Blasts from the past

The back of a Doomtown card. It shows a wooden background with the words "Deadlands" printed in an old western font. A Cow skull is in the middleI always say that I’ve been very unlucky with the (non-video) games that I liked. I have a deep history of getting really into a game and then have it cancelled during its heyday due to some weird unfortunate circumstance, leaving me sad and looking for the next one that will “click” for me. Now I’m talking about the kind of games most of you have not ever even tried before, Collectible Card Games and Tabletop Miniature games primarily (Fortunately, RPGs cannot suffer this fate due to the inherent type of the medium, but they do suffer the Three Session Curse which isΒ  thing for another post)

At the moment, none of my favourite such games are in production anymore, most of them for many years now. In order of how awesome I find them, here’s a small list and what happened to them.

  • Doomtown: A brilliant card game with a very novel take on game design combining elements of traditional CCGs, Poker and Chess. Got cancelled because Wizards of the Coast egregiously dropped the ball/killed it.
  • Chronopia: A tabletop miniature game set in very grim-dark fantasy theme, when grim-dark was not yet in fashion. Killed when its company reconstructed, even though it had strong sales.
  • 7th Sea: Another collectible card game with a novel ruleset and a fantasy-swashbuckling setting. Died due to a series of bad decisions from the publisher
  • Warzone: The brother tabletop miniature game to Chronopia which had a similarly grim-dark theme but in sci-fi. Killed for the same reasons,which was an especially sad fact as at the time it was a very strong opponent to Games Workshop’s exorbitant prices in the Greek market.
  • Mordheim: Because I’m a sucker for skirmish games with strong campaign elements built-in. Suffered the same fate all Games Workshop products which are not Warhammer or WH40k suffer.
  • Dune CCG: Yet another card game built on a rich sci-fi setting and with rules that fit brilliantly in the setting. Was just not popular enough to continue.
  • Legend of the Burning Sands: A card game similar to Legened of the 5 rings, but simply superior in gameplay.

And these are not even all the examples I can think of but they were definitely the ones who’s passing hurt me most. This occurrence is so common that it became almost a running joke in my gaming circle that any game that I started taking a strong liking to, would be inevitably doomed. The games on the other hand that managed to survive where those that I played just in order to have *something* to play, but never liked them particularly. Games like Warlord which I found had a very good setting but never really liked its rules1

The good thing is that because these games I listed are just so good, they tend to develop cult followings behind them which can keep their embers alive far into the future and sometimes this helps.

I recently discovered a little game engine called OCTGN which allows one to build card game definitions and then play their favourite games on it for free, and given that I’ve been itching to play doomtown once more, this sounded like an excellent opportunity. Unfortunately there was no game definition for doomtown available and I took this chance to build one.

Yes, I am aware that there is a plugin for doomtown on the LackeyCCG engine, but I’ve tried it once and I was left a bit underwhelmed. After experiencing OCTGN, LackeyCCG just felt clunky (the program actually strained my eyesight during play) and it didn’t really offer any automation. I’m guessing that one could theoretically code such automation in LackeyCCG just as one can in OCTGN but on the other hand, OCTGN just looks better and as a very big plus for me, it does its scripting in python, which I’ve been itching to start working with.

So OCTGN it was, and after a whole weekend of trial and error I’ve managed to make a working game definition which I’ve been refining for the last few days as well. At the moment I’m happy to say that the game is completely playable and this is where the aforementioned core community comes in, as it can provide the people and the excitement to spread the joy. You can find the game files for the Doomtown CCG here btw and you can also follow updates on the forum. Hit me up πŸ™‚

Once I’ve brought the game into as good a state as I possibly can, I think I’ll start working on 7th Sea or Legend of the Burning sands.

As usually when I get into this mood, I also checked up on some of my other favourite games, but unfortunately, Chronopia has not fared nearly as well as doomtown. I keep hoping that one day, once 3D printing technology is cheap enough, the game will be revived via allowing the sharing of model schematics and terrain. Until then, here’s some concept art that a fan created in the fora of a company which I don’t think even exists anymore πŸ™‚

A Fan drawing of a Blackblood Army in the Chronopia universe

A Fan Drawing of a Devout army in the Chronopia universe.

  1. Incidentally,Β  liking only it half-way, just delayed the inevitable, as Warlord has been suffering a slow death for many years now []

9 thoughts on “Blasts from the past

  1. I want to correct your "assumption" about what Killed Doomtown. Doomtown Flourished rather well when WotC owned it. And like you should, at a good point in the story after things would be wrapped up nicely, WotC decided to end their run on a high note (Revelations/Kingdom Come.)

    They sold the game to AEG a group made up of the original designers.

    AEG, however had some issues. It took about 8 months before AEG's First Set: "Boot Hill Edition" Hit shelves, the set only had 2 draws. The starters had a exclusive card, and they reprinted a few of the most desirable cards from the impossible to get "Mouth of Hell" Set from WotC. That was, at the time, pretty standard fare for a Base set. But there were two problems.

    First they over printed it, they considered WotC's sales, but not the players they would lose during the 8 month gap, and the fact that doomtown had two types of players, causual and hard core, the hardcore only needed the starter only cards, and the causual players didn't want to spend a ton on cards.

    The second problem was a flood at the warehouse where Boot Hill's stock was stored. It damaged about a quarter of the product, PRIMARILY THE STARTERS THAT WERE THE BIG DRAW. So they had effectively lost about a third of the total sales.

    3 – 4 months later, Ashes to Ashes was released. This was met with good, but not strong sales. In some areas, it was the top selling card game that month. But it had been a year since a new expansion had come out, and there was a real shake up in cards. Soa portion of player had moved to other games (L5R and 7th Sea were popular alternative games.)

    Eye for an Eye was also met with OK sales. Which was unfortunate as Both L5R and 7th Seas were doing better overall. and AEG notoriously can only keep 2 CCGs alive, but no more.

    I was on the story team and received a phone call about a month after E4aE came out that Do Unto Others was ready to go to print, but they were changing the format, and ending the game.

    So that's the true story of why Doomtown came to an end. Gap between sets. Damage to product. Overprinting. Lackluster sales.

    It was over a year and a half after WotC sold the product line to AEG.

    And now you know, and knowing is half the battle.

    1. OK, I take your word for it since you were closer to the process. As a far away Greek, that was the story I heard πŸ™‚

      How long after Revelations did WoTC transfer the rights to AEG? From what I know, the gap between sets happened because WoTC was dragging their legs but that AEG churned out Boot Hill soon after they purchased the license.

  2. I actually just was reading an article in WotC's last Doomtown Epitaph where the WotC brand manager was talking as if it had been in the works for a while before the release of Revelations.

    The sad thing is there is a lot of misconceptions about things at the end of Doomtown. From eCard Legality, to License disputes. I have, since I was there and closer to it than many, tried to be upfront in regards to things, to destroy the misinformation.

      1. Anytime that stuff happens, it takes some amount of time, I know AEG had everything in place within a few months, because that's when I was brought in. they had the license at that point. And there was still another 3-4 months before Boot Hill was on the shelf. I was never privy to anything being signed between Zinsner and Garfiled though.

        IIRC at the time, AEG tried to pin some of the blame on WotC for Doomtown's fall, and WotC said "Whatever we sold it to you."

        Of course, at one point, somehow got blamed for the Fall of Magi-Nation and I was just a contract designer who never even got paid. so it's easy for people to point fingers at people and say "it's his fault!" lol

        1. A-ha! So you are the cause for the fall of Magi-Nation! Scum!

          I kid, I kid. I learned and played this game on the gatling and it was pretty cool. I want to bring it to OCTGN eventually (after I do 7th Sea and LBS πŸ™‚ ) and fortunately, I still have the art saved from the cache of gatling engine (I am SO glad I thought to make a backup of it just in case. I've got the art for a truckload of games saved up)

  3. Excellent. Once I perfect Doomtown, 7th Sea is next on my list.

    Apropos scans, any chance I can get more Doomtown HQ Scans?

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