An updated version of my 108 Dead Man's Hand deck that went undefeated at a 9-player OP#5 event. Prepare yourself for a lot of text, this has got quite lengthy...
So what changed between now and last year's outing in Huddersfield, and why?
I dropped El Grajo from the deck and added Forster Cooke to my starting lineup. Cooke wasn't available to me before and his trait fit right into my 'stack all the bullet buffs' strategy. Extra influence is nice and he cost 1 more so my home ability fired more often eary on.
The Flying Popescus out for another Abuelita Espinoza - for the same cost, a one turn boost of 3 influence and potential lowered upkeep costs beats the Popescu & Fury/La Quema combo for when all your studs are dead trick
More Hired Guns in place of Lady Luck and the other Buried Treasure. Wasn't using Buried Treasure, and Hired Guns is just so very, very useful for fishing off-value dudes from the discard pile so you can get them into play or for getting Daomei Wang or Wiles when you need them.
1x Pony Express out for The Joker's Smile - No more duplicate deeds and the ability to keep getting your jokers back is great for a DMH deck. Also a cheap place for Forster Cooke to set up shop and start dispensing bullets.
Gomorra Parish out for Charlie's Place - Wasn't using the Parish enough, Charlie's Place is another saloon for Forster and has better throughput on the ghost rock front. More bullets aren't bad either.
Jack of Diamonds - I went for one of each deed rather than 2 each of Undertaker and Jackson's Strike, so I've more potential options for those cases when you just need one more control point to win.
3x La Quema out for Pair of Six-Shooters. While I like La Quema as a Badger delivery system with the cherry on top of more bullets when he's got a Fury, its cost meant I'd often have one clogging up my hand. The Six-Shooters are easier to play, shut off opposing melee weapons and are an on-the board Cheatin' Resolution that can make people think twice about cheatin' and may just turn a full house into a DMH.
The general strategy is the same - bully with The Badger and his rockin' shootout ability, build up a ton of bullet boosts and a horde of dudes and then set out to take control of the town. Try and get into fights where you have several dudes for maximum stud & some draw to give you a good chance of a DMH or 5 or 4-of-a-kind.
Let's see how much I can remember of today's games:
Game 1 vs Jay's Den of Thieves Hucksters
I'd been very close to building a Sloane huckster deck myself for this event, so when Jay revealed his starting posse and I saw Maria and Antheia, my danger sense began tingling. An early Paralysis Mark for Maria really set the alarm bells ringing - I thought if I couldn't end the game quickly it'd become very difficult for me to do anything against what looked like a shooty control deck with potential for massive hand rank manipulation. Thankfully my opening hand gave me Hamshanks and a Kidnappin'. The big red ogre cost me most of my stash, but I felt it was worth it for a Paralysis Mark magnet. My last ghost rock got me The Joker's Smile, and Forster Cooke moved behind the bar to boost my dudes' bullets.
Most of Jay's posse had moved to the town square so "The Badger" and Xiaodan Li launched a kidnap attempt on Antheia at his home which drew back some of his dudes from the town square. I was victorious in the the shootout and kept up the pressure in future turns, also managing to take out Maria. My only problem was that I couldn't draw a deed to finish the game. Plenty of movement shenanigans followed and eventually I managed to get hold of some control points for the win.
Game 2 vs Ste's Law Dogs
Ste started a 6-influence posse, so I was beginning to suspect some kind of Dogslide with Bounty Hunters to pick dudes off. A Railroad Station, Shane & Graves Security and Carter's Bounties quickly hit his side of the table, so I moved some dudes over to take control of them and Ste responded. Plenty of chess ensued, and a bounty hunting Gunslinger spectacularly failed to claim Randall's head with Ste drawing a king-high to my pair of aces.
This bad luck in shootouts continued as Philip Swinford fell to the Badger's Fury and Bai Yang Chen's kidnappin attempt on Jake Smiley also took out Andrew Burton. Ste was running short on dudes, while I was able to play a constant stream of them and ended up taking control of his deeds, but again I couldn't draw one of my own to finish the game!
Next turn came around and I baited Ste into making a mistake and booting his Wendy in a shootout. I had the mobility advantage to keep control of his deeds and finally got one of my own on the table for the win.
Game 3 vs Cam's Den of Thieves
I remember this game mostly as a series of bloody town square shootouts in which Cam kept on drawing cheatin' 5-of-a-Kinds with Barton Everest to match my Dead Man's Hands, and at the key points I had This'll Hurt in the Mornin' available to save my bacon. The Undertaker was busy indeed that day. I'd played it earlier as after an initial round of violent shotouts Cam was down to 2 influence, and I needed some control point pressure, but I didn't have another deed in my next hand so he got the time to get back into the game. I'd managed to take out Allie in one of those early shootout so the pressure was off me slightly.
At the point where Cam had finally won back control of the town square Daomei Wang and his movement tricks saved the day by letting me move Hamshanks to Cam's Dead Dog Tavern before going into the town square and drawing spectacularly well in the shootout to single-handedly finish the game in favour of the 108 (but it was very close!).
Game 4 vs James's Oddities DMH
I wasn't expecting to face another Dead Man's Hand deck, and I also wasn't expecting a turn one Ivor Hawley. James was running a deck that could function while cash-light and while I won initial control of the town square by shooting the lone Pagliaccio James had sent out, when the freaks came out in force and drew a Dead Man's Hand to my 4-of-a-kind I had to beat a hasty retreat.
I actually drew deeds early on this game, so I played a Circle M Ranch and a General Store to help me rearm for another offensive. James got out Bobo who with a Quickdraw Handgun and Ivor in play was a nasty 5-stud. In order to keep the circus in funds, James was relying on Cooke's Nightcap and Pat's Perch. I didn't have the strength to take him on in the town square but with the help of Daomei Wang and Asakichi Cooke I was able to keep moving around to try and get his dudes separated and I managed to kill off a couple of them, including Bobo who was discarded in a tie to save Valeria from Forster Cooke's risky lone kidnappin' attempt.
As we were approaching time, I got lucky enough to draw into Steven Wiles and a Tlaloc's Furies. James had control of my General Store through Valeria but decided to boot her to invent a Diable en Boite - one of those had earlier proven useful in sending my Wiles home after The Brute took the casualties for a shootout round). I booted Randall over to take back my store, played Wiles and gave him the Fury. He went and fatally evicted Dulf Zug from my Circle M Ranch and then time was called. He didn't have enough unbooted dudes to contest my control points and if he'd moved Ivor from Cooke's Nightcap that would have only made things worse, so I ended up closest to winning and thus took the victory.
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