Preppin' For The Marshal Tournament at Gencon '16

Originally published at:
by Joe James

It’s that time of year again. Whether you are deep in preparation for the Marshal tournament at Gencon this year, or simply would like a perspective on the current Doomtown: Reloaded meta, we’ve got you covered.

I have to say “a perspective” on the current meta, because trying to get a read on the meta for any upcoming tournament is like trying to predict the weather. There are certain larger trends that you know are going to happen, but the devil is always in the details. In addition to brewing a deck, refining it, and playtesting against a variety of archetypes; you also need to predict what types of decks you might face. The latter, not unlike weather forecasting, can be an art in and of itself.

Let’s start by taking a look at the top performing decks over the past few months. Unlike last year’s Marshal tournament, this year we have an entire Outlaw series as well as the EU Marshal event to look at for guidance. I’ve always thought it was strange that the Sheriff season came after the Marshal tournament, instead of having the Sheriff season leading up to a final, ultimate title. The Outlaw events were well run and overall as well attended as last years Sheriff events. Combining the Outlaw series with the EU Marshal tournament results gives us a good idea of the overall Doomtown meta.

US Outlaw Results

The list of top performing decks for US Outlaw events includes:

Den of Thieves, Hot Lead Flyin’ (pre-errata)

108 Worldly Abominations

Sanitorium Jia Mein Exp

108 Worldly Hot Lead Flyin’, Straight Flush (pre-errata)

Original Morgan Slide (x2)

4th Ring - Shooty (post errata with paralysis marks)

Den of Thieves (more typical style)

108 Worldly Slide (x2)

Eagle Wardens Blockade

Eagle Wardens Blockade

Den of Thieves (+ Turtle Guard)

Law Dogs Blessed Deputies

108 Worldly Flushes

Morgan Stables Gadgets

This list is surely not all encompassing, but was created compiling everything I could find on the Gomorra Gazette forums, dtdb deck lists, and the Doomtown Facebook group. Incomplete as it may be, it gives us a good peek into the US scene.

First of all, the pre-errata Hot Lead Flyin’ decks no longer merit any sort of serious consideration. At this point it seems safe to assume that HLF got errata’d out of existence. In the opposite vein, though, a winning 4th Ring deck included Paralysis Marks. No other hex-based decks made the top tier of any Outlaw event, so either people no longer played hexes, or the one winner represented an anomaly. I have a strong feeling that people simply did not play hex decks, with the general consensus being that the p-mark errata took hexes out of contention. More on that later.

These events also saw quite a few Slide decks. Not only did slide win 2 of the Outlaw events, but in one of those events Slide took both first and second place. When a slide deck won an early Outlaw event, I think it took a lot of people by surprise. 4th Ring/Paralysis Mark had dominated the meta for quite a while, followed by (however briefly) a HLF dominated meta. I think most folks completely underestimated slide, and that’s exactly the sort of environment where slide dominates. Will we see slide at Gencon? You bet we will, and if you’re not packing answers, then there is a good chance you will regret it. How much slide will we see at the Best Four Days of Doomtown? That is the million dollar question. My personal feeling is that there won’t be a lot, but there will be enough that if you aren’t prepared to counter slide, you won’t be making any final cuts.

Warden Blockade is just about the only other deck with multiple copies making the list, and that is certainly another deck that will definitely hold a pow-wow at Gencon. Warden Blockade, in my opinion, takes its place as a top-tier archetype, with Turtle’s Guard being one of the strongest cards in the game right now (a card that not only showed up with Wardens, but even showed up in a Den of Thieves deck).

The rest of the top decks have quite a healthy diversity. One notices a somewhat high amount of 108 Worldly Desires, but within that outfit we have slide, flushes, and abominations - all very different play styles. One thing that surprised me was only one gadget deck. I think gadget decks are poised to do very well at Gencon. Yagn’s Mechanical Skeleton, alone, is incredibly powerful against a lot of tricks in the current meta. It is hard to judge how prevalent gadgets will be, but I have no doubt that a well made gadget deck deserves a spot among the top tier decks. Mark my words, Gadgets will definitely put in an appearance at Gencon in some form or fashion.

European Marshal Results

Now compare all of that to the EU Marshall event top 8 list:

Morgan Stables Gadgets

108 - Worldly Desires - DMH

EW - Beyond the Veil - Spirit Fortress

Morgan - Original - Gadgets w/ Wagners

EW - Beyond the Veil - Spirit Fortress

Eagle Wardens Blockade

Eagle Wardens Blockade

108 - Worldly Desire

Very close in 9th and 10th:

Abram’s Crusaders, no miracles

Eagle Wardens Straight Flush

Keep in mind this is a single snapshot in time representing only one tournament. Note, however, the lack of diversity amongst top decks in a 48 player event. Maybe those certain archetypes best anticipated the meta, or all the best pilots had similar thoughts going into the tournament. It is likely that it was a combination of the two. The results provide an interesting contrast to the US Outlaw results.

Interestingly enough he European results do not have any slide decks at all, while the US lacked any Spirit Fortress decks. Spirit Fortress not only won the EU Marshal event, but another one made the top 8. Spirit Fortress without a doubt is among the strongest of the top-tier archetypes right now. The biggest question remains is how the EU Marshal results will affect the US Marshal. The European scene has some of the best players in the world, and I predict at least some effect from such a high profile event. I have little doubt there will be Spirit Fortress decks at Gencon, but the question, again, is how prevalent they will be. We only had one Outlaw event that took place after the EU Marshal, so it’s hard to say how it will affect Gencon.

Important notes to take from the EU Marshal event, though:

  1. As the US results showed, Warden Blockade is a very strong archetype and is not to be ignored.

  2. Spirit Fortress, much like slide, thrives on environments that don’t prepare for it. Not only do you have to pack answers in your deck, but more importantly - you need to know how to play against it. If you haven’t already, play at least a few games both as Spirit Fortress and against it.

  3. 108 Worldly Desires is a strong outfit, but the intra-outfit possibilities make it tough to discern the deck’s strategy from just seeing the WD outfit alone.

I asked for David Hogg’s thoughts on the EU Marshal event, and he replied as follows:

"I could be wrong, but I think the two Spirit Fortress decks were the only ones of that type there, and I hadn’t seen anyone playing one in the couple of months leading up to the Marshal. I think they did well because no one expected them/had played against the archetype much.

The overall field had a lot more variety than the top eight suggested. Most other events I’ve attended also had more diversity in top performing deck types. Warden Blockade did well because it’s a strong decktype that hadn’t seen much play in the UK before the Marshal, so again had the surprise factor. Dan had switched to Wardens because he had a crisis of faith with his 108 (which he’d probably have done better with!) and Benni was one of the traveling Danish players. Various flavours of Morgan gadgets and Sloane was my general experience of the UK meta leading up to the event. The relatively low Sloane turnout surprised me (funnily enough, a lot of the northern players favour Sloane and a lot of the southern players favour Morgan).

I’d also say that players should look out for Legendary Holster hit & run, which can run effectively out of a number of different homes for extra unpredictability."

This further solidifies what I originally thought - if you don’t prepare for Spirit Fortress, you will end up crushed, and it looks like that may have indeed happened at the EU Marshal event.

Parting Thoughts

Two strong archetypes that I feel didn’t make much, if any, of an appearance in the EU results were Kung Fu and Hexes. I am very surprised that Kung Fu didn’t make a bigger splash. Kung Fu as an archetype had some strong showings during the Outlaw series Now that With a Grand Entrance’s release and Gencon legality, we have two new cards in the Armadillo and One Fights As Many to bump up it’s power even more. It tends to play somewhat weaker against slide, so perhaps that partially explained the poor showing. Nevertheless, it is a strong archetype that folks should bear in mind when preparing for Gencon.

Hex-based decks, particularly 4th Ring. also failed to make much of splash. I feel that this archetype remains the single most underrated and underestimated one out there right now. It lost it’s seat as the dominant force with the paralysis mark errata, but there are tons of powerful hexes that allow for both strong shootouts and sneaky shenanigans. Control point swings from blood curse, rumors, and puppet can win games seemingly from out of nowhere. It’s very hard to predict if there will be much in the way of hexes at Gencon, but this is another archetype that I believe that would-be Marshals need to test against.

Overall, the sheer variety of top tier decks makes for a very interesting environment. It also makes preparing very difficult, as packing answers for one archetype often means being weaker against another. But that is the hallmark of a healthy meta. I’m super excited for Gencon, and I’ll be playing a whole lot of Doomtown both during the main tournament and at the unofficial side events. I hope to see you guys there!

Remember: It’s not the last Marshal event, by any means - it’s simply the last official AEG-run Marshal event!


Corrections: One of those 108 WD Slide decks should instead be a 108 Original Home slide

Links to decks, for those interested:

Den of Thieves (+turtules guard): Turtle Den - Pinkerton Outlaw Event, Kansas City 2nd Place · DoomtownDB

Abrams Crusaders Blessed - I Promise I Will Never Die - Pinkerton top 4 · DoomtownDB

Wardens Blockade (1st place): EW - Pinkerton Outlaw Event, Kansas City First Place · DoomtownDB

Wardens Blockade (2nd place, different event): Outlaw Series Great Rail Wars Event Warden Blockade - 2nd Pl · DoomtownDB

108 WD Slide: 2016 Knoxville Outlaw Winner - 108 Auto-Pilots · DoomtownDB

4th Ring w pmark: Kill-Trol Clowns (Kill and Control) - 2016 Great Maze Outlaw · DoomtownDB

108 WD Abominations: Hot Abomination Desires: 3rd place Texas Ranger Outlaw Event · DoomtownDB

Sanitorium Jia Mein Exp: Jia Rule, M.D. - Top4 Tyler TX Outlaw Event (4/15/2016) · DoomtownDB

Original Morgan Slide: 2nd place Outlaw Standard Slide Deck · DoomtownDB

Original 108 Slide: 108 Slide: 2nd/7th Place - 2016 Wendigo Championship - Outla · DoomtownDB

Original Morgan Slide (1st place): MCC Landslide Outlaw Winner - Toledo, OH · DoomtownDB

108 WD Flushes: Putting 108 Flushes Together - Chicago Outlaw Winner · DoomtownDB

And perhaps obsolete now, but still worthy of posting - Den of Thieves HLF: Hot Sloane Flyin - First Place Texas Ranger Outlaw Event · DoomtownDB


Thanks so much for this thread and for posting links to specific deck lists. As a new player, I see terms or archetypes talked about, but I’m usually not sure what they mean. It helps me out a lot to see what skilled players are putting together. More please!

Thanks for the article, always good to see these “state of the game” commentaries.

I thought this thread on Facebook was interesting:

I’ll confess I share some of this link’s concerns over 108 Worldly Desires, it was very strong already, but becomes even stronger with Putting the Pieces together and the Gambler’s Gun, massively reducing the downside risk of using both cards. That home, together with Beyond the Veil are two cards that could probably use a slight tone down in power.

108 Worldly helps win shootouts, lowball (first action and economy boost - allows a strong shootout structure but still often winning low all) and mitigates the downside of several hand rank boosters that check for cheating. It is such a versatile and strong home that it does many things well. I think the event list above underlines this and I fear that some recently released/previewed cards will only further stretch their advantage. Maybe restrict it from applying in lowball or where ghost rock is tied?

Beyond the Veil might be a little more balanced if it just helped shamans gain influence?


For the curious the European Marshal decklists (and my writeup) can be found in this thread. Decklists are at the top of the comments.


I am officially WD hater, but I am against introducing any additional errata. I am sure that some of the issues with this home will be addressed in unofficial expansions.

“…unofficial expansions…” Care to elaborate?

Are you a member of fb group?
Basically company that owns rights to dtr said they are not interested in continuing the game, they “allowed” unofficial fan works as long as people “releasing” it would keep it under the radar. By releasing it I mean pdf that you can print for your own use. One project was created that is already orginised and there are quite a few people involved who worked on development of official (aeg) product.

Nope. I’m one of those weird confusing holdouts you hear about (who aren’t on facebook). Oh, ok. Thanks.

I can definitely see the power and potential problems with 108 WD, but I don’t think it’s any more powerful by comparison than 4th Ring was back in the day. One thing I definitely agree on, though: it should NOT WORK WHEN TIED! The wording says lowest, and lowest means lowest!

One thing to note, though, is that 108 WD and Den of Thieves are the only 2 outfits in the game that aren’t guaranteed to be usable every turn. Den requires a grifter, but at least it’s cost reducing ability is always on. 108 WD only works if you have equal or lower GR. As many of you know, I’ve played the hell out of PTPT since it came out, and when playing 108 WD it becomes a major problem when I get more ghost rock than the opponent. A couple of games against Swider it became so bad that one game I was constantly fighting him with 2 or 3 booted PTPT’s, and another game I simply chose to discard 3 of my PTPTs during the upkeep phase because I was tired of them booting (I would also like to note that both games I had Henry Moran out, and it still didn’t help). It’s a very tricky game of balancing your economy, and one slip up and you’re in a bad place that can be difficult to come back from.

You have 2 options to completely deny your opponents 108 WD home: let them have their income and keep your spending even with your income. The first option isn’t great, since income denial is a big part of how Doomtown games can be won, but the 2nd part is totally doable by anyone.

My biggest concern with 108 WD is that it basically becomes the ONLY option if you want to play cards like PTPT or the Gamblers Gun. We need some additional ways for the other outfits (not available to 108 WD, or at least not ideal for them) to help themselves not cheat in lowball, because until then it’ll be 108 WD and no other faction will come close for people wanting to play those cards.

We actually played a lot of games recently (me vs Prodigy’s WD) and this outfit can be played around a bit. The thing is you have to put yourself at eco disadvantage deribelatelly, but it works if you know your deck really well and you are very patient.
Also upkeep=0 is essential.
For obvious reasons this strategy doesn’t work against slide.