fun and challenging deck.

UnclEvl's 'The Back Room' Pocket Dimension - A cunning core concept for turtling decks of all flavours.

UnclEvl's Protection Racket - How to seize control and demand money with menace.

If you've got a combo concept or deck you think would be useful as an example of how to go about good deck design, then contact us here at Frothers Unite! with the details and we'll see about posting it up.

Head for the Doc's Main DT page here at Frothers Unite! - Everything you ever needed to know about the little old card game based in the Doomtown of Gomorra.

Head for UnclEvl's suggested Doomtown rules revisions.

Head to the Frothers Unite! Homepage.

Got something to say or a question to ask? Scribble it up on the notice board at Frothers Unite! and lets all hear it.

Deadlands, the Weird West, ghost rock, Harrowed, the Deadlands logo, the Pinnacle logo, and all other marks, names and characters from Deadlands are ™ and © 1996-1998 by Pinnacle Entertainment Group, Inc. Card illustrations, images, characters, names, marks, and images original to Doomtown are ™ and © 1998 by Pinnacle Entertainment Group, Inc. Doomtown is a trademark of Five Rings Publishing Group. Game Design by Alderac Entertainment Group.
Background texture (Dunes) from http://ecn.net.au/~iain/

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