Hello! Today, we will look beyond the two extremes of DTR (16x3 and Passive Landslide), and look at a deck that sits between them. This will be a more granular discussion than the previous two entries, but many of the concepts will still apply. The main reason why I choose this deck is I think it effectively highlights some of the key considerations any newer player should consider when making a DTR deck. With that said, let’s introduce Legendary Holster Hit and Run!
What is Legendary Holster Hit & Run?
Put simply, it is a deck type that bullies people using Legendary Holster (“LH”). The main goal is to use LH’s powerful shootout ability to make any deck think twice about getting into a fight, and using the “respect” an opposing player must give you to rack up control points and/or hit critical dudes with influence. The key here though, is that unlike other shooter decks, the deck also has a couple of “eject” options that uses LH to snipe a key dude, and then retreat safely in case going to resolution isn’t a smart idea (for example, against a 16x3 deck).
How does a LH Hit & Run deck win?
In order to discuss this effectively, we’ll need to introduce the deck and its components. This will be pretty in-depth to really highlight how the pieces of the machine are working together. With that, let’s take a copy from one of the original creators of the deck, @TomTheOlympian .
So first, off, let’s talk about Legendary Holster a bit because it’s the driving force of the deck. It’s a 4 ghost rock Unique weapon (a rarity) that can ace ANY opposing dude in the shootout! As you may have guessed, this is a beastly action! However, it comes with a pull requirement that must be meet. For those who may not know, when you make a pull, it means revealing the top card of your deck and usually measuring the rank of the revealed card (A,2,3,...,Q,K) to against the requirements of the card. Pulls are (usually) discarded after being revealed. This will be covered further once we start getting to more skill based / Kung Fu based decks, but for now, just know that part of the action requires revealing the top card of your deck. The action itself is “If the pull is lower than this dude's bullets, ace one dude in the opposing posse.” What this means that if your pull (the card you revealed from the top of your deck.) is lower than the bullet rating of the dude who has the Legendary Holster attached, you get to ace ANY dude in the opposing posse. Think about how powerful that is for a split second. If your opponent’s best shooter, or dude with a very valuable ability, or even a big influence stick is in the shootout, you can straight up ace them!.
As such, usually LH decks will try to attach LH to a dude with 3 bullets (as this is the highest end of the printed bullet spectrum with rare exceptions like Sloane) in order to maximize the chances of the pull succeeding. With LH’s +2 bullets, this means that a 3 bullet dude would have a total of 5 bullets. This means a pull of A,2,3, or 4 will meet the requirements of LH. In this copy of the deck, the dude Jim Hexter will be the usual target of the LH as he has 3 bullets. If you look at the deck, you’ll see the vast majority of values in the deck are clustered around the A-4 ranged, per the requirements of LH. A natural question to ask though is with only two copies of LH in the deck, how often will the pilot actually see it and be able to play it?
Now, let’s start getting into some of the key mechanics that give this deck it’s strength. First, let’s look at the starting posse. Randall is a very powerful starter for 108, as he gives 2 influence for only 4 ghost rock and 0 upkeep, which is a bargain. However, his trait is also massive because increasing your hand size by 1 (when meeting the conditions) increases the chances you’ll see LH. What’s also important to remember is with 2 influence from Randall, you can play deeds with less fear that your opponent taking them over will put you in a bad spot. Asakichi Cooke is also really strong, because she can help you not only move your dude to any location on the board, but discarding a card means you’ll draw more cards later, which can help you see LH even faster. At 3 ghost rock with no upkeep for 1 influence, she’s great as well. Jake Smilely provides 2 influence at Sundown (when victory is checked) which allows you to play even more deeds (which will become important in a bit). This allows the pilot to sit comfortably with a healthy amount of starting influence. To round out the starting posse, you have Xiaodan Li who provides a cheap spud to do legwork (or soak up some casualties) and Benjamin Washington, who can help you cycle some cards (to get to your LH faster) while reducing Jim Hexter’s upkeep for the first turn. This is a very well rounded starting posse with tons of influence spread out around dudes, that also helps see LH faster, and has a strong shooter in Jim Hexter should you use his ability to make him a stud.
However, there are even more redundancies in the deck to make sure the pilot sees LH faster. Junior (who is a Fourth Ring dude but being played out of faction here) is really key. With Junior’s 0 influence, there is really no penalty for using him. Junior, when played during the Noon phase, allows for the pilot to search for a Mystical goods (which LH is) and attach it to your dude who is at Junior’s location. Thus, the pilot can use Junior to dig for the LH to get it out! However, this is a 9 ghost rock play, so it’s usually more of a mid-game play in case the pilot doesn’t see LH early. In addition, this version of the deck is running Hired Guns x2. This lets the pilot dig out any dude in their discard pile and put them into their hand for 1 ghost rock. Combined with Junior, you can make the 10 ghost rock play to get LH out in a pinch. The overall takeaway though is that there are a lot of built in mechanics to see LH consistently between the starting posse dudes and some of the specific cards in the deck.
Alright, so we’ve talked about LH, but how about the Hit & Run part?! Well, as was mentioned before, actions that get your dude safely out of a shootout are used in case going to resolution is not a wise option. There are two key cards that fill this role in Make The Smart Choice and The Highbinder Hotel. Make the Smart choice is a 2 of clubs (so it fits nicely with LH) and has an action that can give a dude a bullet penalty based on their influence. In addition, the selected dude’s controller can move that dude home booted. One first reading, this card may seem lackluster as a shootout option, but the key here is that you can use the card on your own dude, and send them home booted. What this means is that if your LH holder goes into a shootout alone, uses LH to ace an opposing dude, and then uses Make the Smart Choice to go home booted, what you’ve effectively accomplished is acing an opposing dude at minimal risk to yourself as you didn’t have to go to resolution and comparing hand ranks. Remember, that when one posse is emptied out by a shootout action, the shootout immediately ends! Another card that helps with this consistency is The Highbinder Hotel (also effective for LH as an A of Diamonds) which is just a straight, send your dude home booted. Between these two cards (4 copies in total), the pilot can hopefully have enough consistency to retreat from shootouts when necessary after acing a dude.
One of the keys to this deck, however, is winning lowball consistently. As you can guess, if you don’t have the first action during a shootout, your opponent can use certain actions like Unprepared to turn off LH, or even bullet penalties to decrease the chances of the pull meeting the requirements. In order to maximize the chances of winning lowball, the deck tends to run a little looser, with its 14x13x10 structure. However, keep in mind that many of the starting posse dudes are on value, so the effective structure at the start is 12x12x8, which is really loose even compared against rather substantially modified 16x3 decks that we first looked at! This gives the deck a good chance of winning lowball against other shooter decks, while still giving it a reasonable chance of shooting, assuming it can bring a high stud value into the shootout.
So let’s take a brief moment to compile a couple of these working pieces together. The deck has a strong shootout action which comes from an attachment that it has multiple ways to either directly get, or facilitate seeing through increasing hand size or discarding unwanted cards. It has a great starting posse lineup in regards to influence and upkeep. Finally, the deck has some retreat options to keep it from having to compare hand ranks, in order to minimize risks.
What are the strengths of LH hit and run?
One of the subtle keys to this deck is that it means shooting against the LH deck usually will result in one of your dudes getting aced per turn, which is pretty brutal. Not many deck can survive getting a dude aced per turn, so it really starts to force you to find a way to either play around it OR get that LH off the board. This means that if a deck doesn’t pack answers, it can find itself in a really tough spot. Naturally, the more disposable dudes a deck has to “tank” the LH, the better, but decks can usually only afford to put in so many dudes.
In addition, many strong cards are capable of being put into the deck. Brutal cheating resolutions like Coachwhip and Bottom Dealin’ can decimate an opposing deck. Sun in Yer Eyes can also level the playing field against tighter draw structures as you take away the opposing deck’s big studs. The deck can also run Allie Hensman (Basic) to help put in a control point generation machine, who can also use the retreat cards to get out of harm's way (in addition to the outfit ability). The deck can also run strong dudes like Tommy Harden and Ramiro Mendoza to help with having more stud. The deeds also help the deck out. We covered The Highbinder Hotel and how it helps the deck with retreat consistency, but Mausoleum can also build control points as opposing dudes are aced by LH.
The final strength of the deck is really its flexibility. With lots of dudes with influence and no upkeep, the deck can play a decent amount of dudes before running the risk of being overrun by control points. It has strong cards to rely upon with Shotgun, and can use Hawley’s Rose to help turn it’s 0 influence dudes into production blockers against landslide. In addition, the deck is only running 4 copies of cards that can cause the LH to not make the pull requirement. Kidnappin’ x3 and Hiram. Kidnappin’ helps the deck strategically remove certain dudes (it also can act as a forcing mechanism for conflict to use LH), and Hiram gives the deck an option to either start (or dig for a dude with Hired Guns) to apply immense pressure to a landslide deck. In addition, since he is a 3 ghost rock cost dude with 0 upkeep and 1 influence, he can easily replace any dude in the starting posse without causing too many problems. The deck has solid answers for a wide-range of opposing deck types which make it a strong deck all around.
What are the weaknesses of LH Hit & Run?
The biggest strength of the deck, LH, is also its biggest weakness. If the deck does not see LH, or has it removed consistently, the deck can have difficulty applying pressure. While cards like Unprepared have their effectiveness reduced if you don’t win lowball, they can make it difficult for a LH deck to be effective on those occasions where they just can’t win lowball consistently. Mugging presents a REALLY big threat to LH because if LH is aced, that can permanently disable the deck. Because Mugging also boots attached cards before the shootout starts, it forces a LH deck to adapt accordingly. In addition, after LH has been used (let’s say it was used to ace a spud), the LH deck is open to retaliation. A common tactic is to sacrifice a dude to LH, and then launch a surprise Mugging or Kidnappin’ to get the LH off the board, which can put the LH deck in a bind. One very common tactic is launch a job and if the LH deck only opposes with one dude, you can use a card like Pinto to move your dude in and then use Pistol Whip to clear out the opposing dude to win the job.
Another weaknesses can come from a deck that swarms dudes onto the board. If a deck has enough dudes to take contest all the deeds on the board, a LH Hit and Run deck can be left with few options as it can ace one dude to then have to somehow deal with all the remaining dudes on the board contesting all the deeds in play. After all, if a LH deck wants to make a 10 ghost rock play, it will need to play at least some deeds to build up the ghost rock
What should I learn playing LH Hit & Run and/or playing against LH Hit & Run?
Playing LH Hit and Run should help give a player an understanding of how you start to build and play decks that try to sit between the two extremes. In particular, it’s trying to leverage specific cards and its structure to have favorable match-ups. Against more stacked decks, a LH Hit and Run deck should win lowball very consistently, which will allow it to leverage LH to its maximum effectiveness. While the deck doesn’t have the strongest shooting structure, it has enough fire power and bullet penalties to be able to go toe-to-toe with most decks. Against really loose decks (landslide in particular) the deck is packing strong counter cards in Allie Hensman (Basic) and Hiram to apply extensive pressure. In addition, it has Hawley’s Rose to help make more 0 influence control point takers. The biggest thing to learn is really learning how to maximize the tools at your control to match up against other decks. In addition, understanding how to time the use of these cards is really important. While 9-10 ghost rock may seem insane to commit to a Hired Guns + Junior + LH play, it can give the LH deck a super dominant position to take over the game and win.
Playing against LH Hit and Run can teach a lot about the interactions between deck structure and card synergy. If you’re running a stacked deck, you’ll see how much of a disadvantage forfeiting lowball can be, as it will maximize the impact of LH against you. If you’re playing Landslide, you’ll have to find way to deal with all the different tools that LH Hit and Run can throw at you between Hiram, Hawley’s Rose, and 108’s generally strong dudes against landslide. It also can teach a player the importance of building in answers to handle specific decks. For example, what do you do if a deck has options to make you pay for trying to go to resolution? My answer is usually jobs put think about what you would do!
Conclusions And Next Steps:
Alright, I know this was a bit more granular than the previous write-ups, but I think LH Hit and Run provides a (relatively) easy to understand example of a deck that tries to leverage many aspects of DTR to make a fully functioning deck at multiple levels, whether in card abilities working well together or how the draw structure works against certain decks without hampering itself against others.
As an important note, I don’t want to imply that making a strong deck in DTR is a straightforward or easy task. I would argue deckbuilding in DTR is really hard because of the multiple levels of complexity and things you need to manage. Many players will take months (or years) perfecting a deck. However, when you hit that real sweet spot where a deck just works, it can be an amazing thing. My goal here was more to highlight the multiple levels that deck building works at and some of the things to really start thinking about.
Next time, we’ll start talking about the fundamentals of skill-based decks and how to start thinking about deck building for it. In particular, we'll focus on spells first.
Cheers and I hope that helps!