The saga about the witcher Geralt of Rivia is over thirty years old and has been told in various forms. Originating as a series of books by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, the saga has been delighting many people with its dark fantasy setting since 2007 as a video game. Based on the video games published by Asmodee In collaboration with CD Projekt Red and Go on Board, now with The Witcher - The Old World, a board game that tells the events centuries before the Geralt saga. You can find out how we received this in the following review.
In the old world, after the fall of the Witcher Order, five schools were founded: those of the Wolf, the Griffin, the Bear, the Cat and the Viper. Each one subjected its students to different training and lived according to their own rules. As newly minted witchers, we begin our journey through the world, facing difficult decisions and endless dangers. Our superhuman senses and training ultimately turned us into monster hunters, which provides us with our daily bread. But it's not just about money for us, it's also about fame and honor for the school of witchers whose medallion we wear.
A journey through the world of The Witcher
In The Witcher - The Old World we take on the role of a witcher who has been trained in one of the five schools. We travel the world, perfect our techniques and fight against monsters and our rivals. Our goal is to collect as many trophies as possible. We get these in battle or when we bring one of our four attributes to the maximum level and meditate. The first witcher to collect 4 trophies wins the game and brings the greatest honor to his witcher school.
The core of The Witcher – The Old World lies in deck building. We start with an individual deck of 10 starting sorcerer cards. We use sorcerer cards to move around the map in the first phase of the game or to use them in the second phase for fights against monsters and opposing sorcerers.
In the first phase we move across the entire continent and trigger the respective location or quest actions depending on the location we visit. For movement purposes, each sorcerer card has a terrain symbol at the bottom left. For example, if we put down a card with a forest symbol, we can move to a neighboring location with a forest symbol. If we don't have a suitable card, we can also put down any two cards or a card and a gold to reach the desired location.
Once we arrive at the location, we can use the associated local action. Depending on the location action, we can improve our attributes, purchase potions for combat, hear rumors about monsters and get gold in return, bet our gold in dice poker, take sorcerer cards from the display or influence the display. With all of these actions we try to prepare our sorcerer for upcoming encounters and to get ahead of our fellow combatants in the hunt for trophies.
If there is an opposing sorcerer where we are, we can challenge him to a game of dice poker. The stake is one gold per participating sorcerer + one gold from the supply. Afterwards, the dice are rolled for victory in classic Kniffel style. Whoever has the better result wins the game.
A sorcerer for the people
If we have a quest and reach the location specified by it on the map, we can also activate this in the first phase of the game. These often give us bonuses that help us move forward in our projects. We acquire quests during the second phase of the game. In this phase we can decide whether we fight, meditate or explore the city or the surrounding lands. If we decide to explore, we are faced with numerous, sometimes bizarre, situations in which we have to choose one of two options. Depending on what we decide, we get different outcomes. These can be positive or negative and send us on various quests.
We can only meditate once we have increased one of our four attributes to the maximum level. We then receive an attribute trophy card that offers us a permanent ability and are allowed to move our victory marker up one space. For each attribute, when we have reached the maximum level and an attribute trophy card is available, we can meditate once and thus move the victory marker. However, we can't win the game that way, because the fourth trophy has to be obtained in a fight.
If after the first phase we find ourselves on a location space with a monster or an opposing sorcerer (with whom we have not played dice poker), we can decide to fight in the second phase. Our attributes come into play in battles because they influence how much shield we have, how many potions we can use and how many cards we can draw in each turn. In addition, each sorcerer has an individual attribute that corresponds to the knowledge of the respective sorcerer school. The bear school is particularly focused on defense, while the wolf school is better at dealing damage.
If we start a fight, we have to survive the first round with the cards left in our hand from the first phase. So we have to think carefully in phase one whether we want to tackle a fight this round and therefore prefer to save up cards instead of traveling through the world. The rest of our cards (discard and deck piles) are shuffled together before combat and become our life deck. We use this to draw cards for combat and is reduced by damage received.
When fighting a monster, a life point deck is created for it using the monster attack cards. This consists of the number of life points indicated on the monster's respective card. Monsters are always the first to start an attack and therefore have an advantage because they are the first to reduce our deck. Traces are an exception.
If we heard a rumor about a monster in the first phase, we get a terrain tile that leads us to the monster's trail. Once we have visited the location requested on the terrain tile, we pick up the trail of the respective monster, which now gives us the combat advantage against the monster, as we are now allowed to make the first combat move and can thus steal important cards from the monster.
When it is the monster's turn, one of our opponents announces one of the two attack forms, a charge attack or a bite attack, and reveals the top card of the monster life point deck. The effect of the announced attack form is then carried out.
Combinations for powerful attack chains
When it is our turn in combat, we try to play out a series of combinations with the cards available to us and thus chain several effects together. Small color bars on the side of the card indicate what type of card can be chained to the previous one. If you manage to chain a card, both cards and the effects within the small color bar are activated. This way you can collect a variety of symbols to damage your opponent and reduce your life point deck.
If we win the fight against a monster, we receive the monster card as a trophy, move up our victory marker and receive gold as a reward. From now on, the monster card we receive gives us a special ability that we can use in the rest of the game. A new monster of the next level (3 levels in total with increasing difficulty) then appears on the game board. However, if we are defeated, the monster remains on the field and we receive a trace of the monster and a sorcerer card with a cost of 0 from the display. This means we can go into the next fight against the monster with a little more experience.
When fighting against another sorcerer, the fight proceeds as usual, except there is an exchange of combo blows between the respective sorcerers. All sorcerers not involved in the battle can place bets on the winner and, if they guess correctly, receive additional gold at the end of the battle. After the battle, the successful sorcerer receives a medallion trophy card that corresponds to the special attribute of the respective sorcerer school in a weakened form. In addition, the winner also advances here with his victory marker.
Skillful deckbuilding for victory
In the third and final phase of the game, we draw three cards from our hand and can use them to purchase a card from the display. The costs range between 0 – 2 cards, which we have to put on our discard pile in order to acquire the respective card and put it into our hand. The more expensive the card is, the better it is usually. When purchasing the card, it is important to pay attention to how well the card combines with other cards from our deck and what we want to do on the next turn. If, for example, we pay 2 cards, our options on the next turn are very limited.
Information about The Witcher – The Old World
|Number of players: 1 – 5|
Age: from 14 years
Playing time: 90 - 140 minutes
Difficulty: expert game
Long-term motivation: medium
Classification: Deck Builder, Point-to-Point Movement
Author: Lukasz Woźniak
Illustrations: Bogna Gawronska, Damien Mammoliti
Publisher: Asmodee, Go on Board, CD Projekt Red
Official Website: Link
Year of publication: 2023
Cost: around 75 euros
The Witcher – The Old World is an exciting race to fight for trophies. The opposing sorcerers are constantly breathing down our necks and we try to get ahead of them in every way. Be it fighting a specific monster or collecting attribute trophies. Because these are each limited to one trophy. If a monster is defeated, a new, significantly stronger monster appears. If an attribute trophy has been obtained, it can no longer be obtained for the rest of the game - at least in games with two or three players.
Two to three endings is also the number of people where I think the game shines the most. The game is crisp and lasts long enough to not get boring. We weren't able to test the game with four players, but I can well imagine that it could simply be far too long. Even with three people, a game can fill an entire evening. In addition, the game board is not designed for games with four or five players. Depending on the number of players, additional monster stacks must be created next to the game board. A bit strange that it states that the game is suitable for up to 5 people, but this option is not offered on the board.
Unfortunately, the solo mode is nothing special in my opinion. The aim here is to kill three monsters of three difficulty levels as quickly as possible. Finally, a rating table shows how well we did. This is nice for getting to know the game, but otherwise doesn't bring any particular added value.
It is also a shame that certain, but in my opinion important, additions from the Kickstarter didn't make it on sale. With the Skellige, Legendary Monsters and Sorceresses and Sorcerers expansions There are at least three extensions available. However, there are no really important additions such as bombs, mutation bonuses when you level up or monsters with special abilities. These give the game significantly more depth and make fights even more exciting.
Nevertheless, on the whole, The Witcher – The Old World is a rock-solid game, even in its basic version. It's fun to roam through the world, gradually improve your sorcerer and your sorcerer deck and fight against monsters and opposing sorcerers. The stories associated with the explorations are also beautifully written and offer a nice scope for decisions. However, I also see a big problem here. At some point you just know all the exploration cards and duplication occurs. In our third test game I faced situations that I already knew from previous games.
Anyone who likes dark settings and deck building and doesn't shy away from fighting monsters or their opponents will definitely have a lot of fun with The Witcher - The Old World. And fans of the video game or of the story surrounding Geralt of Rivia in general should be aware that the game takes place centuries before the saga. If you hope to meet characters from this one, you will be disappointed. To immerse yourself in the world of the Geralt saga, you should take a look at the latest project from CD Projekt Red and Go on Board The Witcher – Path of Destiny on Gamefound toss.
|Go on Board | The Witcher: The Old World | Basic game |... *||77,99 EUR||Buy|
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