Published on May 14th, 2015 | by Kevin Sheath1
Arcadia Quest Review
Today we’re going to talk about the board game Arcadia Quest. I bloody love Arcadia Quest and now I’m going to write a long thing about how it plays and how much I love it. Then you’re going to read it and say “Well it sounds alright but where would I find the time to play it or people to play it with?” Then we’ll move on with our lives. Only my life will be best because it will contain Arcadia Quest.
But what is Arcadia Quest?
Have you seen games about dungeons? Games where there’s a bunch of oddly dressed people with swords or spells or whatever running around corridors killing goblins and orcs? It’s one of them. Do you like rolling some dice and saying things like “That’s enough to kill the goblin”? Of course you do. Even better, once you’ve killed that goblin you get a nice shiny (cardboard) gold coin for your gold coin collection.
Don’t go away, there’s more- you don’t just control one guy in this game, like you might in Hero Quest or something, you’ve got three. Every player (up to four players) has three heroes each. That’s your own little guild with a magic guy, a swords girl and a bow guy. Or something like that.
Every one of them has their own little stats, powers and equipment and every turn you’ll be moving one of them and attacking. Or attacking then moving one. So your turns are going to be pretty quick. Also you can kill the other people’s little folks. Just run up to them and twat them with your axe. Why would you do that? Well you get another coin for your coin pile AND you’ll have completed a quest. “Kill one of the blue team” is one of the quests. Completing a quest gives you another coin for doing it and yet another coin if you’re the first to do it. You need to complete a certain number of quests to win a level.
So you can win just by killing the other players?
No you can’t. You have to do at least one of the environment quests. These will be things like “Kill The Troll”, “Kill The Minotaur” or “Pick Up A Quest Token and move it somewhere”. Except they’d call that last one “Save The Eagles” or something like that. These quests are generally going to involve killing bigger monsters than the goblins and orcs. These are monsters with defence dice and special rules about their combat. Completing these quests gives you the coins for killing the monsters (a troll is three coins for example) as well as the coins for doing the quest. You’ll probably even get a reward item or a title that will give you some advantage later. Yes, you’ll want to do these quests alright. These quests are why you sat down at the table. There’s not enough of them for you to win by just doing these though so you’ll have to kill at least one other player.
How does the combat work?
I was just getting to that. It’s all about dice. Oh man, these dice. There’s the black dice- these are the attack dice. They’ve got little pictures of swords and bows on them. Three swords and two bows. If you’re doing a melee attack, you’re after rolling them swords. You’ll say “I’m going to attack with the axe using Grom” and put a little token on it to show you’ve used it. Let’s say the axe is worth three dice. You roll three and it turns up two swords and a bow. That’s enough to kill a goblin but not an orc and goddamnit, you targeted the orc so he’s hurt but now he’s going to have a go at you back. So the player to your right looks at the orc card and it’s saying he gets to move one space and attack with three dice. They roll three crits. Balls.
You see the sixth side of the dice, the one I didn’t mention, is a little explosion symbol. That’s the crit. It means one hit but it also means you get to roll one more die. So this orc is suddenly rolling three more dice on you. And he gets two sword and another crit. Another roll and this one’s a bow. Ok, it’s over. He’s got six hits on you. You’ll probably be killed. It’s time to try and defend and not be killed.
Right, so how do you defend?
White dice! Lovely white defence dice. They’ve got a little shield on one side that means you block one hit. Then there’s a crit symbol that works just like the attack crit- you block a hit and roll another die. And then on the other four sides? Nothing. That means you look at your equipment, “Right, I’ve got four defence dice and two re-rolls” and you roll four dice… and they’re all blank. Two re-rolls though! Two crits! Which means you get to roll another two… nothing. So four damage? How much health do I have left? Four. Grom’s dead.
Everyone around the table except you cheers. They get a gold coin each. Grom gets taken off the board. He gets a death token. He drops the treasure he was holding. You’re annoyed. Everyone else is happy. All is right with the world.
Of course it could all go the other way. Maybe you’re the one rolling crit after crit and you’ve got a power that means your crits do extra damage and you’ve not just killed this orc, you’ve gone over the overkill limit. That means the orc doesn’t even get to attack back, he just goes over to the graveyard tracker and doesn’t bother you again.
The ranged attacks (magic and arrows, that sort of thing) you want to be rolling bows and crits instead of swords and crits. There’s some rules about line of sight that I can’t be bothered going into but it’s simple enough. Then there’s the fact that you could just try running past the monsters without killing them- that’ll probably get you killed because they’ll get free attacks against you BUT maybe you have a load of defence dice or something. Anyway that’s combat. Did that sound complicated? It isn’t. Just think about you rolling a big handful of dice and laughing like a goon. Simple as that.
So when the monsters and heroes die are they just out the game?
No. Let’s deal with the heroes first. When you’re running around using your items you’re putting little tokens on the items which exhaust them. Eventually you’ll want to rest to take those tokens off so you can use the weapons again. That’s all you do for that turn, which is boring. You also get to bring your dead folks back though, which is exciting. You can either put them in your starting area or near any folks you still have alive on the board. They’re coming back with all their health back and all their weapons un-exhausted and you’re going to be laughing. Death is a minor setback. If you’re unlucky enough to get all three of your heroes killed then they’ll all have to go in the starting area but I don’t think I’ve seen that happen. Just do a rest before they all die, you’ll be fine.
Monsters. Remember I said the orc would go to the graveyard tracker and never bother you again? They might bother you again. See there are five spaces in the graveyard and once they’re full, those monsters are coming back. Possibly. You’ll be rolling two attack dice and seeing if there are any spawn points on the board that correspond. So this goblin first- two swords… there’s a two swords spot there, put him back on the board. Then this orc- sword and a crit. There isn’t one of those on the board, he goes back in the box. This hammer beastman? Two bows. But there’s already two guys there so that’s full, he’s back in the box.
It basically means that the route you thought was empty might now have two bloody great orcs in the way. Maybe it won’t though. Maybe the rolls all go in your favour and you just get to complete that last quest you needed.
You look at the quests and you see that you’ve won. Have some more gold coins. But wait, there’s more.
Is there more? This is already long and I want to do something else.
You don’t want to learn about the campaign shop? This is where you get to spend all the gold coins you’ve been collecting.
Ok, yes, I do want to spend the gold coins.
Of course you do. So here’s where the shop comes in. Between every level you’ll get dealt six equipment cards that are from that level and you’ll keep two, pass the rest on, keep two, pass the rest and then get two. Then you can buy three of those items with whatever gold you have. There are some great low price items in case you didn’t get any gold that will help you out but the pricy items are going to be the best ones. Things like big clubs that do extra damage against heroes. An ability that means your sword attacks can hit more than one target, maybe. Whatever, you then put all your new equipment on your heroes and you’re getting more attached to them after each level.
Then the winner gets to choose the next level. Which if you’re anything like me you’ll want to do straight away to try out your new stuff.
I should say at this point any gold you didn’t spend is lost (apart from one coin). This stops people stockpiling gold and ruining the game for everyone else. You spend it or you lose it. Its fine, you’ll be getting more. Also each hero only has four equipment slots so you’ll eventually be chucking some stuff out, which stops anyone having loads more equipment than you. So it’s good, it’s balanced.
What about these death curse tokens?
You’ll get a curse card for each one and you have to keep the highest numbered one. Most of them are numbered zero and say “No curse.” Those are the ones that the people playing with you will most likely be getting. The ones you’ll probably be getting say things like “Severe nosebleed” and will give you one less health and take up an equipment space. You will moan about how it isn’t fair and that you’ve had a severe nosebleed for three levels in a row now whereas Maya over there got three curse tokens and they ALL come up no curse? Whatever, it’s fine. Then the campaign continues.
Is this one of those games where you start a campaign and never finish it?
Turns out it’s not. The levels play quite quickly (under an hour per level usually) and each campaign has six levels in it. So that’s six hours. Maybe a couple more for set-up time. If that was a video game you’d be done with it in a day and then on twitter complaining to the developers about how short it was. You can get a few pals together and knock out an entire campaign in a day.
As you don’t do all the levels in the book in a campaign you can do all the levels you didn’t do another time and you’ll only have to repeat the last level. Then you’ll have done all the levels.
Then you’ll probably want expansions.
The first expansion is out now and called “Beyond The Grave” and there’s all sorts of zombies, skeletons and ghosts in there, as well as two new heroes and some more map tiles and equipment cards. You get a whole new campaign book full of new quests for you to do. I haven’t played it yet but I have it and it looks fantastic.
You like it then?
Mate, I love it. We’ve done two campaigns already. The first of them went consistently badly for me but I wasn’t annoyed. It’s just too much fun to play. The quest system means once your guys have been killed once by another guild there’s really not much incentive for them to kill you again. You’re tougher to kill than most monsters and will earn them less gold so you won’t just be picked on relentlessly by one guy with a grudge and that crit dice system means even if your equipment is crap there’s still a chance you’ll roll a load of crits and sneak a victory. It means every roll counts.
So everyone should buy it?
Well maybe not. Maybe you like that everyone vs the dungeon master style dungeon crawler. Maybe you’re a big Descent fan and you’re looking down your nose at the comparative simplicity on offer here. Maybe you hate the art style. Honestly, if you’re looking at the pictures here and you just wish they had normal sized heads this might not be the game for you.
Maybe you’re not on board with the competitive nature. You want everyone on the same side trying to kill monsters together. That’s not this game. This one you cheer when your friends die, whether you killed them or not. You might want to look at Castle Ravenloft or something. I haven’t played that so I don’t know if it’s any good.
Are you done?
I mean I haven’t mentioned that you can buy extra heroes for it. There are some people on this internet thing that are upset that there were a bunch of kickstarter exclusive heroes but to be honest you get 12 heroes in the box, you get 2 in the expansion and you can buy Nibbles for less than a tenner. Nibbles is a giant rabbit that eats people. You’ll probably want that one. You could spend over 200 quid on ebay getting all the kickstarter exclusive ones but that’s the behaviour of a lunatic. Just relax. You don’t need all the exclusive heroes. Even though there’s one that looks like David Bowie in Labyrinth.
Aside from that you’ve got a grand game here. A game to invite your pals round and make a night of. There’s a bunch of nice looking miniatures that you can spend your evenings painting, there’s plenty of scope for more expansions and there’s core gameplay mechanics that are just fun. As I might have mentioned, I bloody love it.
Well it sounds alright but where would I find the time to play it or people to play it with?
There you go.