The Witcher franchise, originally a series of books by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, gained worldwide attention with the release of The Witcher games by CD Projekt Red. Since then, the franchise has expanded to include various forms of media, such as comics, a Netflix TV series, and spin-off video games. However, until now, there had only been a single tabletop release by Fantasy Flight Games several years ago (excluding the physical Gwent decks). Recently, Go On Board successfully released The Witcher Old World via Kickstarter, and it is now available in wider retail.
If you’re interested, you can read our reviews of The Witcher 3, as well as the spinoff games Thronebreaker and Gwent.
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What Is The Witcher: Old World?
The Witcher Old World is a tabletop board game set hundreds of years before the events depicted in the books and TV series (though not as far back as The Witcher Blood Origin). In the game, each player assumes the role of a Witcher from one of five different schools and competes to be the first to collect four trophies.
How Do You Play The Witcher: Old World?
In The Witcher: Old World, gameplay unfolds on a map featuring familiar locations from the franchise. After setting up the board and placing initial monsters, each player selects a Witcher and gathers their components. Players then take turns moving around the board, exploring locations, completing quests, and engaging in battles against monsters or other Witchers.
The objective in The Witcher: Old World is to be the first player to collect four trophies. Trophies can be obtained by defeating monsters or other Witchers, or by reaching level 5 in an attribute. Players can increase their attributes at Witcher school locations by spending gold, which in turn is acquired through exploration and defeating monsters.
Combat, whether against monsters or other Witchers, is resolved using decks of cards. These cards serve as both attack and ability options during combat and also function as the player’s and monster’s life pool. When a player or monster takes damage, cards are discarded from their decks, reducing their available options and bringing them closer to defeat.
Witchers begin with a shield value that mitigates damage before cards are discarded. Once a Witcher’s deck is depleted, they can also discard cards from their hand when taking damage. Another strategic aspect involves combining cards in combos, allowing for devastating attacks by playing linked cards together.
The race to collect four trophies involves a combination of deck building, exploration, and attribute leveling. While monsters do level up, they pose less of a challenge as the game progresses. However, the competition against other players prevents one from solely focusing on leveling up.
The Witcher: Old World can be played solo, and it works well, but the sense of urgency is less pronounced. The same can be said for two-player games. Three or four-player games strike the right balance between competitive gameplay and game length. Playing with five players can be enjoyable, but it does require a significant time commitment, so it may not be the preferred way to play on a regular basis.
Can I Play Geralt In The Witcher: Old World?
Since The Witcher: Old World is set centuries before the stories featuring Geralt, he is not a playable character in the game. However, one can play as a Witcher from the School of the Wolf, as well as the Bear, Cat, Griffin, and Viper schools, each with their own unique abilities.
What’s The Difference Between The Witcher: Old World Standard And Deluxe Editions?
The primary distinction between the Standard and Deluxe versions of The Witcher: Old World is the inclusion of 28 miniatures to replace the tokens in the standard edition. Both editions come with miniatures for each Witcher school.
What Are Our Final Thoughts On The Witcher Old World?
Most importantly, The Witcher: Old World captures the essence of the Witcher universe. The familiar art, locations, and details on the cards contribute to this feeling. Additionally, the world within the game reflects a place where one must survive amidst a plethora of monsters, while competition among Witcher schools remains fierce.
Gameplay itself combines elements of board games and deck-building mechanics. The utilization of one’s deck as their life total has always been an appealing game mechanic. The quests incorporate engaging narrative elements, although further expansion in this aspect would likely lengthen the game and be better suited for solo play. Despite most games following a similar pattern, The Witcher: Old World remains enjoyable. However, its replayability, while significant, may not be limitless unless one is a devoted Witcher fan.
Should I Buy The Witcher Old World?
The Witcher: Old World offers much to enjoy for fans of the franchise, as well as those new to it. The fusion of deck-building and board game elements creates an intriguing experience, even for those unfamiliar with the IP. Deluxe edition owners will find added immersion with the miniatures, but the standard edition still provides the same level of enjoyment for those who are not die-hard fans.
The review copy of The Witcher: Old World used for this preview was provided by Asmodee UK.