Hellboy Week: The Deck of Doom
Evening, all! Hellboy Week is still in full swing, with the Kickstarter launching in just under six days' time. Exciting!
If you haven't been keeping up with the series, you'll find several links in my previous post, and another entry from yesterday on the Mantic Blog. The aim of these posts is to give you guys a taste of the gameplay you can expect from Hellboy: The Board Game - after all, Mantic have been showing off the miniatures for ages, so it's only right that we should focus on the rules!
Yesterday, the lovely Rob did a great job of explaining how the HQ board works, and what its various bits are for. One of these was the Impending Doom track, which acts as a kind of timer, ticking down turn by turn until it launches the Confrontation, regardless of whether you're ready for it. A shrewd group of players will investigate their hearts out and uncover the big boss before this happens, but through playtesting I've seen countless cases where the agents took their sweet time, thinking they had ages before things took a turn for the worse.
See, here's the thing: you don't always know how quickly the Impending Doom track will advance, thanks to the Deck of Doom.
The Deck of Doom is one of the three decks that runs a game of Hellboy. You've got the Case File deck, which I explained on Tuesday, and which handles the overarching plot and narrative structure; then there's the Encounter deck (which Rob will be covering tomorrow), which tells you what's in each room you explore. The Deck of Doom completes the picture by throwing in all sorts of twists and unexpected occurrences, ensuring that no two games of Hellboy are the same.
The base Deck of Doom contains all manner of unusual and creepy effects, but at the start of each Case you shuffle in additional cards. Some of these pertain to the Case itself, adding bespoke elements that suit the story, while others are linked to the specific agents that are taking part. A Doom card might see Hellboy getting angry, or the fire that lives inside Liz Sherman battling its way to the surface.
Other than this, Doom Cards can bring new enemies into play, introduce temporary environmental effects or tweak the rules in subtle (but noticeable!) ways. More importantly, the majority of Doom cards will also advance the Impending Doom track. In a given deck, you should expect about two-thirds of the cards to advance the track, and a couple might even advance it twice. You'll be drawing one of these cards at the end of each round, so there's a real sense of time pressure.
Of course, the Deck of Doom isn't the only way the Impending Doom track advances. If the board is clear of enemies, the agents also have the option to rest. This gives them a well-earned reprieve, letting them examine clues freely, rest up and heal some damage (which they'll be taking lots of, believe me!), put out fires and generally get into a better position. Resting is an incredibly powerful tool in the agents' arsenal, but it increases Impending Doom whenever you do it. As with many things in this game, it all comes down to a decision. I've really enjoyed watching our playtesters agonise over the decision to rest, especially when they make the wrong call and it comes back to haunt them later. A solid loss is so much more satisfying when you can see it was your own fault!
Of course, it would be crazy to talk about the Deck of Doom without mentioning the artwork. As you'll see from the mockup images above, the plan is to have a fair chunk of card space dedicated to some of the fantastic art that characterises the comic series. One of the true joys of working on a licensed product like this is having such a range of source material to draw from, and I can't wait to see what the cards end up looking like.
Right! That's the Deck of Doom covered. It's back to the Mantic blog tomorrow, then back here on Saturday where I'll be explaining what Agents can get up to in their part of the round. Before I sign off, though, here's a sneaky peek at what we were getting up to last night...