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Key art for The Mandalorian: Adventures board game features Mando, IG-11, The Child, and a smattering of Dark Troopers as well.
Image: Unexpected Games/Asmodee and Lucasfilm

The acclaimed designer on the new sandbox-style board game — and its traitor mechanic

Corey Konieczka, acclaimed board game designer of strategy games such as Star Wars: Rebellion and Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game, launched his own studio, Unexpected Games, in 2021. After a series of high-concept titles, including puzzle-based The Initiative and the dynamic 3,000 Scoundrels, he’s back for another stab at a licensed franchise. The Mandalorian: Adventures is a cooperative board game with multiple modes, and it arrives at hobby shops and online in the third quarter. In a recent interview with Polygon, Konieczka revealed some of its secrets — including what promises to be a highly anticipated traitor mode.

The Mandalorian: Adventures is a card-based action game, Konieczka revealed, where players will take on the role of one of eight iconic characters from the first season of The Mandalorian, guiding them through missions based on the streaming television series. The first sees Mando teaming up with IG-11 to rescue the Child.

Cards, tokens, and cutouts with art from The Mandalorian TV show on a white background.
Image: Unexpected Games/Asmodee and Lucasfilm
A near-final render of The Mandalorian: Adventures. Note the lay-flat mission booklet that serves as the game board.

“Enemies don’t tend to survive very long [in that first mission],” Konieczka said with a laugh, “as you’d expect from the show. They walk into town, IG is firing his guns, two of them, in different directions at the same time, taking guys off the roof.”

To make it through the game’s various scenarios, players will need to work together by playing cards from their hands to one of several action slots on the table to do things like move, attack, or gather information from the environment. The strength of a given action depends on the value of the card played, so a four played to the move slot will let a character move four spaces. Some cards have special abilities as well, but those can only be played to certain actions on the table.

“There’s often a push and pull on your turn,” Konieczka said. “I really want to do this action, but maybe I’ve got this special ability in my hand, so I might want to play it over here.”

That tension is made more complicated by the fact that when a particular stack of cards reaches a total value of five, it triggers an event. Perhaps enemies will move around the environment, or a thematic story element will occur. Whatever happens, players will need to react to it creatively or risk losing the mission. Upping the ante, stacks that go over five will also suffer a crisis, which introduces an additional complication. In the first mission, that means more enemies, but crises will change later on to become even more consequential.

A cel-shaded take on the first episode of The Mandalorian, including images of The Client and Greef Karga.
Image: Unexpected Games/Asmodee and Lucasfilm
Each mission begins with a thematic comic book-style introduction. Players turn to the next page to begin the first mission.

“They all have their own flavor that you need to kind of learn and play around,” Konieczka said. “There’s a lot of […] cooperating with your team. You’ve got to make a lot of judgment calls, because you’re the only one who can see the cards in your hand. You need to decide: Is this really for the better of the group? Or am I going to be hurting us by doing this?

In an effort to help onboard novice players, The Mandalorian: Adventures will include a streamlined manual. It will be supplemented by what Unexpected Games is calling a “guide deck,” a fixed stack of cards that introduces new rules and features to the game over time.

“You have the basic rulebook [for your first game],” said co-designer Josh Beppler. “You’re going to be able to learn the game at its most basic level, so that you can get started really quickly. Then we introduce new rules through that guide deck.”

“Our hope is that if there is one hobby gamer in your group who can read the rules, they can teach it to anybody,” Konieczka said.

In addition, The Mandalorian: Adventures also contains two envelopes, each of which adds additional features to the game. One is called Mercenary Mode, which uses previous mission maps but mixes in different rules and objectives to make them more challenging. Some of those missions also have a feature called Hidden Motives.

Cards featuring images of Mando and IG-11. The later is sinking into molten metal, while the former is at work and play with The Child.
Image: Unexpected Games/Asmodee and Lucasfilm
Beppler said that Unexpected Games commissioned more than 80 pieces of new art for the game.
Cardboard tokens of IG-11, Greef Karga, and Mando plus what look like damage tokens and tokens listing numbers 2 and 3.
Image: Unexpected Games/Asmodee and Lucasfilm
Cardboard standees will be included instead of miniatures in order to keep the overall cost of the game down.

“Especially in season 1 of The Mandalorian, there are moments when he gets betrayed,” Konieczka explained. “There’s the prison break episode, ‘The Prisoner,’ where there’s three other characters with him and they all betray him. But there’s also moments where Greef Karga backstabs him, where IG-11 tries to assassinate the child that he’s trying to rescue. We felt like that was an important part of the story, but we didn’t want it to get in the way of the core conceit, which is that this is a cooperative game. And so we kind of offered both.”

When using Hidden Motives, at the start of the round everyone at the table gets a card that tells them whether or not they’re working with or against the Mandalorian — just like the beginning of a game of Battlestar Galactica. Mando, on the other hand, is always on the side of good, which makes him an excellent choice for those who maybe don’t have the best poker face.

Another important differentiator for The Mandalorian: Adventures is that it’s not a campaign game that players are expected to play sequentially. It’s more of a sandbox experience. Once everything in the box has been unlocked, it’s up to everyone at the table to decide what kind of fun they’ll have that evening.

“Our hope is that we’re going to attract people that are hobby gamers,” Konieczka said, “but also people who just watched the show and were like, Oh, there’s a game about this? I want to play! […] We want people to hit the ground running and just be able to dive in and play.”

The Mandalorian: Adventures will retail for $49.99.

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