Bringing DOOM to the Tabletop
An Interview with id Software's Sean Bean and FFG's Derrick Fuchs
Inspired by the blockbuster video game franchise by id Software and Bethesda Softworks, DOOM®: The Board Game is a fast-paced combat adventure between Hell’s most vicious demons and the elite UAC Marines. You may take your place on either side of this bloody battle, battling to overtake the earthly realm as the Invader player or fighting to protect humanity as one of four hardened soldiers. Wherever your sights are set, you’re sure to face death and destruction on your path to victory, or you may even fall to the overwhelming power of your opponents. But that’s the fun of DOOM, isn’t it? Excessive force and unrestrained warfare.
To explore the development of DOOM: The Board Game and chat about its unique gameplay experience, we sat down with two major players in the development of both DOOM, the 2016 video game, and DOOM: The Board Game. As Lead Producer of the Single-Player Campaign for the video game, Sean Bean of id Software had some unique insights on how the tabletop game recreates key elements of the video game. We were also able to peek behind the curtain of development on the board game with some help from FFG producer Derrick Fuchs.
All About DOOM
FFG: What about the DOOM games sets the universe apart from other classic game settings?
Sean Bean: DOOM has never made a pretense about the why of the action. You are fast, armed, and angry; they are demons. I think people love that speed, the overwhelming enemies, the minimal narrative trappings, the distinct personalities of the weapons, and the over-the-top comical bloody bits.
Derrick Fuchs: Absolutely. When we first saw DOOM, the video game, we were struck by just how fast it was. That, and the absurd amounts of demon killing.
FFG: How did that first experience influence the plans that you and designer Jon Ying made for the board game?
DF: Well, we knew immediately that we wanted our board game to mimic many of the elements that have been at the core of DOOM since the original back in ’93. Those elements became our ‘pillars’ so to speak: speed, action, and lots of death. Ultimately, we wanted the tabletop version to capture the experience that is DOOM—a game that immersed you just enough to get that DOOM feeling—but at the end of the day, was just fast, fun, and exciting to play.
FFG: So from those early conversations to the final game, were there any major changes to the design or elements that you realized might not work out the way you’d initially thought?
DF: Before we even saw the 2016 DOOM game, we had planned on adding more of an ‘exploratory’ element to the game, wherein the Marine players would not know what rooms they were walking into until it was revealed to them. We wanted to fit this element into the Invader player’s actions, giving that player the ability to plan out the various rooms, enemies, and events that the Marines would encounter. Elements of customization certainly remain, but the ‘exploration’ bit was set aside as we found it distracted from other, more essential game mechanics. When we finally got that crucial look at the latest iteration of the DOOM video game, our vision shifted to be a bit to be more in line with its main focal points.
FFG: Are there any elements of DOOM that the board game captures particularly well? Pacing, excitement, teamwork, fear, anxiety, etc…?
SB: Movement and Weapons work really well together in this game. DOOM has always treated weapons tactically (e.g., given the room layout and enemy placement, I’ll go in with the Rocket Launcher, circle-strafe with the Plasma Rifle, and close distance to finish with the Super Shotgun), and the board game is no different. Because weapon cards have movement and damage associated with them, they really speak to that “never stop moving” style of DOOM.
DF: I also think the board game does an excellent job of just putting a few weapons into the player’s hands, filling the map with tons of demons, and saying, “Have fun!”, which is what DOOM has always been about.
SB: I do love that out-of-the-box, ready-to-go co-op campaign that comes with the board game. While DOOM (the video game) has a robust, user-generated content component in SnapMap, which allows for multiplayer co-op experiences, we didn’t ship it with any pre-made co-op campaign content. The board game lets me scratch that itch, running and gunning with my board gaming group.
A Bit of Fun
FFG: What’s your favorite weapon to wield in DOOM?
SB: In the video game? Chaingun with the Mobile Turret mod. It just melts demons until you burn through your full stock of ammo.
In the board game, I’m a huge fan of the Rocket Launcher with its massive direct damage and splash damage to adjacent units. In this game, one doesn’t lack for adjacent enemy units.
DF: In the video game, I very much enjoy the Combat Shotgun. There’s a certain rhythm between shots that I find satisfying as I clear a room of demons.
In the board game, however, I normally enjoy playing the Invader player, so I think I’ll mention the weapon I despise the most: the chainsaw. My demons whimper every time a Marine picks up that weapon. Tip for all you Invader players: take down the Marine with the chainsaw, or watch as your Demons are slaughtered by a rampaging, frenzied murder machine.
FFG: Is there a particular demon you’re excited to control as the invader player in the board game?
SB: I didn’t get the chance to play the Cyberdemon, but the Baron just wrecks in this game, especially up close. His ability to cancel movement to enact a second attack is ruinous to any UAC Marines unfortunate enough to be within range.
DF: The Cyberdemon is fun, but I have to say, I absolutely love the Revenants. First of all, they’re one of my favorite sculpts, but maybe more importantly is that they just rain absolute Hell (pun intended) down on the Marines. It’s good fun for all!
Experience the heart-pounding action of DOOM: The Board Game now—find it at your local game store!