Saturday, July 19, 2014

Quick Review - Doom: The Boardgame

Doom: The Boardgame
Designers: Christian T. Petersen &
Kevin Wilson
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Quick Review - Doom: The Boardgame
In addition to playing Descent, yesterday I also played Doom: The Boardgame for the first time.  Both games have very similar mechanics, but the themes and overall feeling of the game play are completely different.  Whereas Descent is set in a fairly standard fantasy RPG environment, Doom is set in the high-tech, alien invasion world of the Doom video games.  Descent had a very RPGish, epic feel to it, especially with the experience points, earning gold to trade for buying items, campaigns and quests, and while there are video games that have that element, too, Doom felt much more like a video game than Descent did.  Maybe it was the military feel of Doom or the fact that the entire gameboard was only revealed as sections of it were explored, but Doom had much the same feel as the First Person Shooter video game it is based on.

While I really enjoyed Doom, I think in the long run I'll like Descent a little better because of the wider range of decisions that seemed to be in the game.  In Doom your characters had a certain set of skills and weapons and then you just shoot everything around you.  Defense in Doom was passive (each character had a set value for armor), while in Descent battles felt more like actual combat with each player rolling dice to determine attack and defense strength that could vary every time.  In Descent there were also a lot more decisions to make.  In Doom your choices were basically if you move, attack, or do half of each.  And every marine in Doom has the same basic abilities (they can all move the same and have the same choices).  The only real differences are in the choices of weapons available to each character and weapons aren't earned, but found lying around the game board (along with health, ammo, extra armor, and other items), just like in a video game.  In Descent each character has some drastically different abilities, making it much more critical that players collaborate and pool their resources, deciding who moves first, what actions they take, etc.  There seem to be a lot more nuanced decisions to make in Descent.

That said, sometimes it's fun to just blow stuff up.  And you do a lot of that in Doom, just like in its video game counterpart.  The simpler rules and decisions mean a more straightforward game, but after looking through the rules and components, it's obvious that there is a lot of room for the difficulty and complexity of the game to expand as players earn experience and progress through the game.  I definitely wouldn't ever turn down a game of Doom, but I think given the choice between Doom and Descent, most of the time I'd probably pick Descent.  But again, I think Descent is more suited to extended game sessions and campaigns spread out over multiple sessions.  Doom seems like it'd be better at just sitting down to play one scenario at a time.

My friend and I did start playing Doom with our sons (both almost 8) and it quickly lost their attention.  I ended up playing three marines though.  I think the game can work with younger players, but the rules would have to be simplified greatly.  A lot of the options would have to be removed (things like Soldier Orders, and the Marines Cards) and the game stripped down to its basics of just moving and attacking (maybe keep the Guard order) and have the Game Master adjust the amount of tokens and monsters placed in each room based on the needs of the younger players.  Also recommended would be to have the entire scenario's map laid out before hand (without the monsters and tokens) so the players have an idea of where to go.  Descent I don't think would work with simplified rules for younger players, so Doom does have that going for it.

I'm giving Doom a preliminary rating of 8, just like Descent, but it's probably actually a 7.75 whereas Descent is the full 8.  I really find it curious though how two games can be so similar in the basics, but feel so different in actual play.  I'm glad that I experienced both in the same day.  That was kind of cool =)

Preliminary Rating: 8/10

He's checking out the monsters he'll be up against...  Or rather the monsters I'll be up against after he and his friend move on to other battles.  The complexity of the standard rules was a bit much for them.

Moving through the research lab battling zombies and monsters.

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GJJG Game Reviews are independent, unpaid reviews of games I, George Jaros, have played with his family and friends.  Some of these games I own, some are owned by friends, some are borrowed, and some are print and play versions of games.  Where applicable I will indicate if games have been played with kids or adults or a mix (Family Play).  I won't go into extensive detail about how to play the game (there are plenty of other sources for that information and I'll occasionally link to those other sources), but I will give my impressions of the game and how my friends and family reacted to the game.  First Play Impression reviews will only get a single rating of 1-10 (low-high) based on my first impressions of the game during my first time playing.  Hopefully I'll get more chances to play the game and will be able to give it a full review soon.

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