The Elden Ring board game is looking to avoid the grind that many players disliked in Dark Souls board game adaptation. Steamforged Games chief creative officer Mat Hart says it will “respect the players’ time around the table”.
“We want every player around the table to be engaged,” lead designer Sherwin Matthews tells Wargamer. “And no one has any real down time because they’re always constantly interacting.”
This is because turns in the official Elden Ring board game are lean. While exploring you can uncover new tiles, move, or interact with icons on the map, but you only get three actions per turn, so it should take less than a minute.
Similarly, if your character is in combat, you’ll complete three actions, then pass the turn. Even with the maximum four players at the table, it’s unlikely you’ll get the urge to pull out your phone.
Elden Ring also won’t ask you to sacrifice a weekend to get a game done. It’s designed for session play, with each quest taking two hours max, followed by a return to the hub area of Roundtable Hold. There’s something of DnD to it, like players delving into a dungeon or wilderness each session before a spot of downtime in town.
“It’s all in a bite-sized chunk. So everything is going to go from 90 to 120 minutes at the absolute most, and then you’re going to hit a natural pause point,” Sherwin says. He adds that players will get excited about levelling up stats to access new gear they’ve found, to discuss secrets they’ve learned and new areas they may have gained access to.
“Not only is it respectful of players’ time, it’s the right way to keep them engaged and really fired up about what the game experience is,” he says.
While tackling a challenging foe in Elden Ring (the videogame) you may spend hours learning its moveset, working out exactly when it’s safe to attack, and of course dying repeatedly, but that doesn’t mean people want to do the same in a board game.
“Simulationism isn’t always the best way of doing it,” admits Matthews. Instead, Steamforged Games’ aim is to find the Core DNA of the properties they’re adapting. It’s trying to create the exact same emotions as those videogames within its board games.
“That doesn’t always have to be represented exactly the same way as it is in the videogame, as long as people are still finding it very evocative of what the core Elden Ring experience is,” Matthews says.
People don’t want to spend hours dying on repeat against a boss – but Hart says each boss in Elden Ring the board game will be a tricky combat puzzle, and all will require “a different approach”.
Steamforged’s compromise is a ‘lives’ mechanic. You can gather lives throughout a quest, and these will keep you in a battle against a boss, even as you die several times and take the time to figure out the right strategy.
Here’s the latest on the Elden Ring board game price tag. The designers tell us it’ll be just as challenging as fans expect, while the Elden Ring board game miniatures will reportedly be bigger and prettier than Dark Souls’.