The Witcher is coming to your table in the near future. CD Projekt Red, with the rights to The Witcher IP, has teamed up with Lukasz Wozniak of Go On Board to produce The Witcher: Old World, coming to Kickstarter sometime this year.
The Witcher has been brought to life through books, video games, and a TV series, so it’s not a surprise that a board game is now in the works. If you are a fan of the IP, a fan of tabletop games, or both you might be interested to know more what this board game will include. I have read and watched all the current updates as I am, just like you, very interested to see what the game entails. Let me share this knowledge with you now.
The Witcher Theme
You are most likely very knowledgeable of The Witcher world from the books or video games, and in both those there is a focus on world building. How will this all translate to a board game? Well, since you are already familiar with all those things, the designer and publishers have decided to place the board game in the same world, but in a time before Geralt, Yennefer, and Ciri. Players instead will become witchers themselves and with this, specific events that take place from these other representations will not be present, thus players will not be confined when playing the game and can explore and develop their own witcher character however they would like, developing a great story.
What might be familiar?
You will play in a world rooted in the Witcher universe, with familiar monsters, magic that will continue to surprise, and fighting, lots of fighting. So, we don’t know if you will encounter new mages, help the Queen with her desires, relieve a curse from a cursed knight, encounter the law of surprise, join a dragon hunt, or find a Djinn giving you 3 wishes. We don’t know what events you might encounter, but all of these are possible.
The game is an adventure sandbox game where you have options of how and where you want to travel. The game plays from 2-5 players and boardgamegeek has the playing time listed as 90-150 minutes.
Each witcher will have their own unique deck with different abilities. We know that each player will have the same 2 cards of 5 types, but these cards are different for each witcher as they are in a different school. Cards will be able to be played synergistically to create powerful combos, possibly including that witcher’s school’s abilities that might later potentially be sung about by the local bard. Players will be going on quests that will cause you to choose from ambiguous moral dilemmas, battle monsters or other witchers and or bet on other witchers brawling with each other, play dice poker to gain coin, obtain new items (I’m guessing silver items might come in handy), and increase in character skills.
Players gain trophies throughout the game by completing certain objectives like killing monsters, winning a brawl with another witcher getting your character’s attributes to the highest level, or fulfilling certain quests throughout the game. Depending on player count and intended length of game, the first player to reach 4-6 trophies wins the game.
The exploration uses a system that is similar to the game Fallout. So, when exploring, another player will read what is happening in the scenario, and then the player decides what they want to do between the two options presented to them.
So, on a turn the player will either fight or draw an encounter card. The encounter card has a choice of exploring the city or the surroundings. The encounter card will put you in a situation matching the lore of the the witcher, and let you choose one of 2 decisions. A decision might be to help someone or not, helping would risk your health and time, but helping would help your honor with possible results of being bashed in front of a crowd. Your choices will have consequences, and many times they will lead you to new quests. If you reach the destination where a quest points you to, you will draw a numbered card to continue the second part of that story, also giving you a choice as to how you want to continue that adventure.
So, it’s been mentioned that these cards will include a lot of flavor to the game and choices to be made. Stories will be made, and players can even act out the text when reading it to the other player. Just remember not to get carried away with the stories as your job is to kill monsters.
Deck formation or deckbuilding – used when traveling and fighting. There are always 3 monsters prowling out on the board somewhere at all times to fight. They are stationary and not moving ono the board, so when you feel prepared you will be able to get to them quickly. When fighting you will use cards in your own deck to play out.
You start with some cards but will gain cards throughout your travels. Cards will be attacks, dodges, or magical signs which can be linked together to make combos. The monster will then have their own deck in which there are 2 options to choose from which all the other players get to choose. Does the monster charge or bite? Not one choice is more powerful than another, as damage can be both big and small with a charge as well as a bite. After choosing, the monster card is revealed, and you follow how much damage it deals and anything else stated on that card. The attacking player and monster will go back and forth with the witcher hopefully forming amazing combos to defeat the monster.
Each player’s deck will need to be crafted in a way so that players gain specific cards that connect to others they have, forming combo extensions. So, card management throughout the game will be important to upgrade your character’s attack abilities. And often the extension itself allows for extra damage or gaining an effect.
The cards also aren’t supposed to feel redundant as each one has a name and different feel to it than another. And there can be a lot of strategy when deciding which cards to buy. Cards usually cost between 0-2, however unlike most other deck builders you usually buy the most expensive card because it is probably the strongest, in this game you will need to strategically pick cards that will allow you to move on the board or fight monsters. The most expensive card is not always the best. And from what I’ve seen and read, this deck mechanic reflects the spirit of the witcher world and gives theme and story to the game.
Characters – All I know is that there will be five different witchers to choose from. None of them will be female, sadly. And each witcher belongs with a different school. Each has a different starting deck, but the starting decks will not be drastically different as everyone will have 2 of each kind of card.
Story – Its been mentioned that even with the deck building mechanic, the game still holds a strong story as witchers travel the lands to different locations and build up their characters becoming heroes. Many events will be presented and players will choose to continue with the current plot or ignore it to do something else they feel like they want to do. Slowly story is revealed and following different paths can give additional information as to things that happened there. And if you know the witcher world from any other way, you will find cool easter eggs and connections that will make you feel connected to the world and story right away.
Balance – It’s been noted that players might expect a game of exploration, which is true, but you will need to balance that with also fighting monsters, as that’s the main way to succeed in the game. If you decide to not fight much, you will fall behind the others who are fighting. Also, if you ignore the story and don’t explore then you won’t develop your character enough, making them stronger to fight bigger monsters. This balance that’s required will be traveling to different locations, preparing potions, playing dice piker, exploring the land, learning about people you meet as this will contribute to your deck building, fighting monsters, and occasionally brawling with the other players. Its been noted that you can start fighting fairly early in the game, and you don’t have to wait a long time to be able to do that.
Winning – Again you will need to gain the number of trophies set at the beginning of the game. The last trophy to win the game needs to be gained by fighting a monster. So, the endgame is always exciting as you don’t always win these fights.
Solo and co-operative – It was mentioned that there will be a solo and co-operative way to play the game, but it won’t be included in the same box. So those will need to be purchased separately. This was said to be the case because the game is designed to be a strategic multiplayer game, and the solo and co-operative versions will require additional components not included in the base game.
Negatives – players who have played the prototype version of the game have mentioned how great the game is, but they did share some concerns. One player said they were worried about the downtime between turns at high player count and thought a 3-player spot would be the best. Besides that, there were very high remarks made about the game and comments of how there is no other game like this one at this time that they know of.
Other random quotes used to describe the game:
“The theme is very cool, there is something dark about it, well suited to the world of The Witcher.” – prototype reviewer
“This is not a typical adventure game where we walk around the world and throw dice. In The Witcher: The Old World, we have real strategical choices.” – prototype reviewer
“I feel the tension and excitement as I go into a fight, but I also use my Attributes, Potions and the way I crafted my deck the best way I can.” – prototype reviewer
“The Old World is a much more complex game, a lot is going on, there is a lot of mechanics, a lot of thinking, and at the same time, it is not a very hard and exhausting game.” – prototype reviewer
School of the Bear
“These witchers are the epitome of stamina and endurance. They are known to be independent — it’s very unusual to see a group of Bear adepts together. However, they are excellent and incredibly dangerous fighters — even when outnumbered. And they know very well how to look after themselves. What do you think about witchers who specialize in defense?”
School of Griffin
“They reside in Kaer Seren, a fortress previously used by the powerful mage Alzur. The Griffins hold knightly values and teach their students proper etiquette. Their fighting style combines swordsmanship and magic which makes them very respected among other witchers, but is it really possible to be a truly honorable witcher?”
School of the Wolf
“One of the most recognizable of the witcher schools, headquartered in Kaedwen’s Kaer Morhen. Wolf adepts are masters of swordsmanship. With their silver and steel swords close to hand, they are natural born fighters — against monster and man.”
We get a lot of comments and suggestions from you – keep them coming! One of the topics you discuss is Erim, the witcher from the Wolf School. Today we can finally show you how it will look in the game!”
School of the Viper
“Their fighting style is full of unpredictable movements. Vipers fight using two blades called “fangs” and they specialize in poisons. Though contracts on monsters aren’t the only thing they indulge in — they will also slay humans and non-humans for good money. Some say being an assassin a disgrace for a witcher, but what do you think?”
The School of the Cat
“This school was initiated by a group of over a dozen rebellious witchers who wanted to improve the mutation process and introduce a new order among their kind. To achieve this, they left their schools and united under the sign of the Cat. Some of them are known as spies or even assassins!”
“If you ever lose your way in the depths of the woods, be careful. The leshen is on guard to defend its territory from intruders. Its magical skills allow this powerful beast to call upon the denizens of the forest during battle — which only makes the prospect of fighting such a deadly, ancient spirit even more dangerous.”
“Whatever you do, don’t look into a fiend’s third eye! Yes, their mighty, muscular body charging toward you might be frightening, but the real terror comes from their ability to hypnotise. They say that once you gaze into this eye, that’ll be the last thing you see before you die. Usually, that’ll come no longer than within two heartbeats.”
“Harpies are huge birds with a female face. A trained witcher should have no problem facing one in combat — but the problems begin when more than one joins the fray. Together, they form a sharp-clawed murderous flock and become a dangerous airborne killing machine. Nicolas Vogel had planned for them to be used in the Redanian army. What do you think would happen if the harpies hadn’t escaped from their cages?”
“In Temeria, they frighten children with a story about a girl who, walking through the forest to her sick grandmother, met a wolf. But witchers know the true version of this fairy tale. It wasn’t a wolf she met, but a werewolf. And no hunter with a crossbow would ever be able to save her. A silver sword is needed for a beast like that. And lots of luck.”
“Today we present the nightmare of a gardener with an unclean conscience. Arechspores are cursed plants that take root in soil fertilized by bloody deeds. Their attacks are especially treacherous — they grow out of the ground and shoot poisoned spikes at their unsuspecting victims. But is it really worth fearing a monster that doesn’t even bleed?”
“It’s not safe in the swamps. Never. Ever. Foglets prey on people seeking escape from the fog and wetlands. They hide well, using spells to lure opponents into their traps. These monsters are the bane of travelers and a regular source of coin for wise witchers. Is a silver sword at hand enough for you to dare venture into the swamp alone?”
“Barghests are ghost hounds, lured by sin and crime. They are especially dangerous under the cover of night when the entire herd ruthlessly attacks their prey. In an area plagued by barghests, it’s better not to wander alone after dark. Many believe that barghests are a divine punishment for those who have sinned. But to witchers — they are simply monsters to be slain for coin.”
“It takes a strong curse, fueled by hatred, to create a striga. This reptilian-scaled monster is a real challenge even for powerful witchers. The striga can be killed or disenchanted, but only the bravest — or the dumbest — opt for the latter solution. Keep that in mind before you begin the hunt…”
“Griffins are a cross between a lion and an eagle, and a combination of two dangerous predators such as these can only be one thing… deadly! A witcher’s sword is not always able to stop the sharp beak of a diving griffin, so you must be prepared when taking on the task of hunting these beasts down. What tools would you bring to a Griffin hunt? “
“Don’t be fooled by the birds; their singing can be treacherous. When you hear their cacophony in the forest, look around closely. You may be entering the territory of the bruxa — a most cunning vampire whose beauty can only match her murderous instincts.”
“Magicians and aristocrats who correct the whiteness of their teeth are commonly said to have a wyvern smile. The snow-white tusks of the animals contrast strongly with the rather horrible physiognomy. The membranous sections, a long neck and a whip-like tail with a thorn fill with fear and disgust. Though people often mistake them for dragons, wyverns have nothing to do with these noble creatures.”
“Today we’d like to show you a piece of the world map in The Witcher: Old World. A journey through the countless lands and cities of the Continent is an important part of the game!”
Full Playthrough of The Witcher: Old World with 3 players.
Images by CD Projeckt Red and Go On Board
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