The Witcher Adventure Game

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Players:
2-4
Multiplayer:Yes, pass n' play and GameCenter
AI:Yes, 1 level
Universal App:No
Purchase for iPhone:None available. Buy an iPad now!
Purchase for iPad:
The Witcher Adventure Game
Price: $5.99
User rating:
GD Star Rating
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The Witcher Adventure Game, 5.6 out of 10 based on 9 ratings

One of the more obscure yet cultish hits in the video game world, The Witcher follows the tale of a magically imbued warden in a high fantasy realm who must undertake a series of quests to save the world. Fantasy Flight is now publishing The Witcher Adventure Game boardgame, and a digital adaptation has hit the iPad. Did you do the nose?

Gameplay

WAG is a high fantasy board game, not entirely dissimilar from an advanced (somewhat) version of Talisman.

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Each player begins by selecting one of four characters from the video game franchise. Each of these characters will select from different Quest decks, has different abilities, and rolls different dice for combat throughout the game. In the initial setup you can select for any of the given four characters to be controlled by a human, an AI, or to not exist in the game. Strategies vary depending on which character you’re playing, but ultimately your goal is to complete quests and amass victory points.

witcher ag quests

You’ll be presented with two Quest cards at the start of play, and will choose one to represent your initial Quest. Each quest consists of a Main quest, two Side Quests, and a Support quest – though the game is not co-0p, you can earn points both for yourself and an opponent by completing their Side Quest when in the same location.

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The board represents the fantasy kingdom of the series, and is divided into 16 cities describing 6 regions. The dotted paths indicate travel between towns. On a turn, each player may take up to two actions. All players may Travel 1 or 2 regions, may Rest to restore damage (you’ll do a lot of this) and my Develop their own talents.

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Developing lets you choose one of two cards representing artifacts, companions, skills, and so on. These will either grant you a passive ability or require charges; each of the four characters charges their abilities slightly differently, and contains a unique action allowing them to charge their Development cards. You may also Investigate, which allows you to discover Leads. Leads can then be converted into Evidence, which is necessary to complete your Quests.

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Many regions contain monsters, and the number of monsters on the board will grow exponentially as the game goes on. This mostly has to do with the mechanics of combat. Each character gets 3 white dice and 1-3 character dice to roll; every character except one starts with only 1 character die. When you fight a monster, you’ll roll your dice and try to match the required symbols. Most monsters will require 4-8 matches to take down, and as such you can expect to lose most combats – unless you’re the combat-oriented character, who is able to dispatch most foes with ease, especially after he has unlocked a few Developments that allow him to manipulate his die rolls. In our test games, this character not only won every time, but did so by a fairly significant margin, whether or not he was AI controlled.

witcher ag foul fate

The list of bad things that can happen to you in this game doesn’t stop with biased combat. Most combat will result in you taking one or more Wounds, which locks you out of abilities of your choice until you Rest to heal them. Investigation, which is done by drawing cards of a corresponding deck, may result in Leads or Evidence, but just as easily in Combat or Foul Fate. There are also regions on the board that give you Foul Fate, and some combat results can place Foul Fate tokens on your abilities, which will force you to draw a Foul Fate card when activating these abilities.

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As if that weren’t enough, you also have the War Track with which to contend. If you manage to end your turn in an empty region, you’ll advance this one space; there are also a large number of cards that will require you to advance it. This, in turn, will add either a Foul Fate marker or a monster token to the region, forcing any player who stops in any city in that region to resolve the nastiness.

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Completing quests earns victory points. Once one player completes their target number of quests, each other player has one final turn to score as many more points as they can. Whoever ends with the most points wins.

Implementation

The gameplay is not the only exercise in frustration this game represents. While the implementation is certainly functional, it leaves a bit to be desired. Note that the game states a requirement of an iPad 2, and we suspect an iPad 3 or later is a more realistic requirement since it eats battery for breakfast.

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The first time you launch the game you are presented with an Overview video. This video summarizes the basic flow of the game, but is entirely lacking in specifics, mechanics, or indeed most rules; it is not a functional introduction to the game. The tutorial is simply a series of videos, and the presence of a mouse cursor in each, combined with references to moving and clicking same, makes it clear that they were simply brought across from a PC version of the game, with no consideration for the platform on which they’d appear.

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Despite consisting of 10 separate videos, the tutorial doesn’t give you the complete rules – just enough to get started. A full rules reference is available – thankfully during play as well as from the main menu, as returning to the main menu at any time requires you to quit the current game. However, this reference is poorly laid out; what appears is simply an index of topics, and you’ll need to hunt through to find the one about which you have a particular question. The flow of the game, or even of a player’s turn, is given no thought whatever in this format.

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Aside from pass n’ play, multiplay exists via GameCenter, though we were never able to find an opponent over several attempts, so we can’t speak to its implementation. However, we suspect that each game must be completed in a single session. Two reasons for this. The first is the fact that the videos, though clearly written for the PC version, make reference to players being disconnected from the game and what will happen; the second is the fact that when the app is quit for whatever reason – you need to check your email, you need to put your iPad to sleep for a meeting, etc – the current game quits, and you’re presented with the game set-up screen upon reentry.

Verdict

Though we don’t presume to second-guess a publisher like Fantasy Flight, we’re not entirely sure this game was ready for prime time, either in physical form or on the iPad. Having no experience with the video game, it’s difficult to judge how well the board game captures the source material. The board game, however, is little more than a slog from one crisis to another, rolling dice and praying the faces come up the way you need them, wincing when they inevitably don’t, and wasting turn after turning healing from combat you can’t hope to win unless you’re the combat player. The combat player, in turn, merrily roams the board, killing monsters and amassing victory points; the other players can never hope to catch him. If combat weren’t so important to victory there’d be a decent co-op in here; as a competitive experience it simply isn’t fun. Combine that with an app that’s still rough around the edges, lacking some of the most basic features we’d expect from an iOS game – such as the ability to suspend a play session until a more convenient time – and the result is something that was probably rushed out the door for Christmas – both digitally and physically. Unless you’re a particular fan of the source material, we don’t feel this is one we can recommend.

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  • K

    I am a bit disappointed that this is terrible, as I enjoyed both the video games and the books upon which they are based.