Last week I tried out Doom the Boardgame, a new game from Fantasy Flight games. This game is in spirit similar to other games of this genre, such as the various versions of GW’s SpaceHulk (original version at BGG).
The box includes a lot of plastic miniatures, representing various denizens of the DOOM universe, but that is not the main topic of this post.
There is a very interesting rule mechanic in the game, which could be used for the tabletop as well.
In order to shoot at a target, there are a couple of colored 6-sided dice in the game. Each D6, on each face, lists 3 things (all on each face): a number of bullets holes (indicating damage), a range number, and possibly an ammo icon. The different colors have slightly different statistics. When you shoot a weapon, you roll the corresponding number of dice for that weapon (e.g. 2 red and 1 yellow). The total number of bullet holes is the damage you inflict; if any of the dice shows an ammo symbol, the weapon has run out of ammo and you have to reload; but the interesting part is that you also add up the range numbers to get the maximum range at which your wepon has succesfully fired. In DOOM, the range is measured in squares. Of course, various abilities and weapon types add modifiers to any of these outcomes.
An interesting idea would be to try this out on the tabletop. In typical rulesets, for each type of weapon or unit, there is some sort of range table, giving modifiers at each range for the to-hit probability or damage inflicted. But now, range itself is a stochastic outcome. Thus, you could throw some dice to fire at a target, and read from the dice not only the damage inflicted, but also the range at which this is effective. Only then you have to measure the actual range and determine whether you have scored a hit.
This could help in speeding up gameplay, since measuring ranges becomes an afterthought. Also, pre-measurement becomes somewhat useless, since you do not know beforehand how far your weapon can shoot (although you should have an idea of the most likely outcome and distribution).
In some sense, it is of course similar to variable ranges that some systems have used before (e.g. drawing sticks that each have slightly different marked ranges), but using dice like this struck me as a really good idea. At least I hadn’t seen it before.