6 May 2011

Takin' Control

A preview of the upcoming Deadwood, a board game of holdups and shootouts

“Another one?” Sam, the undertaker, asks. The boy nods. “Shootout at thar’ new laundry.” Sam shakes his head. “Maybe them no count jackeroos will just kill each other off and leave the townsfolk with some peace.” “Doubtful.” Sam turns and sees gang boss, Dick Garcia, with his gun raised. The cowboy shows Sam a toothless smile. “Think I’ll be havin’ a shootout here as well.”

Welcome back to the capricious world of Deadwood, where the future survival of a cowboy is mighty uncertain! In this game, players control a gang of cowboys and send them into the vulnerable town of Deadwood to control businesses and collect as much money as they can. The player with the most cash at the end of the game is the winner.

Previously, we examined the features offered to players from the initial set of buildings set up at the beginning of the game. Today, we’ll take a look at a few of the different businesses that can be erected in the shanty town of Deadwood.

An unwelcome arrival

When cowboys ride into town, they are searching for the most profitable location to take control of, or “annex.” These businesses offer your sharp shooters one immediate unique ability, and often, a long-term advantage for the remainder of the game...or however long your cowboy’s alive.

One such building that offers this long-term benefit is the Undertaker. The undertaker never saw so much business until you and your rival gangs showed up in Deadwood. But why should he be having all the fun? When you’re looking to get rich, you’ll use any excuse to make a profit. The cowboy that overtakes this business takes $1 and gains a decent retainer: for every bronco sleeping at Boot Hill the cowboy receives an additional $1. This building offers players a monetary benefit for death in Deadwood without necessitating an active role in the killing; other players can instigate shootouts and kill off their foes while you profit.

Care to pocket some quick cash when threatened? This benefit takes effect if your cowboy is attacked at the Undertaker and survives; the survivor receives the $1 for the cowboy that he killed. So should you wish to secure this business for as long as possible, have your strongest gang member annex the building.

Trading spaces

Buildings in Deadwood can also offer you additional advantages should you control the right locations when you annex them. Annexing the General Store and the Laundry is a clever technique for a cowboy who’s stained his hands with too much blood and risen to the top of the Calvary's most wanted list.

Send an underling to the General Store to gain $1, and then trigger the General Store’s second ability: move another one of your cowpokes. Once your cowboy stables his horse at the General Store you may move a different cowboy from one building location to another one. Of course, if this new location is occupied by a rival gang, a shootout occurs as usual.

A clean shirt, a clean soul

With so much street brawling and death in Deadwood, Mr. Tao has set up two Clean Laundry locations to really clean up crime, so to speak. Annexing either building offers players $1.

Now, if a player has a cowboy on one Laundry location when he annexes the General Store, he may move his cowboy from the Laundry to the Church and thereby discard two Wanted Posters instead of the single discard the Church usually allows. By controlling two Laundry locations in concert with arriving at the General Store a player can discard three Wanted Posters. A player could also achieve the same effect by controlling both Laundry locations and then simply annexing the Church. This method will help you avoid a shootout if the General Store is occupied, though you lose out on $1.

More buildings with long-term advantages and connected benefits will comprise your shanty town as the game plays out. What strategy will you implement?

Scan the horizon for more previews of Deadwood in the coming weeks, and practice your quick draw for when Deadwood is released in the third quarter of 2011!

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