April 1, 2016

[Review] Ghost Town, part 2

Hey there folks! Part 2 of the review of Ghost Town is here!

Took me some time to write, as I played in the the finals of the 2nd OCTGN League this week - those were some cool games! You can check them out on swider's Twitch channel or on my YouTube channel. I recommend switching off the sound and enjoying some good music while you're watching the vids. Anyway, on to the review!

Here's a little something for the new Gadget Fort archetype. Put that thing on a Wagner Memorial Ranch or an Epidemic Laboratory, and you get a solid un-Sunnable stud bonus to fend off attackers. It does a nice job of protecting your deeds even if you got no dudes there, forcing your opponent to overcommit influence, or boot out and potentially allow you to retake the deed without a fight. The problem is this card's low value, unsuitable for most skill decks. You can either play it off-value (although it competes with the awesome Disgenuine Currency Press here), or build a low-value Quaterman deck (these are usually aggressive). In the latter option, the gadget's high difficulty can be offset by playing mad scientists with skill 2, or by starting the Wagner Ranch. Definitely an interesting card to experiment with, we'll see if the whole archetype actually proves viable.

Hehe, fun art. This card is tricky to evaluate, you might fall into a pit thinking that it is an Attire that provides a very limited influence bonus and some additional ability, and overall it is just worse than a Fancy New Hat. Don't look at it that way. Read the ability first, and then the trait. This card gives you a very interesting and quite useful ability to move without making a play, and as an added bonus, if you choose to move to a deed, you'll likely control that deed during Upkeep. Let's think of a few situations when you can benefit from this. You're turtling at home and your opponent occupies your deeds, denying you income - get that production back, and then run home. You send a dude booted over to your opponent's deed, and he sends his dude booted to take it back - slide to an adjacent deed and deny income there. End up at a deed in whatever circumstances - move to the town square unbooted. The most fun would be moving over to an opposing dude and then instantly Puppeting him - the only problem is that Sunday Best and Puppet share the same deck slots. Some more fun tricks would be using Oddities, playing Hustled or Ridden Down, or calling someone out with The Fabulous Mister Miss. It's like the Morgan Stables movement ability, only better! Playing this card will sure be fun, I can tell you that. Whether it makes its way to the top tables of competitive events, remains to be seen.

Now this card will most definitely see play at the top tables. Because on the other side of the top table, there's usually a Clowns player, and this old gun messes a lot with their best hexes, Paralysis Mark, Puppet, and Soul Blast (not Blood Curse, but you can't have everything). It also protects your dudes from Shotgun, Asyncoil Gun, and Red Horse's Tail - these cards can be a pain for a low value deck. Drawing a card is actually very nice for the whole 'cantrip' feel about this goods - you're not investing much, and if your opponent is not playing cards that care about your dudes' value, then you just get +1 bullet for the price of 1 ghost rock. Very good in some important matchups, nice in others - this makes a good card.

A sidekick for 2 gr that can be aced to cover 2 casualties - that's pretty nice. The 1 draw bullet bonus will often be irrelevant, unless you plan to engage solo a lot - a decent strategy if you're playing 108 Worldly Desires. In general, Winchester is probably better for most decks. Where this sidekick really shines are Hot Lead decks (and it's on value with HLF). Engage with 3-5 dudes, take a casualty or two, don't lose anyone, deal 3-5 casualties to your opponent. Obscene.

A horse and a sidekick in one card - I've been dreaming of it for a long time! I actually wanted it to be a 1 gr goods with no text, and this card costs 2 gr, but it does come with some pretty cool movement abilities. Although it's going to be tricky to find a delicate balance between horses and spirits, but I think any Shaman deck will benefit from one copy of this card, even off-value - it's real good. Being a Mystical goods is just an extra... well, actually, the most likely impact of this keyword is that a Clowns player can draw extra cards by using Phantom Fingers. Hopefully Shamans will get their own theme revolving around spirit-imbued artifacts and stuff.

Oh how I wished for such a card back in the times of New Town New Rules, when I was playing my Lillian Morgan deck. Soul Blasting myself allowed me to run away from any enforced shootout, except for Kidnappin' - there was no way out of it. There is one now, at least for Shamans. Maybe now it would actually be viable to start Laughing Crow? She can make a huge impact on the game, and she has a high enough skill rating to ensure that you succeed the pull even if yopu're being kidnapped by Sloane herself. This spell has the Sidekick keyword as well, which can justify playing it in unconventional Eagle Wardens decks that do not focus on high-difficulty spells (like Warden Blockade). For more standard builds though, I do not think this card is good enough to justify playing it off-value and risk failing pulls. Soul Blast, Puppet, Lay On Hands, Disgenuine Currency Press - these cards are on a totally different power level.

In a vacuum, I'd just say that Peacemaker is better. Yeah, this spell works on the whole posse, but only once per turn, and if you lose lowball then you'll get Sunned before you get a chance to cast it. However, you have to account for the fact that Miracle decks nowadays usually revolve around Melee weapons, and one Blessed dude cannot carry both a Rapier and a Peacemaker. Getting your 5-stud voltron dude Sunned is a grim but very real possibility. Getting your backup 3-stud dude Fastered is quite real too, against a dedicated aggro deck. This is where this new spell might come in handy. Maybe one copy could make the cut. Oh and, the Hymn keyword is kinda relevant for Lucretia Fanzini.

Jeezuz... Did the designers absolutely have to reinforce Hot Lead decks? Warden Blockade becomes horrific now. "And not a single casualty was taken that day... on my side. BAM! BAM!! All dead". This card is strong, really strong. I will play it off-value in my Shaman decks, at least as a 1-of, as it will give me an edge in major shootouts. Winning is important, not losing is just as important, because it means that you can risk more, show cheatin' hands, and get away with it. It's like No Turning Back in that regard. Combined with Hot Lead... ugh.

Overnerfed. If it could ace unique cards, or discard cards without acing itself, or show your opponent's whole hand, then yes, it would be pretty cool. Too cool? Maybe. But as it is, it's not cool enough. Control Clowns would love to ace Kidnappin', sure, and Aggro Clowns wouldn't mind removing Unprepared from your hand, but the thing is, both decks have ways to play around anything you can throw at them, and consistency is better than blind luck. I bet if I play a number of games with this card and count how many times it actually did something relevant, I'd be disappointed. In general, effects like this are stronger when you 1) combine several of them, and 2) use them to prevent the opponent from disrupting your game-winning combo. Like, if you planned to win *this turn* with Nicodemus, Chief Seven-Eagles, or Fiery Rhetorics, then this card would actually be useful. Somewhere, someone might make a deck starting The Tattooed Man and acing the opponent's whole deck over the course of many, many turns...

This card might be useful in Hot Lead decks. Prevent casualties, kick some claim soak dude out of the opposing posse, then kill the now exposed tender meat with a hail of bullets. It's on value with Bluetick, which is extra nice. Is it better than Bottom Dealin'? In Hot Lead decks, maybe, especially if they still have room to play Coachwhip. In other decks, hardly. You really need a way to take advantage of this card, specifically the unbooting and the sending home parts. If all you're doing with this card is preventing 1 extra casualty, then I'd much rather play Bottom Dealin'. Also, you need about two sidekicks for each copy of this card in your deck, and preferrably a General Store to avoid losing tempo and going broke.

Ugh, I really wish they made an exception for Conditions templating and put the ability before the trait. So, when your opponent cheats, you play this and draw three cards, and then every time he cheats again, you draw one more card. No, actually, *reveals a cheatin' hand*, not cheats - an important distinction if you're playing against the Den of Thieves. Knowing how useful Philip Swinford is, I'd say this effect is quite strong, and can win you games. However, Philip is never a dead card, while this might be, depending on the matchup and how soon you can draw it. Yeah, if you manage to play it on turn one, you get a huge boost, but if you draw it on turn 3 or 4... Well actually, if you draw it late you might still get a good boost by drawing three cards, maybe finding a dude or an action that you need right now. Nah, it's a good card, I'd slot one copy in any deck and be happy about it. I expect landslide to do the same. More than one copy though, I dunno. It's on value with some of the best shootout cards (Sun and Stakes), so I'd play multiples only if I had a game plan revolving on repeatably drawing some specific cards. And I'd need lots of cheap cards to play each turn so that my hand doesn't get clogged with junk, and preferrably a discard outlet to get rid of the more expensive cards. Hmm, this is interesting, but I don't think this card plays into any of the existing deck types that we have in the meta. But I'll keep an eye on it when I'm in the mood for more creative deckbuilding.

Hmm, extra money that cannot be denied by your opponent. Monte Bank and Disgenuine Currency Press are good cards, as are One Good Turn and Buried Treasure. Unlike the previous card, there is absolutely no point in running a single copy of this one - it's a dead draw in late game, you want it as early as possible, preferrably on turn 1, so that you could play it while your opponent can't oppose the job. If you want to play this card, you need to play four copies of it. Next question is, how do you avoid cheatin'? You might be playing slide, but then it's gonna be tricky pulling off the job without it being opposed, on a turn other than the first. You could ace extra copies with Buried Treasure though. Eh, I don't know much about slide. In normal decks, Henry Moran would help you not cheat. Then the question is, what are you gonna do with all that money? Hire big dudes obviously, and use them to take over the town. I dunno, it looks overly complicated, I'd rather just shoot face. I'm a simple man.

I haven't seen any Zhu Bajie decks since the release of Rabbit's Deception. Jade Rabbit is just stronger, and personally when I play 108 I prefer pure aggro, no kung fu. The problem with Zhu Bajie techniques is that they aren't very powerful by themselves, you probably want to be playing Shotguns in order to capitalize on all the value-reducing and bullet-increasing effects, but then you become very vulnerable to Unprepared and Pistol Whip. But okay, let's assume that you want to play Zhu Bajie. This card doesn't do anything by itself, but it does improve consistency and effectiveness of your combos. The issue I have with this card is its value. The effect is not strong enough to justify running it off-value, and if you build around 6's then you risk failing pulls with a bunch of your backup kung fu dudes (Mahogany, Emre, Hamshanks, Badger). And honestly, if you're playing a kung fu deck around 6's, you should just take Hot Lead Flyin' instead, it'll be so much more impactful. The most interesting thing about this card is that it hints at some future technique that reduces influence - that would be pretty cool.

This card gives you consistency, tempo, money, and even control points. And it's versatile. Invent a Disgenuine Currency Press that just got discarded in lowball on the first turn, and kickstart your economy. Put an Auto-Gatling on your Wagner Memorial Ranch or Epidemic Laboratory. Get a silver bullet that you have only one copy of in your deck and you need it now (could it be... the Plasma Drill?). Build a Miasmatic Purifier and get a massive 3 CP boost. Yeah, possible applications are numerous, and they are all good. The trick is to succeed at a job, of course. And the value is a bit awkward - I'd be glad with it if I still ran Holy Wheel Guns in my gadget deck, but it's been quite some time since that. Well, maybe I should revisit the low-value gadgets archetype. I like this card, just need to find a home for it.

This card potentially gives you up to 8 ghost rock, and draws you a card. That's huge! The trick is to play expensive dudes. Like, the ones that cost at least 7 gr. What fatties do we see in play, and what goods would they like to carry? Abram Grothe XP + Evanor, Lane Healey XP + La Quema, Ivor Hawley XP + Soul Cage, Wylie Jenks + Faithful Hound, Sloane + Legendary Holster... In truth, you don't even need to go that far, you can just get a 6-cost character and a 2-cost goods, and that would still be an excellent deal. Naturally, the issue here is the value of this card, which makes it compete with Kidnappin' and Pinned Down. Or does it? I guess there might be some decks built around 7's that don't actually want to attack, or maybe some decks would want to play this off-value... Heck, bringing Nic early would be a blast. This card looks strong, but requires testing to break it.

This looks good for The Arsenal. Just wait for a dude (preferrably Jake Smiley) to leave home for any reason, play it, and give your opponent a hard decision to make - either he boots the dude and leaves him exposed, or accepts a bounty and becomes vulnerable to your home ability and Bounty Hunters. Compared to the other options for making dudes wanted, this one is recurring (unlike The Evidence) and does not require you to run spells (unlike Confession and Riorden), so you could use this in Gadget builds. Also, it doesn't take your Heart slots. I don't think any other home except for The Arsenal would want to run this though. Bounty Hunters are only really good when you can reliably play them without preparation. If you wanted 5+ kill jobs you'd be better off with EDS or Ambush.

An action that moves dudes. I can't remember ever seeing Back Ways or Civil War played to much effect. This action moves several dudes at once, to the same location, which would most likely be your home or the town square. Feels kinda like a Recall button - pull back and regroup. I prefer repeatable effects that move dudes though, like 108 Righteous Bandits or Asakichi Cooke. But I guess you could put one copy of this card into your kung fu deck, and sometimes surprise your opponent when he thinks he outmaneuvered you. Not more than one copy, as its high value will fail pulls for anyone except for Bai Yang Chen and He Fang. If this card actually unbooted dudes, or at least could move booted dudes, it would be much more interesting.

Hey look, this card depicts two major villains of Doomtown! Are you terrified yet? I wish they made a movie, so I could see these guys in action :) The card, right. First of all, it's a way to force callouts, so it's an alternative to Election Day Slaughter. But you need to make sure that you have more bounty than the opponent, so you probably need to be playing Sloane or Law Dogs. The booting part of the effect would prevent the dude from refusing the callout and fleeing. If you can't put bounty on your dudes, then you could use this to boot someone in town square and call them out normally. If you don't want to issue callouts at all and just want the control aspect of booting a dude, then this card wouldn't be very effective, as you need two dudes participating in a starting contest to be at the same location. Finally, booting attached cards is a nice trick but it won't probably happen often, and the only faction that has easy access to control points on dudes is The Sloane Gang. So I think this card is mostly for them. It's versatile enough to be used for more than just calling out dudes at their home, but really this is the juicy part for which you actually want to play this card.

* * * * *

Now, lets make a brief summary of what each of the six factions get from the new pine box.

108 Righteous Bandits get two filler dudes, a movement trick, a boost for Zhu Bajie decks, a starter for a future Blessed deck, and a startable deed with income for them Landslide types. Nothing game changing, just a tweak here and there

Eagle Wardens get a whole new Sidekicks & Horses theme going, with two startable dudes, three new Sidekicks (on of them a Horse as well), an action, and a spell that is supposed to fall under the same theme but will buff the Hot Lead decks instead. Spirit Fortress can now start with a deed in play to put all their Totems on, and can hire Nic quicker.

The Fourth Ring gets a very viable starter, and a weird spell that might help some future combo decks. Oddities get an Abominable option to start with the Undertaker already in play.

Law Dogs get a dude and a deed for the Deputies deck, a spell for them Crusaders, and an action that enables The Arsenal to play aggressively.

Morgan Cattle Co. gets two new deeds that they can turn into a Fort with numerous Improvement gadgets for both protection and resources, and an action that speeds up Gadget decks. Landslide will be happy with the new boss that brings even more money into their coffers.

The Sloane Gang get two startable hucksters, an upgrade that turns their favourite grifter into a killing machine, and a new way to force shootouts.

And then we get an assortment of cards that don't have any clear affiliation, and we'll need to experiment with them to understand if they're actually any good.

The good news is, Ghost Town is live on OCTGN, so we can start testing all these new cards immediately! :)

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