Interview with Bryan Kinsella, Vice President of WizKids Games, about the Temple of Elemental Evil Board Game

When you first hear the name, “WizKids,” you probably think of Heroclix. After all, it’s the line the company has been synonymous with for well over a decade. However it’s not the only line they produce. Longtime fans of Collectible Miniature Games remember Crimson Skies, Shadowrun Duels and Mage Knight, but if you go to their website, you can see that they produce everything from Pathfinder Iconic Battles pre-painted miniatures to the Pirates of the Spanish Main card game.

Of course, in late 2014, WizKids teamed up with Wizards of the Coast to start producing pre-painted miniatures for Dungeons & Dragons, fifth edition. They also began releasing the first tactical miniature game for Dungeons & Dragons since the long lamented and greatly missed D&D Miniature Game was folded with the coming of D&D 4e. D&D Attack Wing has developed a strong following and you can take a look at the contents of the Starter Set in my unboxing from back in November here. If pre-painted figures and a new tactical game wasn’t enough, the collaboration between WizKids and WotC grew even stronger back in January with the announcement of the Temple of Elemental Evil board game. Instead of using old unpainted figures from the D&D Miniatures Game, this fourth installment of the “D&D Adventure System Cooperative Play” would have WizaKids designed figures. With all these new miniatures for D&D coming out from WizKids, I knew I wanted to learn more about their products and their role with the new Temple of Elemental Evil board game. The Vice President of WizKids, Bryan Kinsella, was kind enough to sit down with me and fill me in on what his company has planned in their partnership with Wizards of the Coast.

Diehard GameFAN: It’s been four years since the last “D&D Adventure System Cooperative Play” board game for Dungeons & Dragons and all of those were done in house by Wizards of the Coast. What made WizKids decide to partner with Wizards of the Coast on this latest game?

Bryan Kinsella: The impetus behind the Temple of Elemental Evil Board Game was born from a close working relationship between WizKids and Wizards of the Coast that originally focused on miniatures. In the beginning, we had a goal of designing and producing sets of miniatures, but as the product line was starting to take shape, the discussion turned to what else our two companies could work on together. Having the tooling for miniatures already complete from the miniature line coupled with Wizards in-house design team, it was a natural progression to partner on this game. We handled all of the manufacturing and publishing of Temple of Elemental Evil after Wizards of the Coast submitted the design.

DHGF: Why bring back the “D&D Adventure System Cooperative Play” which was originally designed for fourth edition D&D instead of something new for fifth edition?

BK: While the rules of Dungeons & Dragons have changed since Wizards of the Coast introduced the D&D Adventure System Cooperative Games like Castle Ravenloft, Wrath of Ashardalon and The Legend of Drizzt, the desire to recreate a dungeon-crawl in an easy-to-setup board game format is still extremely strong. In Temple of Elemental Evil, you’ll be able to face insane cultists and powerful elemental creatures in a cooperative format without a Dungeon Master – the perfect situation for off-the-shelf play.

As with other titles in the Adventure System board game line, it’s great to play in stand-alone sessions with your friends, but what’s awesome about Temple of Elemental Evil is how the thirteen adventures are the most fun when played sequentially in a campaign. Your character can evolve and gain bonuses after each adventure to use to tackle even bigger challenges. Temple of Elemental Evil is fully compatible with The Legend of Drizzt, Wrath of Ashardalon and Castle Ravenloft, so you can mix and match components for endless replay opportunities.

DHGF: In each of the previous “D&D Adventure System Cooperative Play” board games, we had different player characters available that could be mixed and matched with the other games. What PCs will we see in Temple of Elemental Evil?

BK: Players will find some very familiar faces in Temple of Elemental Evil. Here are five PCs, each of which are associated with one of the factions opposing the cults of Elemental Evil:

  • Nymmestra the Sun Elf Wizard, who joined the Harpers to relearn magic and atone for her past.

  • Talon the Human Ranger is a member of the Emerald Enclave Talon seeking to stop the Cult of Elemental Evil from disrupting the natural balance.

  • Barrowin the Gold Dwarf Cleric, who follows the will of Gorm Gulthyn. Barrowin joined the Order of the Gauntlet to lay low the enemies of good.

  • Alaeros the Human Fighter fights with the Lord’s Alliance to redeem the name of House Margaster.

  • Ratshadow the Lightfoot Halfling Rogue. Stopping the Cult of Elemental Evil will surely get Ratshadow a promotion in the Zhentarim, and ample opportunity at treasures.
  • There will be more characters to uncover when Temple of Elemental Evil is available for purchase in mid-April 2015.

    DHGF Will the Temple of Elemental Evil board game have scenarios that are homages or directly pulled from the original ToEE adventure and/or Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil video game, or will the scenarios be completely new and unique to this board game?

    BK: The eponymous Temple of Elemental Evil in the board game is based on the structure players can uncover in the tabletop RPG adventure Princes of the Apocalypse, which was in turn inspired by the classic adventure. Longtime players might recognize elements from older adventures, but the experience is wholly new and exciting, full of deceptions to uncover and insane plots to thwart.

    DHGF: From the pictures sent to us by WizKids, it looks like there are a whopping forty-two miniatures in Temple of Elemental Evil. What are the figures we will be seeing in the game and are there any new casts made specifically for it?

    BK:There ARE 42 total figures in the Temple of Elemental Evil board game. You can expect to find a great mix of monsters, villains and classic heroes in the set, including Velathidros (a black dragon), four vicious Elementals, and more!

    DHGF: How many adventures will be included in Temple of Elemental Evil and for those that play through the entire game, is there a possibility of new official adventures being released for it down the road as well?

    BK:The game features thirteen adventures in total. If you’re looking for replay value, you can play through each adventure with each of the different player characters or a variety of teams of player characters for an epic number of different experiences. Because Temple of Elemental Evil is compatible with every other game in the Adventure System Cooperative Game line, the possibility for new adventures is a random card draw away. You could even use the progression of Campaign Play, which allows characters to evolve and gain bonuses after each adventure to use to tackle even bigger challenges with other components from The Legend of Drizzt, Wrath of Ashardalon or Castle Ravenloft to make your own board game campaigns.

    DHGF: WizKids is also doing a line of pre-painted miniatures for the Elemental Evil storyline called D&D Icons of the Realms: Elemental Evil. How do you decide what figures will be in the forty-four figure set?

    BL: Wizards begins by creating a story bible, which gives us plenty of starting material. The bible consists of pages of art and an overview of the story, both of which serve as the jumping off point for the game design. Flipping through this amazing document, it’s actually rather easy to come up with the list. Sometimes there’s a bit of juggling that needs to happen to account for sizes or complexity, but it’s actually been very easy to get to an agreed upon list of figures that both teams are excited about.

    DHGF: What figures will be in D&D Icons of the Realms: Elemental Evil? I’ve seen the ettin and salamander, but what else can people look forward to?

    BK: There are fourty-four figures in the set, including four elementals (each representing earth, water, fire, and air).

    Additionally, you can expect to find more than five amazing dragons and a slew of monsters and villains, like the ettin, fire myrmidon and more!

    There are even invisible figures, which bring an extra cool effect to the table!

    DHGF: D&D Icons of the Realms: Elemental Evil is being sold in blind booster packs rather than say, your Attack Wing line, where gamers can see exactly what they are getting. What is the decision between selling your two D&D miniatures lines in such a different fashion?

    BK: In the RPG market, especially the market for pre-painted figures, we’ve found that the blind box format works best as it allows more miniatures to be available in a smaller retail shelf space. When you’re using the model of “You can see what’s in the box,” it requires retailers to pick and choose specific figures and quantities of each figure to stock, and that means, you as a consumer, might not get a shot at buying the specific figure you want (or a chance at getting a really rare one). With the blind box, it allows for a bigger variety of miniatures to be stocked, and there’s that exciting, tense moment of ripping open a new pack to see what you’ve got.

    Also, with Attack Wing, there are only three to foure figures released a month, meaning retailers can more easily rotate inventory as it sells. But with a 40+ figure set, it’s more beneficial to everyone to do it in a blind box format.

    DHGF: With both Temple of Elemental Evil and Icons of the Realms: Elemental Evil, you are partnering with Perfect World Entertainment to bundle in items for the Neverwinter video game. How did that partnership come about and what sorts of items can fans of the video game expect to find in your products?

    Our partnership with Perfect World Entertainment came from an introduction by the great people at Wizards of the Coast. WizKids is making highly detailed physical items, like the huge Tiamat figure, for Wizards, and Perfect World created this amazing virtual world around D&D with Neverwinter. The two just seemed like a perfect fit.

    You can expect to find inserts in the upcoming Temple of Elemental Evil board game that will include codes for the “Trove of Elemental Evil” pack redeemable in Neverwinter for a chance at receiving elemental themed weapons, an elemental companion or even a powerful artifact. Additionally, all D&D Icons of the Realms: Elemental Evil booster packs will include codes that unlock one of four in-game items.

    We’re also working with the Perfect World Entertainment team in Europe, so you can expect even more promotions in the coming months, including contests on social media and at events, cross-promotional items in game, and more!

    So there you go. Temple of Elemental Evil has a planned release date of late April (Dates given out are both April 26th and April 30th by Wizards of the Coast). Oddly enough you can’t preorder the game on, which is a first. You can however order Elemental Evil <boosters and bricks. If you want to preorder the board game, you’ll have to do so at a local brick and mortar store or specialty online retailers like Miniature Market or CoolStuffInc. Hopefully Temple of Elemental Evil is only the first in a series of board games by both WizKids and Wizards as my wife and I had a lot of fun with both Castle Ravenloft and The Legend of Drizzt. If you want to see what else WizKids has for D&D, you can keep checking out the D&D section of their home page or follow them on Facebook.

    Join us tomorrow as we continue our look at D&D’s Elemental Evil line with a look at the other D&D miniature producer – Gale Force 9.



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    3 responses to “Interview with Bryan Kinsella, Vice President of WizKids Games, about the Temple of Elemental Evil Board Game”

    1. […] the storyline for the video game tie into the other D&D releases under the same banner like The Temple of Elemental Evil board game and Princes of the […]

    2. […] & Dragons Adventure System games like Castle Ravenloft, The Legend of Drizzt or the upcoming Temple of Elemental Evil release. The articles in this issue, along with pictures of the playing pieces and rules break down […]

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