I got a copy of The Doomed, Chris McDowall’s skirmish wargame of “Apocalyptic Horror Hunting”. Much like he did with Into the Odd and Electric Bastionland, McDowall has taken the idea of a skirmish wargame and carved away anything that seemed unnecessary to the core experience.
Personally, I played a lot of hex-and-chit style wargames back in the very late 80s and early 90s. Miniatures wargames (other than D&D 5e…) haven’t really appealed to me because I have so much difficulty painting minis and just dealing with the craft side in general. In theory, I’d love that stuff, but I have a disability that leads to extremely poor fine motor control.
So while I still want to get into the craft side, before I really give it a shot I decided to try the game itself using a VTT. In this case, I used Owlbear Rodeo. There will be a few notes at the end, but so far it’s fine.
The Doomed has you build a warband one from one of four factions; I selected “Exile Bands - The Wild” because the description sounded the vaguest bit like Mandalorians (really, just “masks” and “hunters”) which made it easy for me to think about them.
So I ended up with this list:
Kullax - Slayer (Fierce, QL3) [3pts]
Kharn - Warrior (Fierce, Tough, QL4) [5pts]
Wigg - Predator (Precise, QL4) [4pts]
Hodug - Oathbound (Tough, QL5) [4pts]
Jhish - Blooded (Nimble, QL5) [4pts]
As recommended, I chose “The Devourer” as my first horror. It’s fairly straightforward as an introductory scenario. While originally I was going to use the recommended conflict, “Breakthrough”, as we’ll see at the end, that didn’t really end up being fun for me. I did put the Flak Turret on the board, but it never came into play.
For a map, I grabbed Alien Jungle from Loke BattleMats. They have a really excellent bundle of Sci-Fi battle maps that I’ll be using for this campaign. This is a dense map with lots of trails and a few clearings.
Alien Jungle Battlemat (c) 2018 Loke BattleMats, scaled way down
The Devourer (Fierce, QL3)
Minions - Scavengers (Nimble, QL5)
The Nexuses are QL4 for this scenario, placed “across the middle of the board in moderately concealed areas.” These must be Wounded to be destroyed.
There is a table of effects for destroying each successive Nexus. The Devourer also has a Response Table that is rolled at the end of each Round.
For the Breakthrough conflict, there’s a Solo effect to replace the other warband:
Flak Turret (QL4)
EDIT TO ADD: I completely misunderstood how Downed works. If you’re new to the game, don’t take the below as a good example! Session 2 will be better.
Kullax moves to the south side of the board, where there are a couple of Nexuses.
The Devourer makes two successful moves towards Kullax, the nearest non-visible enemy. It then fights Kullax with its Reaper Claws (M2x2) and rolls two successes for 4 damage total. Kullax fails to save against them all and is thus Wounded. He panics and attacks the nearest target, friend or foe. before he goes down. Since there are two targets (the Devourer and the Nexus), I roll randomly and get the Devourer. He succeeds in his attack, dealing 3 damage. The Devourer fails to save against one of them and so is also Wounded. It panics and attacks Kullax again, but these attacks fail. Both are now Down.
Kharn makes two successful moves in the direction of Kullax and the Devourer.
Hodug also moves twice successfully, following Kharn.
Jhish makes two moves on the north side of the board, where there’s a single Nexus.
Wigg only succeeds on the one automatic move towards Jhish.
At the end of round, the Devourer response is to deploy 3 Scavengers from a random point on the board edge. They are all on the south side of the board on the eastern entrance.
Kharn moves east to Kullax and attempts to recover him. Success, Kullax is no longer Down. He then attempts to move over to the Devourer, but fails.
A Scavenger makes two successful moves towards Kharn, the nearest non-visible enemy.
Kullax fights the Nexus and succeeds. Since he hasn’t Moved and is Readied, he gets double damage with his Dread Glaive. The Nexus fails to save against 6 damage and is thus Wounded and destroyed. But as the Nexus is destroyed, the Devourer gets to make a free Recovery and, when it succeeds, a free attack. It fights Kullax and succeeds, dealing 2 damage. Kullax fails to save and is Wounded, but there’s no additional Shock effect beyond being Down.
Activate another Scavenger. Like the previous one, it makes two successful moves towards Kharn, the nearest non-visible enemy.
Hodug succeeds in a pair of moves to the nearby Nexus, but then he fails to attack it successfully.
The Devourer’s nearest enemy is Kullax, who is Down, so the horror gets a +1 to its attack. It succeeds and deals a total of 4 damage. Kullax does not make the save, and thus is Wounded again. The shock effect this time is “Opportunity”, giving the Devourer another free move or attack. It attacks Kullax again and succeeds, dealing 4 damage. Kullax saves against all 4, though. Since units can only Fight (melee) once per turn, that will end the Devourer’s turn for this round.
For some reason, I mistakenly activated another Scavenger here. It moves twice towards Kharn, the nearest non-visible enemy. Maybe I activated Jhish first and forgot to record it.
In any case, next is Wigg who makes two successful moves following Jhish.
At the end of round, the horror deploys 1 Scavenger from a random point on the board edge, which turns out to be near that Flak Turret.
Again I start by activating Kharn to attempt to recover Kullax: success. Kharn then successfully moves around Kullax to the Devourer. He fights the Devourer and succeeds, dealing 2 damage. The Devourer fails to save against one of them and is thus Wounded. It rolls doubles on the Shock table, which would take out a normal enemy - but since the horror still has some nexuses (living food hoards) here anchoring it to reality, that doesn’t apply. It gets a chance to fight back and succeeds, dealing 4 damage to Kharn. Kharn also rolls doubles and will be Taken Out, but he has a chance to fight back first. He succeeds and deals 2 damage to the Devourer. The horror saves against both, though.
A Scavenger moves to Hodug, the nearest visible enemy. It successfully fights Hodug twice, but Hodug saves against all the damage.
Next up will be the very same Hodug who will attack the Nexus. On the second attack, he takes it out. The Devourer’s claw attack is now upgraded to M4x2 (twice as dangerous) in rage and all the Scavengers get a free action. The one from before tries to bite Hodug again, but he avoids the damage. The other two move towards Hodug.
Just like the first Scavenger, this one fights Hodug twice, but again he saves against all damage.
Jhish now moves to the Nexus and attacks it. On the first attack, they’re unable to damage it, but on the second they takes it out. All the Nexuses are down now; we just need to take out the horror. The Devourer gets a free Recovery and a free attack against every enemy it can see. It recovers successfully, but fails to shoot Kullax successfully.
I’ll activate the third Scavenger now. It makes two moves to Jhish and bites them. Jhish fails a save and bleeds out, Taken Out.
Back to my leader, Kullax, who fails in his first melee attack on the Devourer but succeeds on the second. The Devourer fails a save and is thrown back to the wall, Down. Kullax then moves southeast to a nearby clearing, intending to complete the Breakthrough conflict.
But the Devourer activates and I’m so excited at this point I make a few mistakes. First, it should have made a Recovery roll as it was Downed by Kullax’s attack. In any case, it moved to get line-of-sight to Kullax, at which point it should have used its ranged attack, spitting Digestive Acid. But I forgot that and instead it moved to Kullax and attacked with its claws successfully. Kullax failed to save against 6 damage and starts to Bleed, but makes that save.
Wigg is trying to get into the fight but only makes their first automatic move.
A Scavenger moves towards Hodug, the nearest visible enemy, but is caught in traffic and can’t advance through the tight jungle trails. (This was a mistake; units can move through allies.)
At the end of this round, the Devourer deploys the rest of the scavengers on the west side of the board, where my warband entered.
To start off, I activate Hodug with the goal of getting Kullax back up. It takes him a few attempts to move away from the Scavenger, but he does so and then succeeds in recovering Kullax.
The Scavenger up in the north moves twice successfully towards Wigg, the nearest non-visible enemy. It bites Wigg, but my follower saves against all damage.
Having been Recovered successfully, Kullax now attacks the Devourer with his Dread Glaive. He succeeds and deals 6 damage with the Storm ability. The Devourer fails to save against all of it and is thus Wounded. In a Panic, it attacks Kullax with its claws and succeeds, dealing 8 damage. Kullax fails to save against all of it and thus also becomes Wounded. His shock effect is Last Gasp, a free action, which he uses to attack the Devourer again. He fails to hit, though. Both are now Down.
A nearby Scavenger activates and moves to the nearest visible enemy, Hodug, which it attempts to bite. It fails the first time, but on the second attack Hodug fails to save and is slaughtered messily.
Wigg activates and tries to fall back from the Scavenger but fails, so they just make an unarmed attack. This succeeds and the Scavenger is thrown back.
One more Scavenger activates and moves to Kullax. The first bite attempt fails, but the second succeeds and Kullax fails to save. But he gets another Last Gasp shock effect, this time making a Recover attempt and succeeding. That worked out well!
This is when I realize that, if I’m reading the rules correctly (and it’s possible I’m not), the Unbound can only activate after player units. The warband has had a few members taken out, and there are lots of minions, so the Devourer doesn’t have to be activated on this round.
At the end of the round, the Devourer attempts to deploy more Scavengers but none are available.
Kullax activates and attacks the Devourer with his Dread Glaive. He succeeds and deals 6 damage. The Devourer fails to save and is Wounded. It rolls Last Gasp on the shock effect and fails in its Recovery attempt. Kullax brings his weapon down again on it, succeeding in his attack and dealing 6 damage. Unfortunately, the Devourer saves against all of it. Kullax then moves southwest, trying to get a bit of space from the enemies.
One of the Scavengers activates and tries to move towards Kullax but cannot successfully move around its fellow minions.
Wigg takes a shot on a nearby Scavenger with their Kinetic Driver. The shot succeeds but the Scavenger saves against the damage. Wigg then moves southeast, also trying to get to the far edge for the Breakthrough.
That Scavenger isn’t done with Wigg, though, and bites them. Wigg fails to save and looks around for a Savior, but there are no allies in sight. They are Down. The Scavenger tries to bite Wigg again but fails.
Just like before, the Devourer tries to activate Scavengers but none are available (maximum 6 are on the board).
Kullax charges the Devourer and attacks with his Dread Glaive, dealing 3 damage. The horror fails its save and has the opportunity to Crawl away, but that’s not something a monster does. Kullax then finishes it off with another attack, dealing another 3 damage. This time the Devourer fails the save and rolls 2 on the shock table, and the horror is Taken Out messily! The scavengers no longer have their reason for sticking around and flee the board.
The Flak Turret has no enemies in line-of-sight, so it doesn’t do anything.
Wigg fails their Recovery roll.
At this point, it was 2am for me, so I called it here even though the Breakthrough didn’t happen. It’s late and the Conflict was not really the point of my play.
Three warband members were taken out, so let’s see what happened to them:
The warband also processes the Devourer’s horrifying corpse and gets three available upgrades:
My warband gets all 3 Renown for destroying all the Nexuses and defeating the Horror. I’ll have a total of 23 for the next battle. We also get 1 Prestige for taking out the Horror, which puts us just starting out on the path to the campaign Climax. If I don’t do any Conflicts, I’ll have to play 9 more battles to get there, so maybe I’ll try them again.
All the Doom tracks (Hunger, Hatred, Domination, Oblivion, and Ruin) are at 0 to start. The next time, I’ll have an Oblivion event:
Plague: Contagion rises, infecting your Followers and dulling their senses. Any unit that would normally have Precise or Nimble loses that Skill for this battle, but you gain 1pt back to spend for each Skill lost.
I am considering ignoring Conflicts for Solo, focusing on Horror hunting. At a minimum, I will avoid the ones that require a second warband.
Managing the Unbound wasn’t too bad as I’m learning the rules, but I will need to remember that they will use a ranged attack (if they have one) before moving towards a visible enemy. And is it correct that only as many Unbound activate as there are player units to activate?
While Owlbear Rodeo was fine, I need to turn the grid off more completely than I did, as well as use online dice. There’s a lot of rolling and mine fall on the floor constantly: it was late at night so sleepiness played a role, but also remember what I said above about fine motor control. How can Owlbear Rodeo indicate Exhausted and Downed status? And perhaps most importantly, no more generic tokens for my warband. A combination of image searches on Pinterest or DALL-E and the excellent Token Stamp 2 will be used to create tokens for my warband.