Body Armor? Check.
BFG 9000? Check.
LET’S FRAG SOME DEMONS!!!
In Fantasy Flight Game’s miniature-tastic new DOOM: The Board Game (based on the mega-hit DOOM video game series) a horde of horrifying, weapon-toting demons engage in bloody, fast-paced combat with an elite unit of human Marines in the depths of a Martian research facility. One player controls the Invader force, while one to four players join together as the Marines to cooperatively eliminate the hellish threat.
With smart, balanced, and inventive game design by Jonathan Ying (Star Wars: Imperial Assault; BattleLore; Game of Thrones: the Trivia Game), FFG has managed to put out a game that is not only steeped in theme (and what a theme it is!), but that more than delivers on a mechanics level and is simply, flat-out fun. While at the outset, there might seem to be a lot of moving parts here (in typical FFG style, there is a ton of cards, tokens, minis, etc.) the Learn to Play rules book is clearly laid out and the alphabetized Rules Reference guide offers an easy way to find answers to game-related issues. Smartly, DOOM provides a scaled-down tutorial scenario, which makes up the bulk of the Learn to Play book, so it’s easy for new players to get up and running relatively quickly. Once players have the basics down, they can move on to the twelve dynamic scenarios in the Operations Guide, or they can design their own scenarios by mixing and matching the game’s durable interlocking tiles, which are used to create the board.
As previously mentioned, in DOOM one player controls the demons (“the Invader”), and up to four players control the rough and ready, battle-armored, rocket launcher-totin’, chainsaw-wielding Marines. Portal Tokens placed on the game board dictate where the demons are summoned, and it’s up to the Marines to fight them off while working to accomplish the goals of the current scenario. Marines’ goals range from Guard Duty to Asset Extraction to Sample Collection, while the Invader’s goal is almost exclusively to kill (or “frag”) as many Marines as possible. Player turn order changes each round and is determined by randomly selected Initiative Cards, a mechanic which keeps players, demon and Marine alike, on their toes. On a player’s turn his or her options are limited to Move and Attack. That’s pretty much it, and man, is that awesome. The board is exists in grid form, and each figure can move a certain number of spaces per turn, dictated by either demon type for the Invader, or weapon type for the Marines. Dice are rolled to attack and each defender reveals a card from a face-down deck in an attempt to negate any damage done by the attacker. Simple as that. While there are lots of factors that add complexity to each of these elements – i.e. what weapons are used, available cover, special character abilities, etc. – the game very much benefits from this streamlined approach, and the result is that it just feels like the relentlessly-paced video game upon which it’s based. You run, you shoot, you kill, you die, and (if you’re a Marine) you re-spawn.
Fans of the source material will not be disappointed in what this hefty box has to offer. The board game makes terrific use of many of the hallmarks of the video game – Glory Kills, the awesome over-the-top weaponry, teleporters, health packs randomly lying around, and more, all seamlessly integrated into the tabletop experience. The demon minis are simply works of art. From the skull-headed Revenant with shoulder-mounted rockets to the bloated, guns-for-arms Mancubus, to the enormous and terrifying Cyberdemon, FFG has once again raised the bar on miniatures quality. The Marines, however? Not so much. They’re not bad, but compared to the awesomeness of the Invader pieces, the Marines come across as generic and, quite frankly, a little boring. Also, it was an odd choice to make them all gray (instead of the yellow, green, red, and blue to correspond with the four Marine Cards) and a couple of them have very similar poses. This caused a bit of confusion once or twice in our play-through, and in future sessions, we’ll likely find a way to better distinguish these figures. This, however, is a minor complaint, and the quality of the gorgeous demons more than makes up for the Marines’ shortcomings.
In summary, DOOM works on all levels. If you’re a fan of video game series and are looking for more ways to explore that world, or if you’re just looking for an action packed many-versus-one tabletop experience (or both!), this is the game for you. Due to the quality of the presentation and components, the price point is a bit high, but the fun, excitement, and replayability of DOOM make it a must-have for anyone interested in this style of game.
Photos: FFG website