D&D: Onslaught is both a pricey collectible and a miniatures skirmish game

D&D: Onslaught is both a pricey collectible and a miniatures skirmish game

Dungeons & Dragons: Onslaught they are two things at once. The first part is a board game of tactical skirmishes. The other half is about collecting miniatures. Any of those things, a board game or collectible figures, are not problems on their own and would be easy to write about here. Is that D&D: Onslaught it is both at once that complicates things and can cloud their appeal.

Like a board game Onslaught is a scenario-based, two-player, self-contained skirmish game based on the 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons combat rules. It features pre-painted miniatures, a double-sided map, and 20-sided dice. Each player controls a party of adventurers in tactical battles against an opponent’s adventuring team and enemy monsters.

Image: Wizards of the Coast

Obviously Onslaught it is not intended to replace D&D. As Alex Davy, director of miniatures games at WizKids, told Polygon, Onslaught was designed as a “fun, fast, and urgent” way to experience a specific part of D&D, specifically, the experience of combat and being great heroes.

Onslaught‘s rules boil down 5e combat to a “balance of crisp tactics and accessibility,” said Davy, who is “inclined toward success.” There are no damage rolls (each successful attack deals a set amount of damage) and each attack is made with advantage (rolling two d20s and choosing the higher one). The monsters that populate the dungeons automatically hit and deal damage according to the rules established in the dungeon: they do not roll to attack. There are no skills or abilities to track. Even initiative is streamlined thanks to a deck of numbered cards.

A D&D: Onslaught character card, a pair of twenty-sided dice, and a tiefling miniature

Image: Wizards of the Coast

Everything you need to know about your characters fits on a tile-sized character sheet. The card gives you attack options, reactions, critical hit effects, and all of your stats. Each character card has five dials around the outside. Anything that changes over the course of a battle, like hit points, experience points, or ability cooldowns, has a dial. Even his stats, of which there are three: speed, armor class, and hit points, have a dial. Interestingly, this means that depending on the character, things like armor class and speed can change as that character takes damage (not unlike another WizKids franchise, HeroClix).

The scenarios you’ll navigate through with those characters and miniatures are described in an included scenario guide rulebook. According to WizKids, you should be able to play a scenario in about 90 minutes. Each scenario details board and team setup, loot locations, start or spawn points, rules for how monsters behave, any special items in play, and the goal of the particular fight. The “Greathalls & Goblins” scenario provided in the preview we saw was simple: “Blow your way to death!” Two teams of two heroes enter a dungeon and battle each other and a stream of goblins as they battle for control of a special weapon. Victory points are awarded based on actions such as defeating enemies and monsters or controlling special loot at the end of the fight. And that is. It’s a skirmish though, so you don’t necessarily need more. That said, it will be interesting to see how “Greathalls & Goblins” compares to the other stages in the full release.

Two more of the miniatures, this time goblins.  They both have box and arrows.

Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon

While both the setting and the character cards are simplified and easy to understand, the game itself isn’t too different from playing D&D with minis on a battle mat. You’ll still be dealing with things like range, line of sight, area of ​​effect attacks, and ability cooldowns. Players take turns activating their heroes in initiative order, with each hero having movement speeds, actions, reactions, and special attacks. And that complexity probably explains the recommendation for ages 14 and up.

So Onslaught it doesn’t want to replace pen-and-paper D&D, and it’s not baby D&D for babies. WizKids wants Dungeons & Dragons: Onslaught be an impromptu play solution that doesn’t require the same prep work that a full role-playing session would. Beyond home games, WizKids plans extensive tournaments, organized games, and in-store events.

Which brings us to the other half of D&D: Onslaught — collect

Miniatures of six heroes from each of the two factions of D&D: Onslaught

Image: Wizards of the Coast

a big part of Onslaught it’s the mini. Included in the basic set are 21 miniatures. They are completely new sculptures: 12 heroes and nine monsters such as kobolds, gnolls and a black dragon, which will be exclusive to Onslaught for the first year. They are as high quality as you’d expect from WizKids, who also produce pre-painted miniatures for traditional D&D under license from Wizards of the Coast.

In a game, each player chooses a faction to play as, and each faction has its own miniatures. At launch, you’ll choose between the spy-like Harpers and the Zhentarim mercenaries; both are factions found in the Forgotten Realms of D&D. Later in the year, more factions, Red Wizards and Many Arrows, and faction expansions will be released. As Davy told us, “We want you to get excited about the faction you’re representing.”

For anyone looking to customize their adventure party, WizKids will have a curated list of proxy minis that can replace any of the character minis in the official game. These will come from sets like Icons of the Realms, Nolzur’s Marvelous Miniatures, and Frames.

Nine D&D: Onslaught monster miniatures including a black dragon, two gnolls, an ettin, a troll, and four kobolds.

Image: Wizards of the Coast

And that means, or at least implies, that you’ll want to keep expanding your Onslaught collection to get the full experience. That brings us to cost.

The basic set will set you back $139.99. It comes with 21 miniatures (both characters and monsters), a double-sided map, four 20-sided dice, and 16 character cards. The faction expansion packs coming out in October 2023 will include six minis and character cards, as well as a pair of themed d20s. Those will cost $59.99 each. If we’re talking about a base per mini, that’s between $7 and $10 each. keep up with OnslaughtThe releases of will add up quickly.

OnslaughtThe gameplay of is very satisfying and provides a solid framework for a skirmish war game. The stripped-down experience of that particular part of D&D, the wargaming part where you move miniatures around a map and fight bad guys, is exactly what Onslaught delivery. It’s not going to replace long-form D&D (for lack of a better word), but it’s a good way to get a quick combat fix. That said, how do you feel about Dungeons & Dragons: Onslaught It’s really going to depend on how much of a miniatures collector you are. And how much money are you willing to spend on them?

Dungeons & Dragons: Onslaught it is expected to be in stores in January 2023. The Red Mages and Many Arrows faction packs are scheduled for October 2023.

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