Multiplayer House Rules and Variants

Most of the games of Doomtown I play outside of tournaments are multiplayer ones, usually with three to five players. After the initial few games of getting the hang of how to play, my friends and I have come up with a few house rules for multiplayer games:

  • The winner of lowball wins back their ante and one ghost rock. Second place wins back their ante. Everything else goes back to the bank. This was suggested by the player who regularly won the gambing phases and was sitting on a massive pile of ghost rock after a couple of turns and dominating the game.

  • The direction of play alternates between clockwise and counter-clockwise each turn. This was another response to the results of the gambling phase - as mentioned above we have one player who pretty much always wins lowball, and we usually sit in the same places round the table so whoever was sitting to his right was acting last most turns.

  • The game is not won by having more control points than all other players, but by having the most victory points. Victory points are scored in the sundown phase, and you get one for each other player whose influence is lower than your control. It’s possible for more than one player to gain victory points in the same turn. The number of victory points required to win is equal to the number of players minus one, so in a four player game you’d need three victory points to win. Ties on victory points are decided by amount of control, then amount of influence, same as a normal game. We played a couple of games with elimination, but felt this was a better answer to avoid eliminated players sitting around waiting and the strange situation where half the deeds in town suddenly disappear.

We’ve yet to try out team games, so nothing to comment on there but we’d like to hear how others have handled those and also any other house rules/alternative ways to play that people have come up with. One thing we were discussing was playing co-operatively against a ‘monster’ deck, or having random event cards, which is something I think @Andy has mentioned over on the Facebook group.

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I’m curious, did the Victory Point idea make games finish faster?

I’m a little surprised by the lowball changes…but I can see why you would make them for a fairly static group.

All decent rule changes and should be a quite fun alternative.

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I see these are really solid changes;
Its actually pretty satisfying to see that if you apply these rules to a 2 player game, then it plays out the same for victory (you need 1 victory point to win, which is the real win condition). While not the goal of a solid multiplayer variant, I think it will make learning the rules and transitioning from mutliplayer → 2 player and vice versa a lot easier for newer players .

I’ve mainly played multiplayer, while trying to get people to learn and play the game – and the lowball swing always felt a little too big, especially when a worse shooting deck would “luck” into a normally good poker hand for lowball giving the better shooters a pretty huge swing when they won lowball. The clockwise /counter clockwise switch a simply makes sense too as, as if if one player is constantly winining lowball it gives a third player a significant advantage
simply by choosing to sit in the correct seat.

It also adds a new variable, which I like, in that there is some more risk management. You may be able to get a victory point by putting out some deeds and/or moving some dudes over to opponents deeds that are safe this turn but you know you won’t be able to defend next turn, and the victory point isn’t enough for a win. It gets you closer to victory, but may leave you exposed .You may do this in the normal game for economy reasons ---- but this gives you more motivation in the victory point.

I’ve only tried one team game, but it kind of felt like a 1v1 game where the 1 doesn’t know everything. Pretty much you relied on coordinating your actions, so either you consulted on everything or you planned poorly.

In my opinion, it’s definitely made the games a lot more fun, and it feels faster as things appear to escalate quicker. Once someone starts gaining points, people will team up against them and everyone starts making more active plays, whereas with the rules as presented in the book, we found people played more defensively. I’ll admit that this change of style may just have come naturally as we got more comfortable with the game as a group - I guess the best way to see if games actually run faster would be for more people to try these rules out!

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Yo. That one guy with the lowball hands here.

I’m not sure if it’s already in rules as written, but we also made it so people involved in a shootout got priority on playing shootout actions/resolutions, then all the non involved parties could play theirs.

I was thinking, if we wanted to do an even quicker variant we could limit the number of passes people are allowed each round. That would discourage the turtle and wait for everyone to be booted out approach.

yeah, also prevents people from sitting around with really low influence because the other player has plenty to stop the win. I’ll be using these changes for sure.

Not sure I’m sold on the limited passes though. I get the reasoning (I’ve won a couple by just passing until they other 2 have committed their dudes and then just won) but I’m not sure how to balance it.

I can see some balance flaws too. For example an already weakened player would suffer even more.

I’d consider limiting passes when you might be pushed for time.