The Yawning Portal has been a well trodden location since Dungeons & Dragons 5E chose to explore the Forgotten Realms. Now, the inn-cum-dungeon entrance will be the setting of an upcoming board game that borrows heavily from diner video games.
Simply titled The Yawning Portal, the new board game was announced by publisher Avalon Hill during Gen Con 2022. One to four players will join the inn’s wait staff and serve meals to hungry adventurers who apparently boast extremely specific dietary preferences. The goal is to accrue the most gems as tips for a job well done by the end of the game.
As anyone who has worked food service before will attest, the work is much more difficult than it might appear - that’s true in this board game iteration, as well. The heroic patrons will gradually fill out the 14 available seats and bring with them a hunger that must be satisfied with particular cuisine and drinks - there’s a vegetarian dwarf, for example - in order to earn the highest possible tip.
Players will use cards from their hands to fulfil heroes’ orders and place food tokens on the long table for the clientele to grab. Points are awarded for every portion of a full order fulfilled, and bonuses come from completing a meal ticket. Potions can be served that will entice a customer to love whatever you put in front of their face, but those shortcuts are few and difficult to earn.
This is a fairly simple bundle of mechanics that will be familiar to anyone who has played a Diner Dash-esque video game on consoles or, especially, mobile devices. The Yawning Portal claims to twist the formula by awarding the highest point total to the gem colour that appears the most on the board. This will ostensibly lead to situations where multiple players may vie to serve the most meat, fish, veggies or beer and claim that top point value. Specialisation or embrace the omnivores?
Designers Kristian Karlberg and Kenny Zetterberg have created 68 unique heroes that might walk through the door, each fitting into the contemporary fiction of the Forgotten Realms. The Yawning Portal contends to be an approachable board game for D&D veterans who might have played the campaign set within its walls as well as newcomers. Given the lack of any character sheets and twenty-sided dice, this is very much a standalone board game for fans of the mechanics or general high fantasy aesthetics.
The Yawning Portal is currently aiming for an early 2023 release date, with Hasbro predicting an approximate shipping date of March 1st. Pre-orders for the box are currently open on the Hasbro Pulse website and will run $59.99.