Some Basic Deckbuilding Guidelines for Newer Players

Here is a post I made to help a newer player out. Hopefully any newer players who come to the forums can find this information helpful!

Here are couple of things I would recommend to newer players regarding terminology and strategy.

  1. There are generally 3 main “shooter” types of decks:

A) Value loading decks (usually 2 or 3 key values) that focus on getting a Full House (FH) or a Legal 4 of a kind (4oK)
B) Straight Flush Decks that focus on having a specific suit to make straight flushes (usually clubs since they always stay in your deck)
C) Dead Man Hand decks that focus on A,8, and J

The most aggressive “A” style deck is the 16x3 deck where you pick 3 values and stick tightly to those three values. For example, a classic Sloane build is 3,5,7 16x3 build. With 48/52 cards set to those values, usually your “off-value” cards are your starting posse. A deck like this is looking to hit the game hard and fast. The reason for this is because as you play cards out of your deck, you’re actually weakening your draw structure. For reference, and “on-value card” (for example, a 3 value card like Sun In Yer Eyes in a deck focused around 3,5,7) is critical to your draw structure for shooting where as on "off-value card (for example, Jackson’s Strike which is J value in a 3,5,7 deck) actually improves your draw structure when you play it because it is now out of your deck.

Most people usually stay between 16x2 (2 key values you put 16 of each in. For example, if your 2 key values are 3 and 5, you’d have the following in your deck: Four 3 Hearts, Four 3 Clubs, Four 3 Spades, Four 3 Diamonds, Four 5 Hearts, Four 5 Clubs, Four 5 Spades, Four 5 Diamonds), and 16x3 when making an A Style deck.

My personal preference when making a A style deck is pick two values that have decent synergy (for example I like 10’s and 2’s because Unprepared let’s you boot out a dude, and then you can use Make the Smart Choice to get out of the shootout) and pick a 3rd value to sprinkle a little bit in. The “tighter” (more on-value) you make your deck, the faster your deck will need to be. Also consider that if you don’t have a lot of stud on the board, you will end up cheating a lot and certain cheating resolutions will come back to haunt you (Bottom’ Dealing for example)

B Style decks want to overload on a specific suite (Usually it’s clubs) and then get out as many other cards as possible so they con consistently hit a straight flush (SF). These style of decks tend to play a little slower as they need to get a lot of cards out of their deck to become consistent. The most classic SF structure is to put 26 clubs in your deck that are of sequential value so A value through 6 Value structure would have (3,4,4,4,4,4,3) = 26 clubs. The rest of the cards would be dudes (Spades), deeds (Diamonds), and attachments (Hearts). The biggest challenge B style decks have is that because so many cards are dedicated to clubs, they end up being lighter on other card types. This isn’t a bad or good thing, just something to consider.

C Style decks are the most difficult to build and play. A dead man’s hand (DMH) for reference is (A of Spades, A of Clubs, 8 of Spades, 8 of Clubs, J of Diamonds) and is named after the hand Wild Bill Hickok had before he was gunned down. The goal of this deck is to shed as many cards that are off-value as possible as quickly as possible. The reason being that DMH has the highest hand rank in the game and is also legal. Usually these decks look to put out tons of cards quickly, and even ace cards from their own deck as fast as possible to make it so only the cards that are on-value for a DMH’s hand are in the deck. You can think of them as a really special case of the A Style decks mentioned above.

  1. Beyond the shooter styles - The main balancing act you’ll have to consider when making your deck is how fast and hard you can get to what your deck is supposed to do. Here are some key balancing metrics

I) The “tighter your deck” (meaning the less off-value cards in your deck), the more likely you are to lose lowball, which means you’ll effectively have an outfit that produces 2 GR and you’re opponent will effectively have an outfit that produces 4 GR. In addition, the more likely your opponent is to always get the first action in a shootout (which is important when playing cards like Legendary Holster)

II) The longer your deck takes to “clean out” off-value cards, the more likely your opponent is to have an advantage at first. This means that you need to think about how many deeds you can place on the board that your opponent might take over with their dudes. This also means that sometimes it makes more sense to put as much INF in your starting posse as possible so that if you opponent takes over a couple of your deeds, you’ll be okay and be able to play more deeds to spread them out. Keep in mind that once you get a lot of off-value cards out of your deck, you’ll be able to shoot more effectively

III) Town square (the area between streets) is VERY critical to the game. Whomever controls town square controls the means of moving to take over deeds without booting their dudes. If your deck is going to take time to get off-value cards out of your deck, you’ll probably have to give up fighting for town square for a while. Make sure you have some cards that let not worry about this. For example, out of town deeds are fantastic in this regard because it’s costly for your opponent to try and take these over. However, since they don’t provide control points, it also means that even if they take them over, you won’t have to worry about losing the game too quickly.

  1. In terms of suit balancing, here are somethings to consider.

I) In terms of off-value cards and suits, a general good rubric to use is the following (in terms of best to worse)


The reason being that Deeds, once out of your deck and on the board, have almost zero change of making it back into your deck. This is why I’m a strong proponent of playing Out of Town 0 CP deeds as off-values. At the beginning of the game, they can help you win lowball (since they are in your deck, hurting your draw structure) which will improve your economy, but once out, you’ll lose lowball more often BUT they will provide production to make up for it.

Spades (dudes) tend to stay on the board as well, but can also be aced so they don’t always make it back.

Hearts stay on the board as well, but usually aren’t aced and will cycle back in if the dude leaves play.

Clubs will always remain in your deck so be mindful of how many off-value clubs you put in. Usually, people only put the absolute strongest off-value clubs in their decks.

II) In terms of what to put in your deck in terms of suits, it’s going to depend on the type of deck. Spell decks and Gadget decks tend to have A LOT of hearts in them, so they will want to get those out as quickly as possible. SF and DMH decks want to get as much stuff out as quickly as possible.

I will say that I would recommend newer players focus more on dudes and deeds first as they are your main tools to win the game. However, once you get a better feel for how games go, start considering which attachments and actions you can put it to help with situations that are giving you trouble. For example, if a lot of people are using bullet penalties against you, Peacemaker is a strong card to consider for your stud dudes to protect them. If your opponent is sitting back at home and trying to flood you with deeds (landslide), I’d recommend some jobs that can hit them at home (Kidnappin’) for example.

Hope that helps!


Bump for newer players

1 Like

This is a great post, @BeastEG, and I really enjoyed the combating Landslide post as well. If you take requests, I’d love to see a post on “skills 101” - for how to build around spell-casting or gadgets. Even when I played classic, I strayed away from skills, and mostly stuck to shootin’, as I found skill-builds intimidating.

Thanks for this series!


I’ll see if I can get some skilled experts (see what I did there?) to write up some stuff!

Glad you enjoyed the article!


There’s also this video on youtube: Doomtown Reloaded: A Few Basic Methods for Deckbuilding.

Some other of his uploads deal with basic game mechanics, and he also reviewed many (all?) saddle bags and pine boxes.