Tag Archives: Weird Wild West

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

Shadows of Brimstone

Shadows of Brimstone. Flying Frog Productions, 2014. $100. Designed by Jason C. Hill, art by Jack Scott Hill, and music by Mary Beth Magallanes. Fully cooperative, dungeon-crawl game set in a Weird Wild West. Over 200 cards, dice, counters, Rule and Adventure books, and a CD soundtrack. 1-4 players (1-6 with two core sets).

Players form a posse, working fully cooperatively, and assume the roles of archetypical western heroes to go on adventures down in the mines of the Weird Wild West setting of Brimstone. Each core set comes with 4 hero classes that develop using experience points, gold, and items over the course of many games. And each core set also includes an “Other World” full of Lovecraftian horrors that are seeping out through the mines. The game is heavily deck driven with the game’s opposition being provided by random card draws and dice rolls. There is a “going to town” mini-game that occurs between missions down in the mines that allows characters to rearm and prepare for the next game.

The Weird Wild West theme is everywhere in this game, from the artwork and components to the soundtrack and story. It is truly an RPG-like board game experience from the start, when you create your hero from an initial class but choose a single starting upgrade ability and draw a personal item that will make your character unique. The card and dice driven board mechanics create a different mine layout and otherworld trails, including encounters and fights that is different every time.

If you’re not into hobby miniature games, you may bemoan (as I did) having to assemble the more than two dozen miniatures, the brittle plastic of which has already seen one break. And if you do not like heavily random games, then you may not appreciate the mechanics which make this game highly replayable because it is so different each time. Being heavily card driven, there are a lot of decks to manage and late in the game there will be a lot of card effects in play that impact each other. While the rules are straightforward the highly variable situations can create instances with questions.

Shadows of Brimstone does an amazing job of producing many hours of cooperative gaming in a western horror setting with Darkness creeping forward while you and your fellow posse members delve into the mines, seeking treasure and glory.

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