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The Don’t Starve board game is perfect for hoarders

At UK Games Expo this year, we took a look at the Don't Starve board game - here's what we thought after a very quick demonstration.

Dont Starve characters

The Don’t Starve board game was demoing at UK Games Expo this weekend, and I didn’t miss the chance to check it out. From our first impressions, it seems to do a good job simulating the exploration and survival elements of the video game, but it’s also quite the space hogger. Plus in the demos I saw, nobody starved.

My speedy flyby of this co-op board game was not enough to conclusively tell me if it’s any good, but I did have a gander at its mechanics, and can give you a sneak peek ahead of the upcoming Kickstarter launch. Do bear in mind that mechanics and graphics may change before release.

One thing that makes us cautious when a video game comes to the tabletop is when the adaptation tries to cram absolutely every mechanic, item, and enemy in – it often seems like a more streamlined experience would be better. At first glance, it appears Don’t Starve has made this mistake, but I think here, at least some of that quantity is actually necessary.

Don't Starve board game token piles

The Don’t Starve board game has dozens of little tokens representing all the monsters you’ll fight, materials you’ll find, and items and equipment you’ll craft. That creates quite a lot of clutter, but it also helps it live up to the video game’s overall vibe.

After all, so much of Don’t Starve’s core gameplay loop is gathering different resources and crafting various equipment and items out of them, which allow you to harvest yet more resources. In which case, it probably helps to have oodles of tokens, providing lots of different paths of progression.

You can harvest the natural world and deplete its resources, fight monsters to harvest their bits, and loot dead adventurers for damaged equipment. Either way, we reckon inventory management is going to be a vital part of the gameplay.

Don't Starve board game full board and tiles

One strange thing I noticed is that Don’t Starve: The Board Game lacks a turn structure. People can just take their actions whenever, playing simultaneously or waiting to see what others do as the mood takes them. There’s advantages to going last – it seems moves cost fewer action points, and you can also jump into your buddy’s battle to share damage or weapons.

Another interesting factor is how Don’t Starve handles exploration. There is a degree of randomness, as you flip tokens or tiles to reveal new areas or discover loot, but also a chance for mastery. While you never know exactly what you’ll run into, learning the kinds of encounters you can find in different biomes and the sorts of resources you’ll gain from different monsters will help you make decisions.

Board game adaptations of video games are in an interesting spot right now. They each have a base of potential fans awaiting them, but after one too many lackluster titles failed to capture the magic of their digital inspiration, many boardgamers have grown wary.

Glass Cannon Unplugged, at least, has a decent reputation on this front, after Frostpunk was warmly received. We’re keen to see how Don’t Starve compares.

Check out our best board games guide here, and don’t miss our list of the best strategy board games.