DOOM: The Board Game (2016) Review - Nightmare Mode!

DOOM!!!! DOOM!!!! DOOM!!!! Such a cool word, and of course one of the most iconic first person shooters in video game history. No discernible plot worth mentioning, just you, a ton of cool guns and the demons of Hell rushing at you for you to obliterate into as many chunky pieces as possible. It's the very definition of mindless fun and the reboot in 2016 on the PC I've just actually completed last night - again, it's mindless, adrenaline filled, fun, though you have to get used to listening to heavy metal music! Although here's a tip, play on the hardest difficulty you can when you first load it up, it doesn't lend itself well to repeat plays.

Fantasy Flight Games released a tabletop version of the franchise a long time ago, but I never really saw much of it and I don't recall a lot of buzz either. Now they've rebooted (the word of the year it seems) it for a new board game release, very much in the same vein as every other 1 vs all style tactical miniatures game out there. Personally I'm starting to get a little bored of these springing up everywhere, but certainly it looks like they are being faithful to the franchise from the cover alone. . . . . . which you have to admit looks AMAZING!! Does the rest of the game follow suit?




Designer: Jonathan Ying
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Age: 14+
Players: 2-5
Time: 90-240 Minutes
RRP: £74.99


Description from the publisher:
DOOM: The Board Game is strategy board game of tactical combat for 2-5 players based on Bethesda and id Software's video game of the same name. Featuring two distinct player roles, the game brings the epic battle between elite marines and Hell's most threatening monsters to the tabletop.
DOOM immerses players in a fierce battle between legions of demons — which are controlled by one invader player — and a cooperative team of up to four marines. The game guides players through two cohesive operations, during which the marines strive to achieve objectives like restoring power to the United Aerospace Corporation's facilities or manning expeditions right down into the pits of Hell. Meanwhile, the invader commands their demons to slaughter the soldiers time and time again in an attempt to protect their fiery domain and destroy all of humanity.
The game features custom dice, double-sided map tiles, and thirty-seven detailed plastic miniatures representing four marines and thirty-three demons. It includes two operations, Black Bishop and Exodus, consisting of six missions each.

HELL NEVER LOOKED SO GOOD


Oh my word, did it never look this good! DOOM carries a hefty price tag, but you are getting quality for your purchase. The map tiles are reminiscent of what you get in Imperial Assault, solid, chunky and fully detailed and double sided. All the cards are littered with stills as opposed to artwork, but they're all gorgeously rendered straight out of the 2016 PC game. And the miniatures, ooooooooooh those miniatures. If you like painting, you're in for a treat as these are some of the best miniatures I've seen FFG put out. Great detail, large and exactly how they appear in the PC game. The Cyberdemon is a 3 part, easy to assemble behemoth of a model that is reason enough alone to want to play the Invaders, hell even purchase the game to begin with! Shame he's so easy to kill in the actual video game. . . .

Everything within the box is designed with the intellectual property at the forefront. The attention to detail to represent the theme is at a level that would give Gale Force Nine games a run for their money. Certainly so far by looks alone, it is a straight up port from PC to tabletop. Everything from the iconic Cacodemons to the BFG (Big <Censored> Gun) can be found here and we're only getting started. In fact the only thing we're missing is a Spider Mastermind model . . . . .wink wink FFG.


KEEP ON SHOOTING


You're probably already familiar with how most of DOOM will operate. You point your gun at an enemy, check if you have line of sight and roll for damage dealt. That's the same here, but DOOM does offer a couple of twists compared to other games. Each Marine player will have a deck of cards based on what weapons they are carrying plus some standard ones. If they pick up extra weapons along the way, they will add several more cards from that weapon set to their deck. This has the effect of adding more options, but also diluting the various maneuvers you can perform. Want to focus on a particular tactic? Simply toss away a gun and the respective cards. It's a very cool system of flexibility that mimics the Invaders own deck of cards that they use based on the scenario. You don't get very many in each set however so expect a lot of repetition.

There's also a very varied system of customization pre-match. You can use the basic setups in the book, but eventually you're going to want to tap into the rules for choosing your own loadouts. There are some suggested setups in the rule book based on combat styles with squad names and designated roles, which are really cool and diverse. On top of this, before the match the Marines will select from a deck of "skills" which grant them a unique special ability. For example a Medic will be able to heal, a Ranger will have boosted movement, etc. There's a lot of these available, more than I would have expected in fact. Of course whether they're all balanced is an impossible question without playing a ton of games.

The Invader in contrast doesn't have as much variety. They can customize their deck of nasty effects, but each monster group has only one card associated with them and most have limited abilities. You'll quickly flood the map with a lot of models though so they will certainly get plenty of turns to have some fun moving cool miniatures around - though the claustrophobic nature of the maps will actually tend to frustrate the Invader more than the Marines.


NIGHTMARE MODE - BUT FOR WHICH SIDE?


A big problem with skirmish miniature games is the time length they run for. So many of them carry a 2 hour time limit at minimum not including setup and take down and you can even buff that to 3 hours with enough players making tactical discussions and rules checking. DOOM is unfortunately no exception - you can't just jump in for a quick bash, you have to basically plan your night for it, however as much as it's a bugbear for me, I think most of you know what you're getting into already.

DOOM aims to scale the difficulty when you have less than 4 Marine players, but the results are very hit and miss. I've had to pool together experiences from other players here with my own, but it seems to be a consensus that the perfect balance is with a full player count. Each Marine gets one action, does his thing and that's it. No extra buffs to hit points or double actions etc. 3 Marines seems to be reasonable also though a little tougher on the Marines so far.

But when you get to 2 Marines or even a solo experience, it's like you're playing the original DOOM PC game from the previous century on the easiest difficulty. The Invader just seems to have such a hard time when the Marines are buffed up so much that they can literally take down Barons of Hell in one round without any retaliation or several Imps in a Glory Kill frenzy. In fact the Imps in general might as well be called "walking medikits" from the amount of healing that Glory Kills will earn them. And good game if one of those Marines is carrying the Shotgun.

The missions do get tougher as you go through, but even then I'm not as keen to play DOOM without at least 3 Marines present. This has an effect on the campaign mode as well as it's the first to 4 victories out of 6 missions but the first mission feels like an auto-win for the Marines and even the second isn't that hard so the Invader is on the back foot always. I much prefer to simply choose one of the later missions and make it a one-night bloodbath.



VERDICT ON DOOM


If you're looking for a direct tabletop version of the PC game, then look no further because this represents the theme to such a strong level it's unreal. Everything looks gorgeous and justifies the price tag with a decent amount of replayability in the box to cover the scenarios presented and allow for custom maps in the future. Customizing your weapon loadouts and special skills in preparation can lead to many different play styles and just adds to the replay value.

It's not without its flaws however. Firstly games will run long as do all skirmish miniature games. You're looking at 2 hours for most games at least with all the tactical decision making, probably longer and so if you want a quick skirmish, you won't get that here. The biggest problem is difficulty balance though. With only 1 or 2 Marine players, the Invader will just get obliterated especially in early missions. With 3, it's a bit more balanced, but your perfect amount is 4 and that means you're in for a long night!

DOOM therefore annoyingly requires a specific setup to really shine, but when you have it as well as the spare time, it's one of the better multiplayer skirmish miniature games on the market. If you'll now excuse me, I'm off on my holidays to my timeshare in Hell....... (cocks assault rifle). . . . . .



BROKEN RATING - 7 Glory Kills (8 if you can get the right setup)




YOU WILL LIKE DOOM IF:



You're a fan of the franchise - it's the perfect port from the PC game.


You enjoy tactical skirmish miniature games such as Imperial Assault.


You want a game that's likely to be more contained, i.e. not with a bucket of expansions.




YOU WILL NOT LIKE DOOM IF:


You don't like the extended length of time to play through each game.


You don't have the right balance of players - too few Marines and the Invader has problems.


You feel the lack of a proper narrative doesn't make it as memorable.


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