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    • Owlbear

    by Konstantinos Thoukydidis

    We’ve already taken two design diaries to explain how Miracles support and Hexes disrupt thematically in the town of Gomorra. Now, with the release of Immovable Object, Unstoppable Force, we finally get to reveal the third and final type of spell available: Spirits.

    With Miracles taking up the buffing aspect and Hexes focused on weakening, we already have the dude-affecting aspects of the game pretty much covered. Given that we try to make each spell type feel unique in its strategy and function, we didn’t want to make effects that would feel somewhere in between those two. So the challenging aspect was to figure out how Spirits could make an impact on the game without stepping into the territory of their counterparts.

    The answer to this lies within the core mechanics of the game. Doomtown is ultimately a game about area control and maneuvering. While the poker mechanics provide an explosive and climactic way to handle conflict, the meat of the game actually relies in clever positioning. And for something so fundamental to the game, we haven’t really expanded on it sufficiently.

    Spirits are the first (but won’t be the only) attempt to address that. Their effects are, in some form, tied into locations and this is their relating factor. They are, in practice, the spell-based area control strategy.

    We feel this is sufficiently in line with the flavor of Spirits in the Deadlands lore and provides a unique way to affect the game state. Although this might conflict with Miracle or Hex effects at times, it’s grounded in a method that nevertheless retains their unique flavour.

    To that end, we’ve also invented a new keyword, Totems, which is only there to avoid the need to repeat that these particular Spirits must be attached to locations. While normal Spirits work like the other spell, Totems take their area control effect to its logical conclusion as they are tied specifically to one location. For the loss of flexibility and maneuverability caused by this, they tend to have flexible, powerful, or blanket abilities.

    manyspeakasone_cardHow do Spirits affect the game state? They directly affect locations and dudes who are there or might go there in the future.

    A good sample of this is Many Speak As One. While nominally it is a normal spirit that attaches to a shaman, its effect is tied to a specific location each turn, providing a way for shamans to take control of the town with fewer dudes on hand.








    spirittrail_cardSimilarly, Spirit Trail is the shaman answer to Shadow Walk and Walk the Path from Hexes and Miracles respectively. While it is tied to a single location only, it can be used for everyone who needs it, and its blanket adjacency means you can place it at your home and a second one at critical deeds (even your opponent’s) and get a free extra movement that bypasses the Town Square.

    How do Spirits manipulate out-of-play cards? They cycle off cards from your hand to allow you to find the ones you need. They also allow you to look or setup your decks for follow-up effects.

    Shamans rely on guidance rather than direct manipulation, so their out-of-play effects focus on increasing their throughput. This in combination with the first Eagle Wardens outfit can allow the shaman player to quickly find what they need each turn.




    Spirit Guidance is the archetype for such spells and getting one on the first turn can mean you rarely have dead cards in your hand, especially if you manage to get out of your home to use the more powerful ability. In a game where you refill to your hand size maximum each turn, being able to play almost all your cards each turn is a significant advantage. But it also allows you to cheaply hold on to cheatin’ resolutions for next turn’s lowball and then cycle them out if it doesn’t happen. Cards such as these, greatly reduce the opportunity cost of heavy hitters in your deck, allowing for riskier, yet more powerful design choices.

    The secondary out-of-play effects are not yet available in a Spirit, but you’ll see it appear soon enough.

    How do Spirits support you in shootouts? Spirits will seek to gain the advantage by using token dudes and predictive effects to set up better hands or by allowing a reset of the shootout state.

    While Spirits might sometimes enter into Hex or Miracle territory when tied to a location, the most common effect you’ll see is their ability to generate multiple expendable token dudes to help you fight. This provides both staying and fighting power and conveniently shuts down “Lose2Win” strategies hard.

    ghostdance_cardthepackawakens_cardGhost Dance is the archetypical version of such a spell, providing you with a shooter on demand, allowing even the wimpiest of shamans to be scary, but of course it’s 2 cost, 8 value and 10 difficulty make it a bit harder to wield. On the other hand, there’s also its little brother, The Pack Awakens which will also provide you with expendable shooters, but at much lower difficulty and with a value that will succeed itself even with a Shaman 0. It requires that you bring the fight to the location of the totem of course, but with cards like Buffalo Rifle and Rope and Ride, this can be appropriately manipulated.

    We have only barely begun to scratch the surface of what Spirits can do, and The Light Shineth and further expansions will heavily push Spirits to catch up with the other skills, providing even more awesome options to solidify your control of Gomorra.

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