Mining-with-friends hit Deep Rock Galactic is the next video game to be turned into a board game.
Deep Rock Galactic: The Board Game will stick to the co-op format of the PC and Xbox game, with up to four players venturing into underground caves in search of valuable minerals and other such treasure. Along the way, the players’ dwarven heroes will need to use their high-tech equipment to blast a way through the tunnel network and fend off any Glyphid enemies they encounter.
Behind the tabletop adaptation’s gameplay is Ole Steiness, the creator of Champions of Midgard, the well-received Viking worker-placement board game released in 2015.
Søren Lundgaard, CEO of developer Ghost Ship Games, gave an in-depth preview at the upcoming board game’s gameplay in a post to Deep Rock Galactic’s Steam blog, as well as discussing why now is the right time for a tabletop version of the 2018 early access title, which saw a full release last year.
Lundgaard was surprisingly candid about the success of video game board games on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter factoring into the decision, noting that few high-profile adaptations have failed to reach their funding goal despite being “heavy” in terms of gameplay complexity.
“Looking at how [board games based on video games] were received on BoardGameGeek, it was also clear that we shouldn’t expect to create something that would rock the board game world,” Lundgaard added. “Getting restrained by an IP and trying your best to live up to expectations from the community does not always result in a masterpiece of design.
“Unsurprisingly, many of the successful Kickstarters had games that offered a cool selection of miniatures. This played in the favor of Deep Rock Galactic as well.
“All in all, the conclusion was that this project was viable, so we decided to get a prototype started.”
Lundgaard’s overview of the board game’s prototype - said to have been in development since the beginning of 2021 - outlines a greater focus on combat than the video game, with efforts to centre the gameplay on traversal and exploration proving “too fiddly”.
Deep Rock Galactic: The Board Game will be a dungeon-crawler, with players moving their characters around a hex grid on various map tiles, similar to games such as Gloomhaven. Players will be able to choose between the four character classes seen in the video game: engineer, gunner, driller and scout The video game’s freeform exploration, with players able to simply carve their way through walls and form unique environments, will be reflected in the ability to freely create tunnels and routes between the pre-formed cave layouts.
In a nod to one of the most common preset callouts uttered by characters in-game - “Rock and stone” - the board game will include Rock and Stone cards that provide chances for players to help each other, from performing extra attacks to looking through the deck of cards. (An optional rule requires players to say the line for the card effect to activate.)
Lundgaard confirmed that the co-op board game will not feature a dedicated campaign mode with ongoing progression, despite the video game featuring such a system. Instead, scenarios are designed as one to two-hour standalone sessions that can be replayed due to randomised events, various mission types and different map layouts, with character progression happening over the arc of an individual mission.
Deep Rock Galactic: The Board Game features all four of the existing classes within the game, ‘Rock and Stone’ cards to add layers of collaborative and roleplay depth, and a ‘one-shot’ style in-game progression system.
“There is nothing stopping you from playing several missions in a row and forming a sort of story out of that,” Lundgaard added, before teasing: “And then later, we might create mini-campaign expansions.”
A Kickstarter for Deep Rock Galactic: The Board Game is planned to launch in 2022, with Lundgaard declining to give a potential release date for the game.