Dungeons & Dragons Onslaught: A Board Game With A Lot Of Potential

When Dungeons & Dragons first launched the teaser trailer for their upcoming board game, Onslaught, many people’s first thought was, “They’re doing Warhammer now?” Rightly so, as the teaser, which you can see below, isn’t very informative outside of “these factions are going to fight each other.” While skeptical of WizKids’ newest collectible game, GameSpot was given a demonstration of Onslaught, and we were pleasantly surprised at how consumer-friendly and engaging the game was.

What is Onslaught?

Onslaught just takes the combat from D&D and turns it into a game, with a lot of familiar Mage Knight (the original version) and Heroclix mechanics. There are various scenarios your fact must complete. In the case of the scenario I had, goblins needed to be killed, the other person playing needed to be defeated, and you had to get the Flametongue sword.

You are playing against another person and monsters–who all move according to their AI, which is usually pretty simple. While talking with director of miniature games at WizKids Alex Davy, the game is currently for two players, but there is an opportunity for a battle royale type of mode when more factions are released.

You put together a team, and each member of your team has its own card with some Heroclix-type mechanics on it. Everything you need to know about the character and its abilities is spelled out on the card. The Heroclix mechanics come into play with ability or spell cooldown counters, experience tracking, and health. They look very cool, you have to interact with them during the game via dials, and add a fun little dynamic to gameplay.

If you’ve played D&D before, then you’ll feel right at home for the combat in this game–Onslaught is all combat, so it’s all you need to worry about. You’re rolling every attack with 2d20, which many D&D players would call “with advantage.” While speaking with Davy, the purpose of playing like this is to keep the action moving.

And again, action moves relatively fast, and characters can die off in a couple turns, so strategy is the name of the game. You need to be weary of the team you put together, how their skills/spells work or balance the team, and picking characters for your team that

What’s in the box and the cost?

It’s coming in January 2023 and will retail for $140. Inside the box are 21 fully-painted miniatures, a double-sided game board (much larger than the playtest one I received), 4d20s, 16 dial cards, 26 standard cards, 44 mini cards, 71 tokens, 14 terrain elements, a rule book, a scenario guide, and 4 plastic standees.

Gallery

The core set will contain two different factions to battle each other–Harpers and Zhentarim–and the characters all have abilities and spells specific to each individual character. More factions will be released down the line, as WizKids plans on continuously rolling out new content for the game. It’s important to note that there are some larger enemies to fight in the core set, including an ettin, troll, and young black dragon.

Expansion:

First and foremost, this isn’t Warhammer. This is not a pay-to-win scenario like most collectible games. There aren’t $200 single game pieces you can purchase that will destroy your opponents. Onslaught doesn’t have large-scale minis nor does it have blind boxes. When you buy a fact pack, you get exactly what you think you’re buying. There are no surprises.

There are two Factions Packs planned for release in February 2023: Red Wizards and Many Arrows. The Many Arrows faction will specialize in controlling their enemy’s movement via slow or root spells and abilities, making sure they stay back in order to get hit with ranged attacks. Red Wizards are weak in one-on-one combat compared to other factions, but they have the ability to summon minions to do their close-up fighting for them. Both of these sets will come with 6 painted miniatures, 6 combat dial cards, 2 faction dice, gameplay tokens, and rules sheet. Both sets will retail for $60 each.

From there, we were told there were plans for free DLC content for the core box in the future–primarily in the way of new scenarios. Meaning you can download scenarios or other non-physical items to use with your physical game. Additionally, there was talk of DLC for already existing miniature packs, so your minis can get additional use outside of your campaign–like character cards and spells/abilities. WizKids has long plans for Onslaught, and it will begin to be rolled out right after the release of the core set.

Thoughts:

Onslaught is a very stripped down version of D&D, removing all the roleplaying elements, with the battles being the focus. The game leans heavily toward tournament play in gaming stores–there are plans for in-store prizes that are unique as well–and that’s all fine. It wants to make the experience of D&D fun and accessible to everyone.

The set that was sent to me was a preview set, so it was very stripped down. You only had two people on your team, instead of the five you’ll play a full game with, and there was only one scenario. This preview set got me interested in what’s to come, but I’m not 100% sold yet, for a couple of reasons.

There’s only going to be two boards to choose from for the final game, and since D&D is so dungeon-crawling heavy, two different locales feels a little lackluster. I wish I could have gotten a better idea of ​​what were the differences between the scenarios. In my playtest with WizKids, there was a lot of information thrown at me, and the differences in scenarios was not something we got into. I’m hoping it will lean heavier into Betrayal At House On The Hill for its scenarios as there is a lot of variation between scenarios. I’m hoping it’s not just “Fight everyone and grab that item” for each one.

Additionally, as of right now, it’s only two players, so if you’re in a game night situation with more than that, you’ll have some buds sitting around watching. It’s not a bad game to watch by any means, and I’m sure you could do some homebrewing to have more people play–like each person controls just one character–but as of right now, it’s 1v1.

Regardless of that, gameplay is smooth, moves quickly, and is easy to learn, no matter if you’ve played D&D in the past or not. That’s important, much more than the gameboard–as that’s an easy fix, while game mechanics, post-launch, can be tricky. This is much more about strategy than a D&D campaign battle, which is a huge positive, giving D&D players a reason to try this out. It has D&D characters, branding, and rolling d20s, but this isn’t D&D. It’s different, and there is a tone of potential here. Most importantly, it’s not Warhammer, and not asking you to buy a lot of stuff in order to win, and that’s a huge plus in my eyes.

Dungeons & Dragons: Onslaught launches January/February 2023.

The products discussed here were independently chosen by our editors. GameSpot may get a share of the revenue if you buy anything featured on our site.

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: