Developing Hellboy: The Board Game – Deck of DOOM!

Hello everyone, it’s James here with another guest blog giving a designer’s view of Hellboy: The Board Game. The aim of these posts is to give you guys a taste of the gameplay you can expect from Hellboy: The Board Game – which is available to order now, by the way.

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 previously, 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 – just like the comics.

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. We’ve made sure Mignola’s artwork is a key
aspect of each card, to ensure we get even more of that comic book flavour
throughout the game. One of the true joys of working on a licensed product like
this is having such a range of source material to draw from.

Right! That’s the Deck of Doom covered. Tomorrow Rob will be back with the Encounter Cards – another element of surprise that mixes up your games and ensures no two games are ever quite the same!

Hellboy: The Board Game is available to order NOW from the Mantic website. The retail version will be launched on April 27th in all good game stores.

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