Chris McDowall’s wargame The Doomed has its claws in me. It’s a super-streamlined skirmish game for kitbashed minis and it comes with a lot of material to play. I found I wanted a better way to keep track of my warband and campaign, so I made some sheets to do just that.
I really admire Chris’s game designs — I’d read through Into the Odd previously and there are not only a lot of good ideas in there, there’s also an impressive economy of design. So much so that when I first read the rules I thought, “surely that can’t be all there is — this system feels too simple to hold up to anything larger than a one-shot.”
But that was a few years back and I’ve learned a lot since. I’ve played campaigns with other minimal systems (like Andre Novoa’s excellent 17th Century Minimalist) and run Skullfungus’s Isle of Ixx (which is directly based on ItO), and I’ve learned that a system that makes just a few opinionated design decisions and otherwise gets out of your way can create a wonderful and unique play experience. And that you really don’t need to roll to hit.
The Doomed is Chris’s foray into the world of miniature wargaming — specfically, smaller-scale skirmish games like Mordheim and Necromunda, where players are fielding small warbands rather than vast armies.
True to form, it has an ultra-light ruleset with mechanics that may at first seem too pared down but which I can attest are more than capable of yielding fun and varied gameplay. Notably, characters only have one stat and there is no measuring(!) Also, it encourages kitbashing — there are no official minis and the character and monster descriptions are minimal enough that they are very open to interpretation.
As someone who was enthralled by the intricate minis and lore of Warhammer 40k back in the day but who found the game itself to be complex and cumbersome, The Doomed appeals to me on the level of gameplay and kitbashing specifically. For some reason I have to customize everything I touch, so it’s nice that the game specifically encourages it.
The other thing that makes the game so approachable is that only the first third of the book is rules, and the rest is scenarios that can be combined in tons of different ways, playable as cooperative matches (us vs. horror), competitive ones (me vs. you), a combination of the two, or even solo. Sean McCoy talks about supporting your game all the time — basically, making a system is close to pointless if players don’t have anything to run. Chris did the hard work and made a book that comes with more scenario possibilities than you will ever be able to play.
I will say that I have a few nits to pick with the book, the largest of which is that it really needed an editor. There are numerous formatting errors, typos, and inconsistencies throughout, like different wordings for the same ability in different sections. This, combined with a somewhat confusing approach to layout and organization, can hinder the ease of play that the rules otherwise facilitate so well.
This led me to create some of my own materials to clarify and streamline the experience in my home game: a Warband Sheet and a Campaign Sheet.
In The Doomed, players control warbands, small groups of warriors who hunt down otherworldly horrors and get into fights with each other. The book doesn’t specify a way to keep track of your warband and its accomplishments, so I made a warband sheet for campaign play.
Using this is fairly straightforward: each player gets one and puts their name, warband name, and faction on it, then fills out the leader ambitions for their faction to check off over the course of the campaign.
Below that is a spot to track what your warband has faced in each battle, along with what they’ve earned in rewards, renown, and prestige. There are instructions under that and a little section about when and how to trigger the climax. On the right side, the player can keep track of all of their units, and how much they’re paying for everything in the column on the right (the form-fillable version will do the math for you — in Acrobat, at least).
Since I’m playing a campaign, I wanted an easy way to keep track of what was going on and a reminder of the various things we need to do between battles, so I put together this campaign sheet. If you’re playing a campaign, print out a single campaign sheet and fill it out together with the other player.
This is kind of a combination campaign tracker and pre/post-flight checklist of the various actions to take in between battles in a campaign. Before each battle, follow the instructions on the left side of the sheet. After each battle, follow the instructions on the right side of the sheet. The Doom tracks on the left and the Warband Prestige tracks on the right are basically racing to see who gets to determine how the Climax — the final battle of the campaign — plays out.
And when it’s all over, there’s a little mad lib epitaph to fill out to memorialize the final battle. (This isn’t in the base game — I added this in because it seemed fun to me and I had some extra space on the sheet.)
If you end up using these sheets, let me know!