SLDWeb Masters Note: This is purely before the fact information. Many, if not ALL of the DoomTown: RangeWars disks and game mechanics discussed below will be changed completely in the final versions released by FFG. It is place here on the SLDWeb Page solely for the interest of those who are interested...
DATE: Thursday, May 25th, 2000
TO: Darrell Hardy < firstname.lastname@example.org > Production Manager at Fantasy Flight Games
FROM: Salt Lake DiskWarriors ( -Mike Bialecki -Cooper Cazedessus -James Hunt -Dan Morath)
RE: CONduit10 Pre-Release Demo & Feedback (DoomTown: RangeWars)
At CONduit 10 (Salt Lake City's yearly Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention) last weekend, we had the opportunity to playtest and demo two new games based on the DiskWars game engine; "DoomTown: RangeWars" by Fantasy Flight Games (and Pinnacle Entertainment Group) and "Star Trek: Red Alert" by Last Unicorn Games. Before we go any further, we want to give kudos to both FFG/PEG and LUG for, although using the very basic DiskWars mechanism, creating games that are far from simply being a remake of "DiskWars in the Old West" or "DiskWars in Outer Space". Both games have the "beer and pretzels" simplicity that makes DiskWars so great, while maintaining unique flavors and ingenious designs that should appeal to all gamers.
Initially, we were not looking forward to DoomTown: RangeWars because we assumed it was not going to be much better than some mutated version of Old West DiskWars. However, after reading the rules and playing a few games, we quickly realized that our initial assumption was totally incorrect. DT: RangeWars proved to be an interesting mix of DiskWars with bullets, cards, and buildings. The game is quite different from DiskWars, with gunfire being generally more important. The disks have considerably more information on them than in DiskWars, making it a bit harder to digest. Of course, we were only playing an alpha or beta version, so who knows how things will change between now and the game release? The game was fun in that it replicated the feeling of running from building to building, grabbing cover in a building, and trying to avoid the lead flying through the air. All the while fannin' the heck out our your own six-gun. We also enjoyed the spell system, being a bit different from DiskWars.
One of the biggest differences between DiskWars and DT: RangeWars is that unlike DiskWars, almost every disk in DT: RangeWars has the ability to shoot a gun, whether it be a derringer, pistol or a rifle and disks can move and shoot in the same turn or visa a versa. They can even shoot out of turn using "Quickdraw". We found it amazing how much this seemingly small change can completely alter the way the game "plays and feels." Relative to DiskWars, there is hardly any actual attacking (read: 2 disks overlapping or pinning one another). Instead, DT: RangeWars is a game of distances and shooting. You genuinely get the feel of being in an old west town ducking in and out of buildings dodging bullets and trying to shoot the other cowpokes to smithereens.
Another major difference between the two games is that DT: RangeWars is a much less deterministic game than DiskWars. Gun fire in DT: RangeWars is resolved by tossing the appropriate number of "Jokers" or "Bullets" (spell shaped disks with a bullet on one side and a faction color on the other). The number of jokers that land bullet side up determine how many "vigor" points the target disk loses. The Jokers that "hit" are placed on the target disk and kept there throughout the rest of the game until the disk finally dies. So, unlike DiskWars, damage is cumulative from turn to turn. There are also two classes of bullets to help take care of those pesky Harrowed folks who just keep coming back from the grave.
Another important difference between DiskWars and DT: RangeWars is the ingenious initiative mechanism, directly borrowed from the Deadlands RPG. Each player gets 13 "cards", from Ace to King (ace is low). Players simply lay one "card" face down on each disk. This can (and it should!) be done simultaneously to speed things up a bit. When all players have placed their cards, thus "readying" their disks, they turn all the cards face up. King's go first and Ace's go last. If there are multiple disks that have been "readied" with the same value card, then the disk with the highest "influence" goes first. Although there are no card suits, this clever initiative system works especially well to balance out special powers. For example, there is a particularly destructive disk called "The Gatling Gun." As you can imagine, it can really tear through it's enemies. However, the text on this disk reads, "Gun may only be fired if readied with -4", which means that you can only fire the gun if you "readied" it with a #4 or lower card. Therefore, this gives your opponents a chance to rush it and take it down before it kills them all.
CONCLUSION (Score: 1 - 10)
8 - After trying this game, we came to an interesting conclusion.
Not only is DoomTown: RangeWars very different from DiskWars,
but it could also appeal to a potentially different crowd than
DiskWars does. For example, one criticism we have seen for DiskWars
is that it is too deterministic (chess-like). DoomTown: RangeWars,
with the constant "tossing of the jokers", removes much
of the determinism and puts chance back into the game. It is possible
for a single small disk to take out a single large disk if one
player gets lucky. We know this has a great appeal to some people,
(see any CCG or miniatures game on the market). There are many
other differences between DiskWars and DT: RangeWars, but why
give away ALL the surprises, try the game for your self... it
should be release some time after Origins 2000 and GenCon 2000.