Board Game Review: Doom

Yep you read that title right, we’re taking a look at the board game based on id Software’s timeless classic Doom, a game which had a very splendid reboot lately and continues to be the go-to name for those looking for something to call the Granddad of Shooters. And you’ll be glad to know that marines, huge monsters and big weapons are all present and correct, and come together to make a deep but highly enjoyable game for fans of the game. Is it good enough to draw in those not fussed by the video game though? Read on…

Setting the game up takes a short while, but it easy enough. Board tiles clip together as outlined in the relevant mission breakdown and various cards are handed out to players to set up their characters and starting equipment. The player layout is interesting, with one player controlling the monsters in the game, and every other player controlling a single marine – as a result you get this great all-against-one mechanic which sounds harsh on the player controlling the monsters, but there’s so much fun to be had with them I can’t imagine anyone minding that they’re become the lone wolf. Well, apart from not being able to play with some of the weapons on offer.

You see, as anyone who’s played an id game before will atone to the weapons are one of the coolest parts of the games. Whether that’s Doom, Quake or the hugely under-appreciated Rage it was the weapons which left a grin on your face while playing, and the Doom favourites are here in full effect. You’ll be wielding shotguns, chainguns and the firm favourite known simply as the BFG. It’s a big gun; if you’re unfamiliar I’ll leave you to work out what the F stands for. It’s tempting to grab the big toys early on and think you can just blast through whatever comes your way, but that might not be the best bet. Big guns mean slower movement, and that could mean trouble when needing to make a quick getaway. But small guns might not deal enough damage to get you out of trouble alone, so a balancing act is definitely needed. The artwork on all of these cards is awesome though, taking strong inspiration from the recent version of the video game and having an excellent “oooh” factor when you first see them.

During the game each marine player adds their character card into something called an initiative deck, with the invader player adding one monster card per type of bad guy on the board, meaning the deck changes as the game presses on and the bad guys are added or removed from the level. This deck is shuffled and cards are picked to determine who takes their turn – on the marines turn there are 4 turns in total spread across all players, so if there are 2 players for example then each marine gets two turns. If it’s time to attack then some dice are rolled to determine the outcome, but unlike some games of this ilk there are only a couple of things that can happen: you can cause some damage, or you can miss. From this point it’s down to which cards the opposition draw as to whether or not you’ve managed to kill off whoever, or whatever, you were attacking. This simplified combat system is spot on for people coming to the game from a video game background, and makes the whole thing far more accessible. Whether it might be a little lightweight for fans of this kind of game I’m not sure, but personally I quite enjoyed having a little less to think about. I was just too busy already trying to avoid getting killed by the numerous monsters roaming around.

Games can go on for a couple of hours quite easily, but the time flies, and even when things do come to a bit of a rule-checking halt it doesn’t stop for long – the great idea to split the rule book into three smaller ones has certainly paid off. One leads you through how to play, the other is a reference guide for when you get stuck on something, and the other outlines the various missions available. It’s a very handy way to do things, letting you delve deep into the rules if you want to, or just read enough to get started then check things as you go along.

One thing definitely worth mentioning is the quality of the components; I’ve already mentioned how great the cards look, but the game is typical Fantasy Flight: everything else looks the part too. The board graphics look spot on, the characters and monsters are big and chunky and look menacing (and if you’re up for painting them I can imagine they’d look incredible), and while the marines look a little samey – their names of Alpha, Bravo and so on don’t help – the overall look and feel is what you’d hope for from a game in the Doom franchise.

I was pretty impressed by the balance of the game too. Despite the one-vs-many player count the balance felt good, the player controlling demons can go nuts if they want, as can the marines – there’s no stronger side. The marines have the big guns, the monsters have the numbers on their side. It doesn’t matter which side you’re on, I don’t think there’d ever be a bookie’s favourite going into the game, it’s just down to the players as to which way things go.

So when all’s said and done the final decision comes down to whether or not you’re a Doom fan. If you love the games, have played them and want more in a new format, then you should be buying this. If you don’t know anything about Doom and want a game that’s easy to learn while still having enough depth to be tactical and fun, then you should be buying this. The only gamer I can see not finding this too great is someone who loves a deep combat system with a wider range of combat outcomes – if you’re one of those then this might not be for you, but you’d be missing out on something undeniably cool.

Available Now, RRP £79.99
Find your local stockist here

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