I played the Divinity Original Sin board game in a London basement

I played the Divinity Original Sin board game in a London basement
Images via Larian

Written by 

Lloyd Coombes

Published 

8th Apr 2024 15:20

Looking back on things, maybe visiting the barracks next to the Magister's Quarters, while avoiding soldiers, wasn't the smartest play.

My team and I had already snuck into the building, raiding the mess hall for supplies before splitting into two pairs, but in wanting to explore every room of the area we were attacked by a trio of soldiers.

If all that sounds like an anecdote from Divinity: Original Sin II, you'd be right, except I'm not playing Larian's digital RPG - I'm playing the tabletop version in a dungeon in London.

Divinity Original Sin could be a board game obsession

Divinity Original Sin Board Game
Click to enlarge

It's worth noting that this board game incarnation of Larian's pre-Baldur's Gate 3 masterpiece focuses on the events of the second game, despite the lack of a number in the title.

Thankfully, the starting point of our adventure in this gameplay vignette, guided by Larian staff, was early enough in the game when players escaped the opening ship scene and made their way to dry land.

If you have played the ambitious RPG, you'll feel right at home with your Source collar, but for anyone else it's remarkably easy to get started. In fact, while there are premade characters, it's just as easy to build your own.

Divinity Original Sin Board Game
Click to enlarge

I slipped into the boots of Lohse, a rogue with a bow, some armour, and a few spells, and while this isn't my first board game rodeo (check out my review of the Dark Souls: Sunless City set), I found myself genuinely sad to have to go home at the end of the session.

As I mentioned in my intro, my party and I tiptoed through the Magister's Quarters, moving from location to location within the building as shown in the Divine Atlas, Larian's 'bible' for pretty much everything in the game.

We'd aroused some suspicion, with patrols increasing, but it wasn't until we split up that we found ourselves battling a trio of baddies. It, uh, it did not go well.

Choices, choices

Divinity Original Sin Board Game items on a table
Click to enlarge

If you've played Baldur's Gate 3 or the Divinity games, you'll know just how much choice there is in every aspect of the game. Whether it's dialogue with NPCs, circumventing combat with flexible alternatives, or just finding a fresh way to throw down each time when swords are drawn, there's little out there like it.

I was curious to see how this would pan out in a board game format that, by Larian's own admission, doesn't require a dungeon master. Would there be too many guard rails in place to keep things moving? Or can you truly break the game?

As I'd hoped, things fall firmly on the latter option. A battle between four starter characters and three cannon-fodder guards sounds remarkably simple, but it wasn't long before things started to come undone - mainly thanks to my own actions.

With three party members engaged in close-quarters combat and another in the next room, we scrapped with our foes for a couple of turns before looking more closely at our character sheets, inventories, and abilities.

Divinity Original Sin Board Game items on a table
Click to enlarge

Within minutes we'd formulated a fairly complex strategy involving casting haste on one rogue so he could deal poison damage to multiple enemies in a single turn, while the rest of us employed our own spells, too.

The idea of adding a whole host of extra dice rolls sounds like some kind of cheat code, but the odds simply never felt too far in our favour. Our strategy was rewarded as one guard fell, but only after a truly back-and-forth struggle.

Despite Larian's suggestion, I insisted on a big finish to the fight. That involved casting a lightning spell that hit everyone in the room - my teammates included. Sadly, that killed off two of them, and while I wish I could say I'd learned my lesson, it was just too much fun having that kind of power. Would I do it all again? Oh yes.

Big ol' box

Divinity Original Sin Board Game items on a table
Click to enlarge

It's worth pointing to the quality of the product itself, because the team at Larian has done an unbelievable job.

The Divine Atlas is chock full of locations, and one playthrough can take 20 hours. To see everything would quadruple that, I'm told.

There's a combat board that attaches to the side of the atlas for setting turn orders, and I loved the Player Trays that let me see my inventory at a glance, manage my cooldowns, and keep an eye on my banked AP. 

There are 101 different minion cards, 166 skill cards, 222 item cards, and 139 boss cards, as well as some fantastic miniatures (including the Black Cat). It's hard to overstate just how much stuff is in here, and while we weren't guided step-by-step through the game's tutorial, I'm itching to do so to see just how much more of it there is to learn.

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While I'm hoping I can convince my partner to play alongside me, the game does scale for fewer players when it comes to combat. I'm looking forward to diving in regardless.

I played Divinity Original Sin 2 when it launched on console back in 2018 and adored it then. And yet, playing it with friends in a thematically appropriate tavern, laughing at my terrible dice luck and accidentally setting my friends alight may have just become my new favourite way to play.

Lloyd Coombes
About the author
Lloyd Coombes
Lloyd is GGRecon's Editor-in-Chief, having previously worked at Dexerto and Gfinity, and occasionally appears in The Daily Star newspaper. A big fan of loot-based games including Destiny 2 and Diablo 4, when he's not working you'll find him at the gym or trying to play Magic The Gathering.
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