Doomtrooper: Cyberpunk Legend’s Digital Comeback

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Distant future. Humanity has colonised the solar system. Greedy megacorporations wage endless wars over natural resources, from the diamond caves on Mercury to the Martian deserts. Driven by their endless quest for more, reckless explorers disturbed something on the edges of the solar system: on the dark tenth planet, hidden for eras from human eyes, Darkness stirred. The Dark Legion, led by its Apostles and monstrous Nefarites, descends upon humanity. The order of Brotherhood tries to stop its onslaught and unite the megacorporations against a common enemy, but greed and old grudges are hard to overcome. Humanity’s own wickedness, supported by the Dark Legion’s minions infiltrating the society, may prove to be their undoing. The endless war rages on… who will prevail?

This is the setting of Doomtrooper universe, or, to be precise, the universe of Mutant Chronicles, a franchise popular in the 1990s that had long since faded nearly into oblivion. One of its aspects, the Doomtrooper collectible card game, is currently set for a revival in digital form under the management of professional game makers.

One of the iconic illustrations for the original Doomtrooper/Mutant Chronicles, “Imperial” by Paul Bonner

Mutant Chronicles shows a dark, dystopian cyberpunk world – not an unfamiliar setting, but very complex on closer look. Over 20 years ago, it had its own RPG franchise, a miniature war game (called “Warzone”) and of course the card game itself, Doomtrooper. In its own time, Doomtrooper was second in popularity to Magic: the Gathering, and it was probably the only other big collectible card game with a unique theme. The other card games in the mid-1990s were mostly represented by Star Wars, Star Trek, and Middle-Earth – all inspired by pre-existing worlds, but Doomtrooper had managed to find its audience without any boost from popularly known setting. It was, in a way, a sci-fi alternative to the fantasy Magic.

The Secret Cow Level game studio, led by Justin Reynard (Fallout: New Vegas, Alpha Protocol, Dungeon Siege III), underwent the task of tracking down the copyright owners of the original and now are in the process of re-making the once-popular card game for PC and online gaming. They started a campaign on Kickstarter to acquire the funding needed and the response was immense – they have reached their goal in just three days. Nonetheless, the campaign is still running (until the end of October) and the makers are promising the more funding they get, the more and better content the game will have.

“Dark Legion”, another classic illustration for the original Doomtrooper, by Paul Bonner

A Doomtrooper game is based on acquiring Victory points for defeating your opponent’s Warriors, who can represent characters from any of the factions struggling for control of the Solar system. There is the Dark Legion (in Secret Cow Level’s game represented by Algeroth, the Dark Apostle of War – the remaining four Apostles could hopefully appear if the game’s development continues) opposed by the Brotherhood under the Cardinal’s leadership, there is the Cartel – united forces from all corporations affiliated with the Brotherhood – and then there are the Megacorporations themselves: Imperial with its Clan Warriors and soldiers loyal to the Queen, Capitol with its Free Marines, Mishima following the centuries-old code of honour, Bauhaus with its war machines, Hussars and elite Etoiles Mortant, and finally Cybertronic, the corporation specialised in enhancing its soldiers with the best technological implants.

The card version of Doomtrooper was known for its easy, yet interesting gameplay, flavourful setting and last but not least the funny names of some of its Special cards (cards representing events or special circumstances influencing the battle). How well is all this going to translate into the digital form remains to be seen, but the initial interest, the makers’ enthusiasm and devotion are promising something good. Brian Winter, the creator of original Doomtrooper, has been working with the team, which is both a sign of the makers taking their job seriously and a promise of remaining faithful to the original. If you wish to check the game out for yourselves (and possibly secure your own copy by contributing), you can take a look at Doomtrooper’s kickstarter at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/framerate/doomtrooper-digital-collectible-card-game/ The campaign runs until 25th October 2017.

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Rostislav Kurka
Rostislav is a Protestant theologian and a self-trained Sith, counting Jan Hus, Darth Revan and Darth Traya among his main influences. He hails from the hundred-towered city of Prague, where he had spent a large part of his life creating worlds and inspiring young generations to roleplay. His involvement in organising children's camps led him to accidentally writing a Lord of the Rings musical, which made him temporarily famous, and a Three Musketeer-Jedi fanfilm, which didn't. He has recently moved to the frozen waste of Finland, because that's it, the Rebels are there.