Elden Ring Board Game: Battle Details Revealed (Exclusive)
Elden Ring: the board game will use a two-stage system for combat to replicate the nuances of the hit video game. Later this month, Steamforged Games will launch the Kickstarter for its Ring of Elden board game, an adaptation of the hit board game FromSoftware. Instead of using dice like in their previous dark souls series of board games, Steamforged has designed a new gameplay mechanic specifically aimed at encouraging good decision-making and utilizing a character’s existing skills.
“The combat system was specifically something we spent a lot of time on,” said Steamforged Founder and Creative Director Mat Hart in an interview with ComicBook.com. “There are a number of fairly obvious routes to take with combat and we wanted to make sure we captured the cerebral element of combat that you expect from a Souls game and what we were experiencing in Elden Ring.” However, multiplayer and exploration elements also had to be factored into the combat system, which led to a different approach.
Ultimately, Steamforged opted for a system that involves two decks of cards and a battle grid instead of the dice-based system used in the dark souls board games. “It focuses a lot more on players making good decisions, using the abilities they have or the options they have with their weapons and gear,” Hart explained. “We wanted to make sure we could reflect the progression of players as they go through.”
Each player will have a battle action deck and an effect deck. The Combat Action deck is made up of cards derived from the gear they wear and the class they play. The Combat Action deck is intended to be a small deck, but it gives players options to use in every fight. The effect deck, on the other hand, represents the amount of damage inflicted by an attack or spell. As players level up, they actually add or replace cards in the effect deck, so their attacks become even more effective. “You can scale quite significantly by upgrading the right stuff that fits your effects set,” Hart noted. Upgrading a weapon will improve certain cards in the effect deck, mimicking how weapons become much more powerful when upgraded.
Sherwin Matthews, the lead designer of Steamforged, took the deck building process a step further. “Your gear is what really builds your attack deck,” Matthews said. “Axes, for example, will have fewer cards, but they’ll be much heavier cards. So you have higher damage levels, but that also means your attacks are a bit slower to hit.” Daggers, on the other hand, will have larger decks but their damage will vary, while wielding a two-handed weapon will allow a player to draw additional effect cards when dealing damage. “The bottom line is that players will add these very specific icons along with a few effects so they can start customizing your deck to how you want it to work,” Matthews said.
Sorceries and Summons will work a little differently, with players essentially focusing over time with their cards in order to trigger different spells. Just like the spells in Ring of Elden have different cast times and focus costs, board game spells require different cadences and strategies to use spells effectively. “High-end spells require a lot more focus to be able to develop and unleash,” Matthews said. “But, in the beginning, you’re not going to have something that allows you to generate that effectively because you’re going to generate small amounts of Focus when you play a card from your hand. A more advanced stick will give you a lot more ability to generate focus faster, which is obviously very beneficial for casting those low level spells, but also allows you to reach the potency of those high level spells.
The fight grid is meant to represent both distance and positions, with the latter replacing the Poise stat seen in Ring Elden. “We created a system that allowed the figures on the table to actually represent where they were in terms of relative distance from each other, but also what balance or position they were in,” Hart said. The Battle Stance system uses both columns and rows to represent relative distance from each other. Different rows represent different attacking styles, with players either gaining extra effect cards (allowing them to deal more damage) in an aggressive stance, or filling their hand with cards in a more defensive stance. .
The Ring of Elden the video game also places importance on understanding an enemy’s movements so that players can counter or avoid them. This was represented in the board game via a “transparent” AI system for players. “The simplest mob-type enemies have simpler mob-type behavior,” Hart explained. “While bigger enemies have more complex behavior. So when you know what you can do and when what the enemy is likely to do, then you can start predicting where the enemy is going to be or even force the enemy to be where you want them to be to give you the opportunity to pick up cards or change your balance or position to manipulate the battlefield.” Hart said players will have the ability to determine where to move their character so they’re in the right place at the right time, mimicking how players can dodge even the deadliest attack with a bit of foreknowledge.
As to why Steamforged opted for a new game system for their Ring of Elden board game, Hart said they wanted to build something that respects video gaming and what makes it different from Dark Souls. “There is a slightly different requirement of a combat system for Ring of Elden that there was no Dark Souls,” said Hart. “The dark souls board game, supposedly, you spend 80% of your time in combat, while Ring of Elden you don’t spend much of your time in combat. As important as combat is, there are now other parts of the game that are incredibly important to the overall experience. There were a lot of real mechanical considerations that drove a lot of the decision making, but we also wanted to find the emotion that we wanted to create in the player, the identity that people have with the type combat system Souls. So that created some very nice hard constraints. And if there’s one thing designers love, it’s really hard restraints, because it really gives you something to riff on. We had an initial idea that slightly broke the rules and wasn’t the most obvious choice and the deeper we dug the more it seemed like the right move.”
More information on Elden Ring: the board game can be found on the Steamforged website, with a Kickstarter campaign coming later this month.