- 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.
Campaign Mode only.
Revelation - Take 1 horror. In your Campaign Log, under your investigator's earned story assets/weaknesses, record that "doom approaches." If this was already recorded, remove Doomed from your deck, search the collection for Accursed Fate, and place it on the bottom of your deck.
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 !!!
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.
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.
One of the absolutely worst designed weaknesses in the game by a long shot (Other honorable mention are the ones from Edge of the Earth), which is not surprising given it comes from Forgotten Age, an expansion filled with anti-player agency and some of the most anti-fun design choices I ever seen in any board game
Weaknesses are supposed to be a spanner in your wheel: they are something that will stall, cripple or potentially lead to your defeat if you are not prepared to deal with them. And even if you are prepared, they can still be a significant threat if drawn at the wrong time. And that is fine: it helps keep the tension in the game and even leads you to consider deckbuilding choices you normally wouldn't with specific investigator to counter said weakness (like using Bandages to temporaly stop Internal Injury)
That is not the case for Doomed, Doomed is literally a timed bomb attached to your back without a timer about to go off any time, and you have no way to defuse it. Take too long in camapaign and you can say good bye to your investigator and all deckbuilding progress you did.
While I do agree with many a review that do say that it fits thematically with Arkham (and that is about the only thing I appreciate about this weakness, really), and I don't blame anyone that is alright playing with it, I think design wise this weakness is beyond creatively bankrupt, given that its just a delayed instant kill. This is a game where weakness can have as various effects from simply make you discard cards and resources to more outlandish ones like draw encounter cards or have a nemesis that can block your special abilties. All of these are great! Because they make you think "How can I deal with these?", "What card can I include to counter them?" and "Can I afford to draw cards and risk getting my random basic weakness?"
Meanwhile, there is no countering for Doomed unless you can cancel the weakness Revelation effect or use searching to try to banish it at the bottom of the deck (usually with stuff like Scrying, Scroll of Secrets or the recent Friends in Low Places) or just try to avoid drawing as much cards as possible (which must making playing with this weakness as Mark extra fun). You are completely left at the mercy of the rng of the game whether you draw it or not in most cases, which in an already rng heavy game such as this, is not a good design choice
The effects of this weakness can be absolutely catstrophic on your campaign, not only for the effect itself, but also because of how it affect the player. Wanted to do some standalones toghether in the middle of your campaign? Forget about that, you are just gonna raise the chance to end up being killed before the end of it! It's a bit similiar to the effect of Charon's Obol in a sense: it makes you play scared, more guarded, because one mistake can be final. But while Charon's Obol's side effect can be avoided by good deckbuilding and planning, Doomed can hit you regardless of your readiness. While the Obol give you a reward for in exchange of making every defeat fatal and you can just... Not choose to pick it, Doomed, according to the rules, MUST be shuffled among your weakness if you use Forgotten Age cards and content
There is no other weakness, that I can think about, that makes you want to play less of the game: is the antithesis of fun.
But honestly, what I absolutely hate about Doomed ( and Accursed Fate) is not that they will eventually lead to The Bell Tolls. No, what I HATE with a passion about Doomed is that it is a weakass weakness on its own!
You drew this in Night of the Zealot or Dream Eaters? Congratulations, you basically got something that is arguably even less lethal than Indebted, depending on how good or bad your draw is. Even someone like Roland would look a this effect and laugh at the one horror it inflicts with his 5 sanity. It does esentially NOTHING, because the campaign will be over before this becomes a threat. That is AWFUL: a weakness should be at the very least a serious annoyance to the player, Doomed is ironically a relief in the right circumstances!
And you don't even need to draw this in a short campaign, if you luck out and avoid drawing this for half of your campaign, you are probably in the clear as well and can avoid worrying about dying from it depeding on what kind of investigator you are playing as or what scenarios are left, because most scenarios will be likely over before you could go through a deck multiple time and most investigator do not have the draw to do so anyway.
However if you are playing as someone like Harvey, Amanda or Patrice and got this card? You might as well use their superior draw to get your non-signature weakness 5 times in one scenario to spare you from the suffering of dying in 2 to 3 scenarios having already gathered and spent some exp on them
It's invevitable that some random weaknesess will be more punishing than others to some investigators (5 sanity investigators shudder seeing Chronophobia, as do 5 health ones to Internal Injury. Many a Seeker gets countered hard by Amnesia. Silas and Winifred are in for a bad time if they get The Tower • XVI, etc.), but the sheer variability of how lethal Doomed can be show just how weak its design is.
And that's what in all honesty ruins Doomed; it is too random mechanically to properly mesh with the design of Arkham. Sure sometimes it does managed to give you that sense of inevitabile demise creeping towards you, but when it fails to deliver on that, what you are left with? A good theming can only carry a card so far before that is all that it has left
And don't get me even started with the whole "campaign mode only", burn that concept with fire and impale it with prejudice! Basic wekanesses should be designed to be a threat in every scenario, because that way, no matter when they are added, they can affect your game somehow. It's signature weaknesses that can afford to have long-lasting effects (like trauma), because they are required to be added from the very start to a specific investigator deck, so they WILL affect them as long as you are playing a campaign. By the same logic, if you are playing scenario mode with specific investigators like say: Roland, Zoey and Akachi should you replace Cover Up, Smite the Wicked and Angered Spirits with other weaknesses given that trauma suffered at the end of the scenario does absolute jack in scenario mode?
Honestly what boggles my mind the most is that not only has the Return Version of Forgotten Age a better basic weakness than Doomed in Offer You Cannot Refuse, which not only has actual counter play you can engage against it, but despite being "Campaign Only" as well, it has still a nasty effect in scenario mode, given it will sap your resources regardless if you can pay your "debt" or not, meaning you can honestly still use it outside campaign mode. Even without the additional exp bonus it's WAY better designed than Doomed.
No, what leaves me speechles is that Doomed is beaten by a weakness introduced in the same box: Dark Pact is an EXCELLENTLY designed random weakness with long reaching consequences in the The Price of Failure. This is how you do basic campaign weaknesses with a nastier bonded version that will make you suffer if you cannot deal with the original weakness properly. It beats Doomed in every aspect: it's almost unreal they were designed from the same people and came from the same game.
I've been running this as house rule alternative text on The Bell Tolls for awhile now and been having a ton of fun:
- Revelation: Put The Bell Tolls into play in your threat area. At the end of your turn: Discard The Bell Tolls. You are defeated. Suffer 1 mental and 1 physical trauma.
- Log, under your investigator's earned story assets / weaknesses: "But somehow, you've defied your fate..."
- Remove The Bell Tolls from your deck and search the collection for Overzealous and place it on the bottom of your deck.
The two main changes:
- Gives you one last turn, instead of outright death. Have had a ton of fun with this in multiplayer as the person who draws it gets to plan our their final blaze of 3 action glory!
- Does not outright kill, but simply replaces itself with another weakness. I chose Overzealous because it's generally regarded as pretty annoying. But, narratively, I always adore the idea of a doomed investigator surviving their fate against all odds... and get a bit cocky after ;)
In defense of the original:
- I will say, that playing it in the above way has actually made me somewhat love this weakness and appreciate the original as printed text.
- Recently, with the right / more experienced play group, we sometimes do opt to go with the text as is and simply plan ahead for the player who drew it to ready up a 2nd investigator. Oddly enough, the act of planning out that 2nd deck, sometimes makes them eager to die and switch! :P
TL;DR: they're your cards, have fun!
This weakness would wreck a havoc on Patrice Hathaway. She can cycle through her deck twice per scenario! In only 2 or 3 scenarios, she'd be killed. Of course, you could try Short Supply and Scrying and such to help, but you can only do so much...
Finally randomized into this card after getting it from repackaged TFA Investigator Expansion. I still take draw action as required and play draw cards like Stand Together as normal to see how it plays out.
The excitement of the deck thinning down but not yet hit the card is great, as some scenarios offer a way to Resign and I have to think more than usual how could I resign a round or two before others, yet the remaining investigators can still finish the job. I also can take AoO to kill myself on my favorable side of health / horror to avoid drawing it, if the deck is down to < 10 cards.
I only start thinking of tech-ing the weakness this way if the scenario is nearing the end (e.g. Completed all objectives, just some extra VP remaining), otherwise the team would be inefficient because I'm too selfish about avoiding the weakness.
I am also fine with bringing new investigators in mid-campaign, it make deckbuilding idea and investigator choice quite different. You can choose someone with starting XP, someone with 5 stat ready for basic work, deck with some testless damage / clue, or coming in with cards specifically to support those that are still alive and don't require any test, like Contraband, "I'll see you in hell!", Dodge, Thermos, Obsidian Bracelet, True Grit, Old Book of Lore, Scrying, Premonition, Teamwork, ... This investigator's deck likely be an unpublishable, party-specific deck, or even "tech" the campaign's quirk. I would not get to build a deck like this starting the campaign at the first scenario. It's time to go wild.
Having The Bell Tolls in the deck in the final scenario can be quite a bummer, as if I hit it early I would became just a ghost-coach / doom token manager in that final scenario watching my friends play with no next investigator to come in. But I understand the impact wouldn't be there if the kill is not immediate, and tension will be unmatched if I seemingly not getting it halfway through the final scenario. There is also still some sense of strategy of trying to leave as much legacy for the team as I can before I dies, so they can continue to finish the campaign. One thing I did is to pass on resources and items with Teamwork earlier than usual as it give away control and they won't get removed when the owner is eliminated.
The upgrade process placing the new version "live" on the bottom of deck is, at first, I think is unnecessarily harsh. I thought they might not want the final scenario to be free if you are not yet at The Bell Tolls. It would still have the same effect if the upgraded version is placed in the discard pile and get shuffled after deck reset. But I finally understand that this design is actually kinda cool! I was at Scenario 7 with 2nd Accursed Fate and didn't think this would be my final scenario, after all I know there is one more step. However I got it when deck is very thin and The Bell Tolls coming in and you can see it is clearly there is quite spooky and... strategic! I count actions I am required to run to Resign, AoO I am required to take to kill myself before drawing that final card, or how many ammo could I unload my gun or locations I could help reveal before I go. I think this struggle is a unique experience for what mostly is a "you randomly dies" weakness. For twice a campaign its location is not random...