This week, Alderac Entertainment Group announced it would cease production on collectible card game Doomtown: Reloaded. On paper this means that, after October 2016, there will be no new expansions released for the cowboy card game set in the weird west town of Gomorrah. In practise, it means that I - and many other Doomtown fans worldwide - am very, very sad.
As I've discussed briefly on the site before (all too briefly, as it now transpires), Doomtown: Reloaded is probably my favourite game ever; tabletop, video game or otherwise. It's a game in which you wrangle together a posse from your chosen outfit, build up your half of the town and then try to seize control of your opponent's half by way of strategic plays and shootouts. Here's a brief video from last year explaining a bit better how that works.
What I love most about Doomtown is that it's such a varied beast; it's a game of risk taking, strategy, deck building and nerve holding. Games can take over an hour, given half a chance, or they can be over in less than five minutes. Doomtown has a strong chess element, but also rewards patience and boldness in turn. Through both organised tournaments and casual games with friends, I've spent countless hours with my heart pounding in my chest, wondering if the gamble I'm about to take is going to pay off or see my deck go up in flames. Have you ever tried to keep a poker face while saying 'I'm going to boot Dabney Scuttlesby to invent Yagn's Mechanical Skeleton, but I'm booting the Wagner memorial ranch to make the pull easier'? It's bloody difficult.
Realistically speaking, there's nothing about AEG's decision that will take any of that away from me. I still have the cards; my decks are still lovingly sleeved and ready to go, and the community built around this game remains dedicated to playing with or without new updates. At the same time, however, I can't help but mourn the loss of an expanding card pool. Following Doomtown: Reloaded's metagame - growing as a player while watching the game itself grow, change and adapt - has been a delight. My friends and I have spent nearly two years following this game; we wait for the latest expansion to drop, then drop everything else as soon as it hits shelves so we can retire to the nearest pub to discuss the cards, tweak our decks and play a few games. I've not been nearly as invested in the UK tournament scene as others, but I've still met some delightful, dedicated and friendly people. Being part of the game's evolution as it happens forms a significant part of the pleasure I take from playing Doomtown: Reloaded, and it's strange to think what it's going to feel like once those expansions - the backbone of any ccg metagame - dry up.
I suppose I'll find out come October, but frankly I'm not ready yet. I'm not ready to stop wondering what cards will be in the next saddlebag (that's cowboy for expansion). I don't want to stop wondering what's happening with the infamous outlaw Sloane and her legendary, possessed holster, or when I'll get to find out. There are so many loose ends poking out of Doomtown: Reloaded - story arcs, newly introduced keywords, concepts and entire mechanics that aren't backed up by enough cards yet - and the thought that we won't get to see those ideas fully develop makes me hugely, genuinely sad. As I've said, there's still a lot of life left in Doomtown: Reloaded. The game will continue for as long as there are players, and I plan to play long into the future. Once the card meta stops growing, I intend to get familiar with the factions I've largely ignored up until now. In the fullness of time, maybe I'll play a little less or pick up a new CCG. I might even join the Netrunner crowd and bask in the knowledge that it's basically going to live forever. In the meantime though, I'm going to sleeve some cards and pour one out for poor, beloved Doomtown: Reloaded - a brilliant game gone to boot hill long before its time.