Ok, maybe not 108 flushes, but it felt like it.
The Chicago Outlaw event had the unfortunate timing of being just a few days after the fateful announcement by AEG, but we still managed to rustle up 12 folks. If my memory serves me (and often it doesn't) - in the mix was a two time Sheriff winner (John), another Sheriff winner (Jake), a previous Outlaw winner (AJ), and a top 8 Marshall tournament finalist (Adam), among several other very tough players, so I knew going into this the competition would be rough.
We went 4 rounds, and after the last round it was decided the results were clear enough that no top cut was necessary. I assumed there would be a cut to the top 4, or maybe even just 2, so after the 4th round I was famished and ate a banana, not knowing that the results and prizes were being announced. I basically missed it all! Oops...
As far as the deck goes, this has been a work in progress since not long after Putting The Pieces Together was released. I threw something together sloppily right away, but wasn't immediately impressed. After Dbzero's report on his quasi-bicycle deck featuring 4 PTPT's, I decided to give the deck another try. I have to say that PTPT is, in my opinion, the single most complex and difficult card to include in a deck. On the surface it seems somewhat straight forward: You want to have a deck that doesn't cheat, and maybe has some cheatin' punishment so your legal hands won't be outdone by a cheatin 5 of a kind.
But there are some complications:
How do you build a deck that doesn't cheat (even in lowball), but won't be completely dead in the water during the first part of the game? You'll need a way to stay alive while you find those PTPT's and trim up your draw structure. The single best way to do that - Buried Treasure - is out of the question because it shares the same value. What else does that leave? Gomorra Parish? You'd have to start it with Ol' Howard to make it consistent. Eagle Wardens original home? Out of the question - we can't have a booted guy in the town square while we are weak and building up.
And what happens if you don't get your PTPT's at all? If you have a deck that doesn't cheat, that means you probably aren't going to be getting good shootout hands on average. You aren't going to win any tournaments if you depend 100% on getting a single card unless you are insanely lucky.
Ok, maybe we'll just start out with a normal straight flush build so we can be shootout ready early in the game. I can tell you from a lot of experience playing with PTPT that you will regret it. Sometimes you can't help but cheat when you have lots of 4-of's of any single value/suit. Cheating when you have PTPT out is just about the worst thing ever. Not only are you opened up, like normal, to cheatin' punishment but your hand rank is automatically reduced. And not only that, but for the entire rest of the turn any shootouts you are also down hand ranks. Any booted dudes outside your home are screwed, and you are forced into hiding at home the rest of the turn.
What happens if you get 2 or 3 PTPT's in your opening hand? You will be at -2 or 3 income indefinitely, and you'll never be able to afford anything else the rest of the game. Even 1 or 2 right away in a typical deck likely means 0 income. Income is another big consideration with this card.
My final deck is the culmination of my answers and compromises to these questions. I am still not convinced it is the best approach, even after dozens of games and constant tweaking for weeks. I am confident, even with that uncertainty, that this is probably the best deck I have ever made.
108 Worldly Desires is an obvious choice to help with both income and making sure your lowball hand isn't cheating. It also helps to make sure even if your dudes bullets are all reduced to zero that you have a quasi-stud in every shootout.
Longwei Fu ensures yet another auto-stud for every shootout, and with him and the home alone you can often face down armies with one draw dude if you have some PTPT's on your side.
Randall and Asakichi Cooke both massively help with card cycling to make sure you find your PTPTs and Comin' Up Roses (CUR). From turn 1 you need to be cycling through every card possible. Even if you suspect early aggression in the form of kidnappin, you will probably just need to let it happen. Get rid of those Sun In Yer Eyes and really any other card that isn't a PTPT or CUR. There have been times that I have sent Xiaodan Li into an early shootout by himself just to get rid of an entire hand of shootout actions. I won't do this unless I have a cheatin punishment, as with that you have a good chance to inflict some casualties with him. Sometimes it ends up being a blatant suicide, but it can be worth the 6 new cards in your hand. I also like the "f'in with your opponents mind" aspect of it.
Companhurst's, along with Clementine Lepp, gives you both an extra income and another influence to make you start with 6 if she moves over. It also means they have to commit 3 influence of dudes just to deny you 1 income. Not usually worth it for them. This, along with ALWAYS winning lowball means you have the extra income to handle an early PTPT or two without any additional income. 2 is a little risky, but you have a nearly guaranteed 4 income a turn so 2 isn't bad. Ideally, though, you'll save your income to put out some dudes and a deed or two so your deck structure is better for flushes. At that point if you have 2 or more PTPTs, it's a massively uphill battle for your opponent. 3 PTPTs is basically game over - how can your opponent consistently beat the equivalent of a legal straight flush EVERY SINGLE SHOOTOUT? And if you happen to get a straight flush? Even better, but simply not necessary unless you have no cheatin' res in your hand and they pull a very high cheatin hand.
Henry Moran is an absolute champ and any PTPT deck that doesn't include him is doing it wrong. I wish I had the room to start him, but my starting posse is just too tight right now. Not a single one can be replaced. An besides, Hired Guns helps with 4 total chances to get Henry if we need him.
Speaking of, Hired Guns is an absolute champion. Getting Henry if we need to stay legal in lowball, Allie Hensman vs landslide or slower decks, and Mario Crane or Xui Yin Chen if we need some muscle. All around fantastic card, which also helps to keep our GR low enough to activate the home. Once I had so much money that I needed to use a hired guns for Steven Wiles, and not only got huge muscle but solved my money "problem" at the same time.
For those games where income is a problem (which are rare), Fiddle Game is a huge help. I've played this deck many dozens of times, and I think there has been one game where a cheatin' res caused me to discard a fiddle game. This deck very rarely cheats, and when it does it's usually in lowball when most decks don't have cheatin' res answers.
Mugging is also a rock star. This deck can be weak to shotguns, soul blasts, and legendary holsters. This solves that quite well. I'd love to have another Bottom Dealin, but the muggings were just too important when they actually were needed.
Comin' Up Roses is self explanatory - any flush/straight flush deck needs to include as many of these as possible. It was an absolute rock star, but also partly because of my non-club draw structure.
And as far as draw structure, that is what makes this deck. I've tweaked it and gone back and forth enough that this was where I was most comfortable. Ideally I wouldn't have any cards as a 4-of, but exceptions had to be made.
4 PTPTs was an absolute - the deck is made around this card. Plus as you put them out, they are out of your draw structure permanently and the cheating worry goes away.
4 CUR's grew from an original 2, then 3, then 4. It's simply too good of a card, and it is just about the only card that if I see it in my hand I will never discard it. That helps with keeping only 2-3 others in the deck, which helps to not cheat.
And having 4 4's and 4 5's was my compromise between having some early potential aggression, and also helping to make straight flushes later in the game as well without too much of a cheating possibility. I found I was often just lacking one 4 or one 5 to make the set. Plus, having 2 fiddle games means one or two 5's might be out of the mix permanently anyway, so that just leaves the potential hazard of 4 of clubs. Everything else is a 3-of or less, so cheating is very rare. Straight flushes are also not super common (unless you are drawing a ton of cards), but that doesn't matter if you have a couple of PTPTs. The dudes and deeds are designed to help make the straight flushes and legal flushes more likely if you have a CUR in your hand. There have been many, many times I've made a straight flush using the regular resolution on CUR (and sometimes even using 2 at once). It's a great feeling to go into a shootout knowing that you'll either use your CUR to get a straight flush... or use it's cheatin res to go to rank 11. Win win either way, and you don't need any PTPT to make that happen.
That's enough of an explanation. Basically you stall the game as long as you can until you can get your non-clubs onto the table and get some PTPTs on your home. If you're forced into early aggression, make sure you have a CUR or other cheatin' res in hand along with some shootout actions if possible.
If you are interested in a tournament report for the Outlaw event, check out the Gomorra Gazette: http://gomorragazette.com/2016/06/27/putting-108-flushes-together-or-how-i-won-the-chicago-outlaw-event/
|Jun 27, 2016 jaythejester|