World of Warcraft and Pandemic might not sound like the most natural fit, but the venerated MMORPG will be the subject of an upcoming board game designed after the popular series of disease-treating titles and explore one of the most popular expansions in its long history.
Publisher ZMan Games released a short YouTube video teasing a collaboration between it and Blizzard Entertainment, World of Warcraft’s steward. While information is slim at this point, it did say the game - as yet untitled - will be released in 2021 and use the Pandemic System - the company’s designation for alternate universe spin-offs such as Reign of Cthulhu and the historically inspired Pandemic: Iberia.
“Frostmourne hungers! Can you defeat the dreaded Lich King? Or will you fall to his power?” the description reads. In the video, the father of Arthas Menethil - the prince who would (spoilers) be twisted into Lich King - narrates a classic speech as several notable characters from the online multiplayer video game, including Thrall, Sylvanas Windrunner and Varian Wrynn foreground an imposing Lich King. The brief board shot shows an interconnected web of locations spanning the fictional continent of Northrend, much like real-world cities do in the original Pandemic and its legacy editions.
It’s safe to assume the board game will play much like the core Pandemic experience, challenging a team of cooperating players to contain and eventually eliminate several disease outbreaks using character-unique skills and no small amount of teamwork. In the story of World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King, the two main factions of the Horde and Alliance entered an uneasy truce in order to once and for all eliminate the Lich King, who commands undead armies and wields immeasurable necromantic power. Tacking various scourges and plagues onto Pandemic’s framework shouldn’t be too tall of an order.
Alongside the heroic leaders, zombie miniatures and other troops look to take the place of the disease cubes normally propagating throughout the game board. Given the Lich King’s own representation in plastic, the threat may be more immediate and dire than in past iterations.
This isn’t the first time World of Warcraft has crossed over with a popular board game series. Small World of Warcraft similarly reskinned Days of Wonder’s competitive territory-claiming title with the locations and peoples of Azeroth, where World of Warcraft’s story unfolds.
Beyond the appropriate plague theming, Wrath of the Lich King was one of the most popular additions to the game for continuing the story of characters first introduced in Blizzard’s older, real-time strategy titles. This would be the first time an expansion-specific portion of the long-running video game would be singled out for tabletop adaptation.