I’m conscious that Conquest might not be as well played as a number of the other card-games that we discuss in Mostly Off-topic, so I’m taking this week’s RTFC a little slower than usual and will aim this at the intelligent card-player rather than the dedicated Conquester.
Any card with such an ominous-sounding name needs to be pretty game impacting. You really want this hitting the table to lead to the gnashing of teeth and wailing of whatever-the-quote is, rather than the slightly quizzical reach over, half-hearted read and “So what’s that do then?” that so often follows a mediocre play.
And straight from the Core set of Warhammer Conquest 40k (Core set #141), Doom certainly carries a fair chunk of weight…
No errata applies to this card.
Unpacking the card
An Eldar card that is not loyal (and therefore possible in Eldar, Dark Eldar and Tau), Doom is an event that is played in the Deploy phase and destroys all non-unique units in both Headquarters zones.
So, why is this important:
- It costs 4 resources – at the start of every turn each player receives 4 resources; the card can always be played and this threat is a large part of its impact on the game
- Bread and butter units are non-unique
- The aim of Conquest is to win battles at the first planet; you do this by sending units to the first planet to duke it out with the enemy. Whatever units you have alive at the end come back to the Headquarters zone at the end of the turn so at some point in the game your enemy is likely to be packing units here when you might not
In short: at least once a game, you are likely to be able to deal substantial damage to your enemy’s forces that could swing the rest of the game in your favour. All you have to do is draw the card at some point, and with three copies in a 50-card deck that is reasonably likely.
In one case playing this card is a no-brainer: your opponent has many more units in HQ than you do. In which case, draw your self up to your full height, take a deep breath and speak in your most stentorian voice: “Thou is doomed.” (Alternatively go all Scottish)
In other circumstances there are three factors to be considered:
- Relative resource piles to your opponent
- Likely cost curve of your opponents units
- Relative strength and number of units on the board
Basically, you’re asking yourself who is most likely to recover? I try to add up the resource cost of the units in my HQ and their HQ and if it is a greater difference than 2 (i.e. 3 upwards) I Doom away as a general rule. If it’s lower then I typically want to be spending my resources on something else. I’ll try to leave this as late in deployment as I can, but as passing in this phase once means you’ve passed forever, it can be impossible to delay as long as you’d like.
Current board state will always win, as I might not be expecting to win many resource command struggles that turn and keeping other events (or the threat of other events) may be more viable.
In my experience, the decision of whether to Doom or not is actually clear-cut.
An interesting impact of the card’s presence in the core, is that many players found the threat of having it more useful than actually playing it. It causes opponents to spread their units out a bit more and try to avoid large armies on the first planet except in the final push. All of this without taking up card slots; indeed putting a singleton in and playing it if drawn (often only as a shield) keeps the threat alive without sinking much resource into it.
What makes it worse?
There are two problems with Doom really:
- Sensible play naturally avoids this card’s impact; a low-cost curve, spread through the planets, targeting cards rather than resources in the command struggle
- Sensible play means that you are going to rely upon the automatic 4-resources, so Doom comes at the cost of your own improved board presence
TL;DR: what makes it worse is playing sensibly. Not the greatest endorsement that Mostly Off-topic has ever made for a card!
Event cancel (available to Eldar etc etc) will stop it in its tracks, and unless you out-resource your opponent they may well be able to build back up faster than you can.
What makes it better?
An opponent that has gotten lazy and forgotten the card exists. Perhaps the downsides caused it to ‘cycle’ out of your meta, and you can spring the surprise back in reminding everyone of careful play at the cost of their game.
When it does fire well, it certainly shifts the power.
A win-condition that can be achieved through first and second planet also helps Doom become relevant. The mechanic of the game incentivises a big army at the first planet, as it is is easy for them to return to the second planet in the next round when that has become the first planet. If the opponent’s deck plays an aggressive style then the board wipe might kill their rush sufficiently to let the longer-game play out well.
An opponents emphasis on the ability to shield also makes the card more effective as its effect cannot be shielded. Shields are a function of deck construction and then aggressive card draw, so it might help your command struggle emphasises resources over cards.
Doom is the kind of card that cannot be ignored, and it will shift in and out of favour as the meta develops and players forget to play carefully enough against it. However, sensible play of Conquest works against the impact of the card in many cases and its greatest impact is on games that are already probably won.
However, if you bring it to the table at a point when laziness has set in, you can enjoy devastating plays that will swing the tide of war your way. In particular, the ever present threat (it can always be played with the automatic resources!) can cause players to adjust their play styles against you which will hamper their effectiveness.
As a singleton it will never be a bad choice in most decks that can take it.