I love westerns. I love card games. I love the Deadlands RPG (which is a western). In April, AEG announced the revamp and relaunch of the Doomtown CCG as an ECG (expandable card game), under the title Doomtown: Reloaded. I made every effort to ensure I had a copy. I stood in line at GenCon for an hour just to get my copy of the Premium Edition of the game (which I did).
I finally sat down, built some decks and decided to give the game a whirl. This review will focus mostly on game play, as the premium edition has materials not included in the retail game, but the cards don’t change.
The cards are laid out well, and are clean and uncluttered. The rules don’t take up a lot of card space and are pretty uniformly clean. The rulebook is easy to read, laid out well, but lacks a glossary or an easy to follow turn by turn sequence.
Well. The game play. The game revolves around building up your “Deeds” on your street of the town, hiring “dudes” to work for you, and then bustin’ in and shooting up your opponents places to ensure you win the game. The core mechanic is that each card in your deck has a regular “value” like a normal deck of playing cards. Resolution involves drawing a poker and and manipulating your hand size to ensure the best hand. It’s a blast and tons of fun.
The deckbuilding restrictions are a little tricky, but the game gives you prebuilts to play with, and those are well balanced and work well.
The rules are a bit messy and not clear on a few points, but overall the game is fairly easy to learn. It seems that the gameplay leans to fast aggressive decks right now, that build up guys and then push your opponent into losing.
I think the only real complaint I found was that the game seems to end right around the first shootout. You can usually tell who is gonna walk away as the winner after that. I should point out I like this. It feels like the game builds towards a single cinematic shootout to resolve control of the town.
It also depends on the deck. My Law Dogs deck is focused on shootouts and killing their opponent. My Sloane deck is built to handle attrition and buy lots of cheap dudes. Shootouts don’t have to decide the game.
Like most AEG card games, Doomtown has an ongoing storyline that will be explored in “Saddlebag” expansions. That means as more cards come out, the game will adjust, grow and change to be a lot of fun. Right now, the game supports 4 factions. The Law Dogs, The Sloane Gang, the Morgan Cattle Company, and the Fourth Ring Circus. Hopefully the expansions will add a lot more options, as I feel that a lot of potential is sitting to the side, storywise.
Overall, I’m incredibly happy with the purchase, and I intend to continue to buy the expansions to this game as they come out.