There were 24 players at The Queen's Callout Outlaw event at IQ Games in Huddersfield.
The full faction breakdown was as follows:
Desolation Row - 1
Den of Thieves - 6
Morgan Gadgetorium - 1
Morgan Stables - 2
The Sanatorium - 1
Morgan Cattle Company - 4
Law Dogs - 3
The Fourth Ring - 3
Beyond the Veil - 2
108 Worldly Desires - 1
After five rounds of good-natured gunslinging, the top four consisted of Desolation Row, Beyond the Veil, Den of Thieves and Morgan Cattle Company. Morgan Gadgets triumphed over Den hucksters in the final.
While I didn't end up placing near the top, here are what my thoughts were heading into the event and my usual summary of how things went:
Having decided to go in costume as The Ghostly Gun I figured I'd also have a go with a Fourth Ring deck of some description. Those of you who know me will be aware that I often struggle to build Fourth Ring decks that I like the look of, and as I don't find hex control fun to pilot that's arguably their best strategy out of the window to begin with. I'd been indecisive all week leading up to the event, and the day before I decided on a plan. My meta call was that there would be more landslide than usual following its recent successes Stateside, so I'd need something that could handle that while still being able to put up a fight against the usual aggressive shooters. Hex control though less popular is still being played so should be taken into consideration. As for Hot Lead... dropping the value of their dudes might work if they're running the values close to the wire? Okay, this deck idea didn't really have a good plan for dealing with Hot Lead Flyin'...
Everything was pointing towards something that I felt would work better out of Sloane, but I decided to stick with the Fourth Ring, more precisely The Sanatorium. It's my favourite home for the circus freaks, I'm a big fan of the bullet reduction for a free influence ability. I knew the deck had some flaws, particularly in the dudes department, so I wasn't expecting it to set the world alight and I would be happy simply if my plan worked out.
So, this was the plan: Take advantage of Corporeal Twist to build up control points on dudes, and have ways of making sure I could start fights to actually use it. The Sanatorium enabled me to use Forced Quarantine to do this and also get more control on my dudes from the job. To stick with the control on dudes theme and potentially force more shootouts I added Allie in there too. The idea here was that control points on my dudes in combination with those from my opponent's deeds would hopefully overwhelm their influence, and this would also work well against slide.
By running light on deeds with control points I could increase my income against slide without much worry. That should prove useful against most other decks too. Another consideration on the economy front was the zero upkeep starting posse as I doubted I'd be winning much lowball poker with a fairly tight three value structure.
As for the rest of the deck, Shotgun deserved a spot for the synergies, and Puppet is always annoying and easier to pull of with the Sanatorium's ability so they were in. Looking at the values I was running, horses seemed like a good way to go, as they gave me extra mobility through Guide Horse and another way of forcing fights through Run 'em Down. Why take that over the generally more useful Kidnappin? That was another anti-slide consideration - after a Kidnappin' all my dudes would be at home booted. After Run 'em Down there's far more of a chance my dudes will still be able to move around and contest deeds. There was also the control element of surprise movement & booting a dude. Guide Horse being cheap and easy to play and there being no decent alternative goods on Queens sealed the deal there.
Under the Weather is one of those cards I really like for no good reason other than theme, and I went for it here over Pistol Whip because it's a useful control trick that can boot dudes like Jake Smiley, Allie Hensman and all the other low grit bodies with influence, which could trap them out of position or set them up for a Puppeting. It's also easy to cycle out of my hand.
I added a couple of off-value Coachwhips as I was running light on Chaetin' Resolutions, and then filled in the values with dudes. This is where I felt I would have been far better off running the deck out of Sloane, as their dudes at fives, sevens and queens support this strategy far better than what the clowns had to offer - hence the large amount of out of faction dudes.
Here's how the deck ended up looking: The Medical Board of Kill-ifornia
If you're interested in a mostly-accurate account of how I fared then read on...
Game 1 Vs Scott's Den of Thieves
Scott's deck had seen a few shake-ups following the release of Ghost Town, and in Travis' usual place he instead started Ol' Howard and used him to grab The Joker's Smile. Seeing I had a Coachwhip in hand through Rico and a couple of Corporeal Twists hitting play early meant that Scott ended up playing cautiously and became paranoid about cheating, even discarding a Devil's Joker from his shootout hand at one point. As his deck was loosely structured compared to a typical Den shooter and relied on the hand rank manipulation of the home and Devil's Jokers this led to shootouts going in my favour. He booted his remaining dudes over to my deeds to try and slow me down following my huckster threat booting home after a successful Forced Quarantine on Pancho, but then his Kidnappin' attempt to get rid of Clementine backfired as she topdecked a full house for me which won the shootout. With the loss of influence and Scott's dudes booted out, I was able to walk Jake over to retake my General Store and that combined with control points gained earlier from Corporeal Twist was enough for the win.
Game 2 Vs Tom's Law Dogs
Tom was running a Bounty Hunter flavoured aggro deck. Neither of us got off to a quick start, both playing a couple of economy deeds and cycling through what we could. I got a few hexes and horses into play, but Tom's deck picked up quicker and I was suddenly under assault from a Wiles-led Kidnappin' on Valeria and a succession of of Bounty Hunters, though not all were successful thanks to Corporeal Twist. The lack of control points on the board worked in my favour as I had time to recover and got a few more hexes on the Popescus, crucially Puppet. After a bit of manoeuvring I managed to Puppet his Jake Smiley in the town square and got him killed off by using him to start a fight. Puppet won me the game the next turn. Wendy and Lucy were at home, booted, alongside a standing Swinford. The Popescus hit Phil with Run 'em Down, declined the callout then Puppeted Lucy. I'd amassed three control points and that left Tom booted out on two influence.
Game 3 Vs Jay's Den of Hucksters
Jay got two Paralysis Marks out early and took the town square. I'd drawn well in shootouts the previous two games so I thought I'd try rushing his hucksters early on but my deck's lack of a decent starting stud finally worked against it as I only ended up with three pairs. With Valeria and Travis gone and the Popescus quickly falling victim to a Kidnappin', I was treading water. I managed to keep enough ghost rock coming in to recover with a few more dudes and drag things out. Again, the lack of deeds with control points worked in my favour. Jay kept me locked down with Paralysis Marks and a strong posse in the town square protecting his hucksters while I couldn't find any shooters to attempt a challenge.
A last ditch effort at shenanigans saw me move everyone to the Maza Gang Hideout to escape the barrage of hexes. I was thinking of playing Nicodemus Whateley and then blitzing out some control points right before time if I could stall long enough, but Jay had Shadow Walks and there were still ten minutes to go which made the plan risky. Experienced Travis booting into the Hideout made my situation a little more difficult, I hit him with the Sanatorium and then a Forced Quarantine which Jay opposed, using his Shadow Walks to bring in Maria and Jose for backup. Unfortunately I once again didn't get the hand I was looking for and while I was technically still in the game I conceded as at that point I really wasn't coming back.
Game 4 Vs Andrew's MCC Lillybomb
Andrew's deck was an interesting one, and a tough one to play against once it got going. He started Lillian Morgan, loaded her up with Shadow Walk and Fetch, then used her with the Morgan home ability to lay down deeds. I quickly realised that before I could take out Lil I'd have to remove her shootout backup dudes, Jacqueline and Nathan Shane. My hucksters and their Corporeal Twists were too scary a proposition and Andrew retreated from every callout I sent after them. I couldn't find any of my attack actions to lock one of them into a fight, so I decided instead to try and get at them through Lillian when she was booted. Unfortunately like the previous game I didn't have enough stud to get a decent hand and failed to make a dent in the Morgan defences while losing Travis for my troubles.
Plenty of dancing around followed but I couldn't force any fights and as Andrew's economy began to take off more dudes arrived on his side of town. At that point any fight I started would see Lillian Shadow Walk in and call over her private army. I didn't want to face that without some Resolution tricks in my hand and I couldn't find any. We ended up going to tiebreakers and I wasn't going to win unless I succeeded at something drastic. I'd finally got one of my callout actions. I booted Barton to his home, where Lula was hiding. I had one of my hucksters in town loaded with hexes and a horse, and a Run 'em Down in my hand. I could either get Lula at home and force him to move some of his adjacent dudes there to defend her, or she'd move somewhere and he'd have to send Lillian and friends in to save her and I'd hopefully do some damage. The odds of me being able to turn it round weren't looking good though. The latter of the two potential fights occurred, but although I won the shootout round by one rank Andrew had enough dudes to absorb the casualty and retreat with his influence intact leaving me no chance of getting enough control points to be closer to winning than he was at the end of the three moves.
Game 5 Vs Stephen's Gadgetorium Mech Skeletons
Ultimately the same problems that had befallen me in the previous two games occurred again here. I lacked a strong enough stud to back up early aggression, and ended up losing a huckster to a Kidnappin'. Stephen took the town square with MechaByrne and kept churning out Auto Revolvers while I tooled up with horses and hexes at home, looking for a decent stud so I could push the game. Eventually I got Barton and a Shotgun and went for the town square fight. Thanks to the cheatin' ways of Barton and Stephen's This'll Hurt in the Mornin' actually improving my Full House to a Four of a Kind, I managed to win the first round of the shootout. We both stayed for several more rounds which ended in my favour thanks to my having a hand of cheatin' resolutions coupled with some strong legal hands. The shootout finished with a cheating five of a kind that saw me lose Barton to a Rich Man's Guard Dog but wiped out Stephen's remaining dudes in the posse. My dudes went home booted and at that point time was called. With a hand consisting of two Pintos and Allie Hensman, no control points and no unbooted influence, I wasn't able to do anything to claim the win. If we'd had another turn things might have ended differently but ultimately I was too slow to assemble a force to challenge for the town square.
Two wins and three losses saw me finish 13th of 24, which I consider not bad for this hastily assembled pile of jank. While there were several slide decks being played, I managed to avoid meeting any of them which was slightly disappointing as I wanted to see if all my theorycrafting would play out in actual games. The deck held its own against a variety of other types and even when losing gave some close games, so all in all it could have gone worse. As always I had some great games against some great opponents. If you're based in the UK or are ever visiting somewhere nearby when there's a Doomtown event on I strongly recommend you head down to IQ Games