Key Concepts: Influence
Influence is one of the most important considerations when playing Doomtown: Reloaded. Where your influential dudes go and what they do dictates strategy and game flow for both you and your opponent. Why is influence so crucial?
"Doomtown is a game for two or more players, each vying for control of the town. You take
control of the town and win the game if, at the beginning of any Sundown phase, you have
more control points than each other player has influence points."
This is pretty much the first thing in the Doomtown: Reloaded rulebook, and important to remember when building your deck and planning your strategy. You win the game by having more control points than your opponent does influence points. If you don't have much influence in play when Sundown comes around, you're in trouble. So, how do you get influence to avoid losing?
Influence comes from two main sources: Dudes and Attires. Dudes are the cards in your deck that represent the characters working for your outfit. Many dudes, though not all, have some fame or standing amongst the townsfolk of the Weird West. This is represented by their influence rating, as shown in the little red poker chip on the upper left portion of their card. A dude’s influence corresponds to their importance around town and beyond, and thus folks tend to listen to them when they speak or give orders. Attire is a keyword present on some Goods found in Faith and Fear and later expansions that dudes can attach to buff their influence. They can be very useful for dudes that have no influence of their own. Influence gained from an Attire sometimes only applies during certain phases of the game or under certain conditions - but they can definitely help sway the townsfolk's' minds. Even a washed-up drunk looks respectable in his Sunday Best and sporting a Fancy New Hat. Attires provide cheap influence compared to dudes, but not even the shiniest pair of boots can walk places on its own. You should not overly rely on attires for influence as they have no use unless someone actually wears them.
Influence doesn't just stop you losing. Sending out your influential dudes to control opposing deeds secures you that deed's control points while letting you benefit from its abilities and traits, and also denies that deed's production to your opponent. Your opponent most likely will try to do the same thing to you, so again your dudes with influence come in to play to defend your deeds from hostile takeovers. While having control points is what wins you the game, possessing dudes with influence with the mobility to move around town gives you a better chance of securing the deeds and their control points.
To avoid early game losses, you'll want to make sure you have a decent amount of influence at the start of the game. When selecting dudes for your starting posse during pre-game setup, ideally select a minimum of four influence points spread across as many dudes as possible. While there are dudes with three to five influence points, they are often expensive to hire. These dudes will have a high upkeep cost, hampering your economy every turn, so steer clear of starting them unless your plan requires their immediate presence. Relying on one dude for most of your influence will also limit your ability to move around and control locations - a dude can only occupy one location at a time. That dude also presents a big target for your opponent’s Kidnappin’ or worse! You want to make sure that some of the other dudes in your deck have influence too, or you may find that you struggle to advance your position or rebuild following losses.
If you only have the base set, Clementine Lepp is an ideal starting posse member with an affordable three cost, zero upkeep, and provides a point of influence. This influence increases to two while at a Saloon deed you own. As a drifter she can start for any outfit. Other good starting posse members from the base set include Philip Swinford, Irving Patterson, Lawrence Blackwood, and Arnold McCadish. If you've got a few more expansions, keep an eye out for dudes with three or four cost with an influence point and no upkeep - they're all good potential starting posse members. Of particular note, Jake Smiley from the Election Day Slaughter saddlebag is a cheap dude whose two influence during the Sundown phase effectively increases your influence total.
Here is a complete list of dudes by outfit that have at least 1 Influence and 0 upkeep. Many of these dudes are good options for your starting posses.
Getting influence sounds easy enough then, right? You could build a deck that aims to hire influential dudes who sit at home buying attires. Why you'd have so much influence you'd never lose. Great! Well, you could do that, but not losing isn't the same as winning. You might be able to stall the game to a stalemate, but that doesn’t necessarily make for a fun experience for either player. In a competitive game, you'd likely lose as your opponent would simply take control of any deeds you play and launch attacks on your dudes. In my opinion, Doomtown: Reloaded shines when both players engage one another, making moves and counter-moves, sometimes resulting in shootouts for control over important locations. There's a lot of depth to the strategy involved in both timing when you make plays and which dudes you use to enact them. The location and game state of both your influential dudes and your opponent's plays a large part in the decision making process, and going into the detailed explanation required is beyond the scope of this article. Instead, I'll leave you with a few thoughts for further consideration:
Remember that if you lose enough of your influence, you lose the game. Do you really need to accept that call out, defend against that Job, or send everyone in to your posse?
Is it a good idea to play a deed with a control point right now?
Are you sure this is the right time to make a play that boots your dude?