Game Review: The Witcher Adventure Game (Digital Edition)

I was gifted a video game this past December which is a digital version of the board game – The Witcher Adventure Game – and I’ve played just about 10 full games of it. It works off the ideas of the high fantasy book/video game series The Witcher – the books I have not read, half because most of them haven’t been translated from the original Polish and half because ain’t nobody got time for that – the games I have not played, despite owning the first two because… [see latter section of the previous excuse]


Dandelion is going to mess you up with that Lute.

This board game sets you in the role of one of several major characters of the series and asks you to compete with your friends to amass victory points the fastest. The art assets are basic, but very nice, some even dip into cool (like the monster designs and some of the other various card art). It’s a game that relies heavily on source material including monsters, spells, and characters, which as far as I know are all true to its roots. But unfortunately, the game also relies heavily on players maintaining both their competitive spirits and their will to live through the course of the game… which is surprisingly difficult considering you can never be on equal footing with your opponents throughout the whole game.

That sounds harsh, but I wish I could express it even harsher, because that feeling of never-ending loss never leaves the game once you break a certain threshold. Once you cross the Rubicon into a solid second place, you’ll never come back. You will either be on top the entire game, or be losing the entire game and there is no middle ground. I have never experienced a come from behind win or loss in my (admittedly short) tenure with this game. There was one or two close games where one of the more powerful character wasn’t being used (that’s right, for a close game you have to have either no sorceress character (Triss is her name) or no Warrior (Geralt).

There is no catch-up maneuver in the game, if you’re losing by too much, you’ve lost and there’s no chance of coming back. There is no way to purposefully slow down another player. Sadly, the game feels rather secluded in all. You can interact with other players on purpose in only two ways, that’s by completing their side quests which gives both of you points, or by throwing monsters into areas they want to go to (and drawing monsters is fully random). Time and again, I find myself wishing there was some way to play this game cooperatively… and maybe there is if you have the physical game. I only know what I have in the digital version, and I’m not very happy with the focus on pure strategy while ignoring interactivity.

I have a certain friend whom I play both board games and video games with on a fairly regular basis, and he’s genuinely an optimistic and upbeat individual. This game may have broken him. I’ve never seen him, in any type of game, just lose hope like he has in the 2 games of The Witcher Adventure Game that we played together. He didn’t outright quit, as I may have in his losing situation, but he stood in one town and just rolled his combat dice until the game was over. It was disheartening really to see someone so thoroughly trounced by tiring game mechanics that ignore everyone else in the game while continually pounding on one.

If you can’t tell already by my review, most of the really good ideas that this game boasts become a bit jank in their execution. Characters must utilize vastly different strategies to win the game which is an amazing idea in theory, but disappointingly those strategies have different levels of difficulty. Characters like Geralt (warrior) and Triss (Sorceress) have it easy compared to Dandelion (Bard) and Yarpin (uh… Dwarf?). Fighting and Magic are much too easy to be good at, when compared to the random nature of Diplomacy which is Dandelion’s only choice and one of Yarpin’s two choices (the other being combat). I’ve only played 10 games, but I’ve seen Geralt win half of them, and Triss the other 5. Imbalance may become less of an issue with the more games you play, and the more familiar you become with the mechanics of the game, but when characters gain a reputation within your first couple of friendly games then there is already a problem.

I once saw a Yarpin focusing on combat almost pull it out, but it still ended up being a 10 point loss to me as Triss. To lose a game, Geralt the warrior archetype character must have terrible luck in his combat phases but he has fucking 8 combat dice to roll (compared to most characters 3-6)…. really not much of an issue for this guy that has [x > 1] sword on his back. To lose a game Triss must not know what to do (which is simply draw magic cards and keep them ready to use – because they are hella strong, and usually a better use of your time than anything else). To lose a game, Dandelion and Yarpin simply have to be Dandelion and Yarpin. They are characters that, more often than not, rely wholly on dead luck. Some characters are rewarded for doing what their good at, while others just have to draw cards and pray. Which is totally fucked in a competitive game.


I never lost as Triss. Not once.

I suppose I should stop whining. Just because I wanted the bard to be a viable character doesn’t make the game bad or not fun. It can still be a great time to bullshit with your friends, while you let other people take their turns. I wish the game was cooperative, and I wish they would show you the dice other players are rolling, and I wish it wasn’t so damn difficult to see cards that have been drawn, and I wish every character was a viable choice, but that’s just me being a dreamer.

Ending on a positive note would probably be nice. Let me give that a whirl. What I like about the game are the ideas. The concept of players needing different strategies to succeed. Players having personal dice and personal cards is a really cool idea that I want to see in more games. Common threats but unique goals to work towards could be fantastic in a game that encourages you to strengthen your own character to help complete a team objective. There is a lot of fun ideas here that I think could have been utilized better by a game system that didn’t rely so heavily on competition. Had they set about to make a game that fights back against you, rather than one where you fight against each other… this could have been a nearly perfect game.


Tragedy is the difference between what you played, and what board game you could have played. -Quote by me (I said that)

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