Thursday, May 26, 2011
New Prediction For Future Greyhawk
Conquest of Nerath is part of Wizards "Adventure System" boardgame line that includes Castle Ravenloft, Wrath of Ashardalon and the soon to come Legend of Drizzt. Nerath is essentially a world war strategy game akin to Risk or Axis & Allies:
"Muster armies of footsoldiers, siege engines, monsters, and dragons to attack your enemies. Fight across the waves with fleets of warships and raging elementals. Plunder ancient dungeons with bands of mighty heroes, searching for magical artifacts and awesome treasures that might tip the scales of battle in your favor. The fate of empires is in your hands!"
I like a good wargame, no big deal there. Here's a big deal to Slaviscek as he writes in his article:
"In addition to the traditional trappings of a strategic war game, Conquest of Nerath includes a new element that makes it a uniquely D&D experience. As you can see from the above illustration, the board contains dungeon spaces scattered across the world. These add an exciting option that changes every time you play. As you build armies and send them out to crush your opponents, the dungeons make possible another kind of strategy. You can recruit heroes and send them into the dungeons to find treasure and magic items to help you win the game—provided you can defeat the monsters waiting there."
Sounds decent right? Well sorry Bill, the system may be new, but this element was done before in another world war strategy boardgame called....Greyhawk Wars! That's the blast from the past, now back to the present:
"...in addition to our ongoing efforts to provide the best RPG products we can, D&D R&D is hard at work looking for new, fun experiences to engage fans everywhere. Conquest of Nerath and the Adventure System games are just the beginning. We’re experimenting with games for younger fans, Euro-style board games, and other fun ideas that take the D&D brand to places it’s never been before."
FYI, Euro-style boardgames (or Eurogames) such as The Settlers of Catan are very popular and Wizards apparently wants to emulate that. For example at Gencon 2010, Catan had booth space in the exhibition hall that rivalled or probably exceeded that of Wizards. This my friends, may be Greyhawk's direction in the coming years. Since 4th edition's launch, fans have speculated endlessly on when Greyhawk might get its turn at a new setting update and how it might be undertaken (such as Forgotten Realm's world-shattering changes). All the while, Wizards has slowly been ramping up its collectable card game and boardgame lines, which puts the brand more in line with what parent company, Hasbro is familiar with. Ravenloft has already been passed over for an RPG setting book in favor of the boardgame treatment, and now R.A. Salvatore's Drizzt is going to give the Realms a big boardgame presence in October. In my opinion, a rich setting such as Greyhawk can easily derive enough content to spawn a complex boardgame akin to Settlers of Catan (plus expansions) and Wizards R&D knows it.
The added benefit for Wizards going this route is people don't grumble about boardgames like they do RPG settings (unless those boardgames affect the RPG like Greyhawk Wars did). So by turning Greyhawk into a self-contained complex boardgame like Castle Ravenloft, you draw in board game enthusiasts (many of which may know little GH at all), and you'll snare the long time Greyhawk community from all the varied edition crowds, because to put it bluntly, we are suckers for new Greyhawk stuff.
Does this mean the Greyhawk setting may never see any RPG update if it goes the boardgame route? Not necessarily. The core world of D&D seen in Conquest of Nerath is the same place they'll continue to use for 4th edition splat books, articles and future D&D Encounters events. A self-contained Greyhawk boardgame could very well run along with an RPG treatment the same way Greyhawk Wars was meant to complement From the Ashes back in 2nd edition. Anything could happen at that point. Mind you, this isn't how I hope things turn out, it's just my newest prediction before Wizards announces their 2012 products in August.