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Monday, January 17, 2005

DOOM: The Dungeon Crawl

I had a chance to play DOOM: The Boardgame this weekend. The full game with me playing Invader/DM and two marine players took 3 hours, and the marines survived until the objective room where they died for the 5th and 6th frags. Part of the reason that the game took 3 hours is due to the newness of the game, and there were some occasions where the marines were avidly discussing their options, which slowed things down.

Everyone enjoyed the game, and during play, most of the rules seemed clear enough. The game is very reminiscent of HeroQuest and Space Hulk, though the focus for the marines is really to get out alive as quickly as possible, while the Invader needs to frag the marines early and often.

You need a fair sized table and/or some side tables for components to play comfortably, and it is a good idea to sort out some piles of equipment, ammo and health tokens before the game to make setting up revealed rooms as easy as possible.

I enjoyed DMing the game, though I took pity on the marines in the last room, and did not throw all the nasty cards I was holding at them. They had run dry on ammo, though they were making good use of the chain saw and the berserker drug from the previous room. I was tempted to swap the plasma rifle out of the room, but I decided to let them try and reach it. I did seal the chainsaw-less marine in the room with all the invaders, and that pretty much sealed his fate at the same time. When the door was opened, there were enough zombies and trites to take the last few wounds off the would-be Ash, and he was the last frag.

DOOM is not a deep game, but it is very atmospheric, with nice miniatures and a rule set that seems to be a good balance between ease of use and play. I particularly enjoy the battle dice mechanic, and the Invader player has some neat cards that they can use to really make the marines lives interesting.

I am thinking of a system for designing single player scenarios on the fly, either for solitaire or two player use, and as soon as I get something together I will be sure to post it.

All in all, DOOM: The Boardgame is an enjoyable dungeon crawl. It brings back fond memories of late night D&D sessions with a lot less time and commitment, and the rules strike a decent balance between breadth and ease of use.


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