Coming soon from WizKids an industry leader of Dungeons & Dragons miniatures and accessories, is Dungeons & Dragons: Onslaught, an action-packed miniatures game that pits two parties of adventurers against one another in head-to-head brawls and epic dungeon crawls!
Battle in a Box
Many miniatures game core sets feature just enough content to get players started, with the expectation that players will pick up additional expansions to field a full army. Onslaught turns this trend on its head; not only does the game come with enough pre-painted miniatures for two players to run a full party of five characters, but each faction also includes an additional character for flexibility.
In addition to twelve playable characters, the core set features nine monster miniatures: four kobolds, two gnolls, a troll, an ettin, and a stunning young black dragon. It also features a beautiful double-sided fold-out map rendered in the classic one-point perspective.
This plethora of content serves a critical purpose: allowing players to dive into the game immediately and supporting six linked scenarios. “Onslaught is a true hybrid,” says Director of Miniatures Games Alex Davy. “It takes the best aspects of dungeon-crawling board games and tabletop miniatures games and fuses them together into a singular experience.”
In Onslaught, players must contend with much more than just the enemy party. Wandering monsters are a key aspect of many scenarios, from lowly minions to menacing bosses. “From a design perspective, it gave us a way to explore space that most other miniatures games don’t,” says co-designer Travis Severance. “Most miniatures games feature player versus player combat, with terrain playing a major role in most games and their outcomes. In our game we wanted to use the monsters as objectives, adversaries, and obstacles to add as much variety to the game as we could. It's also a lot of fun being able to unleash the power of a monster on your opponent!”
The monsters in Onslaught are not under the direct command of either player. Instead, a simple and intuitive artificial intelligence system guides their actions based on parameters laid out in each scenario.
The Dungeons & Dragons DNA in Onslaught extends beyond encounters with fearsome fiends. Included in the core set is a series of six linked scenarios that send the rival parties deep within a ruined fortress in search of a lost treasure horde., They can loot treasure chests, acquire powerful magic items, and level up their characters.
Each character features an accompanying character card that displays everything a player needs to command that character in combat. Along with information such as a character’s name, role, faction, and class, these cards display a character’s basic attack capabilities, passive effects, and critical effects. Finally, each card features five distinct dials: a “battle wheel” that displays the character’s current speed, armor class, and hit points, and experience dial, and three “cooldown” dials that govern a character’s most powerful abilities.
Because all the information is so clearly organized, managing each character over the course of the game is a snap. “Mechanically, the combat dials are amazing,” says Yu. “The WizKids production team put something really special together there. The art and design team also had a unique vision and created a D&D game that's striking and innovative. I'm obviously biased, but I'm totally in love with how everything looks in the final product. There's so much cool stuff in the box!”
Numerous miniatures games place a heavy tactical emphasis in the list-building phase of the game. Players customize their armies, adding units, characters, and upgrades until they reach a pre-determined allotment of points. As much fun as this sort of tinkering can be, the designers of Onslaught wanted to go in a totally different direction.
Each character in the game is assigned one of six different roles: Vanguard (durable frontlines that protect other characters), Healer (vital medics that keep you in the fight), Melee Damage (aggressive characters that deal big damage up close), Ranged Damage (deadly backliners that put the hurt on at range), Tactician (flexible operatives that influence other characters and even the map itself), and Hybrid (multi-purpose characters that can fulfill multiple roles). After seeing the scenario that they will be playing, each player chooses a party of five characters from their faction, each with a different role.
Instead of coming to the game with a preconceived strategy, Onslaught encourages players to stay flexible and react to whatever unfolds. This philosophy extends to the activation mechanics of Onslaught as well.
At the start of each round, the active player receives the Initiative 1 card, and then players are dealt nine additional initiative cards to secretly assign to their characters. Monsters are assigned initiative cards based on the scenario. During the Action Phase of the round, characters and monsters activate in the order determined by their assigned initiative cards, starting with the Initiative 1 card.
“The initiative system is one of the most inspired things about Onslaught,” says Davy. “Players have to change their perspective and tactics each round based on which cards they are dealt, what they need to accomplish, and what initiative values the monsters and their opponent’s characters have at their disposal.”
Two other core elements keep players on their toes from round to round: Loot and Leveling Up. Most scenarios feature treasure chests scattered around the map, which characters can investigate to discover powerful items that can turn the tide of battle—or trigger unexpected monsters or traps!
In addition, characters have the potential to level up by gaining experience points by looting chests, attacking, and healing themselves or other characters. Each character also has a bonus experience ability on their character card that is tied to their battlefield role. When a character gains their fifth experience point, they level up and gain one of two powerful new abilities unique to that character.
These elements combine to create a tactical experience that’s all about adapting to a constantly evolving battlefield, adjusting your strategy on the fly to overcome each new challenge.
“This game has been a real labor of love for both Travis and me,” says Yu. “We've both been playing D&D since a young age, and being able to leave our own personal imprint on the property, however small, is pure wish fulfillment.”
“It was a true pleasure working with Nick and Travis to bring their vision to life. They’ve created something truly special for fans of Dungeons & Dragons and tabletop wargaming alike,” Davy says.