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Go to the Doomtown: Reloaded - Base Set page
7 out of 9 gamers thought this was helpful

Doomtown: Reloaded is a western, sci-fi collectable card game with unique poker and playing card elements. The game is a 2014 reboot of a Deadlands card game companion previously called Deadlands: Doomtown and was released in 1999. The game centers around controlling a fictional western town called Gomorra through playing and maneuvering ‘dudes’ around the town during the day or ‘High Noon’ phase. Also during this phase, players can build structures around town (deeds), upgrade dudes with weapons or equipment or play certain action cards. At the end of each day, if you control more of the street than your opponent has dudes, you win the game. Of course, in true western style, if you want something of someone else’s, you have to take it through a shootout. Shootouts are resolved through poker hands drawn from the same deck of cards as your dudes, deeds and equipment as every card in the game has a corresponding playing card value.

There are more elements to the game but I’m not going to go much further because we might be here all day if did. Let’s address a huge problem with this game first; it has a huge barrier of entry. This game will take upwards of 3-4 hours of playthroughs to even begin to comprehend how the game should be played and how a deck should be built and that is coming from someone experienced with CCG’s and board games. Games which take longer than one play session to truly understand only lead to isolated and elitist gaming communities and Doomtown is definitely up there as one of the worse culprits. In order to combat this, the game does come with all you need to play in one box along with a “Learn Doomtown in one turn” Beginners guide. This beginner’s guide is somewhat helpful but as with all of included educational literature, takes several rereads.

If you are committed enough to learn the game you discover a Frankenstein’s monster of patched together game elements which don’t necessarily make a bad game just a mediocre one. The slow development and movement of dudes around the board does create a pensive, strategic feeling which will feed all of the chess and go players out there. However, this is undercut by the randomness of the shootout poker hands. Imagine playing a fascinating game of chess with play-counterplay strategy, and just when you are about to execute a precise action to continue your grand plan, you must roll a dice to determine whether you can or not and you have somewhat an idea to play Doomtown: Reloaded. There is no player choice connected to the random events after or during its occurrence resulting in frustrating play.

Badly implemented randomness undercuts the players desire to strategize and really only incentivizes having the best cards on the board at any given time. This is made difficult when you realize you are discarding huge numbers of cards every time you have a shootout due to the poker hand mechanic. A player can realize they have lost when they see that included in the poker hand they just played is the perfect card to react to the current board-state and now must wait until that card is recycled if ever again. This all leads to the game’s result always being defined by shootout poker draws and more often than not, just one or two specific ones. The resolution of combat through poker hands is a novel concept and at times when you know your approaching one of the aforementioned game defining shootouts players will feel a sense of excitement. However, these moments are too weak and infrequent to argue Doomtown is one of the premier CCGs currently available.

The biggest positive to take away from Doomtown is its experimentation for deckbuilding. By combining both the playing card element and card action, the player must consider not only how their cards are going to develop a win condition but also how they will play out in poker hands. This will challenge even the most experienced CCG deckbuilders in a fun and challenge way that this reviewer thinks should be experimented with further in future games. It is a shame Doomtown does not produce a better environment to play the creative decks that can be designed.

All in all, Doomtown Reloaded is a good experiment in game design and well worth the look if you are interested in how new elements can be implemented into traditional game structures. Nevertheless, when stacked up against other CCGs on the market today; there simply exists better choices with less of a barrier of entry, stronger player communities and more exciting moments.

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