The Return of the 108 Dead Man's Handits went far better than anticipated, with the deck once again taking me to the finals of a major tournament.
I'd taken several decks with me to Manchester, and while I thought I'd probably end up playing this one, it was far from certain. Not being in the same place as my card collection certainly helped prevent me from tinkering and deck building up until the night before the tournament. Hanging out with the always fun Doomtown crowd, visiting my family, taking part in the Friday night social Gadget Challenge, running one of Saturday's RPG sessions and playing in the 'warmup' tournament on Saturday afternoon all kept me busy, so by Sunday morning I just wanted some fun games and what better to use than my favourite deck?
Following on from their popular showing in the Servitor Series (#screwDrew!), I'd expected to see the Law Dogs out in force again at Worlds. Law Dogs shooters are good at early pressure and removing bullets in shootouts - two things this deck doesn't like - so I was anticipating facing a couple of such decks early on then floating around the mid tables. I definitely wasn't expecting so many Morgan gadget decks, and it turned out that in a field full of gadget-and-horse-fuelled hand rank chicanery I'd inadvertently made a strong meta choice by bringing a deck that could repeatedly hit the heights of rank 11 without relying on any tricks.
It's been a while since the Dead Man's Handits' last tournament outing, the 2016 European Marshal event, and since then the deck has evolved to fit the changing meta. The general game plan remains the same: Line up looking like a slide deck and build up some deeds for economy. Cycle your DMH values, using Asakichi and Daomei where you can to move dudes around the board and spread your opponent's dudes out. With the aid of Hired Guns get your off-value studs into play, then once your deck is thinned and you have a healthy stud bonus, play aggressively.
So what has changed? With 108 Worldly Desires being justifiably banned from tournament play I reverted back to the original 108 Righteous Bandits home. While it doesn't offer the powerful economic and shootout advantage of Worldly Desires, the original home is still a great fit for the deck and one of my favourite homes overall. Combined with Asakichi and Daomei the extra manoeuvrability really helps you harass your opponent's deeds, escape tricky situations unbooted and bring in surprise reinforcements from across town. Other than that the notable switch is the absence of old stalwart Michael "The Badger" Dodge and his Tlaloc's Furies.
Since the arrival of the Full Moon Brotherhood and its ability to turn off his trait, I found The Badger to be a far less reliable choice for shooter. Jim Hexter was considered as a replacement, but all too often I'd pay my opponent to make Jim a stud and he'd immediately get hit with a Sun in Yer Eyes. Ramiro Mendoza was my next choice. Vulnerable to Shotguns, Soul Blasts and the like, and has to be paid per shootout, but he's a natural 3 stud and cheaper to hire initially compared to the other two. Also, with the shift away from the Worldly Desires mindset of 'spend, spend, spend!' planning around needing to pay him gets a lot easier.
Without The Badger, there's less need for the Furies. When looking for a replacement, the choice was obvious. Pedro is a ridiculously good card. He's a free Sidekick, in a meta where Sidekicks are becoming more important thanks to abundant hand rank manipulation, Blessed attrition and the dirty tricks of Takin' Ya With Me landslide. On top of that, he's a Horse, so helps against Calling the Cavalry and Run 'em Down, and he prevents your dude from being moved by opposing card effects. The -3 value penalty is a non-factor in many matchups. I wouldn't be surprised to see him getting an errata in the future.
Deeds got a slight reshuffle. Due to the lower starting stash of the original home, Companhurst's was dropped and I decided to replace it with another Core Deed, The Gomorra Lot Commission. The Lot Commission is a great card for Dead Man's Hand decks, as it lets you discard your J Diamonds to gain ghost rock. You've got to keep the DMH values moving back into your deck, so it's also useful if you find yourself stuck with an A or 8 deed you can't currently play. Discard it and get some ghost rock - the more you refill your hand, the closer you are to a reshuffle. You might also get some movement out of it, but it's there for the cycling.
Without Worldly Desires and the Furies, the General Store was no longer required. It got swapped out for Gomorra Parish, another deed that helps you cycle cards from your hand in return for ghost rock. As it aces rather than discards, it's great for getting rid of excess Six Shooters and Kidnappin's, thinning the deck for a greater chance at pulling the Dead Man's Hand. The Highbinder Hotel switched out for the Bank of California. The Hotel's Shootout ability wasn't particularly useful to the deck, and the Bank provides a faster return on its cost. More control points don't hurt either. Lula's Exploit was also ditched and replaced with a fourth Pair of Six Shooters.
Finally, a Kidnappin' was exchanged for a Mugging. I needed at least one copy of Mugging to help deal with problem attachments, notably the Legendary Holster. I'd tried playing with two of each job, but ultimately found that in most matchups Kidnappin' is overall more useful.
Something worth noting is that apart from T'ou Chi Chow's ability, the deck has no Shootout actions. This turned out to be to my advantage in one of the matchups against a gadget deck as my opponent held on to useless Slight Modifications for a while before realising that I had nothing for him to cancel :)
Sorry, you've not quite got the full thing yet. Match reports will follow, along with video links once I've got them uploaded.
|May 09, 2018 Redgar|
|May 09, 2018 DoomDog|
|May 09, 2018 Redgar|