Phantasm – A Deadlands: Doomtown Classic Artwork Review

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by David Orange

Last week the Gomorra Gazette featured Gadgets and Mad Science. This week, Hucksters get their turn under the lights. Not every card is iconic, but that is the fun of CCGs – discovering new tricks about old cards. Classic Artwork Reviews now revisits a hex from Do Unto Others; Friedrich Haas’ Phantasm, starring the artist as a scared man. Elegant in simplicity, profound in its understated truths, the subject is a well-dressed man sitting in some sort of coach or carriage as the bleak landscape rolls past. He is, however, not alone as two demons keep him company. I just love the translucent gray wash effect that becomes more solid at the head/mouth region. And of course, those fiery red eyes that stare unblinking at the poor dude. The question, of course, is these demons real or figments of a distressed imagination. You know what - it does not matter, not in the least bit. As any practicing huckster will tell you, results matter. The flavor text’s delicious irony, of course, refers to the infamous Texas Rangers (broken) home that spewed out terrors like nobody’s business. Even before the dude arrives at his destination (Gomorra, no doubt), he is literally paralyzed with fear.

Phantasm garnered little or no interest at its release, as Do Unto Others was Deadlands: Doomtown’s swan song. The game immediately went into a decade and a half interregnum of casual play and sporadic legacy tournaments. Despite the low value at three of hearts, the hex does succeed its own pull, albeit failing nearly every other significant hex in the game. Classic Doomtown had a boomtown economy with plenty of out of town strikes able to pay for a steady influx of dudes. Booting one dude only upon entering the game, simply lacked the stopping power to warrant inclusion in most spell decks. That said, a dude literally shivering in fear and unable to muster the courage to venture outside is a perfect marriage of theme and in-game mechanics.

Doomtown: Reloaded’s version of Phantasm shares a name and not much else with its predecessor. Ramon Puasa Jr.’s (aka Monztre) artwork and the card’s flavor text make the head games explicit as the mook fights off imagined demons surrounded by mocking onlookers. Grafting the original abilities onto the Reloaded version would have created an ‘auto-boot Steven Wiles’ and other non-interactive situations. It has both a high value and skill check, making the easier of two abilities, but not the second. The first difference with classic’s Hexes comes from costing one ghost rock to attach, as all of classic’s spells had no attachment costs. Unlike Classic’s version which only booted a dude, DTR’s Phantasm controls movement (which is in itself quite powerful). It also only works at or adjacent to a the Huckster’s location, requiring some level of movement or interaction between the caster and target. Oh, the tricks you can play – move a dude to your home or another deed where they now have to boot to move away. Or you can move them so that they are no longer in the town square and/or adjacent to a juicy target. Overall, this revision of the card suits Reloaded just fine.