One of the eternal struggles is when everybody shows up for gaming night… except one person. You need a good game for N-1 people.
Well, if your gaming group is six, you need to check out Doom. When what’s-his/her-name doesn’t show up at the last minute, you’ll find that this is a good game with about 20 minutes of setup and about 3 hours of playtime (4, if you’re going to be arguing about current events between rolls).
Now, it’s Fantasy Flight which tells you pretty much everything you need to know about what’s in the box. It’s another Descent/Star Wars Imperial Assault-style kinda game which means that you will have the cardboard puzzle piece maps, the surprisingly high quality plastic figurines that will make you make noises about wanting to paint them, and the 4-on-1 asymmetrical play that blew you away 10 years ago.
They keep making excellent tweaks and nudges to the gameplay and so the various things that drove you nuts about Descent that got fixed in Imperial Assault got nudged again and there’s a little more randomness to the spawning, a little more power for the players, and a little more chaos (but just a little) in the dice rolls.
For one thing, you know that in Descent, the players went, the overlord went, the players went, the overlord went and that’s how every round played off. Depending on how many players you had or monsters you had on the board, whenever it was anybody’s turn, the other team could get up and go to the bathroom. It was going to be 10 minutes. Star Wars improved on that by having one player and the overlord alternate. That made each turn into a two minute thing that made you much less frustrated when it wasn’t your turn.
Well, Doom puts together a deck with the monsters on the board and the players and shuffles those. Whose turn is next? YOU DON’T KNOW UNTIL YOU FLIP THE CARD. What’s going to happen next turn? No idea. Better hold your breath.
Little improvements (or “changes”, depending on how lucky you are in general) like that make the game that is similar to a half dozen you’ve already played before into something fresh, new, and frustrating. Like the best 4-on-1 games, the overlord only will win about 20% of the time, but the fun part is the butt-kicking the overlord can get away with for the other 80% that always feels like an uphill battle to the players and that makes victory so much sweeter for everybody involved.
So… what are you playing?
(Picture is HG Wells playing a war game from Illustrated London News (25 January 1913))