Among fans, this title represents a piece of life, full of emotions and nostalgia. But is this rectangular box in itself a valid game? Let's discover the World of Warcraft board game and each of its expansions
Before starting to read, in this article it is assumed that the reader has known, at least vaguely, the world of Warcraft, as indeed it is recommended to play.
A hardcore board game that smells of nostalgia for World of Warcraft
Out the tooth, out the pain: the first thing to report is that the World of Warcraft board game is not suitable for fast, light nights out. Quite the contrary, it actually combines the trends in the epic and colossal architectures of the two producers, namely Blizzard and Fantasy Flight. Be ready and ready to invest 4 to 7 hours of your time if you want to get to grips with this title, of which about 2 hours (without fear of exaggeration) between preparation and explanation. Once you have invested so much time in pleasantries, you will think you can immerse yourself in at least as many hours of intensive play; Well that's not quite the case, because the dead times between two rounds can in some cases reach peaks of 20 or 30 minutes, if you play in 6. Finally, prepare a playing surface of at least 1 by 2 meters.
All this seems insurmountable, so why does such a large and stubborn group of fans persist in feeding the secondary market and starting it 15 (fifteen!) Years after its release? Simply, why it's a wonderful game, with the inestimable merit of returning that the ethereal, childlike feeling of first discovering things; feeling that all of us World of Warcraft players felt when our alter ego took its first steps on Azeroth and that it has remained so sweetly impressed on us.
What was the authors' quest?
It is natural to ask this question to first understand why what has been written so far. We don't have the ability to penetrate their minds like some WoW characters, but in this case it doesn't help: the goal was clearly to reproduce the sensations of online play on a board game. We are in 2005, World of Warcraft is just born after a decade of incubation in the belly of Warcraft, and its popularity eclipses any competitor, going so far as to redefine a genre, the MMORPG. The vastness of the game and the expectations related to everything that bears the logo must have made it the task of transporting it to the table in our living room. not an easy undertaking; yet it turned out not well, not very well, but beautifully.
An overview of all the miniatures available: colorful and detailed, they were superb for the years they came out
Between trees of talents and waves of monsters | World of Warcraft, the board game
The setting is the most classic of the classics, even for World of Warcraft. A handful of adventurers from South Shore (Alliance) and one from Brill (Horde) set out on a journey to the north of the Eastern Kingdoms; between Murloc, Naga, Demons and Dragons, they will have to make their way to the final boss, chosen from Ragnaros, Nefarian and Kel'Thuzad. The progression system is surprisingly rich and it will be up to the player to choose the talents and skills that will define his character from a vast range of possibilities. What makes it perceive as vast is not only the number of possible choices, however considerable (2-4 skills and 2-3 talents per level), but the fact of not having any superstructure to guide us. And here comes that feeling of unfathomable potential, which so much characterizes WoW and which is up to us to explore.
A faithfully unbalanced balance
It goes without saying that, with so many possible builds, which closely follow those of the original game, there are differences in terms of effectiveness. Incredibly, the authors have managed to transpose even the imbalance of the classes with such fidelity that one is frankly impressed. With a Tank Warrior or Sorcerer, you know you just can't go wrong; at the same time, other classes, such as Hunter and Druid, lose something, or more than something, along the way. The only flaw is the system designed for healers: quite punitive and extremely expensive to use; Specializing a character as a healer is only worthwhile with expansions, where their condition improves.
PvP or PvE combat? | World of Warcraft, the board game
The two acronyms that denote the combat against players and the progression against the game have always lived in full diarchy in WoW, and the board game tries to replicate. In this case however, PvP comes out quite mutilated: it's not worth engaging opposing characters even when you have the advantage, because precious movements are lost. It must be recognized, however, that despite this feeling of open world pvp is completely missing, the brawl at the end of the game, which is mandatory if you have not managed to defeat the boss, is hilarious.
We are faced with a hard and pure american, with cascades of dice pouring onto the board and who direct the fighting; what is fascinating consists in the progressive reduction of the risk. The more our character acquires skills and talents, the more he will be able to change dice results, roll them back and even get automatic results. Ingenious the system with three counters (at a distance, in melee and armor) which makes the combat interesting and varied even in the long run. Since PvP and PvE combat follow slightly different rules, it should be noted that the types of counters also have different importance; against monsters, melee tokens are great, while in PvP the most valuable are incredibly armor tokens, which also allows tanks to have a moment of glory.
The Burning Crusade: The first expansion takes us to Outland
Or should we say Outland, since sadly this expansion has never been translated into Spanish. In the world ravaged by the Burning Legion, the maximum level of our heroes increases by 1 (thus reaching a maximum of 6), with new talents and skills. Particularly healing characters become more effective, especially the Paladin, and you start to have viable alternatives to the Tank Warrior.
The news does not stop there, because dungeons and raids are introduced, even in the base game, or those expeditions into enemy territory that made WoW famous. The mechanism devised to return that experience is basically a simple, but effective and above all impressive deck building. The feeling of attracting hosts of enemies is perfectly returned and even the abilities of the bosses reflect those of the online game.
As an end game, we will be able to choose which raid to face between the Black Temple, the Sacrespire Cave or Fort Tempesta; therefore finding ourselves respectively in front of Illidan, Dama Vashj or Kael'Thas Solealto. Remember how Illidan welcomed us? "You are not ready," he said, and in this case he is right. The difficulty level is surprisingly high and defeating Illidan with a character at maximum build is very unlikely; we don't even consider going through it without being fully built. The other two raids are simpler, but not simple; knowing that you are the best of your potential and at the same time being afraid of not making it, makes the gaming experience always exciting. Furthermore, being defeated at the last boss means starting from the starting city, which also allows those at a disadvantage to never give up.
With the expansion, the required surface increases dangerously: you will need more than 2sqm.
The Shadows of War descend on Azeroth
In this minor set, we are offered new cards. Many new cards. Hundreds, actually. Did you feel the need, in an already mammoth game and literally impossible to dissect 100% in every possible combination? Well yes, why new skills and new talents inject new life into build that in the hands of experienced players run the risk of recurrence. Additionally, the new missions offset the initial situation, which undeniably favored the Horde (nothing new under the Azeroth sun).
Scion of Darkness: the expansion canceled
For fans, this expansion is a stab at the heart. We will never know what was really in store for us, but from speculation and anticipation, we can attempt to delineate the type of game which, let us remember, was already under development.
We are in 2008, and in that period World of Warcraft is near its historic peak of 12 million subscribers; its success is unstoppable and fans are anxiously awaiting the expansion that is still considered the best today: Wrath of the Lich King. And it is in this context that Fantasy Flight announces Scion of Darkness, the next expansion for the World of Warcraft board game.
What do we know from the advances
World of Warcraft: Scion of Darkness was supposed to be a major expansion for the board game, if we consider its list price: $ 49,95, like Burning Crusade. Even from the photos of the box that have leaked, we are clearly facing an average size, therefore certainly an important expansion. The reason it didn't come out, nor did others follow, is that Fantasy Flight lost its Blizzard license in progress and in addition to the announcement made.
Hunting for clues in old catalogs
Browsing through the old Fantasy Flight catalogs, the only ephemeral paper witnesses of this future past, we read this description:
“In Scion Of Darkness, unite against the common foe as the Overlords take to the field in person with unique and impressive plastic figures!“
So, three elements to reflect on, starting with the term "unite". I would tend to exclude the hypothesis advanced by some fans on the forums, according to which this would have meant the introduction of the total coop; the Alliance-Horde conflict is an element that simply cannot be canceled, not even for commercial reasons, as the history of Warcraft teaches. I think it rather meant the implementation of a faction mode that would limit or solve the problem of downtime between shifts, perhaps with shared actions or a sandbox shift structure.
The Boss Expansion: Illidan meets Ragnaros
Secondly, we find the Overlords, who are none other than the final bosses. Apparently this time around, the various Illidans and Ragnaros wouldn't be patient and wait for us to face them; they would meet us on the map and certainly not to say hello. If that's true, let's make a quick list of the Overlords introduced so far:
- Lady Vashj
- Kael'Thas Solealto
- Illidan Grantempesta
Being at the gates of Wrath of the Lich King, we can assume that some would have been introduced from that expansion as well, magari Arthas e Yogg-Saron. That the bosses are the focal point of this expansion is however evident, also because the box speaks for itself; for no other reason in World of Warcraft would Illidan and Ragnaros have reason to be juxtaposed.
Fantasy Flight quality and style
Finally, mention is made of “unique and impressive plastic figures“: in a game already very rich in materials, we would probably have reached astronomical peaks; but you know, from Fantasy Flight you can expect this and more. And although the miniatures of these games are in the infamous soft plastic, however they are faithful in the models and the bright colors make them pleasant even if you are not a painter. With these premises, we are biting our hands at the idea of statuettes of our favorite villains that probably lie stored in the warehouses of Fantasy Flight, unless they have been deliberately destroyed.
Let's enter the field of speculation
Normally, to understand what a product is about, we start with the title. Yet in this case we don't have much luck; as in the case of "Shadows of War", the minor expansion, we are not connected to any expansion of the online game. Consequently, the chosen title leaves us groping in the dark: if in the case of Shadows of War we had looked for a link from the title, surely we would not have understood what the box really contained. Scion of Darkness means Descendant of Darkness: unless there are references to the Ancient Gods (however probable, as we said in the case of Yogg-Saron), it is probably only a periphrase to refer to the Overlords.
Although the setting deduced from the box does not seem to point in the direction of Northrend, we must still keep in mind that we were in full launch Wrath of the Lich King. The Descendant of Darkness could also be the Death Knight, a realistic possibility especially in commercial terms: therefore a new playable class.
World of Warcraft and the second marriage with a board game?
After this abrupt and very unfortunate setback, Blizzard has no longer made great Warcraft-themed board games; this despite the productive bulimia that characterizes the Irvine house. Sure, he later made themed versions of Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit, but these titles only make us regret the past grandeur of their older brothers.
However, a glimmer of hope opens: recently Asmodee announced that it has bought the license from Blizzard to make a Warcraft-themed version of Smallworld. The game seems perfect to be set on Azeroth, with the fortunes of the many races that alternate and alternate; even the name could be a histrionic Smallworld of Warcraft. The release date was scheduled for this Spring, but certainly the Covid-19 epidemic has slowed down the work. We cross our fingers, hoping to get our hands on this title soon and in the meantime… For the Alliance!