- Q: What happens to Doomed when it's removed from your deck? A: Doomed is returned to your collection, but should not be returned to the pool of available weaknesses when it is swapped out. I will make a note to add this to the FAQ.
Только в кампании.
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Here's a conundrum: how far can the basic weakness go to be as thematic and heart wrenching as possible, but at the same time maintain player's ability to have interesting choices and control over their investigator?
The answer is: closer than this here card, because Doomed is now the king of nastiest basic weaknesses in the game.
Well, not on its own it's not, but in the chain of events between Doomed, Accursed Fate and The Bell Tolls, this card takes the cake easily just by the association with its "upgrades". Last card in this chain of weaknesses outright kills you on the spot the moment you draw it. How bad is it? I propose we take a look at the "Doomed chain" from two very different perspectives.
From the thematic point of view, nothing fits Arkham Files game better than Doomed, because from the moment you see it for the first time, you know what's coming. You understand your inevitable demise and you know there's no escaping your fate. Your powerlessness regarding your future is certain. Sense of dread is overwhelming.
You get the idea.
This one card is the most Lovecraftianesque, Poe-like and Chambers-shaped thing in this game and there's no denying it. It embraces all the things that source material on which Arkham Files is build upon tried to convey to its readers and contains all the characteristics of reliving it in your own living room. It's a perfect thematic 10 out of 10.
But... Is it fun to have in the game from the mechanical standpoint, that's a different question entirely.
I'll start my considerations with few assumptions in mind:
- I'll assume that basic weakness is drawn only once per scenario;
- I'll assume player knows what weakness they have in their deck before starting their first scenario;
We can't really escape the comparison between "Doomed Chain" and other weaknesses printed so far. That comparison will be skewed, because no other previously printed basic weakness provides overarching effects that accumulate over the course of the campaign (Dark Pact is such a card, but it's also realeased beside Doomed). If we focus on the in-scenario effect of both Doomed and its first upgrade, Accursed Fate, we can safely say that their effects are mild to say the least. One horror, hell - even two horror is really basic and relatively bearable. None of those effects are even close to some of the previous nastiest basic weaknesses (like Overzealous that can drop the sky on your head all by itself) - but it's The Bell Tolls that makes the chain the foulest of all. Why is that? Because of it's thematic inclination: you can't do anything about it.
The strongest point of this weakness chain is also the biggest mechanical problem. You can't do anything about it. With above assumptions in mind, we can precisely say that investigator will die in scenario number 5. (We will investigate other options later on, keep on reading)
I can hear the voices already:
"You can drop all the card draw from your deck and not draw extra cards!"
First of all, mystic-specific solution is just that - a mystic specific solution that not all investigators can use, and even from those that can take mystic cards, do you really want to take 4 off-class cards that don't serve any other purpose than not dying? Sure, not dying is important - but it doesn't progress the game on its own. And second, you have to draw cards! And you will draw cards every upkeep, not drawing cards isn't helping either. Basic weaknesses in general are not there to be scared of drawing cards, but to thow a wrench in the works. They also serve the purpose of affecting player behavior. (More on that later, bear with me.)
There is no real way to play around "Doomed Chain" but it's not a surprise: it is in line with its design through and through. And from the mechanical standpoint, that is not ideal. No other weakness based on its revelation effect does this. If you have Amnesia in the deck, you don't hoard cards, if you have Paranoia you try not to sit on your resources. Overzealous, as much as I hate it, can be helped with greater preparation for the encounter set shenanigans. Enemies can be dispatched in small paper bags or evaded, weaknesses with lasting effects can be discarded for 2 actions. With this, you can't do anything. Another basic weakness from The Forgotten Age expansion, Dark Pact, gives you the choice and punishes you for chosing poorly, but there is a place for human decision and its consequences. With "Doom chain", there's nothing. And for someone more mechanically oriented, that might be too far, because if you get Doomed, you just lost the character without fault of your own, before you even start playing. "Is the winning move not to play at all...?"
Because of how "Doom Chain" is designed, it can be heavily detrimental to your campaign. If you have to start from scratch with new character in scenario 6 of 8, your chances of overall success diminish, as a fresh level 0 deck will be at disadvantage. And that's with the assumption you draw one basic weakness every scenario, but let's say you were lucky and The Bell Tolls took you down later, in scenario 7. Starting final battle with fresh level 0 deck isn't really fun EVEN with Arkham Files standards in mind.
And all of this just because of single basic weakness, that could've been something different entirely. Chronophobia, anyone?
Arkham Horror LCG with its content celebrates diversity of its players, both thematically and mechanically affilicted - and anyone in between. It focuses greatly on telling player stories, and in this one case, I think that theme took precedence over the mechanics. All of the player misfortune in this game is never truely based on single card draw or single token (unless you make it so yourself with some Double or Nothing combo), and certainly not even before the game starts and player scatter to do their investigating, killing and evading. This is unprecedented, and I can see it being too much for some.
Are there any upsides to being Doomed though? Surely it can't be that bad, can it? As I've mentioned already, revelation effect of first two cards in chain is relatively mild, and as for the third card... Well, it can be somewhat diminished. I'd like to propose different approach, that we shall call "Embrace your Doom, or how I learned to love the Bell" (trademark pending).
If you can manage to not draw your weakness even in few scenarios, you're probably set for the rest of your campaign if your deck is not based on drawing whole stack few times in any given scenario. You might simply never get close enough to The Bell Tolls for it to be any real threat to the success of your campaign. But that's easy. You can go even further.
Earlier I've mentioned that "good" basic weakness gives difficult choices or affects player behavior. If you know you're going to kick the bucket faster than anyone else anyway, why not just take some risks that you wouldn't have taken because of fear of trauma or other lasting effects? You're Doomed anyway, what do you care? Sweet bell calls you home, draw those cards faster, aim for Bell in scenario 3!
TL,DR: Bells be flying, players dying, on this journey of self-discovery make your mind if you can take it anymore. The most polarizing weakness of all. Either have fun with it, remove it from the pool or just embrace the inevitable. None of those approaches is injustified nor should be looked down upon.
Investigator weaknesses is likely my favorite mechanic in the game. And I hate it when the random basic weakness has no impact whatsoever. You can agree that impact of Paranoia is different in Jenny Barnes deck compared to for example Dark Horse "Ashcan" Pete deck. So when I play Jenny Barnes, Paranoia is one of the cards I really want to get as my random basic weakness. I (Jenny) will play the game paranoid that at some point I can lose all my "hard" earned resources. And the card impact is not just in the moments it hits. It is in the way it changes my whole gameplay because I know it can hit.
Here is my report:
First scenario: No Doomed - massive disappointment
Second scenario - "doom approaches" , No big deal. The one horror hurts more .
Third scenario - Another one horror and Accursed Fate at the bottom of my deck. GAME ON!
Fourth scenario - 2 horror and "the hour is nigh". Damn that hurts! Wait a second!!! We are just four scenarios in. I should probably consider drawing less cards from my ability ...
Fifth scenario - Doing well. Don't draw any cards from Mark's ability. And suddenly 2 horror that nearly finish me off and The Bell Tolls in my deck. Next encounter phase I am defeated by horror... Damn you Doomed !!!!
Sixth scenario - Ok I was doomed from the beginning. Now I have nothing else to do but die. Better die now and play the last two scenarios with another investigator ...... Hay we won it! It is over! I am not dead!!!! Maybe if I get Key of Ys and Daisy (played by my GF) gets some Scrying I could survive a while longer?
Seventh scenario - We pull off the Scrying and Key of Ys combo to discard the The Bell Tolls from the top of my deck. Dodged that bullet! Now I can serve some justice with the Shotgun loaded with Extra Ammunition that did not get discarded!!! We made it. We found the Path to Carcosa!!!
Eight scenario - We both get bad starting hands. No Scrying, no Old Book of Lore, no Key of Ys and no weapons. I am forced to draw cards and risk meeting my inevitable doom. The tension I felt every time I had to draw a card and the relieve when it wasn't the bell were amazing. I again got my Shotgun and 2 copies of Extra Ammunition and started my vengeance on Hastur and his minions. All that while dreading the end of my turn and the upkeep phase. Luckily no bell tolling was heard till the successful end of the scenario. Mark made it! We made it against the odds! DAMN! THAT WAS INTENSE!
So to sum it up - Doomed is superb! It enhances the whole Arkham Horror experience! No! It takes it to a whole different level !!!
Definitely the most thematic and (currently) the most punishing weakness in the game. This can easily change in the future if more player deck manipulation cards get introduced which allow for more ways to perform targeted discards, but for now getting this weakness pretty much means acknowledging the fact that the investigator you chose will not live to see the end of the campaign.
One thing I dislike about this weakness (and its successors in the chain) is the immediate negative impact. This weakness really doesn't need more apart from making the clock tick, added 1 or 2 horror is completely superfluous; again, I get that it's supposed to be thematic, but the actual dread the player feels after drawing this does not need an in-game counterpart, it just detracts from the experience and makes the weakness feel more imbalanced compared to others.
The other thing is that the weakness seems to be custom-made for repeated playthroughs. While it's great to have it for added thematic spice to the campaign once you experienced all the scenarios already and want more challenge and variety beyond 'nastier chaos tokens', it really hurts when you're effectively locked out of final few scenarios on your first blind playthrough, without having a chance to do anything about it. It also demotivates people from doing side-stories which is a shame because they are already a bit unpopular and definitely deserve more love, creative and entertaining as they are.
So TL;DR shelve this until you are OK with added thematic flair or extra challenge, skip if it's your first playthrough of a cycle or you like weaknesses with allow for more options for mitigation.
I think Doomed is an amazingly cool weakness, and those who feel like it denies player agency might want to take a closer look at the math. I ran some simulations, and assuming I did it right the numbers look very fun. In these simulations, I ignore the possibility of drawing Doomed or its replacements twice during one scenario, since that should be uncommon (but it would be quite bad).
Let's say you run 8 scenarios, and draw half your deck each time; specifically, let's take a 28-card deck (standard 33 minus the starting 5) and draw 14 cards per game. In 8 scenarios, Doomed will kill you 36.4% of the time and there's nothing you can do about it.
Or is there? What if you try to draw fewer cards (by pushing to complete faster, taking fewer draw actions, etc)? Just by reducing by 1 card draw per game, and taking 13 instead of 14, your odds of death by doom drop to 28.8%. Reduce to 12 cards and it's down to 22.1%. Alternatively, suppose your deck is built for card draw and you ignore Doom and pull 16 cards per game: you'll die 52.7% of the time.
Maybe the worst happens and you draw Doomed the very first scenario. Your odds of death (back to 14 cards here) are now 50.0%. Maybe you play the remaining games super aggressively, deciding that the risk of defeat and trauma during a scenario isn't that big of a deal now, and only draw 10 cards per game: with that strategy you can push your doom risk back down to 21.2%.
If you have better luck and survive the first scenario without any Doom, your (14-card) odds are down to 22.7%, so you aren't out of the woods yet. Survive 2 games sans Doom and you can breathe more easily: 10.9%. Draw Doom once in the first 2 games and you're at 34.4%, close to where you started... and even with only 6 scenarios left, the impact of drawing 1 fewer card per game is still significant.
Note that, because of the way the probabilities work, drawing Doomed/replacements 4 times over the course of a campaign is much more likely, and many players will find themselves with The Bell Tolls in their decks by the final scenario (something like 50% using base assumptions). Also I did not include the effect of adding additional story assets or weaknesses over the course of a campaign, but it's fairly significant too, so whoever has Doomed should try to pick those up when possible.
Bottom line is Doomed makes a situation similar to the chaos bag; players can change the odds at a cost, but aren't in control of the outcome. The interesting difference is that the cost/risk picture is very long-term: each avoidable card draw hurts you very little (probably), but over the course of the campaign the likely cost for making a lot of avoidable draws is enormous. It's very much in keeping with the concepts of the game both thematically and mechanically.