If you enjoy the tabletop titan that is Matt Leacock’s Pandemic board game, and are also a fan of the world’s biggest MMORPG, World of Warcraft, rejoice: the new official WoW board game – based on the Pandemic system – has finally been fully revealed, and is live for pre-orders.
As of Wednesday, July 21, the game’s available from publisher Z-Man Games’ site, and Blizzard’s gear store. It’ll be released “this Fall”, according to Z-Man and Blizzard’s July 21 press release – but, as yet, the game has no specific release date.
The snappily-titled ‘World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King – A Pandemic System Board Game’ was first shown off in a YouTube teaser video on July 7 (which you can see below). But today’s announcement gives us a much clearer look at the game board, miniatures, cards, and materials – as well as fleshing out how the core Pandemic board game system has been “tweaked to embrace the World of Warcraft Universe”.
Previously, all we really had to go on was the teaser video’s brief glimpses of miniatures for classic WoW characters Prince Arthas, Varian Wrynn, Warchief Thrall, and Sylvanas Windrunner, as well as a game board showing the frozen realm of Northrend.
Today’s press release goes further, confirming that players will control “one of Azeroth’s iconic heroes” and work cooperatively to battle the Scourge (the original enemies from WoW’s beloved 2008 Wrath of the Lich King expansion).
This reportedly involves moving heroes from place to place and engaging in combat; we don’t know quite how combat will work yet, but, mechanically, we’d bet it’s a rough analog for Pandemic’s core activity of travelling between sites and removing disease cubes.
The game adds a ‘Quests’ mechanic not present in the original Pandemic, which offers specific in-game objectives and rewards alongside the overall war against the Scourge – enjoining you to do things like “battle monstrous entities”, and “destroy evil relics”.
These side missions could be thematically very cool – and it’ll be very interesting to see how they fit with the game’s overall drive – given that the original Pandemic board game was explicitly a race against time.
Meanwhile, Pandemic’s Event Cards, which can be played for one-time disease-fighting boosts, have been swapped out for Hero Cards, which, say the publishers, “give players an edge against their enemies in the form of equipment for more attack power during combat, special mounts that allow players to move more spaces on their turn, healing potions to restore hit points”, and other such boons.
And the game board is indeed a map of the continent of Northrend, featuring “forts, temples, battlegrounds, and iconic locations native to Azeroth” – including, most importantly, a cute cardboard model representing the Lich King’s Icecrown citadel.
“Wrath of the Lich King is our first time taking the Pandemic game system into beloved fictional settings like Azeroth. It literally opens up a whole new world of possibility,” says Justin Kemppainen, Z-Man’s Director of Brand Management, in the press release.
“There’s no greater threat to Azeroth than the Scourge. The game really illustrates that by mixing the thrilling co-operative gameplay Pandemic fans know and love with World of Warcraft. We’re confident new and existing players of both franchises will love it!”
It’s not the first time Blizzard’s riotously popular fantasy MMO world of Azeroth has been ported to a board game format.
In 2005, just a year after the original World of Warcraft PC MMO launched, Fantasy Flight Games published the massive, somewhat short-lived World of Warcraft: The Board Game; it’s now super-rare, and eye-wateringly expensive.
And, in 2020, Days of Wonder released an officially licensed WoW-themed version of its blockbuster fantasy board wargame, Small World, titled – because of course it was – Small World of Warcraft.