Character Name: Doc Holyday
Inspired by: John Henry "Doc" Holliday, an American gambler, gunfighter, cards player, and dentist known for his involvement in the Gunfight at the O. K. Corral and his friendship with Wyatt Earp.
Life Points: 4
Ability Type: Offensive
Ability: "During his turn, he may discard once 2 cards from the hand to shoot a BANG!" While initially this ability does not sound to useful (it looks like that at least every turn he will be able to fire a BANG!), the Dodge City rules clarify the great utility of this character: "This ability does not count towards his limit of one BANG! card per turn." Thus, Doc Holyday can fire potentially 2 BANG! per turn (given that one is provided by his ability) without a Volcanic. You should be a lot more impressed with Doc Holyday from here on out. This extra BANG! functions like a normal BANG! (it can hit players within reachable distance). The Dodge FAQ explains, "Q12. How far can shoot Doc Holyday when he uses his ability? A. Any reachable distance."
Activation: Doc Holyday's turn, when he has at least two cards in his hand to discard, and another player is within reachable distance
Cards enhanced by Doc Holyday's ability: All cards to some extent as they can be converted into a BANG!, but for special consideration Duel, Volcanic, Stagecoach, Wells Fargo, and General Store
Cards more powerful when played against Doc Holyday: Jail, Panic, Cat Balou, Conestoga, Can Can, Brawl, Rag Time
Ideal roles: Renegade, Deputy
Good role: Outlaw
Characters Doc Holyday Counters Well: Apache Kid (he can use his ability's BANG! to circumvent Apache Kid's immunity to diamonds. As the Dodge City rules explain, "To hit Apache Kid in this way [through using his ability], at least one of the two discarded cards must not be a dimaond." I think that condition is a little strange, since the cards are not being played against Apache Kid, which his ability is supposed to be activated on cards played against, but discarded. Apparently, there is some sense in which the discarded cards' values pass on to the BANG! Regardless, there is a very low chance of having discarded 2 diamonds, and so you can dish out serious damage to Apache Kid, who only has 3 life points).
Characters who Counter Doc Holyday well: Jesse Jones
2-player value: Decent. While Doc Holyday only draws 2 cards a turn, and it takes 2 cards to activate his ability, he can still use his ability to get rid of useless cards: Beer, duplicate cards, Jail if he is in a duel with a Sheriff, and Dynamite (depending on his life points). Doc Holyday can keep the BANG! he draws for defensive purposes, and when needed he can take 2 shots at his opponent. The question is whether Doc Holyday's opponent can keep the cards in his hand low, and if he has low life points to begin the 2-player duel.
General Strategy as Doc Holyday: In some senses, Doc Holyday is the reverse of Sid Ketchum. Sid Ketchum discards 2 cards to regain a life point, while Doc Holyday discards 2 cards to potentially inflict the loss of a life point. Of course, there are differences. Doc Holyday's BANG! could miss, and he can only use his ability once and on his turn, while Sid Ketchum does not. Nonetheless, I think it is helpful to think of Doc Holyday's ability this way. I think Doc Holyday is a really strong character. First, every card for him has some offensive value, contributing half way towards a BANG! When another player plays a General Store, any card Doc Holyday picks up was more valuable than before. If he plays a Wells Fargo or Stagecoach, and none of the cards are that useful in themselves, he can still convert them into the BANG! If Doc Holyday uses a Volcanic and runs out of BANG!, he still may be able to finish off the character he fired at with his ability. Every card counts for him in an offensive manner.
The second thing to remember with Doc Holyday is that there is rarely, if ever, a game where he will have to discard over his card limit. If he has too many BANG! in his hand, Missed!/Dodge, or duplicate cards he cannot play, he can simply convert them into a BANG! and fire at another player. This can work especially well if he has a Duel, because then he can get rid of excess BANG!, and use his ability during the Duel if necessary. It also works well when Doc Holyday has a lower amount of life points, which is when players tend to exceed their card limits more often. Doc Holyday may need to be careful which card he discards on top of the deck if Pedro Ramirez is in play, but this a minor obstacle.
As with Sid Ketchum, Doc Holyday needs to be careful with not overextending himself, and thus leaving himself open. He should try to use his ability only when he has excess or duplicate cards, an opponent is particularly open during his turn, or if he can eliminate an opponent. Doc Holyday is particularly good at eliminating other players because he can usually get off at least 2 shots at them (with the Volcanic even moreso), making him able to overcome last second Beers. If Doc Holyday is a Deputy or Renegade, this is especially advantageous for him in getting the 3 card bonus for offing an Outlaw. I especially like as the Renegade, as he can wait around for the Deputy(ies)/Sheriff and the Outlaws to weaken each other, before he pops out and deals a ton of damage. The green cards in Dodge City are especially advantageous for Doc Holyday. Since he has to discard cards out of his hand to use his ability, it is a great idea to have some defensive and offensive green cards in front of him. That way he not only gives a more forceful attack, but also has less worry of overextending himself. He needs to be careful with not getting all of the BANG! out of his hand during his turn, as he cannot use his ability when it is not his turn. That will make Doc Holyday very open to Duel and Indians!
Playing against Doc Holyday: There are some general items to think about when Doc Holyday is your opponent. As with other characters whose abilities are activated during their turns, Jail is a good way to silence Doc Holyday's ability. Be careful when playing General Stores, as Doc Holyday will always be able to put a card to good use. Since Doc Holyday has to use cards from his hand to use his ability, stealing and discarding cards from his hand can be particularly effective in neutralizing him. Remember that Doc Holyday's ability only produces a BANG! within reachable distance, so you can avoid the wrath of his ability through distance management. Keep a Volcanic out of his hands if possible, as he will likely be able to fire the amount of BANG! he has + 1. If Doc Holyday has been depleting a lot of cards out of his hand, and you see that he has been firing actual BANG! cards, then try to use Indians! and Duel against him. Chances are he will not have a BANG! and will lose a life point.