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Today we bring you the fighter profession from Guildhall Fantasy: Fellowship. All of our characters are centered around a totem, or theme. This fighter’s totem is hammer and anvils. You may notice that his armor is inscribed with hammers and one of his hammers is topped with what looks like an anvil. His numerous weapons convey his experience in arms and armor and specifically the weapon in his right hand may be Elven in nature and thus possibly magical. This is one fearsome fighter.
Within the game, the fighter, like all three of the warrior archetypes, attacks your opponent’s Guildhall, removing cards from their ranks. The Fighter does this very directly and bluntly. You may always play a fighter to remove a card from your opponent’s Guildhall and put it into the discard pile. When you have two or more fighters, you may discard two cards from your opponent’s Guildhall, but they must be from two different chapters; when you have four fighters in your Guildhall, you can discard any two cards from your opponent’s Guildhall, even if they are from the same chapter. The fighter is crucial to keeping your opponent in check and not allowing them to be overly reliant on one particular profession. Hammering on a player over and over again with fighters can pose a hefty challenge for a your opponent, but if you rely too heavily, you can find yourself falling behind the numbers game, so use your fighter tactically.
Along with the Profession cards, Guildhall: Fantasy includes Reference cards and Victory Point cards.
Guildhall uses a simple symbolic language, that when learned, allows for easy reference of abilities during play, leading to players making quicker play decisions. To assist players in learning these abilities and the symbolic language, we provided Reference cards for each of the Professions and the Victory Point cards, that have the cards’ abilities spelled out in simple English. These cards are a little larger than the other cards in the game, allowing them to be used as card divider, for those players who wish to separate their professions in order to build custom play decks for use in other games once two or all three sets of Guildhall have been purchased.
The key to winning the game is to acquire Victory Points (or VPs for short) and the most basic way to acquire those points is to buy VP cards. Most VP cards come with an ability that when the card is purchased as an action, allows the player to perform a one-time effect that aids them in the game. Each release of Guildhall comes with a different Victory Point card deck, which includes 10 unique cards printed three times each for a 30-card deck. Fellowship includes the classic deck that came with Old World Economy and Job Faire, where the decks in Alliance and Coalition replace 3 of those unique cards with new cards with new abilities. Each set comes with a reference card with all of the VP card abilities explained; those cards feature Ted, the Gamemaster. Victory Point decks can be shuffled together or your favorite cards can be paired up in order to make a new deck for a custom play experience if you like, once two or more sets have been purchased.
Guildhall Fantasy: Fellowship is coming this June, Guildhall Fantasy: Alliance is coming this July, and Guildhall Fantasy: Coalition is coming this August.
This June, July and August sees the re-release of Guildhall with Guildhall: Fantasy.
In Guildhall to complete a chapter you need to have one of each color card in your chapter, i.e. a red, blue, green, purple, and yellow version of the profession. Completing chapters allows you to buy VP cards and accumulating VPs wins you the game! Thus, the card colors are very important in Guildhall. We redid the colored backgrounds for the art as different version of sky. The red is fire from the sky kind of thing; the yellow, a glowing sort of sunset; the blue is a bright blue sky; the purple is a night sky and the green was inspired by phenomenon like the Northern lights – that was the tricky one but my graphic designer A.J. Murray figured out our puzzle and knocked it out!
Guildhall Fantasy: Fellowship releases this June; Guildhall Fantasy: Alliance, this July; and Guildhall Fantasy: Coalition comes out this August (and makes a great companion game to your Mystic Vale purchase).
Tell your local retailer that you want to buy all three versions of Guildhall: Fantasy this summer!
Guildhall returns this Summer with Guildhall: Fantasy. The original Guildhall, released in 2013, was met with critical acclaim, winning Boardgames Australia Awards Best International Game and the Fairplay À la carte award as well as being nominated for the Golden Geek Best Card Game and being Kennerspiel des Jahres Recommended in 2014. Guildhall, which was actually titled: Guildhall: Old World Economy, earned a sequel game: Guildhall: Job Faire, which played very much the same, was compatible and offered new card effects which could be played on their own or combined with the previous set to offer new play experiences.
AEG felt that the original theme of Guildhall limited its audience. The art was of medieval peasants and merchant class people and while very well rendered, was not very evocative. AEG felt a game like Guildhall deserved better.
So when it came time to redo Guildhall, we went with some fantastic Fantasy themed art based on our favorite fantasy roleplaying games. So the professions are now themed around 18 character classes. In the coming weeks we will be looking at those.
We also mixed up the original sets, and added six cards to the card pool, allowing us to create three all new play experiences. Players that collect all three sets can recreate Job Faire and the award winning Old World Economy. Each release has two professions from Old World Economy, two professions from Job Faire and two all new professions. The first set Fellowship has the Victory Point deck from Old World Economy and Job Faire where the following sets have three new victory point cards to change up the experience a little bit.
Erik Yaple, the project lead on this reskin, felt that these three Guildhalls complemented each other and that the best experiences came from having the cards for all three sets, making new play decks from all three and combining all of them into one big deck (more about that in the coming weeks), so he fought to release all three in three months. June, July, and August will each feature a different Guildhall release. Each is a different play experience,; each is a stand alone game of their own, and each expands the replay value of the others.
Pictured below is our Game Master. Some call him the Chapter Master, some call him the Guild Master, some call him the Tavern Master, and some days, Erik calls him Ted. The Game Master is your host through the game. He adorns each of the boxes and hosts the Victory Point card reference card/card divider as well as appear a few times in the rulebook.
Designers Trevor Benjamin and Brett J. Gilbert have kindly provided us with a look into the creation and development of Dice Heist. Click here to check out the featured article.
T. J. McKeehan was the winner of the Valley of the Kings Tournament at the Lexicon ’16 Gaming Convention. The tournament consisted of two rounds using a combined deck from the original Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Kings: Afterlife. In the photo below, T. J. is shown on the right with his winner’s plaque. On the left is Tom Cleaver, the designer of Valley of the Kings.
Check out the newest Pine Box Expansion, Ghost Town, available now! Ask your local game store about it today!
An Evil Deed, Indeed
By Jeff Bailey
“This is shaping up to be a bad day,” thought Lillian Morgan as she coughed up her third small, green, pulpy mass and spat it into the bedside bucket. As she took a silk handkerchief from her housemaid and wiped her lips, she quietly cursed this horrible town and all its troubles. “Rich people aren’t supposed to have days like this.”
She folded the handkerchief and wiped a thin layer of cold sweat from her brow. She reflected back on the first time she’d laid eyes on Nathaniel Morgan. Lillian wondered what she would tell that girl about her future.
“Coffee, chicken soup, bread. Now.” Lillian didn’t even look at the housemaid standing nearby, but dismissed her with a wave. “And send Ashbel up.”
Two minutes later, Doctor Emanuel Ashbel timidly opened the door to her bedroom. Lillian was mildly irritated at being scrutinized like a sick heifer, but she kept her tongue still for the moment. He was, after all, the doctor. He reached out to touch her arm, but she glared at the outstretched hand until it retreated. After he studied her a little more from a respectful distance, he offered his evaluation.
“Your skin is still clammy, you’re sweating more than you should, and the boils are still developing. Your eyes are slightly dilated and almost rheumy. I see you’re not using the bucket as much today as yesterday, and that’s better.” Lillian felt a little bile rise in her throat. The sight of that bucket was the most revolting thing she had to put up with day after day this week. But after a cooling breath, the sensation passed. Ashbel was still going on and on, in his helpfully unhelpful way.
“Miss Morgan, I know you have trouble holding down solid food. But you’ve got to try. Your system needs all the fuel it can get to fight this thing.”
Lillian sighed. “Not yet, Doctor. Until my stomach settles a little, I’ll stick to Mama’s prescription.” She waved forward the housemaid, who arrived early with today’s meal. She took the bread and soup first, pointing to the coffee and the side table. The maid gingerly put down the mug and waited for Doctor Ashbel to speak. She’d learned it was easier to flee if someone else was talking. With the first word out of his mouth, she quietly moved out of the room.
“The bread at least is a good idea. How can I help?”
Lillian felt a spark of ire at the chiding approval, but decided not to speak until she’d had her first sip of coffee. It didn’t penetrate the blurring malaise inside her head, but it loosened some of the mucus and made breathing less troublesome. “If I’m not going to die today, I need to start fighting back against that venomous wench of a step-daughter. She’s finally left me alone now that she’s gotten what she wants, so I can start getting it back.” She took another sip and snorted to avoid a cough. “I need you to get Pasteur up here. Then, find Jon Longstride.” She reached to the nightstand and picked up two envelopes she’d prepared the night before. “This is his to-do list. Then bring Shane and Graves both up here.” She flipped the pair of envelopes so the other one was on top. “This envelope, give to Luke. He’s small and won’t attract attention, which is important given where he needs to go.”
“Very well,” Ashbel said. “But not before I see you eat that bread. I’m willing to help, but first show your commitment to recovery.” He looked down at Lillian, and she felt a little irritated that he, a paid employee, wasn’t more mindful of the orders she gave. But it wasn’t worth the effort of getting up and slapping him, so she continued to stare back up at him. Arguing with him would just take more time, and her fortune was eroding with each second that brat stole more resources and people from her.
Lillian ate, slowly and gingerly. It took her nearly half an hour to finish even that small a meal, and she felt exhausted with the effort of it. After the meal, she rested up against the headboard and half-closed her eyes. Ashbel leaned in to scrutinize again, and his clinical appraisal would have unnerved her if his sheer failure to get things moving wasn’t irritating her so much. “I’m saving my strength for the meeting you are supposed to be organizing. Get going.”
Ashbel quickly left, riding out to the Research Institute to collect Doctor Pasteur.
* * *
Lillian nodded to Warren Graves, who was the last to arrive. Once he sat down on the right, she turned to the leftmost person, Dr. Sky Borne.
“Doctor Borne, report on the herds. How is our product doing?”
The biologist sighed deeply. “The losses continue. We’ve isolated the healthy populations, only to have the sickness appear as if from nowhere.” Dr. Borne pointed to Ashbel and Pasteur. “Even with the assistance of these esteemed colleagues, we’re barely getting product to market. The local buyers all know about the disease, so nobody will buy cut meat any more. They need to see live cattle to know they’re buying healthy. Our breed seems to be immune, but they are languishing with the diminishing of the other herds. We’ve been using some of the more sickened cows as food sources.” Sky’s delicate expression seemed to say the word ‘cannibalism,’ even though her lips refused to do so. “The rate of infection has slowed, however. Whether that’s because of effective treatment or the simplicity that the remaining cows are naturally more resistant – that is unclear. But with the sheer magnitude of the infection, I cannot guarantee we will be a viable business next year.”
Lillian then turned to the next man over, Jon Longstride. “Jon, first go over the numbers for Morgan Cattle operations. How badly is the money bleeding?”
The normally amiable Longstride shook his head. “I’m not Max. From what I understand about the numbers, they’re awful. We’ve managed to reduce the rate of loss, but I’m not sure I see profit any time soon.”
She then turned to the next person over. Louis Pasteur studied her intently as she spoke to him. “Doctors … have you made any progress? Will there be any cowboys left to tend my herds?”
The doctors exchanged glances, and Ashbel spoke. “We cannot say. The pathogen is tenacious, and still defies attempts to even categorize it, let alone fight it. We are confident, however, in the future stability of the animals, but we are not listened to by those who are in a position to buy. As to the workers, their fate is tied to all of us. If we cannot stem the tide among human victims … God help us all.” The room grew silent as everyone looked uneasily at Lillian’s thin and drawn frame.
Pasteur finally spoke up. “We anticipate breakthroughs on many fronts. We will win the war against this sickness. But at what moment, we cannot say.”
Lillian winced a little, coughed a little, then she turned back to Jon. “Now the second set of numbers, Jon. How is Morgan Mining doing?”
Jon sighed. “Laughing all the way to the Bank of California, really. Again, I’m not the right pair of eyes for this, but I can see she’s gone from hiring miners to building experimental drills. The expense of protecting the ore from the mines to the railroad is high. But the bandits are starting to shiver every time they hear Healey’s horse.” Lillian swore under her breath at the name. “In short, Morgan Mining is booming for now. But like Emanuel said … their workforce is languishing as well.”
Lillian nodded, then turned to face Nathan Shane, seated between Ashbel and Graves. “Okay, now you two. Who have we lost to that viper’s meddling?”
Nathan Shane twirled a strand of straw in his fingers as he looked around the room. “I’m reasonably confident that everyone in this room still has your interests at heart. But after that, it gets sketchy. For absolutely sure, she got her fangs into Lane, and got Remy to boot as her personal bandit hit squad. For the science contingent, that jobhopper Eustace True, the unsurprisingly disloyal James Ghetty, and Harold Aimslee. Oh, and Howard Aswell.”
Lillian seemed to be checking boxes on a list, and it was a list nobody wanted to be on. Finally, she turned to the young boy standing next to her nightstand. “You brought me something, yes?”
The lad swung a dusty tan satchel from his back. He reached his hand inside, and gingerly took out a parchment roll. “Mister Baird secured the original for you from the Registrar, ma’am. He wishes you health and long life.”
Lillian rolled her eyes and spoke to her team. “Nathaniel used to say, ‘Stocks may rise and fall. People are no darned good. But they’ll always need land. Keep an eye on who’s buying and selling it, and you’ll know who’s winning and losing.’ ” She took the paper and unrolled it, glaring at each word with indignant offense. She waved Luke away, and he obediently retreated.
For a full two minutes, nobody spoke. Everyone in the room either supported Lillian enough to give her the time to read the text, or knew it was a bad idea to interrupt her. Shane and Graves chewed the ragged ends of their straws, Jon wiped his brow, Dr. Borne kept her impatience to only a furrowed brow, and Pasteur and Ashbel monitored Lillian’s face for signs of faintness or the need for her bucket. But Lillian spoke four words that woke them all.
“Everyone but Pasteur, leave.”
Nobody ran, and nobody jostled. Nathan Shane spat into a spittoon near the door, which broke the soft flutter of hard leather soles on hardwood floor. Soon, the French biologist and the cattle baroness were alone in the room.
“The deed is simple enough. Lula sold a property to that ringmaster, Ivor. It’s fairly worthless property, and he overpaid for it. I don’t have time for Nathan and Warren to glean their aims, and somehow, I have a feeling they would come up empty. I need answers now, and of the people who could help me, you’ve got the best hands and you’re the most willing to assist with something you don’t fully understand.”
Louis raised an eyebrow, but still nodded. “If I can assist, I will. For the good of all the living.”
Lillian pointed to the liquor cabinet against the wall. “Open it. Grab the bottle of Night Train Reserve and pull.”
Pasteur moved to open the cabinet and saw the bottle near the front on the top shelf. He pulled, and with a soft clack, the entire inside of the cabinet moved forward. The bottles were all placed in slight recesses, so they didn’t spill. As he continued, the back panel of the cabinet passed the doors, and from beyond it a three-shelf rack of bottles, jars, and pots of various sizes emerged. Three shelves lined the other side as well. A wheel dropped down to support the revealed pharmacy. There was no dust to be seen, and Pasteur recognized this meant the supplies were used recently, and likely frequently.
Lillian pointed with one hand as the other tried to suppress a cough. “Dog’s eyes … komodo scales … owl liver extract … elderberries … black clover … nitric acid … and of course, witch hazel. Bring each bottle separately.” She took the thick clay crock that had been filled with soup earlier. “I’d normally use a brew for this, but I’m not up to leaving the room right now. So we’ll make an incense of it.”
After Pasteur brought the first bottle, she pointed to a pestle inside the ‘normal’ cabinet. Pasteur scooped it up and brought it with the second bottle. Lillian had already extracted the sticky contents into the crock. Pasteur looked at the shriveled and bruised orbs with scientific detachment.
He spoke thoughtfully as he watched her work. “A sympathetic connection …”
Lillian silenced him with a snap of her fingers. “It’s hard enough without someone else’s words around. I know this is fascinating to you, but keep those thoughts inside your head.” Lillian spoke a word she rarely offered with earnestness to anyone, but Louis Pasteur was a man of great reputation and skill. “Please.”
Pasteur nodded and continued ferrying bottles to and from the cabinet. Lillian took each, added its contribution, and mashed the crock’s contents with the pestle. Pasteur returned the last bottle and looked back to Lillian. She pointed to the bottom shelf.
“Infused ghost rock dust … gently.”
He reached precisely, taking the jar and moving it with smooth dexterity from the shelf to Lillian. Lillian tried to reach into the jar with her soup spoon, but Pasteur gently took hold of her shivering hand. “How much, Madame?”
Lillian released the spoon with a sigh of relief. “One ounce.”
Pasteur measured out the powder deliberately, then closed and returned the jar. Lillian took a match from the side table.
“Have a seat, doctor. You can watch from the outside, but the show is just for me.”
He nodded and took Warren’s seat. Lillian touched the match to the powder, then picked up the deed.
“Hound’s eye … cry of night … bitter lye … bring me sight!” At the last word, the powder ignited.
From Louis Pasteur’s vantage, a cloud of dark vapor surrounded Lillian. It suffused the air with a noxious, acrid smell.
From Lillian’s vantage, the world vanished as her mind soared into the void beyond.
* * *
A dusky prairie was revealed, and on it stood a wreck of a human. Blood oozed from pores, pus dripped from every orifice, and skin hung loosely on bone. The skin was a mottled purple, the hair was stringy and grey, and the bones sharp and twisted. But it seemed to stand with pride, and it snarled at the sky.
“I consume thee!”
The skin bolted and jerked as muscles boiled out from within. Bodily fluids spattered the grass, and the human grew taller. Clothes materialized out from nowhere – the garb of a circus ringmaster. Ivor Hawley stood proudly, and his body seemed to grow larger every second as it fed on the energy of the diseased blood and mucus.
“I consume thee!”
At the edge of the prairie stood herds of cattle, birds and horses. Black lines, cables of thickened blood and ichor, shot from Hawley’s skin and speared the cattle, the birds, and the horses. They writhed, withered, and died. Hawley grew stronger, larger, and more terrible. He was now taller than any tree on Earth, and his eyes were on a set of structures at the edge of the prairie.
Gomorra, standing defiant yet ignorant of the giant lumbering toward it. At the close end stood the property Ivor had purchased. It resembled a large pustule, shivering with anticipation.
“I will consume thee!”
Ivor’s eyes were drawn to Lillian’s, even with the vaporous nature of the vision. But his eyes gleamed with thick silvery cataracts, and he pointed to Lillian’s lungs and the foul congestion within.
“I AM CONSUMING THEE!”
Instinctively, she turned to run and saw flames coming toward the prairie from the other direction. Off in the distance, the clang of hot iron rang through the air, a sulfurous fume stung her nose and eyes, and off towards the mountains at the far range of vision …
She blinked amidst the smoke and flame. It wasn’t a mountain she saw off in the distance. It was a massive hoof … a cloven hoof, black as coal, standing at the edge of vision. Lillian’s eyes tracked upwards to the leg, but her vision spiraled into blackness as the flames speared into her limbs.
* * *
Lillian’s vision returned to the real world, where Louis Pasteur had launched from his chair to catch her as she had twisted and leapt from the bed. She was leaning heavily against his shoulder, her arm over his head, and her throat was raw and aching. She looked down to her legs, where she had felt the illusion of heat lancing through sinew and bone, and her eyes widened as she saw thin wisps of steam rise off her sweaty skin. Her body collapsed on top of the esteemed physician, but he took gentle hold and softly swung her back into bed. Her head landed square on the pillow, and she breathed slowly and deliberately for a minute, letting the world slowly grow back into focus.
Lillian saw Dr. Pasteur briefly leave, and he returned with a bucket of cool water and a cloth. He held it out to Lillian and she took it eagerly and started rubbing her aching calves and forearms with it. She spoke softly.
“Doctor Pasteur, I need you to arrange for a meeting. Actually,” and she paused a moment to spit something obnoxious into the bucket, “I need you to carry a message for me instead. I can’t handle more visitors right now, and this can’t wait.”
The doctor seemed occupied with a smell he couldn’t quite place, but he nodded. “Certainly. On whom should I call?”
Lillian sighed, then winced as the sigh caught in her throat. After yet another coughing fit, she steadied herself. “The same person mama always said to talk to when the devil came knocking at your door.” Pasteur studied her face closely, to confirm between them that Lillian wasn’t raving, then nodded resolutely. Lillian was surely afraid, but the fear was not the ranting of a lunatic. It was the cry of warning in the night, as dark beasts slouched roughly towards the innocent.
Lillian took one more steady breath, and looked at the remains of the soup crock. The shards had been thrown off the bed, and now lay in a sprawl on the floor. Blackened and charred remains of what had been the wellspring of health.
“Go get a priest.”
Saddle up pard’ner!
Slingers of guns and spells, lawmen and outlaws, cowboys, pokes, punchers, doom-clowns, braves, mad scientists and martial artists — we’re callin’ you out!
The first ever European Marshall Tournament is being held UK Game Expo on June 4th, 2016 at 9:00 am!
The event will be run by the Doomtown UK Facebook Group team and is sponsored by IQ Games Centre.
Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/920179741393803/
UK Game Expo Site: https://www.ukgamesexpo.co.uk/
Tickets for the Event can be bought here: https://www.ukgamesexpo.co.uk/bookevents.php?category=car
Doomtown UK Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/DoomtownUK/
This preview is for the next Pine Box Expansion, Ghost Town, arriving in stores March 28, 2016! Ask your local game store about it today!
by Jon Del Arroz
He hadn’t even looked up when Sheriff Grothe and Wendy Cheng walked into the jail. His head hung low, unshaven and dirty. This was not the clean, upstanding businessman from Gomorra’s past. His eyes were dead, the fight in them gone along with the lingering anger from Mayor Whateley’s very public, personal accusation hours earlier.
Silence loomed for another moment before Abram reluctantly started in. “Max, you’ve lived here longer than most. You’ve seen things the rest of us only hear about in stories.” Abram paused for breath. This wasn’t going to be easy.
“Apparently that doesn’t count for much. Word is that Whateley wants to see me swing,” Max said, still unmoving.
“We won’t let that happen,” Wendy said.
Abram frowned at the deputy. They’d talked before about Max’s situation when Wendy had told him that she and Max had been investigating the mayor. According to her, this was a vendetta. He believed in Max’s innocence, but the evidence couldn’t be ignored.
There was also the fact that the mayor sent his lapdog, Rafi Hamid, to insist that an example be made of Mr. Baine. For Abram, this was the clearest picture of where rocks and hard places met. The right thing likely meant political problems with Whateley and that, the understaffed law dogs couldn’t afford.
Max finally looked up at them. “You’re going to defend me?”
“Not exactly,” Abram said. “I’ve got a handful of eyewitnesses that say you mugged a defenseless citizen.”
“That wasn’t me,” Max said, eyes meeting Abram.
“I know, Max,” Wendy said. “We know. We’ll do something about it, but –”
“But I can’t just turn a blind eye to the whole thing. The best I can offer is a compromise,” Abram said.
“What’s that mean?” Max asked.
“It means I’ll allow you to leave town. We’ll look the other way and consider the matter settled. You can move on with no warrants or targets on your back, and it’ll be enough to get the mayor off of mine. But you can’t show your face in Gomorra anymore, Max. If you do, there’ll be more trouble than either of us can handle. You understand?”
Max stared at Abram in disbelief for a long moment. “How can you allow the likes of Nicodemus Whateley and Lillian Morgan to run this town, when –” He sighed. “No, that’s not fair to you.” He turned, his eyes glimmering with tears. “I’ll do as you say, but heed my words, Sheriff. Watch where you make your bed,” Max said.
Abram said nothing. What more could he say to a man who had already been broken? This solution was the best for everyone. He stepped aside and allowed Max to leave the cell.
“Max, I won’t give up,” Wendy said.
Max turned to her. “I know. Just be careful. Keep your head down,” Max said. He met Abram’s eyes once more and nodded in understanding before departing the jail, and the town of Gomorra.
This preview is for the next Pine Box Expansion, Ghost Town, arriving in stores March 28, 2016! Ask your local game store about it today!
by Ross Fisher-Davis
“Mr. Mayor,” Rafi lingered near the door. “I’m sorry to bother you, but I have a young gentleman who insists upon seeing you.”
The mayor’s eyes lazily rose from his book. “I specified not to be disturbed; was I not clear in my request?”
Rafi swallowed, regained his composure, and spoke again.
“He says he’s related to you, Nicodemus.”
Nicodemus raised an eyebrow, carefully closed the book, placing it out of sight in silence.
“Send him in,” Nicodemus whispered.
The young man who strode in was tall, lean with dark hair. He gave Nicodemus a look that mixed determination and outright wonder. Finding his manners, he took off his hat, letting it hang by his side.
“Nic? Mister … Mayor Nicodemus Whateley?? Is it you?” He asked.
Nicodemus nodded slowly, watching the boy’s every move like a cat.
“None other.” He said, slowly rising from his desk. “But you knew that. You, however, are a mystery here. So who might you be?”
The youth took an eager step forward. “Name’s Theodolphus, but Mama called me Theo … Theo Whateley-Boyer. From your second cousin, twice removed … also your fourth cousin, on the Providence side, I think. I come a long way looking for you, Nic. I come a helluva long way.”
“People who come looking for me oft regret the decision.” Nicodemus stepped around his desk to approach the boy, and Theo felt the Mayor’s stare grip his heart. Nicodemus Whateley’s black pupils contained nothing but darkness.
“Blood calls to blood, Nic. I hear it screaming out across this town.”
“Screams are a frequent sound in Gomorra. Who sent you? Speak.”
“The family, Nic … back east. We ain’t heard anything in so long. Then when the news came through that everything in Gomorra had fallen, we thought the worst.”
Theo drummed his fingers against the brim of his hat.
“I went to the manor first, but you weren’t there. You’re all that’s left, Nic. You’re the last one who had contact with the master …”
“Knicknevin is no more. I freed the of that tether,” Nic said. “I’m my own master now, Theo. And so are you.” He made a motion in the air to brush the young man away.
“That’s the thing, Nic. The family don’t know what else to do. They’re fighting amongst themselves … no real leader, no real direction. I heard about you though. I heard what you done here in Gomorra! You’re what we need!”
Nicodemus seemed to stare through Theo, appraising him.
“We need you, Nic. The family needs you,” Theo said, determination hardening his face.
Nicodemus reached out and took the boy by the shoulders gently, but with purpose. A smile crawled across his features.
“Theo, I am the family.”
This preview is for the next Pine Box Expansion, Ghost Town, arriving in stores March, 2016! Ask your local game store about it today!
by Paul Durant
“No luck,” said Emanuel Ashbel, his voice both muffled and echoing within the plague doctor getup. “The chickens you vaccinated with McCadish’s strain are showing symptoms.” He produced two vials of blood from his coat and handed them to the doctor.
Pasteur cursed, his own voice muffled by the gauze wrap around his mouth. “I had thought McCadish’s infection would have been weakened enough to allow the body to immunize itself.” He took the samples and quickly prepared a glass slide for his trusty Chevalier microscope. “You look preposterous in that outfit, by the way,” he said as he adjusted the focus to peer into the microbial world.
“Doctor, sick people come and go from this lab all day,” said Ashbel. “I’m not taking any chances after Aimslee turned ill. If this outfit kept out the Black Plague, it’s good enough for me.” He grabbed the mask and pulled it off. “So, what’s it look like in there?”
Pasteur stood up and offered Ashbel a look. “I’ll need a more prepared slide to be certain, but I believe the McCadish strain did work … or began to. See on the right, the bacteria cluster in much smaller numbers, as if weakened. I believe that when we take a more detailed look, we will find that the bacteria that still show vigor are of a slightly different shape.”
“So, what do you think it means, Doctor?” asked Ashbel.
“We starve bacteria by keeping it where it cannot feed,” Pasteur said. “But perhaps this bacteria does not starve, but hibernates. When it finds a suitable environment again, it awakens and sets to work faster than the body can address it. If we could keep it weakened …” He trailed off, then stood up suddenly and went to the rear of the room, with the racks of sample cultures growing in agar. He carefully examined the arrayed vials, not even noticing when Lula Morgan stomped in in her own hastily assembled protective gear.
“Is this where you two have been?” she asked. “I’ve been trying to get in touch with you all day, but at this point I can’t even find a courier who isn’t sick. I’m losing money hand over fist with all this lost work.” She pulled off a glove and shook bits of dust out of it. “Find a cure for the workers, before we all go bankrupt.”
“Je travaillais déjà sur ce problème. La science médicale est plus importante que vos caprices cupides,” Pasteur muttered under his breath.
“What was that?”
“Oh, Dr. Pasteur doesn’t speak English,” Ashbel lied. “He was just asking me what you were saying.”
“Oh, all right,” said Lula. “In that case, you should tell him ‘Je sais que vous parlez Anglais, Pasteur. Votre vie va prendre une tournure déplaisante si vous continuez à gaspiller le temps et l’argent de votre mécène.’ ”
This preview is for the next Pine Box Expansion, Ghost Town, arriving in stores March, 2016! Ask your local game store about it today!
Nine-Tenths of the Law
by Ross Fisher-Davis
The doors creaked open as Malcolm leaned on them, stepping up into the wide entrance hall.
“Watch your step Miss Morgan; it’s a little dusty. But it’s big … fit for anything really. I hear Morgan has a lot of business these days!”
Lula lifted the hem of her skirts from the dust as she stepped through the door, a look of distaste upon her face.
“Some of us at least. Why isn’t anyone doing business here already? This place is huge.”
Malcolm looked over his shoulder, and then up to the ceiling, a painful smile stretching across his face. “Oh, you know how it is. Just waiting for the right person!”
“If it’s all as you say it is, I’m interested. Show me around?”
“Absolutely,” He looked warily down one of the passages, listening for a moment before advancing.
Malcolm began counting off features as they walked, flinching every time the click of Lula’s heels echoed behind him. “You saw the welcoming hall; there’s room for a still, a storefront, and a few big offices, each as roomy as the last.”
“Must have been an impressive company that used to own all this.”
“Sweetrock? Oh, the biggest Gomorra until the Storm. All gone now … mostly.”
Reaching a staircase leading up to the the second floor, the old man put his hands on his hips and nodded. Above them hung a tattered banner bearing a shovel and pickaxe logo.
“So, what do you say?”
“There’s gotta be a catch, Malcolm. Rats? Mold?”
“This house is clean Miss Morgan; of that I can assure you.” The old man wrung his hands.
“Well, my new portrait would lighten up any old room. Knock off another ten percent and call it a deal.”
The old man almost backflipped with joy.
“I’ll get the deed! You stay right here. I mean it, really don’t … don’t go nowhere.” He rushed up the hallway.
Lula climbed the stairs and gave a tug at the old banner.
“What was that Malcolm?” she called out, gritting her teeth to pull harder.
“You agreed on the price. It’s awfully poor form to take it back now. Sign the papers so this place can be mine!”
The banner finally came loose, and Lula turned, her triumphant smile shifting to terror.
“THIS PLACE IS MIIIINE! YOU … CAN … HAVE … NOTHIIING!”
Malcolm heard footsteps so fast, he thought horses had started wearing heels. He caught a fleeting glimpse of Lula’s petticoat as she sprinted out the door into the light of day. Malcolm tossed the deeds into the dust.
“Again with this, Howard? Really?!”
Malcolm cursed into the yawning darkness of the building and stomped outside to straighten the “For Sale” sign once more.
Check out Doomtown: Reloaded’s latest Saddlebag, Bad Medicine, on sale now!
The Shootin’ Life of Jessica Patchett
by Paul Durant
Sloane didn’t ask for identification when she heard the knock at the door — she knew it was Pancho from the way he walked down the hall. Without looking up from the history book she was reading, she unlocked her room and let him in.
“Allie’s back from town!” he said cheerily as he rummaged in the bag he held. The outlaw’s life was one they both happily lived, but a bounty on your head DID make it a bit more complicated to head out to the grocer’s. When one of their “lower profile” members went for supplies, it became a big production. “She says she couldn’t find the books you were looking for, but she got your cheese … Why is your coat rack on the other side of the room?”
“People were tripping over it,” Sloane lied as she accepted the food. “Oh, this is cheddar! I asked her for gouda.”
Pancho looked confused. “Wait. How do you … why do you even care about what kind of cheese you get? You do not strike me as the sort to worry about what goes best with her rioja blanca.”
She shrugged, and flicked open a switchblade to carve off a piece. “I like cheese. I don’t see why it should be so perplexing to you.”
“Because YOU perplex me, Rubia!” he said, teasing. “You are unlike everyone else out there in Soddum and any other woman I’ve known. How you came to be here must be quite the story.”
* * *
Missouri’s Circle #4 Orphanage sat at the end of two long, desolate roads. One of them was gravel, forking off the highway that led to Lea’s Summit and winding its way around gurgling rivers and black, gnarled trees. The other split from a quiet life working at her father’s bookstore at about the same time his aorta split itself open and led through the home of every one of little Jessica Patchett’s aunts and uncles. That road was lined with words like “What’s wrong with her?” and “She’s dead inside. I don’t understand how Jacob ever loved that girl.” In 1864, they both ended at a large, gloomy manor house in the middle of nowhere, filled with bleary, weary children, overseen by fat and garish men and women with too much joy for their surroundings.
The orphanage master, a grotesque beast of a man, knelt down to her eye level in a leer. “You know why you’re here, little girl?” he asked, not even bothering with introductory pleasantries. “You’re here because nobody cares about you! That’s right. No brave young boys or beloved tomboyish girls here. Just leftovers that the world has forgotten to care about. But we haven’t forgotten you. Power is returning to the world … power that can make something useful even out of a little spit like you.”
She stared at his eyes, saying nothing.
“Oh, a defiant one,” he said, grinning. “I do so love the ones like you. Try and run! You’ll pray you make it back here before the bears eat you. There’s no way out. Nobody will save you.”
* * *
Exactly seventeen days later, he was in a mud puddle, rolling around on the ground in pain from the stick jutting from his eye. She was screaming as well; she had to, to make it sound like she was being terrorized, cover up his sound, and prevent any of his allies from coming to investigate. But her face was utterly calm as she watched his slowly leave him. She didn’t think he could get the stick out; she’d picked a nice and knobby one just barely wide enough to jam into his eye socket after she’d sharpened it. If he had the presence of mind to pull it STRAIGHT out, maybe he could have saved himself. But he kept yanking it at an angle with only one hand.
He tried to grab her with his other hand, but she always kept two steps in front of him as he howled and grasped at empty air. She brought two sticks, so she didn’t even have to be within arm’s reach to finish him off. Every time he recovered his balance, she whapped the branch in his eye, driving it further toward his brain. She couldn’t do it very hard, but she didn’t need to. Four or five little taps, and he was dead.
He’d given her the whole tour, gloating with every locked door about how wicked everyone on staff was, how impossible it was to escape. Showed her the pistol they kept by dry-firing it against her temple every time she tried to escape. It took her three days to come up with a plan. It took ten more to steal enough bullets, fail at escaping enough to get the pattern down, and make him confident enough to go in careless and alone. She was also sick for a few days with a cold, or else she’d have been out in two weeks even.
Why he terrorized children, she didn’t know, nor did she care. She was going to escape anyway, even if this place wasn’t run by freaks who yammered on about all the great things they were going to do in this new world now that “everything had been restored.”
Once the man — she never cared enough about him to recall his name — stopped breathing, she pulled the revolver out of the holster, removed the keys from his belt, and rifled through his pockets for money. The gun was never loaded; he loved using it to scare little children for some godforsaken reason, but he wasn’t about to let some snotnosed kid slip it away from him and shoot him when his back was turned. That was why she had to steal the three bullets from the tool shed. She loaded two of them, and the whirring click of the revolver’s cylinder was the most satisfying noise she had ever heard. The third, she kept between two of her fingers.
A Colt Walker revolver is too big for a young girl to fire normally; she hefted it like a rifle, one hand steadying the barrel, one hand on the grip. But neither hand shook as she walked back to the dining room at the Circle #4 Orphanage and interrupted whatever they were doing with eight decks of playing cards. “Wake up that fathead who trims the hedges,” she ordered. “And then all of ya lock yerselves in the tool shed.”
One of them, a woman, snaggletoothed and hateful, who deserved a remembered name even less than the headmaster, laughed and said, “Nice try, little girl. What, did you give Myron the slip? Boys, time you show –”
Jessica flung the bullet at her face, quickly grabbing the barrel of the gun back. “Yer boss is dead, an’ I got two more bullets where that came from. I ain’t never fired this thing before, but if ya wanna catch me, yer gonna get close enough my aim don’t matter. And they look like they got a powerful kick to ‘em, so maybe this thing breaks my arm when I shoot it, and the second shot ain’t as good. So it’s gonna take three of ya to catch me. The first one dies, the second one gets crippled, the third one gets to kill me. Does anybody want me dead bad enough to die for it?”
They were in shock, being ordered at gunpoint by a twelve-year-old girl.
“That’s what I thought. Now wake up that fathead and get in the tool shed.”
Ten minutes later, she opened up the kids’ bunkrooms. She didn’t wait to be recognized or explain they were escaping. “Get yer pillowcases and empty the pantry. We’re burnin’ this place down.”
She wasn’t yet called Sloane, and it wasn’t rightly a gang. But it was her first taste of leadership.
* * *
They went west, avoiding major roads and thoroughfares. Jessica may have had a keen mind for how to assemble pieces of her murderous plan, but she was still a child and didn’t really know how the larger social world of grown-ups worked. She was dimly aware that crossing state lines was a good thing for those on the run from authorities and thought they should do that a couple of times. As far as she knew, the malign powers that ran horrible orphanages chased their escapees with a vengeance.
Kansas is flat, long, and seemingly endless when crossing it by train, so the plan to cross multiple states went out the window pretty quickly. At least there were plenty of wells and farms to take from along the way; had they been navigating forest all that way, they’d probably have died. It was after long, hungry months of walking that they finally found a church.
The nuns were pretty nice, giving away plenty of food to these kids who’d wandered across Kansas on their own. Apparently nice did it for them, because almost immediately they were talking about staying.
“This can be a home for you too, Jessica,” Sister Josephine would say. Well she’d had a home before, and look where that got her.
“If we stay, the sisters say they can help find families for us,” the kids kept chanting with the kind of optimism that’s best left with children. Jessica wasn’t a child anymore. So she told them, “Parents die. Then yer just alone again. Relyin’ on these homes, this charity, is nothin’ but empty hope. And I don’t need it.” So she just kept moving.
When she did join up with someone, it was a gang. The Sixth Avenue Gang, petty Topeka crooks who needed an inconspicuous lookout to tell them to beat it when the law came to break up their dice games. This was a relationship she understood; she performed a service for money and could leave whenever she liked. Nobody could keep her there, so she stayed.
She rose through the ranks by not caring a whit about rising through the ranks. She had a reputation for being calm and collected, unlike the violent and impulsive thugs who usually fell into that life. She was loyal in that she never saw the temptation of ratting to the law. They thought she wasn’t ambitious because, to them, ambition was a thing that resulted in idiotic and failed power-plays, not slowly gaining things you want and ensuring they can’t be taken away.
When Topeka got too hot, the gang moved west, chasing the lawless frontier. When the gang fell apart, she made sure everyone who helped her was repaid for their service, and she signed up with an outfit calling itself Sloane’s Gang. Her other compatriots wanted out of a life of crime, and she did her best to help them leave it, even if she didn’t understand why. They must know what’s better for them, more than she did. But a life within the law simply was not for her.
Sloane’s Gang was run, unsurprisingly, by Sloane, a giant of impulse and appetite, who clearly had made his path in life by virtue of the fact that everyone was too afraid to tell him to have any self-control. He drank, smoked, and caroused to excess. The gang got by on intimidation, and a mountain of a man with a rifle in each hand was quite intimidating. But it was clear he could not have built this outfit, nor was he running it. The Sloane Gang had outposts all over, and Sloane couldn’t have built a toy castle from alphabet blocks.
A man named Jonah Essex was his left hand, his advisor, the man making the real plans. By the age of twenty-four, she was Sloane’s right hand. The other members of the gang thought she was a trophy, and had she been anyone else, that might have offended her. But had she been someone to take offense, she’d never have gotten to that position to begin with. She honestly didn’t understand why that kind of notoriety mattered so much to them, but she didn’t understand why a lot of things did. She was clear-headed and collected, planning the way out of every bad situation they found themselves in. She handled tactics, Essex handled strategy, and Sloane shot people with astonishing accuracy. It worked for her, and if it stopped working, she’d make it work again.
It was after they had robbed the stagecoach office at Liver Creek that she became aware it would no longer work.
Essex came to her that night. “Jessica,” he whispered. “I got bad news. It’s about Sloane.”
“What’d he do this time?”
“Nothing yet … It’s what he’s going to do,” said Essex. “I looked through our haul. He didn’t just take valuables … he’s got records. He’s making a paper trail on us.” Jonah looked around, like someone might be watching. “I think he’s planning to turn on the Gang. Trade us to the hangman to stop ‘em from measurin’ his own neck.”
“That would be a terrible idea,” she said.
“It’s the holster,” he continued, as if spilling a dire secret. “I think it’s changed him. IT is the source of Sloane’s power, but … no. It’s gone to his head. He was too weak.”
“A magic holster?” She arched an eyebrow. She had seen magic before — Essex was not shy about his ‘card tricks’ around the camp — so it wasn’t a possibility she immediately rejected. “The holster give you power, but it takes you over, too?”
“No, no, no,” Essex said, shaking his palms. “Nothing like that. The holster cannot control you. But it’s filled with power, more’n enough to share if you’re strong enough to be worthy of it.”
“I suppose it makes sense,” she said, drawing the pieces together. “Probably the only way anyone’d ever be able to swing those rifles around the way he does.”
“Yes, yes!” Jonah said. “But he is weak enough that the power is too much for him. Listen, he isn’t the first Sloane, Jessica. He took it from the last, and he led us to ruin. But you … I see it. You are strong. You have what it takes. You could take it, you could be Sloane, and lead us.”
“You rotten little snake,” slurred Sloane’s voice from the doorway. “You had enough of me, huh? You feeding that line to the girl now?” He hefted his rifle. “I oughta blow that lyin’ tongue out the back of your face. I shoulda KNOWN you was trouble.”
Jessica looked unperturbed. “Is it true?” she asked.
“Th’ hell do you care?” he slurred. “I ain’t seen you care about anything anyhow. You just stare with those dead eyes, an’ let people do whatever. So what if I killed the last Sloane? Ain’t the first or the last either of us has killed. Why do you care?”
“I don’t have a problem with killers,” she said. “I have a problem with traitors. Those folks trust you. If you’re going –” and then she was on him.
The rifles Sloane used were enormous and dangerous, but they were long and could only be fired with the arm fully extended, restricting his aim at close targets. That was why Sloane was always at his side, to cover that range. That was why threatening her with a rifle was a bad idea. Jessica has never betrayed anyone, but she believed in having a plan to kill everyone she ever met.
She’d given him a chance to deny the charges, and he showed no interest. So she was done with him. She could not tackle him or throw him back; he was much too large. But she could get close enough that he couldn’t aim, and she couldn’t miss. Two rounds from her Walker to the chest, and he was done, just like that. The other gang members came out of their hiding places to see the commotion, and Essex waved them to wait. “Take the belt,” he said. “You are Sloane now.”
He said it with a mystic reverence that caused him to ignore the fact she had already put it halfway on. She felt no different, which she supposed was a good sign. She tried to holster her gun and frowned. “Hm. The Walker is too big for this.” She shrugged, looked at the gun she’d won her freedom with, and handed it to Jonah. “I’ll need to get a new one.”
* * *
Pancho stared as Sloane shrugged again. “Everyone’s got a story, Pancho. Don’t see why mine should matter. I am who I am, and I am where I am. Does how I got here change anything?”
As Sloane walked away to shelve her history book, Pancho stared very carefully at her hands and her calculated steps. “Si, Rubia,” he said. “Take it from someone who’s traveled. Where you are, it’s just one place. How you got there is all the places you’ve been before, and all that happened. The road makes you far more than the home it leads to.”
Sloane looked up, decided it wasn’t worth her while to debate it, and put the book away.
Check out Doomtown: Reloaded’s latest Saddlebag, Bad Medicine, on sale now!
By now we’ve exposed you to the design guidelines for all spell types, as well as the tidal dynamics of Kung Fu. However, even though they’ve been in the game since the Base Set, we still haven’t taken the time to explore mad science in the world of Doomtown:Reloaded. It’s high time we cover that gap.
Gadgets are a big part of the Doomtown story. Not only are they a very cool aspect of the game, but they’ve always been immensely popular among the players. In Classic Doomtown, there was a whole outfit dedicated to them, but of course in Doomtown:Reloaded, they’ve been put to more practical use by the ranchers of the Morgan Cattle Co. and those do-gooders in the Law Dogs.
While mad science is a skill, it doesn’t exactly follow the same rules as the spells. Particularly, gadgets require quite more effort up-front to invent and put into play. However, as a tradeoff, you only need to pull for them once and afterwards you can trade them to the most appropriate dude to hold them. This is unlike spells where the original spellcaster needs to hold them until they leave play.
But the difference in how they enter play and attach is far from the only difference between gadgets and spells. The truth is that mad science does not even work within the same paradigm as spells. Rather than the three usual questions answered for spells (“How does it affect game state”,”How does it win shootouts”, “How does it affect out of play cards”), a gadget breaks out of the mold and provides its own answers.
Gadgets are multifaceted.
One advantage we aim to provide when you’re using mad science is that you’ll need fewer cards to provide the same amount of raw power you’d get from normal goods. Theoretically, this should allow you to dedicate less card slots for that purpose and instead cover some holes in your strategy, or find space for alternative tactics.
A prime example of this raw power is the newly released Yagn’s Mechanical Skeleton. By itself, it not only covers your needs for bullets, influence, and increased value on one dude, but and also serves as a hard counter for control effects. And if that wasn’t enough, the same card is well suited either for Horse decks, as well as gadget dude decks.
Similarly, the recent Personal Ornithopter, is suited for both constantly enabling your main shooter to join every battle, as well as allowing your squishier dudes to avoid getting caught in the crossfire.
While this strength has not been utilized as much until now, expect to see more of it in the future.
Gadgets alchemize economic power into game advantage.
Gadgets (and their related cards) are the only type of card which can turn raw ghost rock into raw power. Normally, the only way to spend your money is to play more cards from your hand, or just pay for a dude’s upkeep. This leads to situations where you either don’t have enough money to play all the cards you want, or where you have more money than you know what to do with. An example of this a situation is where you play deeds, to the point where you can’t leverage the extra income and only care about their control points. However if you don’t put enough deeds in your deck, you’re constantly starved for playing all those other cool cards you want.
In contrast, a gadget player can easily include a ton of deeds in their deck and rely on repeat gadget abilities to efficiently put all that money to good use. Whether that is via cycling out their useless cards via Xemo’s Turban, running circles around their enemies using Mechanical Horse, or making sure an opponent always suffers in shootouts by keeping things tied through a Force Field. Mad scientists have a ton of these effects, and even a few of these gadgets in play can mean not a drop of ghost rock goes wasted.
Of course all these effects can be tricky to use in the fragile early game, so until a gadget player’s economy stabilizes via deeds, they can use cards like the Disgenuine Currency Press, or the Recursive Motion Machine to provide them with the funds needed.
Gadgets cross card type boundaries.
While spells will always be spells and Kung Fu will always be actions, with a few abilities here and there instructing you to make the relevant skill checks, gadgets have no problem crossing type boundaries and providing you with gadget dudes and gadget deeds. Not only that, but such cards tend to be quite above the curve to make up for the hefty costs of inventing. Thus, all gadget dudes until now have been Non-Unique, providing you with plenty of expendable bodies in the same value with great stats or abilities. Similarly all gadget deeds have been providing amazing value for money, either giving an instant return on investment, as in the case of Secured Stockyard, or aggressive control and built-in protection like with Miasmatic Purifier.
This allows a gadget player to utilize their mad scientists not only for their hearts but their spades and diamonds as well, never leaving their expensive skilled dudes with nothing to do.
On Gadget Power Level
That said, it is true that gadgets have not managed to do as well when compared to other strong competitive archetypes, despite being wicked fun to play and having a ton of fans. This has to do with figuring out the fact that it’s been quite tricky to discover where the golden mean lies in regards to the hefty costs involved in gadget-making. At times, their total costs (i.e. GR cost, deck building restrictions, booting a mad scientist, etc.) only net makes them into slightly more powerful cards than normal goods, which is just not worth it, if one appends the opportunity cost involved. An apt example being the comparison of Winchester Rifle or Pearl Handled Revolver to the core set’s Flamethrower.
It’s taken us a while to figure out where the power level of a gadget needs to stand before it can pull its weight in regards to its complete costs. And while previous gadgets are not by any means worthless, they simply have not received the synergies they needed.
With Dirty Deeds, Foul Play, and Bad Medicine, we are confident mad science will get the support it needs from cards like Marty, Janoz Pratt and Luke the Errand Boy, in addition to new gadgets invented to put the fear of science into your unfortunate opponents.
Check out Doomtown: Reloaded’s latest Saddlebag, Bad Medicine, on sale now!
Howdy folks, Dan Knight here. Today I get to share something really cool with you all: an insider’s look into the world of playtesting Doomtown: Reloaded.
To take you through this journey, we’re going to look at two cards that greatly affected each other during the test phase and the decisions that were made to get them to their final form: Xemo’s Turban and Arnold Stewart.
Before we start though, let’s take a look at the process as a whole.
Each cycle, we generally test three saddlebags at a time, and the cards are given to us on a schedule closely resembling the release schedule for the actual product in so much that we “normally” get a set of cards to look at, break, test, fix, and terrorise each other with every eighteen weeks or so (this is shorter when we get a Pine Box thrown in). New set day for us is just as exciting as spoilers are for you guys … only we have to wait longer.
I came on board with playtest in January 2015. At that time, Immovable Object, Unstoppable Force had been finalised, The Light Shineth was just wrapping up, and the next three Saddlebags (Dirty Deeds, Foul Play, and Bad Medicine) had been released to the test team (so we’re about a year ahead).
During each playtest cycle, we play many, many games of Doomtown. There are a number of different playtest teams, and each one is responsible for rating all of the cards and relaying those results to the Design Team. The team then tweaks, fixes, or completely changes what a card does and passes it back for us to try and break again. We currently have forty-four playtesters spread over eight teams from all around the world.
Xemo’s Turban is the first Experimental gadget that doesn’t do something nasty when you pull a club. Instead, it just fails to work. But this is its final form. This wasn’t the case when it started out. When we first got it, it looked like this:
Repeat, Noon, Pay 1 Ghost Rock: Draw a card. Choose a card in your play hand and pull. If the pull is a club, ace that card, otherwise discard it.
As you can see the “pull a club = bad stuff happens” aspect of Experimental gadgets is still there, but is it really that bad? It sounds like it should be; you have to ace a card if you pull a club. As it turns out, we realised very quickly that it gave you a repeatable way to thin your deck. You actually WANTED to pull clubs. A simple and effective repeatable action to remove all of your off-value cards. Some of the early test decks using this were also putting Lula’s Exploit to good use letting you effectively use the Turban twice for free.
Multiple playtesters quickly raised this as being far too efficient and it was flagged as being too good. However, the change to its final version didn’t happen until we started to combo Xemo’s Turban with Arnold Stewart.
When Arnold first arrived he looked like this:
Noon: Boot a Gadget on Arnold to look at the top five cards of your deck. You may boot Arnold to place an out of town deed into your hand and replace the other cards on top of your deck in any order.
So he didn’t end up much different but take a moment to look at that ability. Let’s ignore the fact that he can fetch deeds for now and just focus on looking at the top five cards of your deck.
#1 – You know exactly which five cards are going to form the core of your shootout hand if you’re about to get into a fight.
#2 – You not only know exactly what value you are going to pull next, but you can ENGINEER that value by changing the order of the cards.
If you see a full house or better, you know you can send in anybody to a shootout, even a 0 bullet chump, and guarantee a decent hand. More crucially, not only do you know what you’re going to pull, but you know exactly who to target with Asyncoil Gun, Arden Gillman, or the various Grit based Hexes.
Either of these abilities makes for a VERY powerful card, but the synergy with Xemo’s Turban is what really forced us to look at them both.
You could use Arnold to look at the top five cards and then choose which one you want to draw with the Turban by making sure it went back on top. It was like a miniature tutor effect. If there was nothing you wanted to draw, you could make sure the second card down was a club to guarantee being able to ace something and thin out your deck.
Sorry guys, we were never going to let that one through. Clearly something had to be done.
We also came across some instances of “Analysis Paralysis.” This is a term used in a lot of card games to describe a turn stalling out due to too much information becoming available at once. Being able to keep the five cards leads to people trying to memorise all five and the order they are in, then come the questions about whether you can or cannot take notes during a game and how much time should be allowed if you can. It gets very clunky, very quickly. That was something we wanted to avoid if at all possible.
The first change was Arnold. He lost his ability to stack the cards and they went back in the same order. This nerfed the Turban synergy somewhat but scouting your next five cards was still incredibly good.
Arnold’s ability to find deeds was a specific design intent that we had to keep. He HAD to be able to fetch deeds in some way so that didn’t give us much room to move. How does he fetch a deed if he doesn’t look at cards? The idea of letting him just search your deck for an out of town deed was floated, but that made him a different kind of powerhouse if he could just fetch a deed every turn. In the end, we settled on having him discard the top five. He still gets to see the cards but you can’t use him to engineer your entire turn with no consequence.
That left us with Xemo’s Turban, still the most efficient card draw effect and deck thinner in the game. That’s where the idea that a club draw could just be a failure arrived. While the original downside effect looked like it could be a hinderance, the Classic players were quick to point out that rapid deck degeneration was a very big problem in the old game.
The change to the final version still allows a repeatable draw as long as you don’t fail and no longer let’s you ace cards with abandon. In this form, pulling a club is actually a lot worse than it used to be as you can then no longer use the Turban.
In both cases, the card intent remains without any powerful after effect.
I hope this gives you some insight into how and why we make the changes that we do. Sometimes it can be a completely new ability, other times it can be as simple as changing a value or bullet rating. Everything that we change though, is always done to make sure Doomtown: Reloaded remains a fun and balanced game for you all to enjoy.
If you want to experience Arnold Stewart and Xemo’s Turban in their original form, grab yourself some friends and try them out in a couple of casual games.
This preview is for the next Saddlebag Expansion, Bad Medicine, arriving in stores February 8, 2016! Ask your local game store about it today!
Into the Darkness
by Brett Satkowiak
Soon enough, however, he entered a small room and the light returned, emanating from a lantern hung on the wall. The space was new to the Sanatorium, hewn from the rock beneath its foundations to contain two items: a wooden cot and a large iron door.
Horace entered the space with his precious cargo, a frail-looking man wrapped in a white sheet. He was gaunt and pale, resting in Horace’s enormous arms, limbs dangling. Open sores and scaly calluses speckled the man’s skin; fevered sweat washed over gruesome fluids oozing from the deeper ones.
The man groaned awake as Horace gingerly laid him on the cot. “Am I dead yet?”
Horace looked down into the man’s eyes, brushing away a wisp of hair threatening to obstruct them. “No,” he sighed simply. “Death is not the end of this.”
The man seemed disappointed but was far too weak to fully express it. “Where are you … taking me?”
“To the darkness … where you can rest.”
“Rest?” he wheezed. “I’m afraid … I’ve given up … on getting better.”
“Better? No.” Horace looked up and down the man’s body with pity. “There is no ‘better’ … only the darkness.” He turned slowly to the iron door, sliding the pair of posts barring it shut. “You can wait there until it’s finished … until the master is ready.”
The man let out a grunt as he used some of his precious energy reserves to turn his head toward the door. “Who? Odett?”
“No … his master.” Horace slid the tattered cloth around his neck up over his nose and mouth. He swung open the door as a wave of cold, damp air sprung forth, releasing an unholy stench. He winced slightly, but took comfort in knowing his patient would find it soothing.
Horace returned to the cot, leaning down for one final look. The man’s eyes, the only part of him with any real life left, pleaded with Horace to end the suffering. The large man urged himself to finish the task, knowing the end of this trip would be just that. He adjusted the sheet so it wouldn’t be binding on the man as he rested, then lifted his hands and laid them gently across his chest.
Reaching down, Horace lifted the man effortlessly off the cot and carried him into the dark tunnel descending from the doorway. He could hear the shuffling of the other patients who remained nearby as he located another cot, laying the man to rest comfortably upon it.
Horace placed his large hand upon the man’s as it lay upon his chest, looking down one last time into his eyes, barely visible in the glow from the lantern. “Try to rest, friend. It will all be over soon.”
This preview is for the next Saddlebag Expansion, Bad Medicine, arriving in stores February 8, 2016! Ask your local game store about it today!
by Jon Del Arroz
“Excellent, Travis. You look just like him … at least enough to fool someone in the dark. How well can you imitate his voice?” Rafi Hamid asked, standing with the grifter in the alleyway behind Cooke’s Nightcap.
Travis Moone wore a phony beard, along with dark shirt and overalls, bearing a passable resemblance to Max Baine. He cleared his throat. “The Morgan Cattle Company. There’s strange things going on at their ranches out of town. Someone has to do something. Someone has to believe me!” he said in a deeper, raspier voice than his usual timbre.
“Excellent. I doubt anyone could tell the difference,” Rafi said. He held up a small purse of coins that clanked together as the bag moved.
Travis reached out, but Rafi snatched it away, tucking it back into his coat pocket. “Not until the work is complete. Too many rumors about you cutting and running from the job. That poor coach was left to bandits.”
“That was only one time, Mr. Hamid. I couldn’t very well risk my skin just for some coin. Not that little coin anyways,” Travis said with a grin. “What’s yer beef with Mr. Baine, anyway?”
“Ever since Mr. Baine left the Morgan Cattle Company, he’s been sticking his nose in places where it does not belong … and speaking about matters that shouldn’t concern you either.”
“Ahh, he’s been pokin’ around a bit too much about Mayor Whateley. I gotcha. I won’t tell nobody,” Travis said with a wink. Someone else came out from behind the corner. Travis gave a slight wave. “There’s Rico. We got this covered, don’t you worry none.”
“If a word of this is uttered to anyone, Travis, I assure you you’ll have far greater problems to deal with than a couple of swindled drunks.” “It’s better if your companion doesn’t see me. So here is where I leave you,” Rafi said, tipping his hat toward Travis.
With that, Rafi turned back toward the bar. A third person came from the direction Rafi was headed, no doubt joining Travis’s crew as well.
Rafi continued along without stopping, avoiding eye contact with anyone as he did not want to risk more witnesses. He certainly shouldn’t be seen anywhere near Travis and his friends perpetrating a crime. Once on the main street, Rafi slowed his pace to a casual stroll, smiling and nodding towards any citizens who recognized him.
In the distance, he heard a pistol fire, followed by a woman’s scream.
This preview is for the next Saddlebag Expansion, Bad Medicine, arriving in stores February 8, 2016! Ask your local game store about it today!
by Paul Durant
Miss Willa Mae was way too strict. She said they could drape sheets off the top bunk to make their fort, but they couldn’t hang a lantern in there because it’d burn the place down. Without a lantern, how can they see all their important plans without taking the sheets down? And if they take the sheets down, how can you still call it a fort? The goblin could just saunter in!
They’d be sorry when that little goblin attacked the orphanage and they didn’t have a well-lit fort to hole up in. Sometimes, Jack felt like him and Drew and Ty were the only ones who gave a darn about this town.
Jack pulled out his map, squinted at it in the darkness, and marked an X next to what he thought was the orphanage. “Okay, Becky Riggs says the goblin was here yesterday, stealing cookies … but that’s nowhere near where we usually see him. You think he’s out here ‘cause he’s looking for us now?”
Ty shrugged, scratching Mittens the jackalope behind his little antlers. “Maybe he’s looking for cookies? If I was a goblin, I’d want some. Probably hard to find, since Miss Willa Mae don’t cook for goblins.”
“They’re oatmeal cookies!” said Drew. “Goblins don’t like oatmeal. That is a science fact. It gets stuck in all their goblin teeth. ‘Sides, every other time we seen him, he’s gone for hard candy.”
“Well, he’s got to have some reason to want them,” said Jack. “Maybe he’s gonna put a spell on ‘em or something, like, the kind of thing where they put out sweets for a kid and you eat ‘em and you fall asleep and wake up locked in a cage with a witch who wants to eat you?” He put a hand on his chin. “I bet if we knew he was coming back here, we could lay a trap for him … put a net on the ground, put the sweets in the middle, and when someone picks ‘em up, BAM! Caught ‘im!”
“If we did that we’d probably just catch Becky Riggs,” said Drew. Jack was pretty sure he was rolling his eyes but couldn’t quite make it out. “And who needs a net?” he added, drawing his slingshot with a flourish. “I tell you, if I get a good shot at him … Whack! I’ll knock that little booger clean out!”
Ty and Jack stared off into space for a bit, not really sure why Drew thought that would work but not wanting to question him. Then Ty added, “You know, what if we asked Benji Washington and his kung-fu gang to help us? I bet they could round up that goblin.”
“Benji Washington is not in a kung-fu gang!” Jack snapped. “He made that up so we’ll think he’s important! This is serious stuff, Ty. We can’t mess around with silly ideas like that! Now, we need to figure out how to get a net and a bunch of lemon drops …”
Read more about Epic PVP at this link.Q: Some Move cards have more than one Attack and/or more than one Defense, how do these work?
A: The rules are that only one Defense can block one Attack (not one card can block one card). So if you play the High Elf Dance of Blades card with it’s two Attacks of 3, your opponent will need to play two Defenses of 3 or higher to stop this card from doing damage. Each unblocked Attack does 1 Damage. Your opponent may use Blocks from two different Move cards if they want to block either of these Attacks. Of course, if your opponent has plays the Dark Elf Steel Dervish card with it’s three Blocks of 4, that one card can block both of the Attacks from Dance of Blades and still block another one of your Attacks of 4 or less!Q: I don’t get the High Elf Ability.
A: The High Elf ability is all about options when deciding how many cards to draw. One of the biggest decisions in Epic PvP is how many cards to draw, because you have to declare how many you are going to draw, then draw that many. The High Elf power lets you declare and then draw as normal, then after you look at those cards, you may choose to draw another 1 or 2 cards from your aggression pile. This lets you draw a smaller number of cards, then react to those cards by drawing more or not. This is a VERY powerful ability!!!
Q: I have some timing questions, when do things happen?
A: Here is a list of all of the phases and sub-phases for the game. Most cards will have a specific time when they happen.
- After Aggression
- After Draw
- Before playing Moves
- Play Moves
- After playing Moves
- Assign Block
- After Blocking
- When Damage
- End Phase
A: They are not needed at all. We changed some cards during development and forgot to take the tokens off the token sheet!Q: Some cards allow player to take cards from other players. If I steal a card that creates a token (like the card that gives a player a Decept token), can I use the token even though I’m not that Race?
A: Nope. You need to be that race to use the token. You do get the token though, which could keep it from your opponent. Now if you are also playing the class/race that the token came from, you can use it (this would only happen if you have more than one set of the game of course (which would make you even more awesome).Q: I have heard there is an Epic PvP: Magicrelease coming. What is that all about?
It will be coming out late in 2016. It will include a bunch of magical Races and Classes and special rules for how magic works in Epic PvP. It has not been decided yet if it’ll be launched via Kickstarter or released directly to retail. Check back later for more info.Q: Where can I get one of those really cool boxes that were initially sent to Kickstarter backers?
A: There are a few extra copies. They will be available through future Fun to 11 Kickstarter campaigns and at any trade show that Fun to 11 goes to while supplies last, and we don’t have many. Look for us at PAX East, we’ll save some copies for there for sure.Q: I saw some images of PvP cards that featured Valentines Day themed imagery. I think it was called “Hug Life.” What was that all about and where can I get them?
A: Those were cards we made as Print and Play cards during the campaign. We only made them available for a short time, so sadly, they are no longer available. (They weren’t exactly “balanced” anyway – more of a fun “wahoo” thing we did as a goof).
When developing Epic PvP, there were decisions to make at various points, but the most important ones were done early. For us, that was our design goal and a set of 3 lists.
- Goal: What will this game deliver
- Things to Focus on from the Core Design? – Elements to put front and center. (remember: the core design was just numbers on cards.)
- Things we Don’t Want to see in the Game? – Mistakes to avoid
- What do we Want to Add? – List of features to put in
The Goal: Deliver the fun play experience of a light CCG while being fast to learn, fast to play, and allow for lots of variety. This is a tricky goal. We wanted PvP to play more like a trading card game than other types of head-to-head fighting games. We specifically wanted there to be card-to-card combos across the ½ decks as opposed to just having two ½ decks smashed together. This game would have been SOOOO much easier to develop if we just made single decks with no mixing. We could have made crazy abilities and zany attacks forever because we would only have to balance each deck vs. each other deck. But we had to make sure all the ½ + ½ decks played well – that’s a lot of combos! It was a much harder path to take, but one that gives more player choice, variety, and much higher value to each new ½ deck we make.
Things to Focus on from the Core Design: This is probably the most important of these lists. It is easy to develop a game away from the core new fun features in the design. How many times have you played a game and thought “this part was cool, I wish the game was more about that.” That is what we wanted to avoid. For us, we had three things we wanted to keep. First off, we wanted to keep was the drama around how many cards to draw each turn. The unique “mana” system of the game needed to come through and be a major focus of drama. That means we couldn’t create too many cards that didn’t land somewhere on the power curve when it comes to being blocked (special effects were a different thing). Next, we wanted to keep the focus on the Moves, and not the non-move special effects – so we limited the number of those in each ½ deck to 2 (while keeping up the ability for moves to become permanents). Lastly, we wanted to keep the very punch/counterpunch feel as that felt very immersive and like a real fight!
Things we Don’t Want to See in the Game: Game designers like to add rules and features – the “curse of … and …”. We feel it’s important for a game to have a feel, which can be ruined by rules that allow players to ignore the normal conflicts to win. We didn’t want to see a non-Move strategy. We didn’t want to see a strategy of dealing damage outside of moves. We didn’t want to see a strategy that locks your opponent out from participating in the back and forth. On a smaller level, we didn’t want a player to have any knowledge about what’s in their Aggression pile to the point where it affects their draw strategy.
Things we Want to Add: This was a pretty big list. One big goal was to ensure that all the ½ decks all had potential to combo with the other ½ decks. This is why about 1/3rd of each of the Class and Race decks were Basic Strikes. It makes it possible for ½ deck abilities like “all your Basic Strikes are +1 Block” – which will have an effect on a big chunk of cards from the other ½ deck. It also means if we make a deck that has 60% Basic Strikes, it won’t be “boring” – it’ll be combo bait! We also wanted to add a small number of tokens with unique powers as well as a method for random pairings.
Probably the most important things on this list was that we wanted to ensure a game with a lot of discovery, without having terrible first play experiences. A lot of games have this bug/feature where the first time you play, you get stomped badly because the path to victory is so “cloudy.” This gets so extreme sometimes that you don’t even know all the ways to score VPs until the game is over – making it impossible for a first time player to change up their strategy or make intelligent decisions. Some people really like these games as there is a desire to play again now that the player “knows what the game is all about.” Personally, I’m not a huge fan of those games. When I play a game, I want to be playing, trying to figure out what to do, not just taking actions and moving pieces around only to find out in the end how I did when VPs are totaled up. I know lots of folks do like these games, and that’s great, but as a faster lighter game, Epic PvP needed to be something else. I wanted people playing the game right away – making decisions and taking actions that matter.
To that end, the first 1-2 turns of the game are almost a tutorial if you haven’t played before (and super fast if you and your opponent have experience). There are only a few decisions you can make in the first few turns and they are fairly obvious (but still meaningful). When the game gets going by turn 3-4, even the first time player is right there playing – fully understanding if they are winning or losing. At this point, the first time player won’t know what each card does, but when they read them, they will understand how that card gets them closer to winning. Beginning players probably won’t be making the best decisions when they play, but at least they are thinking and analyzing with a clear goal towards winning. And with the game being fast, the desire to play again doesn’t mean “next game night” it means “right now.”
This goal was not only a very fast learning curve, but also to make sure than a player can get better over time, and discover lots of new things. It’s clear from our playtesting that a better player will win much more often than a weaker player. Not only do experienced players make better situational decisions, but they also know the cards they are likely to see in both their own and their opponent’s deck. Knowing that the Dark Elf has a couple of Steel Dervishes (a Move that blocks three 4 or less strength attacks) really effects how you play the Dark Elf (or against one). And with all the ½ decks, there is just tons to discover – and each additional ½ deck we make creates exponentially more discovery for players.
Looking back over our development goals, I’m really proud of the job we did. We also left a lot of space for future development, some of which we are utilizing with the upcoming Epic PvP: Magic set. But for now, we hope you all enjoy the work we put in on Epic PvP: Fantasy, it was super fun to work on and watching it come together was a real highlight of my 20+ year career making games.