The board game adaptation of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. video game series has apparently found an audience, as its Gamefound crowdfunding campaign recently cracked the $2 million dollar mark.
Created by Awaken Realms, the publisher behind other big box productions such as Nemesis and This War of Mine: The Board Game, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. The Board Game endeavors to translate as much of the video game experience as possible to the tabletop. Players will enter The Zone, an irradiated wasteland around the Chornobyl Nuclear Plant Exclusion Zone, in search of supplies, mysterious artefacts or valuable technology that will earn them a massive payday.
The board game supports one to four players in a fully cooperative design - players engage in “zone crawling” scenarios that might see them taking out a bandit encampment, appropriating artefacts from a mutant-infested wasteland or ranging as close as they dare to reality-defying anomalies. Along the way, both players and their enemies will have to withstand toxic rain, radiation emission, hidden anomalies and heedless mutants. Awaken Realms claims that their tactical combat system can handle both careful precision and gung-ho door-kicking as approaches to a fight.
The base game’s box, which costs $99 during crowdfunding will deliver a trio of three-chapter story campaigns written by science fiction authors Marcin Mortka and Michał Gołkowski. Each chapter will comprise three missions that take around 3 hours to play through with a group or rolling solo, meaning there’s roughly 34 hours of narrative-structured experience baked into the core game.
A separate “Zone Survival Mode” designed by This War of Mine: The Board Game’s Michał Oracz provides a repeatable method of engaging with S.T.A.L.K.E.R. The Board Game’s engine and systems when the play group doesn’t feel like advancing the story. The publisher even says it’s a great way to familiarise yourself with the rules before wading into a campaign where choice apparently matter and roll forward through the ongoing tale.
On a disappointing note, the Zone Survival Mode will be sold separately once the campaign ends, and while 36 hours is a wagon-full of campaign to play through it does mean S.T.A.L.K.E.R. offers a finite relationship without coughing up a little more money.
Awaken Realms has published details about the first campaign on its Gamefound page but are holding back anything on the other two in true board game crowdfunding fashion. And given the consistent flood of money coming in from backers, there’s likely no reason the publisher won’t continue the bait-and-hook method of gradually doling out product details that every large box of cardboard and miniatures indulges in these days.
The Gamefound campaign for S.T.A.L.K.E.R. The Board Game will run through July 3rd and will ship in two waves: the first is currently estimated to arrive in April 2024 and the second will follow in January 2025.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.’s video game series is also currently reimagining itself through the recently delayed S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chornobyl, developed by GSC Game World. The long-awaited followup to 2009’s Call of Pripyat has been plagued by delays (the publisher recently issued a vague 2023 goal), cyberattacks and leaks of playtest material to the wider internet.