Doomtown

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Doomtown
Designer(s)
  • David Williams (classic)
  • Mark Wootton (Reloaded, from Williams' design)
Publisher(s)
Players2-6
Playing timeApprox 45 min
Random chanceSome
Skill(s) requiredCard playing
Arithmetic
Basic Reading Ability

Doomtown: Reloaded (originally Deadlands: Doomtown) is an expandable card game based on the Deadlands roleplaying game. It was originally a collectible card game from 1998 through 2001, and was revived as the Reloaded version in 2014.

During the game, each player builds out locations around town, while their dudes fight it out for control of the town. Doomtown sets itself apart from other card games in that each card doubles as a playing card, which impacts both deck building and gameplay. Players resolve certain in-game situations (such as combat) with a hand of poker, accentuating the Old West atmosphere of the game. The game's movement rules are also noteworthy, often being compared to chess.

Doomtown is also a heavily story-driven game, with many tie-ins to the events of Deadlands at large. In both its iterations, players are given opportunities to affect the storyline, such as through tournaments where players vote on characters getting to live or die.

Setting and Story[edit]

Deadlands[edit]

Deadlands is an award-winning roleplaying system set in an alternate history Weird West, blending elements of the wild west, horror, and steampunk. The game is largely set between 1876 and 1879.

In 1863, a vengeful Sioux shaman known as Raven conducted a ritual known as the Reckoning, which weakened the border between our world and the spiritual realm, unleashing all manner of terrible creatures, spirits, and undead. In addition, many people are now able to harness various forms magic, both demonic and holy.

The Reckoning also caused most California's coast to sink into the ocean, leaving plateaus jutting from the water (a locale known as the Great Maze). Around the same time, a new super-fuel known as ghost rock was discovered, especially in the Great Maze. This spurred the equivalent of a gold rush to the Great Maze, as well as a leap forward into an era of steampunk technology.

Also differentiating the setting from our own history, the Civil War is still ongoing through 1879, and both the Union and Confederacy exist as established powers pushing westward. They also have to vie against various sovereign powers that have declared themselves in the West, such as the Sioux Nation, Coyote Confederation, Nation of Deseret, and City of Lost Angels.

Deadlands: Doomtown[edit]

Doomtown's original run from 1998 through 2001 was set in Gomorra, a boomtown on the edge of the Great Maze. Due to a preponderance of ghost rock in its vicinity, various factions fought for control of the town.

As the town built up and factions arrived, the conflict between the peacekeeping Law Dogs and outlaw gang Blackjacks kept escalating until a climactic shootout at high noon. The violence rocked the town, but it was nothing compared to what was brewing in the background.

The second story arc focused on the efforts of the Whateleys (a family of hucksters notorious for their associations with demons and abominations) and the Flock (a religious cult) to open a portal to Hell and summon the demon Knicknevin, utilizing a motherlode of ghost rock hidden in the middle of town itself. Despite attempts by the Confederacy's Texas Rangers and the Union's Agency to prevent their machinations, the Flock and Whateleys succeeded, and the portal was opened.

Even though Knicknevin was defeated in short order (and the Flock along with him), his brief tenure in Gomorra saw the deaths of many prominent characters, destroyed much of the town, and left a power vacuum. Thus, attempting to gain the upper-hand and control Gomorra's precious ghost rock reserves, various factions began building rail lines into and out of Gomorra.

While this conflict ramped up, the Flock's former leader Elijah returned to town after fleeing during Knicknevin's wanton destruction. This time he came with the backing of the Lost Angels, a powerful religious group headquartered in and governing their namesake city (sitting where Los Angeles does today). Before long, he enacted a ritual that caused a massive catastrophic event known as the Storm, killing all but 13 of Gomorra's residents and razing the town.

Factions[edit]

  1. Blackjacks: A local outlaw gang, constantly robbing the town and populace. Their founder, Blackjack, holds a grudge against Sweetrock.
  2. Law Dogs: The law of the town, they hunt down wanted dudes and dispense justice.
  3. Collegium: Mad scientists and researchers who use ghost rock to power their gadgets.
  4. Sweetrock Mining Company: Corporation headquartered back East, who use their extensive capital, as well as shady and aggressive tactics, to control the mines.
  5. Whateleys: A family involved in witchcraft, demonology, and hexes. Rumored to even breed with abominations.
  6. Sioux Union: A nation formed by Native American tribes, with a local representation of warriors and shamans working to fend off evil in Gomorra.
  7. Maze Rats: A band of pirates loyal to Chinese forces out of Shan Fan (i.e. San Francisco) that raid the local mines.
  8. Texas Rangers: Agents of the Confederacy, charged with a policy to “shoot or recruit” supernatural forces.
  9. The Agency: Agents of the Union, these “men in black” are tasked with eradicating abominations and evil.
  10. The Flock: A cult in Gomorra that employs holy magic, and has a different member personifying each of the deadly sins.

Doomtown: Reloaded (AEG era)[edit]

The Reloaded iteration of Doomtown, published initially by Alderac Entertainment Group, picks up in Gomorra about a year after the events of the Storm. Although the town's buildings, population, and local ghost rock reserves were all decimated by the Storm, there was still enough ghost rock in the area (coupled with intact rail lines still converging on Gomorra), that the town began to naturally build up again.

Before long, as is wont to happen in a Western frontier town, the Law Dogs and a local band of outlaws, the Sloane Gang, engaged in a continuously escalating conflict, which culminated in a high noon shootout and a dead sheriff. Meanwhile, the mysterious Fourth Ring circus operated in the background under a shroud of secrecy.

People began to fall ill as a mysterious plague swept through the town. In response, the Fourth Ring became involved in relief efforts, operating a sanitarium for the town's stricken. Likewise, the Morgan Cattle Company began racing for a cure in their Mad Science laboratories, especially upon receipt of their head Lillian Morgan falling ill with the plague.

Unsurprisingly, it turned out the Fourth Ring's motives weren't altruistic. Not only were they behind the plague, they were using it to turn the townsfolk into mindless, pestilent zombies. With a great unveiling their hordes poured forth over Gomorra, and it was only from the combined efforts of all the other factions in town that the Fourth Ring were unsuccessful.

In the aftermath of that conflict, and the death of the Sloane Gang's leadership during it, the new head of the gang went on a rampage through Gomorra, taking control of and burning down establishments, and successfully drove the Law Dogs into exile.

Factions[edit]

  1. Law Dogs: The law and order of the town, representing the sheriff's office (including mad scientists working to develop an advanced arsenal) and various religious figures with access to holy magic.
  2. Sloane Gang: A violent gang of outlaws that constantly robs and threatens the town and populace. They have a good number of members who use unholy magic in service of their lawlessness.
  3. Morgan Cattle Company: A ranching powerhouse in the local area, they are heavily invested in research and development using local ghost rock supplies. Through their operations in Gomorra, they also branch out into mining operations.
  4. The Fourth Ring: A mysterious circus that has set up camp in Gomorra. They are in actuality an association of abominations and unholy spellcasters working on behalf of the Reckoner known by some as Pestilence.
  5. Eagle Wardens: An independent organization spearheaded by people from various Native Americans tribes (and some with no tribal allegiance), who focus on using shamanic magic to thwart evil.
  6. 108 Righteous Bandits: A loose gang of outlaws, transients, kung fu disciples, East Asian immigrants, and religious figures. They are not malicious, but more concerned with stealing from the rich on behalf of the masses.

Doomtown: Reloaded (PBE era)[edit]

Picking up in the immediate aftermath of the AEG era of Doomtown: Reloaded, Pine Box Entertainment broadened the story's horizons to encompass the wider world of Deadlands outside Gomorra. It follows various characters fleeing town for greener pastures in the aftermath of Gomorra having been destroyed yet again by the actions of the Fourth Ring and Sloane Gang.

Of course, this being Deadlands, the pastures aren’t necessarily greener outside town, and now they're wont to run into some pretty nefarious villains such as the Servitors. The Servitors are representatives on Earth of each of the four Reckoners (known by some as the Four Horsemen), and their ranks include the aforementioned Raven.

Some of the Law Dogs, after being driven into exile, have set out for Tombstone, Arizona. Little do the characters know they're about to step into the middle of that famous conflict between the Earps and the Clantons (which is known today for culminating in the famous gunfight at the OK Corral). At this point, it's just a matter of time before we see how the conflict will impact the story of Doomtown.

Factions[edit]

When the game transitioned from AEG to Pine Box, all cards remained legal, so the factions stayed the same mechanically. However, the factions were realigned thematically to account for the wider setting the game now covered, and were given the new names seen below. The more specific factions from the AEG era are now considered just one aspect of each broader faction.

  1. Anarchists (formerly the 108 Righteous Bandits)
  2. Entrepreneurs (formerly Morgan Cattle Company)
  3. Fearmongers (formerly The Fourth Ring)
  4. First Peoples (formerly the Eagle Wardens)
  5. Law Dogs (now encompassing more than Gomorra's law)
  6. Outlaws (formerly the Sloane Gang)

Release History[edit]

Deadlands: Doomtown (1998 to 2001)[edit]

During the game's initial development, Doomtown was advertised as Doomtown: The Legend of Caine County.[1] Before the first set was released, Wizards of the Coast acquired Doomtown when they purchased Five Rings Publishing (as part of the TSR buyout[2]), who had been developing the game.

The game was an instant success: Doomtown won the 1998 Origins Awards for Best Trading Card Game and Best Graphic Presentation of a Card Game.[3] WotC produced the initial run of “episodes” (a series of smaller expansions under the FRP's Rolling Thunder[4] distribution model of frequent small expansions), Pine Box Edition (a more traditional base set that heralded the game moving to a more typical collectible card game release model), Shootout at High Noon (a set of two fixed decks to pick up and play), and the next three expansions.

When WotC's contract with Pinnacle Entertainment Group (the owner of the Deadlands property) ended in 1999, they chose not to renew. Alderac Entertainment Group then acquired the rights to publish Doomtown from Pinnacle, and released a new base set, Boot Hill Edition, in 2000. This was followed by three traditional expansions and a final box set of fixed cards as the final expansion upon the game's cancellation.

Timeline[edit]

Name Year Size Expansion Symbol
Episodes 1&2 1998 156 none
Episode 3 1998 52 none
Episode 4 1998 52 Club suit
Episode 5 1998 52 Club suit
Episode 6 1998 52 Club suit
Episode 7 1998 53 Diamond suit
Episode 8 1998 52 Diamond suit
Episode 9 1998 51 Diamond suit
Pine Box Edition 1999 320 Heart suit
Shootout at High Noon 1999 73 Down-pointing triangle
Mouth of Hell 1999 181 Spade suit
A Reaping of Souls 1999 181 Latin Cross
Revelations 1999 182 Ω
Boot Hill Edition 2000 319 Outlined Greek Cross
Ashes to Ashes 2000 158 White star
Eye for an Eye 2000 157 Four dot punctuation
Do unto Others 2001 199 Cross of Jerusalem

Doomtown: Reloaded (AEG era, 2014 to 2016)[edit]

After the final set of Doomtown classic, fans kept the game alive by holding their own tournaments and making fan content. Eventually, via a flier from the 2014 GAMA Trade Show[5], it was revealed that Doomtown: Reloaded would be released by AEG in 2014, with updated rules and sold in non-randomized expansions as an Expandable Card Game. The base set was released at GenCon of 2014, where the inaugural tournament was held.

After the initial base set of 145 cards, expansions fell into one of three size categories:

  • Pine Boxes (40-42 cards)
  • Saddlebags (21-23 cards)
  • Faction Pack (42 cards)

From 2014 to 2016, AEG released these expansions on a regular schedule of three Saddlebags followed by a Pine Box. In 2015, they inserted an extra release into the schedule, the Faction Pack “Immovable Object, Unstoppable Force,” which introduced the 108 Righteous Bandits and Eagle Wardens as factions into the game (the other four factions had all been introduced in the base set).

Throughout its run, AEG also released Organized Play kits stores could order to offer as prize support in tournaments, containing various knickknacks such as playmats, and alternate art promos of various cards. In 2016, AEG announced they would no longer be producing new content for the game and halting tournament support.

Timeline[edit]

Name Year Type Expansion Code
Doomtown: Reloaded 2014 Base set DTR
New Town, New Rules 2014 Saddlebag NTNR
Double Dealin' 2014 Saddlebag DD
Election Day Slaughter 2015 Saddlebag EDS
Faith and Fear 2015 Pine Box F&F
Frontier Justice 2015 Saddlebag FJ
No Turning Back 2015 Saddlebag NTB
Nightmare at Noon 2015 Saddlebag N@N
Immovable Object, Unstoppable Force 2015 Faction Pack IOUF
The Light Shineth 2015 Pine Box TLS
Dirty Deeds 2015 Saddlebag DDeeds
Foul Play 2015 Saddlebag FP
Bad Medicine 2015 Saddlebag BadM
Ghost Town 2016 Pine Box GT
The Curtain Rises 2016 Saddlebag TCR
A Grand Entrance 2016 Saddlebag AGE
The Showstopper 2016 Saddlebag TSs
Blood Moon Rising 2016 Pine Box BMR

Doomtown: Reloaded (PBE era, 2017 to Present)[edit]

In early 2017, the newly formed company Pine Box Entertainment (staffed by passionate fans of Doomtown) announced they had contracted with Pinnacle Entertainment Group to produce new expansions for Doomtown and continue organized play[6]. As part of this partnership, Pine Box would work with PEG to bring more elements from the Deadlands RPG into the game.

In September 2017, PBE and PEG launched the Kickstarter for the first expansion in this new era, “There Comes a Reckoning.” It successfully funded in 10 minutes, and ended up raising over $170,000[7]. After fulfillment of that expansion and its stretch goals in 2018, the game returned to traditional releases through Pinnacle with “Too Tough to Die” that fall. In the first quarter of 2019, the third expansion by Pine Box (“Out for Blood”) will be released.

Timeline[edit]

Name Year Expansion Code
There Comes a Reckoning 2018 TCaR
Too Tough to Die 2018 2T2D
Out for Blood 2019 O4B

The game in depth[edit]

Doomtown, like most collectible card games, has two places where a player can show their skill and creativity: deck construction and playing skill.

Terms[edit]

The game uses the terms below to define the game mechanics. Some of these terms are printed on certain cards, while others are produced or mentioned in the game during play.

  • Ghost Rock (GR): The money of the game. Used to buy or pay upkeep on items, dudes, etc.
  • Production/Upkeep: Production gives X GR per turn, upkeep costs X GR per turn to keep the card in question.
  • Influence: Some Dudes have some and it shows how much the town populace knows/fears/respects them. Used to prevent the other player from winning and to control deeds.
  • Control: Some Deeds have some and it shows how important the structure is to the town. Used to win the game.
  • Victory Points: Like control, but it is won in game and cannot be taken away.
  • Bullets: The combat prowess of a Dude. The higher it is, the more cards you can use to make a poker hand. There are two types of bullets, Draw and Stud (affecting the hand similarly to draw and stud poker).
  • Outfit: The faction a dude belongs to. Dudes that belong to no specific outfit are called Drifters.
  • Pull: Drawing the top card of your (or sometimes an opponent's) Deck. This is used to determine if Spells/Gadgets are successful, or other game effects.
  • Draw Hand: A Hand of Poker.
  • Shootout: The combat phase of the game.
  • Cheatin': A Draw hand that has two or more cards with the same rank and suit (such as two aces of spades), not counting jokers. These hands are "illegal" and may be punished by Cheatin'! action cards.
  • Boot: When something is used, it is usually booted (turned sideways) to indicate that it has been used.
  • Fear Level: This changed with each expansion as storyline progressed. The higher this is, the nastier the town has become.
  • Boot Hill: The graveyard of the game. Different from the discard pile in that it isn't reshuffled into the deck when the deck becomes depleted.

Deck Construction[edit]

There are eight types of cards in Doomtown: Actions, Dudes, Goods, Events, Deeds, Spells, Improvements, and Jokers. Each of those cards uses a specific Poker suit: Spades (Dudes), Clubs (Actions), Hearts (Goods/Events/Spells), Diamonds (Deeds/Improvements). Players use a variable number of each type of card (depending on their focus) to construct their deck. Furthermore, each card has a rank (from Ace to King, 1-13). In some types (Dudes and Goods) cards with high rank are generally more powerful, while in the others (Deeds and Actions) cards with low rank are generally more powerful. Each Doomtown deck resembles a poker deck, but with one major difference: players are allowed to include multiples of a specific rank-suit combination, at the risk of making some of their poker hands illegal. This way, players not only have to choose cards with useful powers, but also have to choose cards that will allow them to draw good poker hands.Outfits are also represented by a home card which gives starting funds, starting income and a useful ability.

Restrictions[edit]

  • Each deck must be exactly 52 cards plus one Outfit card and up to two Jokers.
  • There can be no more than four copies of a card with the same name in a deck.
  • There can be no more than four copies of a card with the same value and suit in a deck.

Types of Cards[edit]

  • Deeds: These are used for two reasons, to provide income and to win the game. Deeds have three defining stats - control, cost, and production/upkeep. Some deeds have actions or restrictions on them
  • Dudes: These are your gang, ranging from old-style Wild West desperadoes and lawmen, to Lovecraftian witches and mad scientists. Each dude belongs to a specific outfit (except for drifters) denoted by a small icon below the characters influence. Dudes are used to conduct your business and disrupt your opponent's plans. Dudes are often expendable.
  • Goods: The normal stuff your dudes will equip and use, from Horses and New Hats to Death-Ray contraptions and mystical Bullets.
  • Spells: Used by the different spellcasters: Hucksters, Shamans and Blessed. There are three types of spells: hexes (used by hucksters), Spirits (used by Shaman) and Miracles (used by Blessed).
  • Events: Random stuff that happens in town. Events are not played directly, but take effect when they appear in your draw hand during gambling phase. Only one event per player can resolve each gambling phase.
  • Actions: These are all the nasty surprises you will play on your opponent(s). They are divided into Noon actions (playable on their own), Shootout actions (played during a shootout), and Reactions (played in response to another action).
  • Jokers: You can have up to two Jokers in your deck. There are various Jokers to choose from - some are simply wild cards, while others have secondary abilities but restricted usage (e.g. only in shootouts) or only when making a 'pull'(a one card pull to determine the outcome of something within the game.

Deck Focus[edit]

Players usually focus their deck on doing one thing well. There are many viable goals to choose from. Some outfits are better equipped for some goals; for instance, Blackjacks (the game's outlaw gang) usually have good shootout stats and other offensive abilities. Below are some popular deck types. Players may mix two or more types, such as a shootout deck that partly relies on spells.

  • Shootout: These decks focus on hunting down and killing the opponent's most influential characters, so that they can win the game with just a few Control Points. Usually full of action cards.
  • Spellslinging: These decks focus on using one or two characters packed with spells to manipulate the game. For example, one could use spells to reduce the opponent's influence until the end of the turn, again enabling a win with just a few Control Points.
  • Hiding/Turtling: These decks focus on pumping out more control points than the opponent could handle, and winning without much bloodshed, in effect "buying the town". The Sweetrock faction is notorious for this. Another variation of this type is the Collegium's first outfit ability, which gives control points for building Mad Science gadgets.
  • Flooding: Overwhelming the opposing player by putting as many deeds as possible into play as quickly as possible.

Rules[edit]

The game is played in turns ("days"). Each turn consists of three phases. In each phase, players play one action each until they all pass consecutively. (In contrast, in Magic: The Gathering, each player may perform as many actions in a row as he likes.) When all phases are complete, a new turn begins.

Phases[edit]

  • Gambling Phase is a round of lowball poker (where the worst hand wins). The winner gets one GR from each other player, and wins initiative, i.e. he gets the first action in the various phases of the turn (actions then proceed clockwise). In this phase, very illegal decks (such as decks consisting mainly of one suit, or mainly of one or two ranks) get punished, because (unlike in shootouts) they cannot manipulate their cards to avoid an illegal hand.
  • Upkeep Phase Players also gather GR from deeds with production, and must pay GR for card's upkeeps (or discard some of their cards that require upkeep)
  • High Noon is the main part of each turn. Here players can buy deeds and goods, recruit new dudes for their gang, move dudes around to take control of other deeds, start shootouts, and generally promote their strategy while disrupting that of the opponents.
  • Nightfall is the end of each turn. The game may be won during this phase. Otherwise, each player prepares for the next turn; booted cards are unbooted, play hands are refilled. The player with the most influence at nightfall is rewarded with an extra bonus card for his play hand.

Movement[edit]

Movement is a major part of the game. Your dudes must move from one place to another, and their ability to do so is based on the physical arrangement of the deeds. Your deadly shootout hand may be useless if you can't catch your opponent as his dudes run around town disrupting your business.

Winning/Losing[edit]

As the game progresses, a player may end up in a weak position (e.g. losing all his dudes), but it is possible to recover from such a position. The game is won when, during Nightfall, one player has more control + victory points than the highest total influence of a single opponent. (In a later rules revision, a variant called for beating the "lowest total influence". It doesn't matter in two-player games; in multiplayer games, the former is more realistic, while the latter leads to quicker games.) Control points are acquired by controlling deeds that provide them. Deeds are controlled by the player with the most influence at the deed; if there is a tie then the owner of the deed controls it (even if they're not involved in the tie). Some goods also have control points. Victory points are given by meeting a condition of a card. For example, the Law Dogs outfit grants a victory point each time their controller kills a wanted dude with more than one influence OR puts a wanted dude in jail. Some jobs earn victory points as well.

Uniqueness[edit]

Due to the game's strong storyline, dudes and deeds are unique; if one copy is in play, you cannot play a second copy. Some exceptions are made for particularly common archetypes, such as the random drifting gunman or the dingy saloon. This uniqueness recognizes Boot Hill as well; if one copy is in Boot Hill, you cannot play a second copy. Due to this uniqueness, the game employs card memory; if a dude or deed is changed (e.g. a dude's influence is permanently reduced), discarded, and played again (even by another player), then the changes remain in effect.

Shootouts[edit]

Doomtown has a unique form of combat. Each player has a posse, which usually consists of dudes from his outfit and drifters. There are many cases when a player wants to control a location, or just kill an opposing dude. This is accomplished by entering a shootout. The default way to do this is to call-out the opposing dude, who may either refuse and chicken out or stay and fight. If he stays, both players gather a posse of their dudes and enter a shootout.

The shootout has two phases, the shootout action phase and the draw phase. During the shootout action phase, players perform shootout actions, either from their hand (e.g. "Sun in Yer Eyes" or "Out of Ammo"), or printed on cards in their posse. Shootout actions are used to influence your posse's combat potential for the round, either by increasing your bullet rating or reducing the opposing posse's bullet rating. During the draw phase, each player draws as many cards from his deck as his bullet rating allows: five cards, plus extra cards for Stud bullets, plus the option to discard and replace cards for Draw bullets (done as one lump group). Each player tries to form the best poker hand he can. Due to jokers and Cheatin', five of a kind is possible. The Dead Man's Hand (Ace of Spades, Ace of Clubs, Eight of Spades, Eight of clubs with a Jack of Diamonds as the fifth card) is ranked highest. This hand is historical in nature as it is the hand Wild Bill Hickok held when he was killed. Each poker hand has a rating from 1 (high card) to 10 (Dead Man's Hand), and the losing player suffers a number of casualties equal to the difference in ratings. (In case of ties, each player suffers one.) After that, any player can either chicken out or stay for another round.

Usually, the trick of the game is to force your opponent's most crucial dudes (usually those with high influence) to enter an unfavorable shootout. Various action cards allow you to do this, such as "Ambush", "Don't Like Yer Looks!" or "Massacre".

References[edit]

External links[edit]