Friday, October 26, 2018

Board Game Review: Arcadia Quest


In our family, we are avid board game collectors (as well as players). Because so many games come into our home (over 800 and counting), sometimes games sit on the shelf for quite awhile before they are played. Arcadia Quest was one of those games. We’ve owned it since it was published in 2014, but it only recently made it to the table as part of our Quick Brown Fox challenge. For this challenge, we are working our way through our entire collection of games, one letter of the alphabet at a time, using the famous pangram “A quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog”.
Arcadia Quest is a goal oriented combat game. Kill your opponents’ heroes, kill the monsters on the board, and/or find hidden objects placed on the board (and sometimes deliver them elsewhere) to win the game.
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The components for Arcadia Quest are extremely well-made. They include finely detailed miniatures that are sturdy and long lasting.
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As an aside, can I take this opportunity to again beg publishers to offer a pre-painted miniatures option? I know it would raise the price of the game but it would be worth it and there are a lot of players like myself - with zero artistry skills – who would jump on the opportunity to own pre-painted minis.

There are numerous cards of varying sizes that should hold up well over time to normal use, but frequent players may want to sleeve them to extend their life expectancy. The double sided game tiles are heavy, thick cardboard, and didn’t show any signs of wear after 6 games. Here’s my sole component complaint: Arcadia Quest ships with dice but doesn’t include as many as needed once heroes are running under upgraded stats with additional attack or defense power. I can’t find anything in the rules that states the dice are limited so several times in our game we had to reroll existing dice to get the additional dice counts we needed such as when we were permitted to roll 7 or 8 defense dice but found only 6 had come in the box. I’d recommend the publisher include at least 10 dice of each type in future reprints.
The artwork incorporated into the game is really nice. The hero and monster cards are well illustrated and the cover art on the box has so much detail – it’s really quite extraordinary. The quest cards are a little dull and I would have liked to see as much attention given to their design as was clearly allocated for the rest of the components. 20180820_164730
Arcadia Quest comes packaged with a rulebook and a campaign guide. The rulebook is very clear – only once did we need to look up a rule online because we couldn’t figure out how to proceed after multiple passes through the rulebook.  As always, player reference cards or a reference page on the back of the rulebook would be a nice addition.
  We did note two rules that are in the rulebook yet are likely to be overlooked by first time players and we’d suggest CMON Games highlight these rules in future reprints. First, death curses do not have to take up a slot on a player’s hero inventory board unless they explicitly state so on their description. The first death curse we came across in the game states in its description that it does nothing other than take up an inventory slot. When we came across a card that had a more significant penalty (lowered max defense for example) we assumed it did that AND took up an inventory slot. It was a poor assumption that we corrected after a reread of the rulebook. The other rule we missed for at least the first 2 games is that extra defense die on equipment in a hero’s inventory applies even if equipment is exhausted or not used during the turn.    
Likewise, the campaign guide is engaging and well written. It is clear that a lot of thought went into the campaign structure and which games feed into others as the game progresses.

The game play is fun, challenging, and suspenseful. You’ll find yourself fending off monsters and other players, solving quests, and attacking other players to hinder their success. Thanks to endless permutations of scenarios, quests, monsters, guilds, heroes, and equipment, the game is never predictable. There are 11 different scenarios in the box to choose from (6 scenarios are required in a full campaign) and each scenario has multiple quests. There are 12 different heroes in the selection pool. Even if you manage to exhaust every possible combination of quests, scenarios, and heroes in the box, the publisher has released numerous expansions available for the base game that will keep your busy.
One thing I really love about the game play in Arcadia Quest is that it’s easy to switch strategy mid-game. I’ve played a lot of games that inherently impose penalties for strategy shifts so if you realize partway through a game you’re off track, there’s no recovery. AQ isn’t one of them. It offers a flexibility that lets less experienced players stay in the game as long as they’re willing to learn from their mistakes and correct course.
Win Condition: be the first player to complete required quests

Inputs: strategic positioning of your heroes on the board, battle strength of your heroes
Strategy Tip: Position your heroes so that you can step in to finish off any difficult monster tied into a player vs environment quest that another player has almost entirely decimated on their turn. It will be an easy kill for you and then you can steal the quest out from under the other player. Bonus – if the other player’s heroes have been weakened by their battle with the monster you can also annihilate one of their heroes to complete an additional quest.
My husband suggested that the heroes are quite unbalanced. Drafting heroes is always a personal experience for me.  I love magic so I chose Seth, sneaking past monsters seemed like a no brainer in terms of viable 20180924_223300strategies since I got clobbered so often in Descent so I chose Wisp, and the appeal of giving  wounds on defense rolls seemed brilliant to discourage player attacks against me so I chose Spike.
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Chris drafted his picks based on statistical outcomes improved by heroes stats and abilities and chose Diva, Zazu, and Scarlet.
I won five of the six games and the campaign overall. 20180924_223821
This win pattern is an anomaly for us; he typically wins more of the games we play no matter the game mechanism. So maybe he has a point. A quick search through the board game forums online turns up numerous posts by players discussing the advantages the heroes I drafted have over the rest of the selection pool. Also, any built-in advantage some heroes have over others at the beginning of a campaign is going to be compounded as a campaign continues as Arcadia Quest feeds success with rewards that improve chances of success in later games – title privileges, the ability to choose the next scenario, and equipment upgrades. Leveling events or house rules could be incorporated to prevent runaway leads given the unbalanced hero abilities and advantages. Here are some that I suggest (use one or more):
~Drafting modification where the heroes are separated into tiers and each player can only draft the same amount of heroes from a given tier as his opponents.
~Extra coins going into the upgrade phase for the player whose heroes killed the least amount of monsters (because the monsters are bribing you to turn to their side, promising a place for you after Arcadia falls).
~Loser of each game selects the next game in the campaign instead of the winner.
~Confiscation: when a hero kills another hero they may swap out any of that hero’s inventory with the hero’s who made the kill.

Just writing up this review has me itching to play more Arcadia Quest. We have several of the Arcadia Quest expansions including Inferno, Hell in a Box, Poison Dragon, and Beyond the Grave. I’m torn between immediately replaying this base game or diving into one of the expansions next. Whichever I choose, I’ll be playing against the kids (any of the games should play well for kids 9+) since my husband is a bit soured on the title after losing so many times to me. Smile 


-------------------------------------------------Publisher: CMON Games
Players: 1-4 (We played with 2)
Actual Playing Time (vs the guideline on the box): About 60-90 minutes per session in the campaign
Game type: dice rolling, grid movement
Rating:

Jenni’s rating scale:
OUI: I would play this game again; this game is ok. I probably would not buy this game myself but I would play it with those who own it and if someone gave it to me I would keep it.
OUI OUI: I would play this game again; this game is good. I would buy this game.
OUI OUI OUI: I LOVE THIS GAME. I MUST HAVE THIS GAME. 
NON: I would not play this game again. I would return this game or give it away if it was given to me.











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