Doomseeker by Ninja Division – Review

Theme and What is it?

Doomseeker dips into the mythology of the popular Games Workshop world of Fantasy combat. In Doomseeker you play a dwarf Trollslayer who has become disgraced in some way. You’ve taken your favorite weapons and headed off into the world to die a glorious death in mortal combat with the largest foes and scariest monsters. Navigating curses, soldiers, monsters, and the other dwarves you seek glory in order to bring honor back to your family and die trying.

Gameplay Mechanics

Doomseeker revolves around a couple of different mechanics, card play and resource management. Each of these mechanics do different amounts of work, with card play being the most relied upon. In the game you have a hand of Fate cards that you use to hinder your opponents and help yourself. On your turn you choose a Doom (read monster) from the battlefield as your target for the round. After you chose, each other player may play a fate card on the combat. Some work for you, some against, and some only give the person playing the card a bonus. Once everyone else has played or passed you get to play a card on the combat yourself. After that, you roll a dice, add it to your strength, and compare it to the Doom. If your number is equal or higher then you win the combat and destroy the Doom adding it to your score pile. If your roll is lower than the monsters strength or you roll a one then the Doom deals a point of damage to you and is discarded.

Over the course of the game you also have to manage your resources. Every Doom you defeat gives you some gold that you can spend in the games Marketplace. What items you buy and when you purchase those items will help define how well you’ll deal with future threats. You can purchase cheaper items but they’re usually one shot and won’t guarantee victory since a roll of one is always a failure.

 

Additionally, each Dwarf has its own rule that gives it advantages over the course of the game. These can range from drawing extra cards, fighting additional Dooms, or gaining extra gold.

Initial Impressions

I was excited about this game. It’s one of the last licenses that Games Workshop has given out for its pre-Age of Sigmar line of properties. The game is from Ninja Division who have made some of my favorite games. I’m also a huge fan of the Trollslayer mythology and the creatures found in the Warhammer Fantasy realms. All of this led me to be very excited to get my hands on Doomseeker.

Game Build Quality

The cards are a bit thin and wish they had a better finish. The tokens and cards are a nice thickness but they don’t give enough money tokens. They fell short on the singles and there are more fives than necessary. Everything is playable and the components are fine. I just wish they were better.

 

Additionally, the insert is just awful. I’ve never opened this box and not had to resort all of the cards. One of the card slots is too deep and narrow to get the cards out without flipping the entire box over. It’s just bad.

Artistic Direction

The art in Doomseeker is pretty typical for the Warhammer setting. It’s very nice but has a darkness to it. They use a lot of blacks and browns. That said, I’ve always liked the Warhammer art for what it does. It’s showing war. It’s not making it pretty but it is still striking. Stylistically, it won’t be for everyone, but it is very good.

Fun Factor

This is sort of a friendly end of the take that genre. You play Fate cards on other player’s turns but they rarely feel mean. There’s a small amount of resource management with when to spend gold and play cards.

 

The main fun in this game comes from the theme and setting. I had more fun with this game than most of the other people I played with because of my exposure to the Warhammer Fantasy universe. There were a lot of things in this game that made me happy but I had to explain them to the other players.

Age Range & Weight

The box says 14+ and it feels like that’s right. The decisions on the game require a little bit of planning. You have to be able to figure your odds of winning a given fight. Then of course other players will mess up your chances and that could lead to upsetting younger players.

 

As for weight, I’d put this between light and mid-weight. Probably leaning closer towards mid. You have to be able to gauge your odds while at the same time realizing you’ll need to go for it sooner or later.

Conclusions

I’m a little stuck on this one. I liked the game, but there are definite flaws here. For example, all of the heroes have three features: strength, wounds, and an ability. All of their strengths are 2 and their wounds are 3. Their abilities are not equal though. One of the dwarves lets you fight a second Doom on your turn. That’s great. It gives you extra gold, victory points, and forces the other players to decide if they want to play a second card against you giving them less for the other players. Another dwarf’s ability is to switch hands with another player if you spend a Rune token. Rune tokens are very hard to get during the game. Another dwarf gets a +1 strength when facing an Epic Doom. Epic Dooms are more powerful and worth more points. They’re also rare, except for level three where they’re all epic. And when everybody’s Epic, no one is. However, even with level there being all epic, there is a chance you won’t get to use that ability in game. I wouldn’t mind this if the other two stats were different to compensate for this, but they’re not. In one game that was immensely frustrating for one player and I don’t think they were wrong.

The game is a bit swingy in the beginning. I don’t know that you can win the game in the first couple of rounds but you can absolutely lose it. In one game a player lost his first two fights and was basically out of the game. He had no points, not enough gold to buy any of the items in play, and was one wound away from being dead. He was not having fun because the game put him in a corner by two bad dice rolls and some frustrating card play. On the other hand, in the same game another player won a lucky fight in the first round and combined with his hero power was able to get one of the better items in the game. From there he went on to dominate any fight he got in and it became increasingly useless to play Fate cards against him.

Additionally, there’s a weird thing with Item cards. There’s no limit in the game to the type and number of item cards you can have. In one game we had someone with five axes, all useable in every fight. Another player had two crowns, both useable at all times. I know that there is some president for more than one or two weapons from the Warhammer novels, but it felt ridiculous here. I also had to explain why it made sense.

Finally, player elimination. Many of you have seen my feelings on play elimination. I’m not for it. Technically, Doomseeker doesn’t have player elimination. If you’re character dies you get to keep playing. However, instead of taking a turn, you still get to play Fate cards on the other players. You also can discard card and Rune tokens to bet on the outcome of fights. If you’re right you get a victory point. Technically, you are still playing. However, you can do it from the other side of the room. It’s hard to get cards in this game and now you’re playing and discarding them at a constant rate. It becomes easy to end up with no cards in hand and if you didn’t get a lot of Rune tokens, then you’re doing nothing for a while.

Now, I know I’ve sort come down on the game, but here’s the thing. I had fun. I didn’t get stuck in any of the no win scenarios that other players did. I also, got more out of the theme than pretty much everyone else. The theme in this game hit on a huge chunk of my nostalgic soul. My first mini’s game was Warhammer Fantasy. I am a Skaven player from way back when. When the card for Night Goblin Fanatics came up I laughed out loud. Then I explained the table why they were funny. Fanatics have a strength of four. It’s one of the lowest in the game. However, when you decide to fight them you roll a dice. On a result of 1-5 you add that to their strength and fight them as normal. On a 6 they die and you get full credit for the kill. If you thought of the time your friends Night Goblin’s deployed a trio of Fanatics only to have them decimate the unit that deployed them, then you may very well enjoy this game.

The cards are thematic as all get out. The Skaven all do things based on how many of them you have in your score pile. In some cases the more you have the better the effect. Which is perfect. That’s how Skaven function. They nailed the feel of the world. I just wish the mechanics were better.

It all comes down to this. If you and your friends have played a lot of or are familiar with the Warhammer Fantasy world and history then this is a game you should try. I had fun with this game despite its flaws. It’s just it all comes down to experience. If you don’t know this world or its story then I can’t really recommend it to you.

 

In the end, Snikch forgive me, I have to give this game a pass. I still think you should give it a try at your local game club or convention. You may have a ton of fun with this. I’ve just seen how badly it can go. It hurts me a little to say that. I so wanted this game to be awesome.