Hands-on preview of the Elden Ring board game: ‘Mo Money, ‘Mo Models
$429 is a lot of money. You can buy eight copies of Pokemon Scarlet or Violet for this and have enough change to grab a Nintendo Switch Online membership to play with your friends. You could eat a recommended serving of Ben & Jerry’s every day for a year. You are not far from offering yourself a Xbox series X. Or you could buy Ring of Elden: The board game.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the other options – you can get smaller offers for less money, but they’re not comprehensive. For a more reasonable $89, you can explore The Weeping Peninsula, which works standalone or as an expansion to the base game, and should last around 20 hours. For $179 you can get the Realm of the Grafted King base box. This contains twice as much stuff – I’ll walk you through the details of this Things later – and comes with the bonus of an Iron Fist Alexander model.
Then you get the big boy. Sign up for the All-In Pledge on Kickstarter and you’ll get the bundle. Both expansions, 104 miniatures, over 2,500 cards, over 150 modular hex tiles, over 500 tokens, 12 scenario books, five rulebooks, and 12 tarnished scoreboards. Oh, and that only covers Limgrave, the other locations are coming in future Kickstarters. You probably won’t use all of this in a 90 hour game, but the thing is, it’s replayable. If you enjoy setting up literally thousands of cards and tiles then you’re in luck, but Elden Ring is surprisingly easy to learn despite the setup.
It is very needless for me to say that playing Elden Ring made it much easier to understand than the gameplay described to me by the developers. Still, I will try. Everything in the game takes place in three-action rounds. On the outer world, you can explore (add new tiles to the board), interact with objects, or start battles. You unlock timed quests that guide you to side quests, help you explore, or ultimately to the area boss.
The fights themselves take your Terni to another board, consisting of one of your rulebooks. On each page is a grid, and you continue your three-action turns here, taking on a randomly generated enemy or enemies. This means that, if you choose to jump into the fight, your friends won’t have to wait hours for it to resolve before they can continue their own game. Once your three actions are complete and your opposing beasts have fired back at you, your friends have their turn again.
The combat itself is a little different from the Dark Souls board game, if you were wondering. The battle board/book features a grid, complete with corridors. Moving forward gives you more attack cards but also makes you more vulnerable, staying back allows you to replenish your stamina (represented by your hand). Some attacks only affect your lane, others spread across multiple lanes. You can also see your enemy’s attacks before they make them, allowing you to plan your approach. The only thing that is random here is the running order. Again, it’s much more intuitive when you actually play, and I was surprised how much fun it was with such simple rules. Others can join you in battle, if they get there fast enough, and you need to make a unanimous decision to go into a boss fight, as you’ll all be dragged into it.
I’ve been told that despite the long estimated playtimes for the game, the quests should help players feel like they’ve completed a section and achieved something in a 90-minute session. I played for 45 minutes and didn’t feel like I got anywhere, but it was my first experience so expect things to go a little slower as you learn the tricks of the trade.
Elden Ring is co-op at heart, but the developers say they “fully support” Let Me Solo Her races. Experience and loot are all shared, and there’s no way to grind enemies until you’ve mastered the boss; the experience is fully telegraphed, and you can only level up a certain number of times at the Roundtable in each match.
You can’t talk about a Steamforged game without talking about models. I was able to see a host of miniatures up close, and the detail is immediately impressive. While big monsters like Godrick the Grafted and Dragon Agheel will be the centerpieces of the collection, even the Godrick Soldiers and Lone Wolves look great, as do the Tarnished ones of course. I’ve noticed that some spears bend in classic miniature fashion, so you may need to pull that hot water out or do some surgery with brass pins. Of those models I haven’t seen in person, the Tree Sentinel is the one I’m most looking forward to seeing on the table.
Elden Ring The Board Game is impressive in size, meticulous in detail, and surprisingly simple to play, despite having thousands of components. That should come as no surprise from a company as prestigious as Steamforged, and considering they’ve been working on it for three and a half years. Yes, when Elden Ring was just a rumor to the rest of us, the devs were signing their lives in NES to preview the game while it was still in development to make sure their version of the board game was as accurate as possible.
As I mentioned before, future Lands Between areas will have their own Kickstarters, but you can continue your story from Limgrave if you wish. New players will also be able to jump into expansions with pre-leveled characters. However, the cost of playing the full Elden Ring experience is not worth thinking about. Although Steamforged hasn’t said anything about the prices of future expansions, nor has it committed to how many, if it ends up gamifying all 10 regions of Lands Between at the same price as Limgrave, players will shell out upwards of $4,000. $. Again, this is a speculative price and my own estimate, but if you thought you could buy a lot of Ben & Jerry’s for the initial outlay, imagine how much you would be able to buy if you were planning to collect the full set.
Launch of the board game Elden Ring on Starter on November 22, and the team estimates it will take around 18 months to deliver.