The Witcher franchise, which started as a series of books by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, was thrown into the spotlight in the rest of the world when CD Projekt Red released their series of The Witcher games. The franchise has since been expanded into media of all kinds, with comics, a Netflix TV series, and further spin-off video games. But despite its popularity, it's only had a single tabletop release (if you don't count the physical Gwent decks that were released) by Fantasy Flight Games several years ago, that is until now. Go On Board successfully released The Witcher Old World via Kickstarter, and it has now been released to wider retail.
What Is The Witcher: Old World?
The Witcher Old World is a tabletop board game, set hundreds of years before the events we can read about and watch (though not as far back as The Witcher Blood Origin). Each player takes on the role of a Witcher from 1 of 5 different schools and race to be the first to collect 4 trophies.
How Do You Play The Witcher: Old World?
The gameplay in The Witcher: Old World takes place on a map that contains places that fans will recognize, and once the board is set up and populated with some initial monsters, each player picks their Witcher and collects their components. Players then take turns moving around the board, exploring locations, completing quests, and fighting, either monsters or other Witchers.
The aim of The Witcher: Old World is to be the first player to collect 4 trophies, and trophies can be won in 3 different ways, either by defeating monsters or other Witchers or by reaching level 5 of an attribute. Raising attributes is done at Witcher school locations, where players need to pay to raise them and to do that, they'll need to explore and defeat monsters to gain gold.
Combat, against monsters and other Witchers, is done using decks of cards that along with offering attacks and abilities that are played during combat, also work as the player's and monster's life pool. When either takes damage, they discard cards from their decks, reducing their available card pool as well as pushing them closer to defeat.
Witchers also start with a shield value, that's reduced before they start losing cards, and after their deck is depleted, they can also discard cards from their hand when they take damage. Witchers also have the option to combo cards together, playing several linked cards together for devastating attacks.
The combination of deck building, exploring, and training to level up attributes, plays an important part in the race to be the first to collect 4 trophies. The monsters do level up, but rarely enough to give a Witcher trouble later in the game, but the race against the other players means you can't sit back and focus on leveling up.
The Witcher: Old World can be played solo, and it works well, but the sense of urgency isn't there, the same can be said of 2 player games, and I found that 3 or 4 players games had the ideal mix of competitive pace and game time. I had a blast with 5 players, but it did feel like a large time investment, so wouldn't be the regular way to play the game.
Can I Play Geralt In The Witcher: Old World?
Because The Witcher: Old World is set a few hundred years before the stories and tales involving Geralt, he's not a playable character in the game, but there is a Witcher from the School of the Wolf, along with the Bear, Cat, Griffin, and Viper, each with their own special ability.
What's The Difference Between The Witcher: Old World Standard And Deluxe Editions?
The difference 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 include miniatures for each Witcher school.
What Are Our Final Thoughts On The Witcher Old World?
Most importantly for me, The Witcher: Old World feels like the Witcher. Not just because of the familiar art, places, and details on the cards, but because the world feels like a place that tolerates you because it's full of monsters, and everything feels very cut-throat between the different schools.
The gameplay itself is an interesting mix of board and deck builder, and I've always loved the game mechanic of using your deck for your life total. There's something to be said about the number of players and length of the game, and while it can be played solo, the race nature is best experienced with 3 or more players.
There are some great narrative elements in the quests, and while I would have liked to have seen this expanded more, it would have added to the run time and would be best experienced in solo play. There's a lot of replayability with the different schools, and even though most games play out roughly the same way, it's very enjoyable, but certainly not infinite unless you're a hardcore Witcher fan.
Should I Buy The Witcher Old World?
There's a lot to love in The Witcher: Old World, for fans of the franchise and even those with no prior knowledge. The deck-building mixed with the board game elements offer an interesting game, even outside of the IP. Witcher fans will get more out of the Deluxe edition, with the miniatures helping with the immersion, but those who aren't fans will get the same enjoyment out of the standard edition.
The copy of The Witcher: Old World used to produce this preview was provided by Asmodee UK.