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Subject: Doom: The Boardgame: my view. rss

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Rob Mortimer
United Kingdom
Leeds
West Yorkshire
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Doom: The Boardgame: my view

Preamble
I’ve written about a dozen reviews now and I thought it was about time to tackle a large job: simultaneous reviews of Doom: The Boardgame, Doom: the Boardgame Expansion Set, and Descent: Journeys in the Dark. This opening paragraph is common to all three reviews so feel free to skip it if you are reading it again! Firstly, some background about me since my feelings about each of these games are best viewed in context. I’m a long time science fiction and fantasy fan, having begun playing Traveller and Dungeons and Dragons in the late 70s. Since then I’ve played a huge number of RPGs, miniatures games and boardgames, with the latter becoming the mainstay of my hobby for the last 5 years. Conversely, I loathe computer games. I’ve played a few but I generally get bored pretty quickly and soon start to hanker after the social interaction that I get from sitting around a boardgame with friends.

I purchased Doom as soon as it was available in the shops. This decision was based on two things: firstly it looked great (and I’m a sucker for great looking games with great miniatures). Secondly it evoked fond memories of playing the Alien boardgame years ago with my brother-in-law which I remembered as being deadly but great fun. The ‘marines’ in those games generally died or very occasionally one would crawl out of the final door at the end, but the atmosphere and tension evoked was wonderful.

Components:
In a word: awesome! The rulebook is quite short and concise and does a good job of explaining most things. The scenario book is also excellent. There are four colour reference cards to remind players of the dice and abilities of the marine weapons and various monsters. These highlight which dice to use. The latter come in 4 different colours and combine multiple symbols (and tasks) very effectively. Then there are the miniatures: 3 marines and more than 60 monsters, from the small spider-like Trites to the huge Cyberdemon, in three colours. The floorplans, doors and other terrain tokens are excellent and give the game both great theme and serious table presence. The tokens for weapons, equipment, ammunition, wounds etc are all sturdy, clear and colourful and serve their purpose well. The Berserk tokens don’t make sense because they should have different sides but don’t (this is rectified in the expansion). The marine equipment bins are a really nice way of keeping equipment tokens etc together. Both the marine cards and monster cards have evocative artwork and are clear in their instructions. Overall, a clear 10/10 for components… some of the best you will find anywhere. I could be mean and subtract a point for the berserk tokens being wrong, but the rest of the components are so nice that I can’t bring myself to be mean!

Gameplay.
One player is the Invader and 1 to 3 players are the marines. The marine players each take one of the coloured marine miniatures and the corresponding marine equipment bin, plus marine cards, armour, ammo and wound tokens (depending on player numbers and marine cards). The invader player takes the invaders of the same colour as the marine(s) playing (discarding the rest), then chooses a scenario and sets up the starting area. Both players take reference cards. The game then progresses with each marine taking a turn, followed by the invader. On their turn, a marine can sprint (move up to 8 squares), unload (make 2 attacks), advance (attack and move up to 4) or ready (either move up to 4 or attack, and place 1 order). Marine orders are aim (allows re-rolls during attack), guard (can interrupt invader’s turn to attack), dodge (makes invader re-roll dice during an attack) or Heal (allows marines with a medic card to heal a wound on an adjacent marine).

On the invaders turn, they draw 1 card for each marine and discard down to 8 cards if necessary. They can then play event cards and 1 spawn card (spawning new invaders out of marine line of sight). Each invader on the board can then be activated once (move up to its movement and make one attack).

Attacks can be melee or ranged. Range and LOS are checked and the appropriate dice for the weapon or invader are rolled. Range is checked by adding the numerical numbers on the dice (e.g. a total numerical value of 4 is required to hit a target 4 squares away). If any dice rolls a cross (miss), the attack misses regardless. Likewise, if range is not sufficient, the attack misses. Otherwise, the number of bullet holes on the dice are added up to obtain the damage done. Armour is important because to inflict one wound requires damage equal to the armour rating (e.g. 2 points of damage will cause 1 wound if the armour has a value of 2). Marines suffer wounds by removing wound tokens. Wounded invaders have wound tokens placed next to them. Killed invaders are removed and killed marines are said to have been fragged. Finally, the dice also show bullet icons… if any of these are rolled by a marine, one ammo token is used up and must be discarded.

That is the basics of the game. The marines must achieve an objective to win (usually exiting a specific security door) whereas the invaders must score a certain number of frags. Doors and equipment tokens are placed throughout and the marines may expend movement to activate or collect things. Once fragged a marine is basically killed and returned to his starting abilities before being respawned on the board (with some restrictions to positioning). There are various terrain objects that the marines can interact with (and get hurt by!). Finally, both marine weapons and different types of invader have various special abilities, as shown by icons on the reference card, marine cards or invader cards as appropriate. These abilities are: Accuracy (gains additional range); Aim (see above); Blast (damage applied to an area of squares rather than just 1); Blow-through (damage can affect multiple spaces one at a time); Deadly (+ 1 damage); Knockback (damaged argets can be moved back up to 3 spaces); Scuttle (can move between ducts); Seeking (LOS not needed); Sweep (attack affects all adjacent enemies); Watchful (may immediately attack moving enemy out of turn).

So What Do I Think?
I love Doom. I’ve played it with 2, 3 and 4 players, in a variety of gaming groups. My personal preference is for 3 players because it can get a bit too long with 4. The way that all the abilities and attacks are resolved with simple but clever dice is fantastic. There is enough variety in marine ability cards and weapons to put together very different teams. I’ve not encountered any balance problems, but that maybe because I want it to be hard for the marines. I like the marines to have a low success rate because that makes it a real challenge and it gives the scenarios some replay value. I find that the balance is about right, and as players get better with the marines, the invader player has to be clever to keep up. Currently I think the marines have a success rate of about 20% in our games, which is just how we like it. Personally I think Doom needs to be played fast and furious. If it is played really tactically, with protracted discussions between the marines players, it really drags. Far better to agree that everything should be done at breakneck speed… this really keeps the tension going and, although it makes it even more deadly for the marines, it is much more fun in the process. A classic example is to compare two games (same scenario), where I was the invader. In one, there were two players who love to analyse every possibility and really consider their moves and tactics (real analysis paralysis junkies). In the other, my wife played (who is the absolute antithesis of an analysis paralysis junkie) alongside a newbie who was happy to be guided. The marines lost the first games in 3.5 hours and the won the second in 1.5 hours. Both sets of players had a blast and enjoyed their games. However, when some players from each game later mixed together, the analysis paralysis guys really ruined the experience for the more immediate thrillseekers. So, there is the rub…. if you get it right for your particular group (or subgroup), it is an absolute blast. If you don’t get it right, some players will have a great time but others may be bored out of their mind. Occasionally I’m happy for a slower, more tactical game, but I tend to prefer the fast and furious option (as do all the women in our group!). Also, it is generally true that if the marines are too slow to move through the map, the invader will be able to bog them down and win more easily, whereas if they move really quickly, they stand a better chance of survival. I never believe the game times quoted on boxes but with a fast and furious style we can just about get a game finished within the quoted 90 minute maximum. Overall, then I give the game a very commendable 8 out of 10, and recommend that you play it fast, furious and deadly!

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Alex Martinez
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Very good review. I've been on the fence about Doom for some time now although it looked good. Your analysis of the game mechanics and the fact that it can be played quickly with the right players sold me.
 
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Play Games - Interact - Have Fun!
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Doom is a really fun game and this was a great review! I like reading about games that people are passionate about and this review certainly qualifies.

Good Job!

 
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I have such a group of AP guys. I included now a timelimit of 3min (regardless of how many marines are in the game), this should do it...
 
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Rob Bradley
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Quote:
I have such a group of AP guys. I included now a timelimit of 3min (regardless of how many marines are in the game), this should do it...

That's stealing one more element from Space Hulk!
 
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