March 29, 2016

[Review] Ghost Town, part 1

Hello there folks!

It's being some time since I did a review of new cards. I started several times, but it required so much dedication to make a full detailed review that I gave up every time at some point. So, this time I'm gonna be brief and to the point.

Hmm... Hard to find a deck that would want this effect. It helps you win lowball repeatedly, and it helps you stay legal and avoid cheatin' punishment. The downside is having -3 hand ranks in shootouts - or, if you have enough bullets, you could just opt not to reveal this card and go for a legal full house instead. Good for lowball but not for shootouts - that sounds like something landslide would like. But landslide wins all the lowballs anyway, and they don't like cards clogging their play hand, so they would still be better off with no jokers at all. Skill decks might like it as the -3 ranks effect doesn't apply to pulls, but I really don't get the whole "jokers are good for pulls" argument - you're much more likely to draw it into your play hand than to pull it for a skill check. Although skill decks tend to lose lowball often due to playing high values, and if you had a way to cycle the joker out of your hand, like, I dunno, Xemo's Turban?..
So, a good home for this joker would be a deck that wants to win lowball more aften, doesn't really need the raw power of a Joker in shootouts, yet is scared of cheatin' punishment like Coachwhip. Something like a Force Field deck maybe? Like the Morgan Flyin' Zombies? Yeah, that could work.

I know of three general deck types for the 108 faction - landslide, Kung Fu / Hot Lead (low values), and regular aggro. I don't think Min makes a good starter in any of them, he's just too expensive. I don't play landslide decks so I don't know what they like; I guess they like unbooting dudes, but they also like having loads of ghost rock, and they like dudes with good cost/influence ratio. Kung Fu decks like his trait, but not his value. Aggro decks that play 7's for Kidnappin' could use him as a decent filler.

Speaking of different 108 archetypes, looks like the fourth one is on the horizon - this is the second Blessed dude in the green faction. I don't see anything here that would make me want to run Miracles out of 108 instead of Law Dogs, but I guess more is coming. We definitely need more Hymns for her trait to be of any use. Starting massive shootouts in-town but not in the town square is, well, not that common. I do like the flavor though, singing so loud the whole town can hear.

Yay, new theme for Shamans as well! Sidekicks expected, horses not so much; second faction to try Ridden Down? Mixing Shamans and animals might not be all that easy, because Spirits and Sidekicks/Horses occupy the same suit, hearts. We'll see how that works out. Reusable Sidekicks might combo well with Consealed Weapons - on value with Roan too! The body is questionable though - cheap but with upkeep, not an ideal starter, and on a bad value for Shamans. But, definitely something to experiment with, considering that the pine box brings three new sidekicks.

This dude seems, well, average. 1-stud 1-influence for 5-0 is fine. The ability is not too spectacular or intimidating, so your opponent might let your job go unopposed, but then again, you don't want to overcommit here, and if you undercommit you might get into trouble. Requires careful maneuvering, and/or ways to bring dudes into your posse (like Angélica or Pinto).

Now this dude is pretty strong! Very chap, good bullets for Takin', influence during Noon and Sundown, helps you cycle your hand, and lets you use The Fourth Ring home ability twice per turn - this is actually top tier! Can replace Travis or Brute in competitive Clown Control decks.

Decent body, potential stud with Faster, can issue warrants using the Law Dogs home ability without losing tempo. Goes straight into Deputy decks.

The little girl is all grown-up now! 4 influence for potentially 0 upkeep is great, and having two CP is easy to achive. Landslide will enjoy gaining bonus ghost rock when using Androcles and R&D Ranch or playing Reserves and Buried Treasure. Morgan Gadgets will also get a bonus when using the Gadgetarium, Auto Cattle-Feeder, Secured Stockyard, and Telegraph Office (notice how the latter three cards are all at the King value). Unfortunately, Lula will not award bonus ghost rock for Irving Patterson or Disgenuine Currency Press (these cards have traits, not abilities) or One Good Turn (if played in lowball). Ms. Morgan is also at a good value for Gadget decks, so I expect to see her as a filler in both Landslide and Morgan Gadgets.

Hey look, another dude for 1 gr. Remember when it was exciting? Did you see the Grifter Swarm deck with Hot Lead yet? I don't really like where this is going. Oh, and he's a huckster. Nice bonus, but mostly irrelevant.

This dude created a lot of hype when he was first announced. People suggested using him in Spirit Fortress decks to start Whateley Estate (obscenely expensive) or Maza Gang Hideout (might work) to have a safe place for your totems from the start. Another option is to start R&D Ranch or General Store or Baird's to get some economic advantage, if you can protect it. I might try to use him in my Oddities deck to start the Undertaker, and he'd still count for Ivor XP's discount. It also might work to use him in Den of Thieves and start The Joker's Smile - it'll only cost you 2 gr, lets you cycle your Devil's Jokers, and povides a Saloon for Clem / Ulysses / Buford. unfortunately you cannot put bounty on a non-dude card, so your home ability and Hustled will not work on him. And you cannot attach Monte Bank to him either. One funny thing that does work though, is using the Idol of Tlazolteotl to re-attach Ol' Howard from your deed to one of your opponent's, for a potentially huge swing in CP and income. This sounds so hilarious, I'll definitely give it a try. Overall I think that Ol' Howard is overpriced. If he costed 1 gr then he'd be much more playable. Or, same cost but keep the deed's CP at least.

This guy is good! Mostly because he's a cheap neutral huckster with influence and no upkeep, so now any faction can start two hucksters and still have decent influence and good income. They won't be as good as Clowns, of course, but this option will appeal to many non-orthodox deckbuilders. Oh, and Theo's abilities are rather nice and will definitely come in handy.

A neutral Kung Fu dude! I guess you need more than one at the start, so it's too early to start building Tao decks in other factions. The body is fine stat-wise, so for now it's a good filler for Jade Rabbit decks.

Okay now this looks a bit overpowered. Starting non-XP Travis, using his mulligan ability, then making him into a 3-stud with low upkeep and a useful abiliy? Maaaaan, da power creep is real! This is an auto-include in any aggressive deck starting Travis and running Kidnappin's (on value), which is pretty much every Den of Thieves deck, and a bunch of others. Heck this might actually make me start Travis instead of Ben in my 108 deck! The only question is how many copies - 1x, 2x, or 4x? I wouldn't go all-in, but I'll seriously consider running two copies. That dude is gooood.

This dude is good too. Because, you know, he's a 1 gr dude. With high value. Just what those freakin' Hot Lead decks love. But not just them, skill decks will also love him because 10's generally have terribly expensive filler dudes, which is a real problem for skill decks, especially those that like to play Takin' - which would also find Henry's 2 bullets useful. His ability is good against Landslide (One Good Turn), Miracles (Consecration), Oddities (Soul Cage), and any deck running Flight of the Lepus or This'll Hurt in the Mornin' (hate losing my Stevens to that). But in any other matchup it might end up being a hinderance, keeping Henry down for a whole turn. Testing will show if he makes you win more lowballs than he makes you lose - cheatin' pairs are no less common that cheatin' full houses.

A neutral Core deed that anyone can start. It doesn't prevent your opponent from walking right into it on the first turn, but it does cost five ghost rock less than Ol' Howard + Whateley Estate, so you might seriously consider this one if you want a startable deed in your Spirit Fortress deck. The ability is actually nice if you don't want to invest into deeds that you cannot protect in the early game, but still want to have a good draw structure later on. Also, some landslide decks might want it, the ones that play way too many deeds and want to cycle their hand faster. The movement part might do same nasty tricks too.

Wow, interesting! Speeds up gadget invention by unbooting the mad scientist. Offsets the skill check penalty imposed by Morgan Gadgetarium (unfortunately in this case two unboot effects will be redundant). Can generate income if you invent Improvements that you can attach to this deed right away (conveniently it's a Ranch and thus a valid host for Cattle Auto-Feeder). Inventing Horses (like Yagn's Mechanical Skeleton) also increases income. The deed is startable, which is something Howard Aswell has been waiting for for a long time. You need to boot a mad scientist in this deed in order to reap the benefits, but since he'll unboot anyway, it's not much of a risk. Seems like the general strategy would be to built a fort with lots of improvements that generate income and extra cards and provide bullet bonuses. The only problem is that you still need to win somehow, and the Wagner Ranch doesn't provide control points (unlike another new deed that's also a good spot for a Gadget Fort). Although you could address this by playing Chief Stephen Seven-Eagles - he'd give you a CP for each card attached to a deed you control, which includes not only Totems but also Improvements and Conditions. That would be one weird deck, yeah, but I'll definitely give it a try!

A 2-1-1 deed is something that you can't ever have enough of. Slide will enjoy playing it, as will any deck running 3's. Booting Government deeds (like Hustings or The Orphanage, which are on value) to issue warrants is very good for any Law Dogs deck as it enables Bounty Hunters along with many other things, and even The Arsenal might consider running a copy off-value. Booting Public deeds to move dudes around, from anywhere to anywhere, is a very nice effect too. Overall, a very good deed.

A stick in the wheels of well-designed spell decks, this will primarily affect the Clowns' ability to cast Blood Curse while in the town square. Honestly, I don't think this will make an impact, it looks more like a nuisance. A very expensive nuisance, and I don't generally like to play expensive deeds when facing clowns. I don't like this one.

Who's that, Androcles' cousin? A 3-1-0 deed is really not something to look at - especially at 8 value where there are a lot of better options (and almost none of them provide control points, at least not to their owner). The trait currently affects three cards - Natalya, Shizeng Lu, and Carlton "Min" Rutherford. Note that it does NOT affect your opponent's 108 Worldly Desires - even though you are considered to have less ghost rock than your opponent, he is not considered to have more than you (yep weird). A startable Saloon is good for Clementine Lepp and Forster Cooke. Overall I don't think it's worth it to start this deed in place of a dude, or to play it from the deck. Very underwhelming.

This is very interesting indeed, a win condition in itself - but one that your opponent might use for his own benefit. 9 is an underplayed value, but it has some nice stuff for every skill - Asyncoil Gun, Red Horse's Tail, Consecration, Phantasm. It might be a bit too risky (and unnecessary) for Clowns, but it's a good spot for Spirit Fortress, Gadget Fort, or Miracle decks - just be sure to pack some way to bring dudes into your posse if they decide to oppose. Or, control the town square. Yeah, this one will require some playtesting to figure out the best way to utilize it and avoid the risks. But it will definitely be played.

Gaining ghost rock and cycling cards, that's strong! However, this deed is harder to evaluate than its twin brother, Notary Public. And it's not just about it costing 1 gr more. The thing is, all Saloons and Casinos are clustered at low values, mostly 4's, 5's, and 6's. There is a notable exception in The Union Casino, which is on value with this deed. Overall, very strong but limited in what decks in can go in. Might be worth playing off-value.

Look, a Holy Ground deed! Abram Grothe (non-XP) breathes heavily. 4-2-1 are decent stats, and at Q value it's actually quite good, considering that other deeds there might be too risky (The Pharmacy) or almost useless (Testing Range). The effect is quite strong if utilized properly, it basically increases your maximum hand size, but it can clog your hand with cards you cannot play over the course of several turn. You need ways to discard cards for some effect, like Asakichi Cooke or Ambrose Douglas.

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All right folks, that's it for today. Part 2 of the review will be done shortly (hopefully), covering Goods, Spells, and Actions.

Meanwhile, the 2nd Doomtown OCTGN League reached its pinnacle. Me and gozik meet in the finals tomorrow, at around 11 pm (UTC +3). Some serious spells shall be slung. Come watch the game, and bring popcorn!

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