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New D&D board game Trials of Tempus is an eight-player arena brawl that rewards more than just violence

Brawl that glitters is gold.

box art for Trials of Tempus board game for D&D
Image credit: Heavy Dragon/Wizards of the Coast

Trials of Tempus, a new board game loosely set in the world of Dungeons & Dragons, will pit teams composed of up to eight players against one another in creative arena challenges where not all problems can be solved at the point of a blade.

Announced in an interview by Gamespot with design studio Heavy Dragon, Trials of Tempus will accommodate up to eight players who form teams to compete in arena matches that fall somewhere between MOBA-style video games, such as League of Legends, and the High Sun Games scene from Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves.

All of the current information about Trials of Tempest, which is due to release in August of this year, comes from Gamespot’s chat with Thor Knai, Kyle Newman, and Adam Carasso of Heavy Dragon design studio. The trio described the board game’s origins as an attempt to bring their own roleplay adventures, miniatures and all, to a slightly different tabletop medium. They imagined an experience where a whole playgroup could take their skills - martial or otherwise - into a tournament where class fantasy drives the majority of their decisions.

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Trials of Tempest will be a mixed competitive and cooperative board game for two to eight players competing as teams collecting points in a variety of skill challenges, teamwork tests and player-vs-player brawls. Heavy Dragon cites MOBA video games, such as League of Legends and Apex Legends as early influences, though the game design didn’t pan out. Instead, the team adopted a battle royale-meets-bloodsport arena model where classes and quests can change game to game, keeping the experience fresh over its lifetime and imbuing every player choice with tactical weight.

Each player’s class and subclass is represented by a deck of cards composed of class abilities that will be immediately familiar to avid players of modern D&D. Heavy Dragon states that Trials of Tempest should “sell the essential experiences of playing that class” by giving players a vibe that has been distilled but not diluted for a board game experience.

During play, an event deck will keep all of the players on their toes by introducing neutral threats to the environment, changing the landscape or throwing everyone into a sudden event with high stakes. Heavy Dragon said they are aware that a certain percentage of fans will be disappointed that Trials of Tempest isn’t a purely mechanical wargame-style sword whacking, but they were interested in more creative adaptations of D&D as a board game.

Even as a boxed product, Trials of Tempest bucks some more recent trends. Instead of a scenario book, it will use a collection of maps, minifigures and randomly generated encounters to keep setup light but the actual session holding tight to everyone’s attention. None of the classes are explicitly balanced against each other - taking a page from Dominion, each offers a unique approach that will change how other players react depending on what heroes and skills will be thrown into the mix. Class identity is as much a tactical decision as anything else in this game.

Heavy Dragon noted the similarities to the High Sun Games scene from the recent Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves film, in which the heroes must escape a popular team-based arena in order to continue their quest. The team wishes the connection was planned or intentional but hopes that their creation helps people relive that excitement at their own table - they even recommended weaving the board game into ongoing campaigns to enhance pivotal fight scenes.

Trials of Tempus will be published by longtime Wizards of the Coast collaborator WizKids and is currently aiming for an August 2023 release date. Both a standard and deluxe edition are currently available for pre-order on their official website and shows off digital renders of some of the included miniatures.

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Apex Legends

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League of Legends

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Trials of Tempus

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Chase Carter

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Chase is a freelance journalist and media critic. He enjoys the company of his two cats and always wants to hear more about that thing you love. Follow him on Twitter for photos of said cats and retweeted opinions from smarter folks.

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