Tag Archives: Card game

A Casual Board Gamer’s Review of Doomtown Reloaded

I admit to being a fan of Pinnacle’s Deadlands weird wild west setting. How can you not like outlaws, lawmen, miners, railroads, and gunslingers thrown in with mad scientists, mystical shamans and sorcerous hucksters? I was a fan of the original Doomtown collectible card game back in the day too, though I never got into collecting it all.

When I heard about the reboot of Doomtown as an ECG (Expandable Card Game), I knew I wanted to get it. But these days I’m mostly a board game fan. I enjoy playing with a couple of friends having a casual friendly game. So reading the forum discussions about tournament deck building and buying multiple base sets and the sorts of things caused me to wonder if Doomtown Reloaded was really a good match for my current interests.

The answer, thankfully, is YES! Doomtown Reloaded is a great game just as it comes in one copy of the base set. Inside is hours of enjoyable western action in the weirdest way for 2-4 players with no collecting or even deck building required.

The base set comes with a rule book and a “Gettin’ to Know Gomorra” guide along with 286 cards, tokens and a town square board. The cards are divided into four suits that provide the things you need to build (and take control of) a western town: Diamonds are deeds (like the saloon), Spades are Dudes (like the Sheriff), Hearts are Goods (like your pistol, or horse), and Clubs are Action cards that do the unexpected.

The guide book even uses two preset decks to walk new players through a day in the town (better known as one turn). I found the rule book to be well written with just the right mix of narrative setting and direct, clear rules laid out in a logical, well organized format that was easy to understand, if a bit complex at times.

For us casual non-deck building gamers, one of the best things that the guide book provides is a deck list and suggested strategies for each of the four outfits that come in the base set.

The outfits! You and your pardners get to choose from the Sloane Gang (very nasty bandits), the Law Dogs (the town Sheriff and his deputies and help), the Morgan Cattle Company (who also employ mad scientists and their gadgets), and the Fourth Ring (a mystical circus full of strangeness).

We’ve used just the decks from the lists for more than a dozen games and have not yet felt the need to change them, though of course there are additional cards both in the base set and in future expansions that will allow you to build your outfit however you wish.

The game play itself is fast and furious.

Each “day” (turn) in Gomorra starts with Gamblin’ as players ante in for lowball 5 card stud which is then followed by Upkeep as you gain your income and pay wages to keep your Dudes on your side.

The heart of the game is the High Noon phase. During Noon, players alternate making a play back and forth until they all pass. You can choose between Shoppin’ (paying costs to put cards into play), Tradin’ (moving Goods from one Dude to another), Movin’ (moving Dudes around town), Actin’ (using a card’s Noon ability, which can include pullin’ jobs), and Callin’ Out (yep, reach for the sky or iron, pardner).

Shootouts erupt quite often in Gomorra. And the game has a great mechanic for gunfights, a hand of poker. Of course this being the weird west, there’s lots of things that can affect your poker hand that you wouldn’t normally think of, like having the right Dudes to allow you to draw extra cards.

Once everyone passes it’s Sundown and, if no one has won by controlling more of the town than any other player has influence to stop them, then you reset and prepare (draw cards) for another day.

A turn of Doomtown Reloaded often seems to play out a story not unlike a weird western full of town building, odd folks, gadgets, gunfights, mines, hucksters, outlaws, and lawmen.

As a casual board, non-deck building gamer, I consider Doomtown Reloaded to be a great game that will see a lot of play time with my friends before we even think about creating our own decks.

Though I believe this review to be fair and objective, I feel obligated to provide the following information. This review was written using a print and play copy of the game provided by Alderac Entertainment Group. I was a alpha play tester for AEG on expansions for this game. I was not a play tester on this core set. I have been a member of AEG’s demo team, “Vanguards”. No compensation for this review was involved.

c2014 by Richard A. Edwards

Valley of the Kings

Valley of the Kings. AEG, 2014. $20. Designed by Tom Cleaver, art by Banu Andaru. Deck building card game. 96 Artifact cards, 4 Tomb cards, 4 Reference cards, and rulebook. 2-4 players. 45-60 minutes. Ages 14+.

Each player starts with the same 10 cards, a Tomb card (where you bury cards taking them out of play but storing them for victory points at the end), and a Reference card. The Artifact cards are divided into 3 groups (levels) with each being shuffled and then stacked one on top of the other in order. This allows less expensive cards to enter the purchase area (Pyramid) before more expensive cards. At the start 6 cards create a pyramid (3-2-1) of cards available to purchase. You can only buy from the “base” (bottom row) of the pyramid. Cards above “crumble” and drop to the lower levels refilling any gaps.

For a small card game, Valley of the Kings offers a lot of decision making. Each turn you have to decide how to use each card in your hand (usually 5), either buying new cards, executing its action, or “entombing” the card (an action you can only take once per turn, taking them out of play but only entombed cards count toward victory points at the end. There are many actions on the various cards. It’s often challenging to know whether it’s best to use a given card’s action, to use its gold to buy new cards, or to entomb the card for victory points.

At its heart, the game is mostly set collecting as that’s where the greatest victory points are and after several plays the multiple copies of some cards in this small card game begin to feel repetitive. As with most deck building card games there is a bit of luck as to which cards are available for purchase during your turn and how much purchasing power (gold) you have in your hand at the time.

Honestly, for such a small card game it actually provides a lot of good game play. The actions on the various cards can really enhance your (or hamper your opponent’s) plans. The hardest choices come toward end game when you have powerful cards but may need to entomb them for victory points. This game actually has more fun and replay value than the size of the box and reasonable cost would suggest.

This review was written based on a privately purchased copy. No previous relationship with the game publisher nor compensation was involved.

c2014 by Richard A. Edwards