I like playing decks that are themed to the event series, so for the Hunting Grounds series I was obviously going to go with the First Peoples. But what style of deck to play? Following a short discussion with jordan_caldwell about his experiences with Swinford Finds Trouble I decided I’d like to try it out. It’s a card I often overlook because it doesn’t really fit with the style of deck I like to play and usually loses the Four of Clubs slot to Coachwhip!
Swinford Finds Trouble works best when you have the positioning advantage, so I figured a Town Square blockade style deck would be suited to get the most out of it. With most of my dudes unbooted in town square I could call out the first dude my opponent sent to fight them, and any backup they sent would be booted and thus able to be sent home. Both Eagle Wardens and The Spiritual Society gain direct benefits from camping Town Square. I went with Eagle Wardens because I felt that with my going for a shootout-focused deck, I’d want the greater number of extra cards over the ability to boot my opponent.
Unable to decide on three values, I decided I’d go for a straight flush build. Eagle Wardens would be useful both for putting plenty of shootout actions into my hand and also for digging for the non-clubs cards to put into play. Since the game plan was to camp in town square, Allie Hensman seemed like a no-brainer way to push for a victory, along with some out-of-town money deeds to bolster my economy. I didn’t really want lots of in-town deeds to worry about defending, but I’d also need more ways to generate Control Points. With the amount of shootout actions (including plenty of send-home) it looked like I had the potential to create some very one-sided fights, so why not profit from the aftermath with the Mausoleum and Concordia Cemetery?
With the straight flush structure I needed to start with some studs, and I definitely wanted Mariel Lewis to help with early bullying to claim town square. Geronimo was my choice to accompany her, thanks to his natural 2-stud. Wei Xu was next, as his influence boosting trait would make it more likely I’d get to use Mariel’s ability. With little ghost rock left I went with Willa Mae MacGowan (which shooty deck doesn’t love her, especially one like this where everything could easily go wrong), and finally Henry Moran to catch bullets, Pistol Whip and be generally useful. With Law Dogs recently being popular in Hartlepool, I had The Mixer ready to tag in for Wei Xu to protect against Hattie/reset Thunder Boy. I ended up facing all three Law Dogs that were present, so this was a good piece of foresight! A low starting stash and two upkeep didn’t look great, but I hoped the loose structure of the deck would offset that somewhat by winning lowball often. That, combined with the relatively low number of cards that cost ghost rock to play in the deck, meant I never found myself with cash flow problems.
Writing this several days later, I’m afraid I can’t recall the match specifics but the general game plan of set up in town square and create unfair fights worked well in all three games. The send-home abilities proved particularly useful for getting rid of zero-influence dudes, opposing Willa Maes and Blessed with Get Behind Me Satan! to make sure that any casualties I caused were taken by dudes with influence. With neither opponent being ready to face me on day one I had time to get at least two uses of my home ability and form a hand full of nasty shootout actions ready for the inevitable fight. Swinford Finds Trouble was indeed useful on several occasions - it's useful to have a Pistol Whip that doesn't lower the bullets of your stud dudes. I was also happy with Concealed Weapons. Thanks to that I managed to sneak a Shotgun into play mid-shootout to deal with a pesky Tommy Harden.
Arsenal Gadgeteers, Law Dogs Bounty Hunters and a Tolarios Toolbox ultimately fell to the Gravewardens and their dirty tricks. Mariel auto-Kidnappin’s at out-of-town deeds always feel so unfair, I’m not surprised everyone else there voted for her to die in the fiction :)