What would a grimdark Warhammer 40k Monster Hunter hybrid game be like? You’ll be able to explore that scenario in The Doomed, an upcoming skirmish wargame by Osprey Games, due for release in June.
In The Doomed, players control small warbands of converted minis and battle one another and terrifying monsters in a doomed, post-apocalyptic sci-fi world. Speaking to Wargamer, author Chris McDowall and modeller Ana Polanšćak paint a picture of a very different wargame from Games Workshop’s omnipresent fare.
Missions of The Doomed are made by combining two parts: a nightmarish ‘horror’ that all players are trying to take down, and a ‘conflict’, a set of twists that complicate things. “I made thirty-six of each!” McDowall says, “Mostly so I could have d66 rolls. That was a stupid idea, but it did force me to get creative.”
If 1,296 possible missions sounds daunting, McDowall says that the core of the game is extremely stripped back: “I had three design rules for the game: no measuring, no stacking, no tracking.” Models can move any distance until they strike terrain (so make sure you have a well packed board), modifiers never stack, and there are no effects to track from one turn to the next.
Combat will apparently be “decisive”, with a ‘Shock’ table that can send a wounded model crawling for cover, knock them off a ledge, or blow their head off.
McDowall tells Wargamer the core rulebook will have “everything you need for campaigns, scenarios, campaigns, factions…” He adds that the book has just nine pages of core rules, while the rest is “stuff you can use to create scenarios, run campaigns, add new models to your band…”
The Doomed takes place on a ruined planet, once owned by a pangalactic ‘Company’ but since abandoned. Infested with monsters, four factions now war for dominance in the rubble, contending with one another and hunting down dreaded Horrors to stave off the doom that will destroy the world.
“It’s a sci-fi version of Britain after the Romans left – you’ve got the remnants of civilization, but it’s all come crumbling down.” McDowall says.
Those four factions include techno-cultists, sci-fi feudal knights, mutants, and aliens. “The four factions are supposed to inspire you but not constrain you – whatever models you have already, you can find a home for them.”
Chris built his own playtest minis out of Warhammer 40k parts, and we can see how Adeptus Mechanicus, Tyranids, Astra Militarum, and all the other Warhammer 40k factions could supply components for warbands.
The rules have been written to support this ‘kitbash attitude’: “There aren’t ‘guns’, there are ‘piercers’. So that could be a crossbow, a rifle, or whatever”, McDowall says as an example. He adds: “I think the only thing holding a lot of people back from making more conversions is having something to do with them”.
Professional model-maker and long-time Warhammer converter Ana Polanšćak created original horror conversions to illustrate the rulebook. Polanšćak is a well-respected name in the Inq28 scene, a subculture of hobbyists who love massively converting and painting miniatures inspired by the grimier artwork and themes found in Warhammer The Old World and Warhammer 40k.
Polanšćak tells Wargamer her favourite monster from the project is: “The Devourer, a hulking beast with insatiable appetites. As a representation of her immense hunger, I sculpted three snarling mouths on the miniature. She also has no need for eyes, being guided towards prey by her keen sense of smell alone.”
She says that kitbashing is “one of the things that attracted me to the hobby in general – the creative possibilities are virtually endless”, and adds “The Doomed has all of those features by design and very directly emphasises them in the rulebook: ‘kitbash attitude’, ‘play to find out what happens’, ‘embrace the craft’ and ‘competitive collaboration’.”