Jul 8, 2015

[Games] The Witches: A Discworld Game

So I'm a big fan of Sir Terry Pratchett's Discworld series of books and his passing felt like quite the personal tragedy on some level. And one of the things I ended up doing after the news broke out was to finally get a copy of one of the board games inspired by his ever colorful creation.

Thus we have The Witches: A Discworld Game, which is a fairly simple yet still nicely themed game that works well enough within the context of the part of the Discworld being covered here. The rules of the game are easy enough to learn for players of a wide range and there's some good fun.

But while you probably don't need to read the books in order to play the game, full appreciation of the detail that has gone into the game links to that book knowledge. So again, it's not a requirement, but the game is so much more awesome once you have.

The Witches: A Discworld Game is the second of three board games designed by Martin Wallace set in Sir Terry Pratchett's Discworld. The game supports 2-4 players and also includes a solo mode.

The game is set in the land of Lancre as part of the Discworld. This is a place that is home to a number of interesting folk, particularly a good number of witches that have featured prominently in the Discworld novels. The game has the players playing the roles of four apprentice witches  including Tiffany Aching, who has featured prominently in a series of Discworld novels on her own. Each witch starts with a one-use token that represents a unique ability in the game such as Tiffany Aching has Invisibility while Petulia Gristle has the ability to heal a sick pig.

Every turn begins by drawing a card to determine where trouble will occur on the map. This is represented by adding another problem tile to an empty space named on the card or added a crisis counter if the space already has a trouble tile on it. Then the witch player will move two spaces on the board and then try to solve a problem.

There are four dice in the game and problems have an assigned difficulty rating. Players first roll two dice and determine if they will play additional cards before rolling the last two dice or giving up on solving the problem (if possible). There are basic problems and harder problems around the board marked green and purple respectively with the harder problems requiring values in the neighborhood of 18+ in order to resolve it. Basic problems include pregnancy and death while the purple problem tiles tend to represent key antagonists from various Discworld novels including the Magpyre vampires, Elven nobility and the Wintersmith, to name a few.

Plus the "1" face for each die is marked with a witch's face that means the player gets a Cackle counter. Once the player has the most cackle counters versus all other players and there are no free cackle counters to draw, the next instance the player needs to draw one results in the player drawing a Black Aliss tile instead - this tile represents a permanent penalty to your end game score. Cackle counters can only be removed by cards or by joining a witch at the same space on the board and "having tea" which helps both players discard some of their cackle counters.

The cards offer a wide mix of powers including the option to re-roll dice or adding a few more points to your dice score while facing a problem. At first players only have three cards in hand but solving more green problem tiles eventually allows for players to have more cards in their hand. Solving more purple problem tiles provides additional bonuses to dice rolls.

Once the last problem tile is drawn, the game ends and players tally up the scores of all the problems they've solved and the playe with the highest score wins. If three Elves tiles are revealed at any point in the game, all players lose as the Elven threat has gotten out of control. There are other quirks and consequences for the various purple problem tile threats that make the game pretty dynamic, but I'll leave that for you to discover once you get a chance to play.

The game isn't the most complex or strategic one given the heavy dependence on dice rolls, but it's still pretty fun. And like I said before, it becomes a lot more compelling when you know the stories behind the locations and the various opponents in the game. Plus the Peter Dennis art used in the game is quite beautiful indeed.

The Witches: A Discworld Game isn't the greatest game in the world and the heavy dependence on dice mechanics can get a little annoying. But if you ever wondered what The Long Man looks like or wanted to face Hivers and vampires and the like, then this is still a game that promises to be a lot of fun. Thus the game gets 3.5 Nac Mac Feegle running around Lancre out of a possible 5.


  1. This sounds like a must-play for Pratchett fans. Did you order this online?

  2. This sounds like a must-play for Pratchett fans. Did you order this online?

  3. SUPER LATE REPLY - I wasn't getting comment notifications for some reason. We actually bought this locally at Neutral Grounds.