People were getting wise to Jake Smiley’s securities scam, so he decided it was time for a new scheme. While discussing his situation with his friends over a card game, Rico Rodegain and Gina Tailfeathers came up with a suggestion. Back East, there were folks who got rich by letting out properties they owned. There were even agencies that managed all the sales, legal work and maintenance on behalf of the owners in return for a cut of the rent. On top of that, the agency would take security bonds from the tenants and charge fees for every little service that they requested. Easy money, all you’d need was a property to get started and to know a few people to help set up and run the agency. Well, the three of them had enough ghost rock to get started, and they certainly knew people...
Lacy O’Malley was beginning to think he’d got the wrong end of the stick. He’d overheard people talking about The Agency and decided he should help out in case it was Twilight Protocol business, or else investigate if it was something more shadowy. However these folks certainly weren’t helping in the fight against darkness, and he wasn’t able to decipher any hidden messages in the adverts they were asking him to print in The Epitaph. They weren’t linked to The Agency at all; he’d just wandered into a real den of thieves.
“I wasn’t expecting landslide out of Den of Thieves” – several opponents
There’s a good reason why, as the outfit isn’t geared towards landslide. Starting two Grifters means starting two dudes without influence, and a landslide deck wants to maximise the amount of influence it can start to allow more deeds to be played and have more dudes to threaten opponents’ deeds. Landslide decks typically don’t do shootouts, removing a lot of the utility of the hand rank raising ability. Raising your hand rank during lowball seems counter-intuitive, since you’re aiming for a low rank hand there. However, if you can do it safely you’re not only winning, you’re getting an extra ghost rock (and a bounty, which could be useful for several Outlaw dudes). With a no-structure landslide deck, there would be plenty of situations where using the home in lowball would be perfectly viable and give a ghost rock boost.
As for the Grifters, there were actually a couple of good options that helped with landslide. Ol’ Howard into Baird’s Build and Loan was considered, but seemed too expensive to be worthwhile. I’d probably only have got one or two uses out of it before an opponent parked a dude there, and then it would be helping them far more than it would help me. Gina, though, was a solid choice. She could get rid of a card I didn’t want from my opening hand and find two more, giving me a higher chance of seeing out of town money deeds and cheap dudes with influence early on. Both things that a landslide deck wants to get set up early. Rico was my other choice. I hadn’t used him in absolutely ages and wanted to stick him in a deck. His ability to look at my opponent’s hand gave me information to figure out what kind of deck I was up against, and importantly whether they had any removal jobs. Using the home ability on lowball hands carried some risk of being hit by cheatin’ punishment, but Rico would also let me know if it was safe to use on the first turn. Generally, checking my opponent’s discard pile to see which cards they were running gave an idea of whether it was worth the risk of using the home ability in lowball. Also important was the ability to start with dudes that I wouldn’t want in my opening hand, and then shuffle them back into the deck to be replaced by dudes that would be useful. I used him after I’d used Gina’s ability, I didn’t want to draw those dudes into my opening hand. Doing this would improve the speed at which my deck could get set up.
There was some flexibility in the final starting dudes. I always ended up taking Ike and Jake, because I needed their influence. My default third pick was Clementine, but if I saw cards like Kidnappin’ or Curse of Failure I’d take Makaio instead. My thought there being that Clementine would signal landslide to my opponent far more than Makaio would, and starting him might result in them being more cautious. One game I saw my opponent was running Ol’ Fashioned Hangin’, and that was definitely a game to start Makaio in! If I was facing Regulators, then my third starting dude was Frank Stilwell. Morgan Regulators has a trait that limits your influence at one location to five if there hasn’t been a shootout that day, which is great against landslide. Frank can get himself into a fight and then immediately run for safety to turn off the trait and keep your influence safe.
Why even play a Den of Thieves landslide deck in the first place? People had commented that they hadn’t seen many landslide decks recently, and that they felt one could do well in a heavily shootout focused meta. I thought I’d put that to the test, and see if the current crop of decks and players could handle a landslide deck. I was going to do a Law Dogs version with Fiery Rhetoric on top of landslide, but some light testing made me feel that the gimmick wouldn’t actually work in play. Plus, I’d just signed up with a Law Dogs deck in the Ranger event. I figured I’d stick with an unlikely faction and outfit, because I think landslide works best when people aren’t expecting it. A dummy start would add to the deception, making your deck look like it’s setting up to do something else. That led me to thinking about Rico – show one set of dudes, swap them for another, keep people guessing. Protection Racket might actually be a better outlaw home for sliding, but I’d always wanted to try Den of Thieves landslide and that had the extra bonus of making Rico cheaper, and so it was decided.
Why Lacy O’Malley? Lacy hadn’t seen any tournament play yet, so I thought about adding him. His card cycling ability actually worked out really well for the deck. Landslide decks want to cycle through cards fast, hitting the point where they can play their entire hand as soon as possible. With Lacy I felt I reached that point faster than I usually would have. There were only a couple of times that I’d see a brilliant hand early game and be sad to lose it all. He also proved his worth in those situations landslide decks often face, where you have a hand full of deeds but can’t play them because your opponent will take them and put you in check. Instead of slowly cycling and hoping they didn’t play a deed of their own, I could chuck the entire hand of diamonds to dig for influence. Not worrying about shootouts meant I didn’t need to worry about Cheatin’ Resolutions, which has been mentioned as a big reason people don’t like him – it’s harder to surprise opponents with cards from hand as you can’t hold them turn to turn. Including him meant no Hired Guns at all, but the speedy cycling helped mitigate that. I also dropped landslide staple Rumors, because I wouldn’t be able to hold them for when they’d be most useful. Having played the deck, I think having a couple of copies would actually have worked fine. I was debating including Nicodemus and The Whateley Estate due to the added difficulty of setting up the combo, and went with them anyway. Mid-way through the event when I was pondering changes I was thinking I’d cut them, or at least Nic, and then next game his influence saved me from a loss. I drew the Estate next turn and voted my way to victory. That only happened once though. The Estate helped me win another game, but Nic only hit play that one time, so I’d probably keep the Estate and maybe swap Nico for Harry Highbinder as he provides the same influence at a far cheaper price. Overall I felt Lacy was a positive include and well worth a look at for decks that want to cycle quickly such as club straight flush builds and Dead Man’s Hand decks.
As for the rest of the deck, the deed choices were fairly straightforward. Cheap with efficient production, traits and abilities that wouldn’t help my opponent out much, and a few out of town deeds for economy. Gomorra Gaming Commission gave me a good lowball Cheatin’ Resolution that made money and sometimes also drew cards. I followed standard landslide play of building all my deeds on one side of my home, leaving the other side open for The Whateley Estate as a finishing move.
The dudes for the most part were cheap dudes with no/low upkeep costs and good influence scores. Makaio was nice to spread bounties around so there wasn’t one obvious dude to Kidnap for a big payday, and give them to dudes who got bonuses for being wanted like Marion. If Makaio wasn’t around I’d stack bounty on Rico as he was the least useful of the Grifters. I was tempted to include Fred Aims to build a bounty/influence stack but decided against it as he’d be such a massive target and give a huge payoff when discarded. Milt Clemons was also disqualified because the returns on moving bounty to him were offset by his higher cost to influence ratio and reliance on a combo to be useful compared to other options. Notable includes were Lawrence Blackwood, Ulysses Marks, Rabid Rance Hitchcock and Old Man McDroste. Each of them provided a way to increase my control points alongside my influence, and on a couple of occasions this helped secure a victory. Old Man McDroste is one of my favourite dudes, as he’s also able to shut down an opponent’s out of town economy deed at the same time. His ability is also massive, especially for landslide where the balance between control and influence is often very precarious. Travis Moone made it into the deck as a cheap body for threatening callouts to draw opposing dudes out of town square, and as a backup Grifter should anything happen to Gina and Rico. His two bullets made him a great dude to chuck a Shotgun on to chase low value dudes off deeds, or blast those too booted to escape.
I didn’t include many clubs. Hustled gave my Grifters something to do beyond setup. I only used it to boot opposing dudes a couple of times, mostly it was there because it made ghost rock. One Good Turn... was used a couple of times in lowball for a ghost rock boost but more frequently was just used to cycle cards and speed the deck up. While they were useful for that I imagine you could easily cut some or all of them and replace them with things like Rumors to accelerate a win or Lost to the Plague to deal with opposing dudes like Allie Hensman.
On Hearts I’d say both Shotgun and The Evidence are must-haves for landslide. While Fred Aims isn’t seen as often these days I knew shekky ducky uses him and he’s often seen in Desolation Row which is growing in popularity again, so having The Evidence around to reduce his bounty and wipe a ton of influence of the board is worth bringing as a one-of just in case. This ended up winning me one game. It also proved useful for keeping Clementine safe from the Law Dogs with Ol’ Fashioned Hangin’ that I faced. Monte Bank provided extra production, potentially for free if attached to a Grifter. If I had the ghost rock to spare I paid for it and gave it to dudes like Clementine and Jake Smiley – dudes that would be staying out of trouble and so be less risky to add bounty to with the home. I added Bluetick for a movement card that would take advantage of having bounty on dudes. I could boot influence across town or to one of my deeds with a booted opponent, and then track back to safety if threatened by a dude moving to make a call out. Alternatively I could boot a wanted Grifter to the location of an opposing low value dude and then use Bluetick to move my Shotgun wielder to their position, bypassing any dudes guarding town square. You really need movement options like this in a landslide deck, and while Bluetick wasn’t as useful as Mustang it was cheaper and useful enough. Sunday Best was a versatile card. I could use it to secure the production of the deed adjacent to my home, give it to a Grifter and send them out of town to secure or deny production there, or use it to move a dude into town square when I had won lowball and then with the first play of noon move them on to a deed. One great moment saw me able to take town square at the end of one day and then move Gina and Rico in their Sunday Best onto my opponent’s deeds at the start of the upkeep phase, starving them of ghost rock. While I liked all my Hearts choices, I think if I were to play this again I’d try dropping them down to one copy of each to add in a Mustang and a Fancy New Hat or two. Stone Idol might even be worth looking at to increase the threat range of the Shotgun.
I decided I’d include Heretic’s Jokers over regular ones. Lowering my hand rank in lowball and protecting myself from Cheatin’ Punishment were both good things that helped the deck, especially as one of them showing up in my lowball hand often meant I’d get an effective risk free use of the Den of Thieves home. Since they stayed in my deck I included a Joker’s Smile to help cycle them out of my play hand when they showed up. This often felt useful but with Lacy I don’t feel it’s as essential, you might want to swap it out for something else.
How did the meta fare against landslide? My finishing third in swiss and making it to the semifinals makes it look like players and decks didn’t cope well at all, but I feel the opposite was actually true. The two hour time limit really favoured decks like this, and most of my games went well into the second hour before they ended. Players were doing a good job of containing me by racking up control of their own and threatening my deeds, or else just having enough influence to stay in the game. In a regular tournament I’d have had a number of timed wins and several timed losses too, so wouldn’t have been anywhere near the top cut.
Game 1 vs LastWalter – Morgan Regulators
This was a quick game. I was surprised when the Kidnappin’ I saw in his opening hand didn’t hit me on turn one, but the double-whammy of a Run ‘em Down followed by the Kidnappin’ on turn two wiped out four of my influence and there was already enough control in play for him to win as I hadn’t expected to lose two dudes in one turn.
Game 2 vs hangedman – Morgan Regulators/Raven
Frank Stilwell put in plenty of work this game. I’d actually forgotten to start him but he showed up early on to save me from my mistake. There was lots of movement in this lengthy game that ended just before time in my favour. Jon Longstride with a Mustang and Hellstromme Plant in play saw him riding all over the place chasing my dudes. I was eventually able to catch a booted Irving Patterson with a Shotgun to squeak the win.
Game 3 vs Aussie_Scum – The Sloane Gang
I saw a hand full of shootout actions with Rico and figured this for a town square fightin’ club flush deck, which played in my favour. While Allie Hensman was proving troublesome my opponent couldn’t cycle cards quickly and build up his gang to contest my deeds. Just as the Outlaws’ control points were getting critical I drew Nicodemus Whateley for a much needed influence boost, and after quick card count I knew I’d be drawing The Whateley Estate next turn. Voting at Nic’s place was enough to secure a win.
Game 4 vs NoChildren64 – Desolation Row
While another shootout action heavy deck was a welcome opponent, I faced a different problem here. There was no Allie to deal with but he had Fred Aims instead, and it took almost 2 hours before I finally drew my copy of The Evidence to deal with him and secure the win. I was able to last that long thanks to a misplay from my opponent, who had a lot of big dudes with high upkeep in play and miscalculated how much ghost rock he’d have next turn by forgetting he’d have to ante for lowball. I was happy to see both Sloane and Morgan Lash leave play when I won lowball next turn, taking their influence and bounty CP with them and freeing up a couple of my deeds to let me start building again.
Game 5 vs Antaiseito – Abram’s Crusaders
This was another resilient deck thanks to influence granted by the trait on the home. I did a fairly good job of keeping his ghost rock supply limited, but there was enough bounty around thanks to Tolarios’ Confessionals that he was still able to play Sheriff Abram just when things were starting to look worrying. However he forgot there was a Tax Office in play and didn’t move to take it. I let him pay Abram’s upkeep next turn and then sent in the tax collector as he couldn’t afford to pay it again. Steven Wiles showed up to salvage the mistake but some chess play ended with town square open and Steven booting to secure one of his own deeds, at which point Old Man McDroste was able to walk over and use his ability to swing the game in my favour.
Quarterfinal vs Deputy Melnyk – 108 Gracious Gifts
I was dreading an early Amazing Grace in this game, so I was relieved to see several in Deputy Melnyk’s opening lowball hand. He didn’t pressure my deeds early on so I was able to build up quickly. I was able to keep his ghost rock total low thanks to repeated lowball wins and dudes with Sunday Best challenging his deeds. Eventually an Amazing Grace turned up and he moved over to my side of the street so I had to find creative ways to reduce his influence, sacrificing Gina to make him pay for Ramiro and using the Tax Office to try and bleed his ghost rock so he couldn’t accept future callouts. A lot of movement followed and I kept finding ways to get just one more control point than his influence to force another counter move (Old Man McDroste brought a surprise factor after chilling at home for a couple of turns). It was only after Randall was booted that I played my Shotgun. With the options of shooting Randall or walking over to Ramiro to call him out and see him discarded, the game was mine.
Semifinal vs Blargg – Office of Ancestral Affairs/Doc Holliday
Blargg’s deck got off to a good start – the combo of Maza Gang Hideout and Office of Ancestral Affairs early on meant he got a good economic base thanks to being able to attach Silver Pheasant’s Bounty to the Hideout via the job, and also meant he had control points that were hard for me to take. This was improved further when he played Ike’s Place which allowed him to add extra control to the Hideout through the job at the cost of economy for a turn. I was able to build up a bit but it was hard to contend with the First Peoples’ high influence dudes and I was glad for having Lacy’s trait to empty my hand of deeds and dig for more influence. When Chief Stephen hit play, followed shortly by Allie Hensman, the game became pretty much out of my reach save for a few desperate moves. I tried to drag as many dudes out of position and booted as I could by sacrificing my most expendable dudes to make callouts, then played out all the deeds in my hand and booted my dudes across town to take control of his buffed up deeds. With one of these being Cooke’s Nightcap, it would have provided me with just enough control to win, but securing it relied on me winning a shootout. The chances of that were incredibly slim and I ended up with a high card against a full house, leading to defeat.
Again this was another fun tournament, thanks to my opponents for the great games and Pinebox Entertainment for running the event! It’s interesting to see how the extended time limit is helping some different decks to the usual perform well in these online events.
|Sep 30, 2020 NoChildren64|