Deck Building: What to do first?

I am slowly helping players get into the mindset of building decks for this game and a lot of them have questions like, “Do I pick my values first or card effects first? How many Cheatin’ Resolutions should I run? etc.”

So I was wondering, how do you all start building decks?

I hate having cheatin’ resolutions get me, so I often focus on a straight based draw structure, though this does limit my ability to deck build quite a bit. My decks get 2 pair more often than full house but through play testing I can tighten it up. It also opens up use of cards that I might not have usually.

I try and run shootout actions that can really penalize a posse for not bringing everyone they can. SiYE and Unprepared and recently I have fallen in love with FotD.

I usually look at deeds next and run everything in the structure plus a few good income generators.

Third I go to dudes, add into the draw structure depending on weather or not its a skill deck.

Finally I go to goods and try and fill out from there.

Anyone else have a recipe they go to when deck building?

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Here’s my idea of the basic principle of deckbuilding in Doomtown:

Choose three values, and take 16 cards of each chosen value (4 per suit). Then optionally drop 4-8 cards and take something that you like off-value. Add Jokers. Choose 4-5 dudes for your starting posse, but make sure that you have enough cash to buy a deed on the first turn, even if you lose lowball. That would be a good start.

A basic shooty deck needs some good shootout actions, some cheatin’ resolutions, and some ways to enforce shootouts (I’d say 4x each, but it may vary), so choose your values accordingly.


I start with a concept:

“I want to run robots all over town”

Then I start throwing in everything that interests me:

“QUATERMAN is obvious, oh, Holy Wheel Gun looks great, so do a ton of other gadgets…and now, more mad scientists!”

Then I start paring back:

“Well, if I want to be able to pull and succeed regularly, I need to keep my values at 5 or above, and I want to shoot on these values…”

Then I test, tweaking as appropriate.

Always keep in mind your starting posse, they handle several things at once:

  1. They can be off value without (initially) affecting your draw structure or pulls.
  2. They tell you how much money and upkeep you’ll be working with to start.
  3. They tell you what you will always be guaranteed to be able to do (Mad Science, jobs, Hexes, etc.).
  4. They tell you how much influence cushion you have against losing the game off the bat.

I would argue that starting posse ends up being one of the most crucial decisions you make in this game.


I will generally look for a card i want to build around, eg a cheating reaction, oh i need bullet reduction to go with that, generally i will go with 1 cheating reaction (4 of) and 2 x bullet reductions (4 of), dependant on those numbers i will then flesh out those numbers with 4 x dudes, 3 goods and 2/3 deeds in each value. I then use normally 5 starting dudes off value that best fit my outfit and influence needs. All the remaining cards are selected to deal with my what i am expecting in the meta.


I think of a high concept then pick 3 values that fit concept, similar to the others. Then I think of who would work best starting posse wise with that concept and fill out the rest with meta choices.

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This might sound like rubbish, but I try and look at everything.
Eventually I get a feel that value X in outfit Y might work because of a couple of specific cards work well together, especially with dude Z.
From there I try and work out if I can make a starting posse that will work in the deck.
And that’s probably where I fall over, when I try and force a starting posse that isn’t strong so that a specific idea can happen, and with a weak starting posse the deck falls over.
So when a deck is bad it’s because of the weak starting posse that I tried to force, and when a deck is good it’s because I could actually get a starting posse that’s strong.
Meaning the starting posse ends up being like 90% of if a deck is good or not for me…


It’s definitely a heavy part of a deck in Doomtown: Reloaded.

Other games you have an equal chance of drawing any given card at the start. Doomtown lets you guarantee you’ll see certain cards in a game…with the trade off that the starting posse gives away a bit of what your strategy is.

Well first of all:

There is no ‘wrong’ way of building a deck. However there are decks that are more and less successful at what they are trying to achieve and ultimately winning. I think this is not only depending on the deckbuilding but also the local meta AND how the deckbuilding integrates the local meta.

So how to do that? Well I start with looking at the cards - preferably having played the game a few times with premade decks/DTDB decks/my friends decks so I know how the game works and some pitfalls etc.

Then I get an idea normally from how 2 cards interacts or dont interact - and from there I try to answer the question: How will this deck win?

If it tries to win by shootouts it needs a draw structure that normally balances cheatin’ vs. good draw hands balanced with own shootout actions and cheatin’ punishment.

If it wins by influence reduction it needs cards that reduce influence and put down control points as well as mobility/bootin’ effects.

If it wins by non-confrontation it needs to be able to put down deeds and have cards that protect your dudes.

These themes then need to be adjusted according to economy, starting posses, cheatin cards, influence needed and deeds needed.

There are some good guides on doing this - especially found at Boardgamegeek.

For me - I am having a hard time playing a deck that is 3X16 or the like. It doesnt fit my playstyle and I think it comes down to what kind of player you are. Board control and creating optimal shootout situations are much more the game I like. Normally I would build a deck that takes advantage of 1 thing (lets say Quaterman) and then tries to build in other advantages. A good horse deck is interesting f.ex. as it can build an ok shootout structure as well as having movement and board control.

I do have a few rules of thumb. I normally go after a build that is containing 12 deeds. If I want to shoot well I pack 16-10-10 with some shootout actions. I try to have at least 2 and aim at having 4 cheatin’ resolutions in the deck. And then I playtest and palytest and playtest. Sometimes with myself :smiley: