Decimating with 8s & Straights - Worlds '18 - Top 4

published May 09, 2018 | | |
Card draw simulator
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Derived from
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Prodigy 387

This was my experimental deck I took to Manchester for Worlds '18, going 2nd in swiss and 3rd overall. This performed much better than I thought it would, so while I was planning to bring my tried and true "serious" Blessed deck, I'm very glad I said "screw that, let's go with something completely different and new"! Plus, I prefer to play the underdog decks/archetypes (read: blessed a year ago), and I've heard multiple people describe Gadgetorium as the "worst home in the game". I'm not sure it's the worst, but compared to Regulators... yeah maybe.

This is part flyin zombie (but with Decimator Array instead of zombies), and a touch of slide. In short, this deck gets a giant pile of ghost rock as William Specks boots and unboots many times per turn (with Disgenuine Currency Press, decimator, Morgan Gadgetorium, then finally using his ability), and cashes it in for seemingly infinite rank 10's and 11's using the Force Field + Decimator Array combo.


I had 2 opponents who needed a judge called over to verify my shenanigans, so I will explain the combo here briefly: Hands are revealed, typically I have one card short of a straight (rank 1) - and let's say the opponent has 4oaK (rank 8). I use 6 GR for force field to bump up +6 hand ranks. I then use decimator to change my heart to fill in the missing value, making my hand into a straight (rank 5). The hand rank increases from force field follow my hand throughout the resolution phase (as all hand rank raises or decreases do), so my new hand rank is rank 5+6=11. Opponent takes 3 casualties. If the opponent had rank 7, I'd spend one less GR to go to rank 10, ideally killing off 2 dudes per round. If they get a cheatin rank 10, then I just kill 1 dude per turn.

-end break-

This absolutely feels like some cheating loophole when you're on the receiving end, and I was asked if I felt decimator array was worthy of errata or banning, but at this point I don't think so. In order to abuse this combo, you need a large pile of ghost rock, and that's not always an easy task. That's why there are so many deeds in this deck, primary, and now that I've played this deck in a competitive environment, I would take out some CP deeds and add either more Disgenuine Currency Press (risky) or simply more copies of the already existing out of town deeds.

This deck never played out like slide, so I would not miss a few CPs. Instead, this deck builds up some deeds, and gets to a critical mass of money and gadgets, where unless they can shut down multiple force fields and decimators, then it is unbeatable in shootouts. At that point we get into a big fight (or a couple of fights), force the opponent home, and take over the town.

Draw Structure:

This is the weirdest draw structure I've ever used in a deck. Mainly straights (read: NOT straight flushes - I got one all day, with the help of decimator) and 8's as backup. The structure is optimized to always have an option to bump up your rank with decimator. Rank 1 into a straight or flush, rank 2 into 3 of a kind (not ideal, but still works), or rank 3 into a full house (this is my favorite, as it requires the least amount of GR expenditure on force field). Basically, as long as your final hand rank is 3 or more ranks above your initial hand rank, you can reliably kill up to 2 dudes per round. If they reveal a rank 9 or higher, you just want to get 1 rank above them in most situations.

This structure is pretty awful for general shootouts (sometimes can get 4 or 5 of a kind with 8's, but late game many of your 8's are on the table, so that's out), but that also means its better for lowball. And really I don't care about anything other than being able to bump it up 2-4 ranks with decimator. This weird structure accomplishes that very very well.

Worlds '18 Swiss Rounds

In fact, that general game plan is exactly how all 5 of my swiss rounds went. I would like to give my opponents credit for the various nuanced plays we had in our swiss rounds, as there were many difficult decisions made on both sides, but in the end they all ended the same way, more or less (and my jet lagged memory is crap, apparently):

*I put out 2-5 CPs worth of deeds + out of towns, opponent put out some deeds as well

*I sat back and built up a ton of GR and gadgets, more than one game sitting on 20+ GR

*I come out swinging, and often after just one or two rounds, the opponent has to retreat home, and I walk into town to seal the game after they are booted at home

Even a very diligent opponent, sitting on every deed possible, can't keep up with the out of town deeds and currency presses, so unless there are lots of early jobs to kill off my dudes, the GR pile is inevitable (unless I draw like total crap and miss pulls - more on that happening, later...)

In the 5 rounds I played:

Round 1 Stephen with Den of Theives hucksters win, 1-0

Round 2 Karl with Gadgetorium (with Hellstromme, I think?) - very surprised to see another gadgetorium. Loss at time, after tie breakers (we both had 15 total CP + influence) 1-1

Round 3 Peter with original Law Dogs win, 2-1

Round 4 Andy with Gadgetorium (another one, unexpected!) win 3-1

Round 5 David with Regulators, Edinburgh opponent #2 for the day! win 4-1

My top 8 matches were the 2 oddball games where things did not play out as the previous 5 games had:

Top 8 vs Andrew 'Warden' (World Champ of classic Doomtown, 1999) with Den of Thieves

This was just pure madness. Immediately day 1, he runs kidnappin with 2-3 dudes on Specks. I let it through. His next play after mine: kidnappin #2 with his remaining dudes on Jen. I let it through (still no gadgets on the board, I can't fight). That is a very rough start and things aren't looking good.

By day 2, I manage to get a force field and decimator array on my remaining mad scientest, Diego, along with a #doomsday on my home. Only a couple of actions in, Diego gets hit with kidnappin #3!!! (Andrew later said he had 3 kidnappins in his opening hand). This I had to defend, and having 6 GR meant I could likely win or tie at least one round before Diego bit the dust. Diego ends up defending alone, and using my decimator + force field I win the first round inflicting 1 casualty. Round 2, my only decimator is booted so Andrew is feeling better. However, I end up using the Doomsday to grab another Decimator, and win another round, discarding another of his dudes. Round 3 we end up getting tied hand ranks with a bump or two from forcefield, and Diego claims his 3rd kill - not bad for a lonely mad scientist.

At this point it is looking very bad for me as I only have Irving and Travis, and he has all his dudes except one (Makaio) booted at home with only a GR or two in the bank. I was able to rake in 9 GR of bounty from Diegos 3 kills, so I'm sitting on 8 or 9 GR in the bank, after having spent some in the fight. I decided I would definitely lose if this went into another day, so I plopped down both the deeds in my hand, making 4 CP on my side, and 1 CP deed on his side. He has 3 total influence, I have 2 = check to him. If he has no dudes in hand, I have the win, since if he goes to my deed with Makaio I can simply go to his deed and seal the win.

He does have a dude, and plays a free Benjamin Washington, thanks to his home discount, and that screw up my plans a bit. With benjamin sitting in the town square, I can't just waltz Irving over to his deed, so when Makaio goes to my deed, I trade my only goods, a Quickdraw Handgun, to Travis and send him over to fight Makaio. My draw structure is pretty bad, but Makaio is 0 bullets so I actually have a good chance here (especially if I can remain legal, to be able to use the quickdraw). If he defends with both benjamin and Makaio then Irving can steal his deed, so Makaio is forced to fight alone.

I pull a legal 3 of a kind, and his 5-off-the-top reveals a 2 pair (or 3 of a kind, I can't remember, but either way Makaio dies). No more playable dudes in his hand means a very narrow victory to me, and a huge testament to the power of decimator array + force field.

Top 4: Eventual winner Max Way with Law Dogs

I played against Max at last years Gencon in the top 8 with my Blessed and he with a previous version of his current deck, so I was pretty familiar with what I was about to face. I'm sure Max will make a more interesting and accurate report than I, so I'll just post some highlights and points of view he wouldn't have necessarily known about.

First lowball hand was very auspicious, with both of us having 2 jokers in our lowball hands! Anyway, speeding forward several rounds, Max builds up lots of economy and I am struggling for out of town deeds and currency presses, which is the main initial builder of cash. Add in the fact that I am getting unusually high lowball hands, and I am hurting economically quite bad for many turns. I was desperate enough to use one of my doomsdays to have Jen build a currency press (I usually save those doomsdays soley for force fields or decimators...) but Jen failed to invent the currency press, by me pulling literally the only other currency press in the deck... salt in the wounds, ouch!

While I get a couple of Decimators (one eventually lost to an unopposed mugging), I am also struggling to find force fields. Eventually I finally find 1, but vs decks with Unprepared and other shenanigans (queue Faithful Hound), I need more than 1 to be confident in a fight. Normally this isn't an issue, since I have 3 force fields and 4 doomsdays, but luck wasn't having it.

I do eventually end up getting a decent amount of GR, but then Irving is hit with an Ol' Fashioned Hangin', and the big fight is on. Normally I would have let it through, only having 1 force field, but I had a A Slight Modification in hand and enough GR to match any hand rank at least once or twice, so it was worth a fight.

First shootout round, I slightly modify his Unprepared, and he ends up pulling a cheatin rank 10. I can't remember if I matched it, or got to rank 11 with decimator, but either way it was fine. 2nd round, however, Max (and I) remembered his Faithful Hound and that dog ate my force field! It was game over at that point, as this deck cannot shoot without it, and it was his rank 10 to my rank 5. Losing 3 dudes meant game over, and a very well played and brutal finish by Max!

Final Thoughts

Overall very happy with the event, the deck, and especially getting to meet new and old friends alike! I wish I could afford this trip every year, because it was definitely the highlight of my 5 day stay in England.

I love the complexity of this deck, as it requires a very specific order of operations for when to use the outfit, which gadgets to invent first, and when to use Specks ability, in addition to what you need in your opening hand, and whether to use Travis Moone. This is not a deck for those new to the game, and I played a ton of practice games vs a tough gauntlet before I was even remotely confident bringing it to this tournament. However, it is fun as hell, pretty potent, and highly recommended if you like gadgets and enjoy the sheer inevitability that can come with them. How many decks can you play where (with force field & decimator protected) you are guaranteed to win literally every shootout?!

It has very real weaknesses in anything that can remove your force fields from use, but there are many ways to play around most of those weaknesses. The only weakness this deck cannot play around is Shan Fan Showdown!, and I consider myself lucky I didn't have to face Harlaths Shan Fan Sloane deck!

I look forward to meeting and playing with whoever can make it to Gencon this year. New or veteran players alike, I can't stress enough how friendly everyone is, even at these "high level" events.

May 10, 2018 jordan caldwell

If you just remind people that a synonym for Decimator Array is "he is wearing 10 or more guns" then that should explain away the suspicion your opponent might have around bumping up your hand rank so high...

May 10, 2018 Doowa

A pleasure to meet you, Prodigy and your wife. Wish I had challenged your deck after the tournament, but that’ll have to wait. Always great to see a deck that thinks outside the box in regards to draw structure. Force Field has always been a pain to face and with the Decimator Array I can understand why ppl call judge! Hehe.

With the potency of these combos, I’m glad we’re seeing more counters to hand rank manipulation like Shan Fan Showdown!. Just to increase the risk of playing a deck like this.


May 10, 2018 Harlath

Congratulations! While Decimator Array is strong, I'm at least pleased it has led to several decks trying out Morgan Gadgetorium again. As you note, it was surprising to see several copies of this previously maligned outfit!

Seconding the positive views on Shan Fan Showdown! from Benni and pleased that Too Tough to Die's previews included "Virgian Earp", a drifter who shuts down hand rank manipulation.

Bravo on having the finesse to pilot this so well and appreciate the detailed reports. Sorry I didn't have much of a chance to chat at Sunday's dinner after we ended up at different tables, but hope to make up for it online/at GenCon and glad you and your wife had a good trip. :)

May 10, 2018 Prodigy

I tried once saying "it's science!" but that didn't go over well... haha

Very good to see @Harlath and @jordan caldwell again, and hope to see you both at gencon!

And very good to meet you too @Doowa - I hear there is an online platform where one can challenge anyone in the world, but I forget its name... ;)

Good call on the spoiled Virginia Ann Earp, Harlath - she will be a very hard counter to this type of deck. The only way to deal with her, at least in this build, is to give an Asyncoil Gun to Nicholas Kramer since her value is a 6.

I very much enjoy the balancing act of weighing anti-cheating cards vs anti-hand rank bumping (which is getting more options now), as those are the 2 most effective ways to get a high hand rank, and should be a consideration when brewing up a shooty deck.