Sunday, February 6, 2011

Character Guide: Kit Carlson

Kit Carlson

Edit (3/29/12): Adding in Dodge City Info and edited some strategy against Kit Carlson.

Character Name: Kit Carlson.

Inspired by: Kit Carson, American frontiersman and colonel who battled the Navajo.

Life Points: 4.

Ability Type: Neutral.

Ability: "During phase 1 of his turn, he looks at the top three cards of the deck: he chooses 2 to draw, and puts the other one back on the top of the deck, face down."

Activation: During his drawing phase.

Cards enhanced by Kit Carlson's ability: Dynamite, Duel, Volcanic, draw cards.

Cards more effective when played against Kit Carlson: Prison.

Cards less effective when played against Kit Carlson: Dynamite, Barrel.

Ideal Roles for Kit Carlson: Good for all.

Characters Kit Carlson counters well: Jourdonnais.

Characters who counter Kit Carlson well: Jesse Jones

2-player value: Great, you can pick the right cards to let you survive and win, and give your opponent cards that will work less effectively against you.

General Strategy: A key point to remember about Kit Carlson's ability is that when he looks at the top 3 cards of the deck and picks 2, the card he does not choose is not discarded, but placed on top of the drawing deck (see the thread with Emiliano Sciarra's approval of this Kit Carlson interpretation). Many people play with the last card being discarded, which is an interesting way to play, but it is not technically Kit Carlson's ability, and really changes the strategy with him. For if the card was discarded, Kit Carlson would not be able to set others up, and two, and other players might easily read Kit Carlson's hand and intentions from the card that he discarded.

With that out of the way, let me move on. Kit Carlson is very good at gathering the cards he needs in either an offensive (gathering BANG! for Duels/Volcanic, or for planning combos like Duel-Indians!-BANG!) or defensive mode. On top of this, Kit Carlson also controls the next card on top of the deck. Initially, you might think that this only affects the next player's draw phase, but there is more to it than that. Think of how this could apply to Dynamite! If Kit Carlson survives a Dynamite "draw!", he gets to draw 3 cards that he might potentially put on top of the deck. Within a round or two, there is a good chance that of those 6 cards that one of them will be a 2-9 of Spades, and then Kit Carlson can basically guarantee that the player to his left has the Dynamite explode on them if he so desires.

Furthermore, Kit Carlson can plan ahead to shoot a character who has a Barrel or Jourdonnais, and guarantee that their "draw!" will fail by not choosing a card with a heart suit and placing it at the top of the deck. I am sure there are even wackier strategies than this; imagine Kit Carlson setting up a Volcanic for Bart Cassidy, then shooting at him, Bart Cassidy taking the hit, and picking the Volcanic up! Kit Carlson's ability is very versatile and the smart player needs to be aware of this. Every drawing phase will require some planning. If Kit Carlson is not going to create a "draw!" or some card draw by some other ability or card (Conestoga, Wells Fargo, General Store), then he needs to consider which card he is going to give to the player to his direct left. If it is an opponent Kit Carlson will want to give him cards challenging his plans; with an ally, he will want to give him cards helping his plans. This can sometimes come in conflict with his capacity to gather cards that are less common and allow you to build a blue card base. Of course, at the beginning of the game there is more of a "grace period" for this worry, but it is still problematic.

In general, however, I would start Kit Carlson with searching for blue cards that he can play in front of him, and then placing them down. Then, gather up a defensive (a mix of Missed!, Beer, BANG!, Prison, Cat Balou) or offensive hand depending on your goal, as you balance out considerations with the card you handing the next player. As you can imagine, having a wider selection than other players on your draw phase, you can get more BANG! for an attack with a Volcanic. On the flip side, people will likely know you are storing up cards, and may use Duels, Cat Balous, and Panics to deplete Kit Carlson's stash. Mustangs are always a good protection from theft. When attacking players with Barrels, remember the strategy I discussed above.

Playing against Kit Carlson: Since Kit Carlson activates his ability during his drawing phase, placing him in Jail nullifies his ability. Since he will be storing up cards, it can be a good idea to Cat Balou or Panic cards from his hand. If you are playing against a defensive Kit Carlson, playing a Duel against him can be a good idea as he will likely have less BANG! in his hand; follow it with an Indians! if you can. If you are directly to his left, you may want to be very frank about your role if he is your ally, so then he can give you cards to help you out. If you are not his ally, deception can be a good strategy, as then he can give you cards than you can then turn against him. Of course, that will be a one time deal, because once you turn on Kit Carlson he will not make that mistake again. If you do not opt for the deception route, be very careful with what you discard/pick up in General Stores; try to fake him out that way to get what you need.

Finally, pay attention to when you can discover what cards Kit Carlson is opting not to take into his hand; this can give you some idea of how his hand is built. You will most likely discover these cards during your own draw phase if you are to his immediate left. "Drawn!" cards can also be helpful, but take them with a grain of salt if they seem clearly designed to affect the "drawn!" result.

Dodge City cards enhanced by Kit Carlson's ability: the extra Dynamite and the extra Volcanic.

Dodge City Characters that Kit Carlson Counters Well: Belle Star (Greater card selection makes it easier for him to get cards to protect him against Belle) and Apache Kid (Greater card selection makes it easier for him to get non-diamond cards to hurt Apache Kid).

Dodge City Characters that Counter Kit Carlson Well: To some extent Elena Fuente (Whatever card Kit stores up for Elena for her draw phase she can play as a Missed!).

General Strategy Adjustments for Kit Carlson: There are not many strategy adjustments for Kit Carlson in Dodge City. The additional Dynamite can make your ability to stack a "drawn!" result for the player to your immediate left more likely. You can provide some useful cards for new characters, such as stacking a Beer up for Tequila Joe, a blue card for Jose Delgado, or an out of turn playable card for Molly Stark.

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  1. The most exploding move with Kit Carlson is the Dynamite. You can choose to blow the player left to you or not!

    Survive the Dynamite and you are in a very good position!

  2. This was a great point about Kit Carlson and I am really glad you shared it. I will add it to the guide immediately.

  3. I think that Kit Carlson counters Bill Noface very well, when they are the last two players in game, or if Noface plays right after Kit. You can control cards he gets and play with him.