There is War in Arcadia – the human population has been driven out of the city, and are determined to get back in – will your guild be the first one to re-take the heart of the city and defeat the villain behind the occupation? It’s time to find out in Arcadia Quest.
Cool Mini Or Not have recently released Arcadia Quest: Inferno, a stand-alone game set in the world of Arcadia, but today at Games Quest we’re going to take a look back to where it all began in 2014, to the original Arcadia Quest: what is this place? And is the game worth getting? Let’s find out!
Arcadia Quest: What’s in the box?
Arcadia Quest is made by Cool Mini Or Not, so you can expect a box packed full of miniatures. Specifically, this core game comes with 16 heroes (enough for up to 4 players to each form a guild of 3 Heroes) and a selection of monsters who will stand in their way, ranging from the puny little Goblin Archer, via the Orc Marauder, up through Minotaurs and Demonesses, to the Vampire Lord behind it all.
The miniatures are nice, good quality and detail, with a fun, cartoon-y appearance. If you’re planning on doing a lot of 4-player games, the 12 hero limit is a little restrictive, but as the game is designed to be played in campaign mode, you’ll use the same team for half-a-dozen scenarios or so, and with various approaches to building or drafting a guild, things still shouldn’t get stale too quickly.
Aside from the Miniatures, Arcadia Quest comes with 9 terrain tiles, lots of cardboard tokens, and several decks of cards to represent equipment, upgrades, heroes, monsters and villains. The cards are solid, and very clear, with the minimum of relevant information contained on them, and no need to worry about fancy decoration obscuring key things you need to read. Overall, I really like the aesthetics of Arcadia Quest, and thought they helped make the game fun.
The terrain boards in my copy of Arcadia Quest came slightly warped, which could be a bit distracting, but it’s neither especially serious nor game-breaking, and should easily flatten out after a day or so under some heavy books.
So it looks nice, but how does it play?
There are 12 Heroes in the base game, but you can assign them to guilds however you like, adding the plastic bases as reminders.
Starting equipment: It tells you how many dice to roll, and what symbols you need (yellow), what type of weapon it is (red), and any special powers (blue).
In each game of Arcadia Quest, you control a Guild of 3 Heroes. On your turn, you can either activate a Hero, or rest the entire Guild – activating allows a Hero to move and/or attack: 3 spaces of movement, and an attack based on the cards they have.
To make an attack, you “exhaust” a weapon or spell, by putting a token on it, and roll an appropriate number of attack dice – attacks are divided into melee (your space or spaces next to it) and ranged (anywhere you can see), and the dice contain melee and ranged success symbols, along with Critical Hits (“Crits”) which are always classed as a success, whatever you’re doing, as well as providing bonus effects for some characters or attack cards.
Most of the time you’ll be fighting guys like this…
At least to start with in Arcadia Quest, if you attack a minion monster, it will probably just take damage equal to number of hits you rolled – and probably won’t be that difficult to kill.
… but it’s much cooler (if slightly intimidating) to go up against the big boys!
By contrast bigger monsters and opposing heroes will have defence dice to roll in an attempt to cancel the effects of your attack – defence dice have blank faces (that do nothing), faces with shields (cancels a hit), and more faces with crits that cancel hits, and have the potential to trigger special abilities for some characters.
If you’re really unlucky, you’ll find yourself facing a villain or hero who can re-roll failed attempts to save themselves!
That’s it! I love how simple combat is in Arcadia quest – you only need to reference two cards for an attack (Hero + Attack card being used), and 2 cards for defence (Defending character + any defensive equipment) maximum. The iconography is simple, and it only takes a matter of moments to resolve any given conflict.
So it’s a fight to the death then? Not quite
The PvP Quests are fairly self-explanatory
Most of the mechanics of Arcadia Quest are about how you move, and how you fight. However, there is definitely more to how each game plays than just killing the nearest thing in sight.
Every scenario in Arcadia Quest will have missions, divided into 2 types: Player vs Player and Player vs Environment. Player vs Player missions will typically just be “Kill a Green Hero” “Kill a Yellow,” and there isn’t really much possibility to vary these.
The Player versus Environment quests are where Arcadia Quest has more scope for variety and can involve killing a certain number of monsters, killing a specific boss monster, finding quest tokens, or occupying specific areas for a given period of time.
The game ends as soon as 1 player completes 3 missions (2 in a 2-player game), provided at least one of those missions is a Player-vs-Environment one
I really liked the fact that they made it a requirement to complete at least 1 PvE quest, as it adds a lot more scope to the game – you can’t win by just slaughtering your opponents (although it will slow them down), you have to engage with the monsters and the map around you to win.
You will also find that certain scenarios in Arcadia Quest come with Rewards, and those rewards are most commonly assigned to Player-vs-Environment quests, meaning that your characters can acquire an upgraded weapon mid-game if you approach the scenario as more than just a brawl.
Look what I found!
Arcadia Quest has very consciously adopted an Arcade Game feel (the clue is in the name), and there are lots of nice little touches which reinforce that: killing monsters earns you coins, heroes and enemies respawn on the map in their starting spots, and there are loot crates lying around for you to pick up.
The loot crates are a fun addition to Arcadia Quest – they add a bit of thought to where you move through on your way somewhere, and discovering new stuff is always nice – unless it’s a trap!
Each token is placed on the board as a Purple counter with a question mark, and it’s only when you collect it that you can discover what it is. Traps will immediately do 1 damage to your hero, so you need to be careful if you’re near death, but it’s generally worth the risk, as most of the time, it will be treasure chests (extra gold at the end of the scenario), or potions (heal, refresh attack cards, take an extra action).
Tired Now. Need to rest
Most of the time in Arcadia Quest, on your turn, you’ll want to activate a hero – that’s how you can move around the map, scoop up tokens, fight monsters and other heroes. Eventually though, you’ll have to rest.
When you rest you don’t get to activate any heroes on your turn. However, you do get to refresh (remove tokens from) all of your attack cards, and re-spawn all of your dead heroes, placing them back in your starting area, or next to one of your other heroes. Again, I thought that this was an aspect of Arcadia Quest worked well – there’s no perma-death, so losing a hero doesn’t need to spoil the fun of the game, but it takes a turn to get them back, and there will be consequences in the next game, so you can’t be too cavalier with the lives of your heroes. Every guild has a starting area indicated on each map, so it makes sense to return heroes there, but allowing you to reappear next to one of your other heroes stops players from being that guy who just camps out on spawn points and shoots them in the back of the head the moment they reappear.
Just the one? Or to death and beyond?
Arcadia Quest is designed to be played in campaign mode – you certainly can play standalone games, but it will take some of the fun out of the levelling up.
The scenarios of the base game focus on a series of concentric battles moving ever-closer to the heart of the city of Arcadia itself – you play 3 of the outer scenarios, 2 of the middle ones, and then the grand finale.
Diva really isn’t going to be bothered by this, but for Maya it’s crippling.
After each scenario in Arcadia Quest, there is a bit of bookkeeping to do – first of all, heroes draw a “Death Curse” card for each time they died during the game – it may have no effect, limit their access to equipment, or even penalise them in-game for the next scenario, before it is discarded.
Some equipment has a direct replacement at a higher level
Players also get to draft upgraded spells, armour and weapons, which they can then buy using the coins they earned throughout the scenario, allowing them to do more damage in the coming games. The cost of the card will always be relative to the current level – so a card might cost a fortune at Level 1, but be noticeably worse than a cheap card you buy at level 5.
The Goblin Archer is always going to be the weakest enemy, but he’s a lot tougher by the time you reach level 5
However, it’s still important that you do upgrade your equipment: Every scenario in Arcadia Quest has a “level” defined by where it sits in the campaign, and this “level” will determine how tough the monsters you fight are, as well as the standard of weapons you can access – if you don’t take advantage of the new options, you can be sure the monsters will.
Again, I liked this aspect of the game, it’s still fairly simple and straightforward, but it means that you can power up your hero over the course of a campaign, and still have a meaningful challenge when you fight the monsters.
Arcadia Quest: Overall Thoughts
Arcadia Quest is a fun game, with a lot going for it: the art-style is nice, and the mechanics are simple enough to jump in and start playing quickly. The fact that the game is designed for campaign-style play was a major positive for us, and I liked being able to level up gear as we went along.
Like a lot of Cool Mini Or Not games, Balance is not Arcadia Quest’s strongest suit, and some heroes are clearly better than others: this is part of the reason I’m not a great fan of this with 2, as the player with the better guild can easily become a runaway leader, getting better weapons, leading to more kills, producing more money, and the whole thing spirals out of control. In 3-4 player games, shifting alliances, or simply all ganging up on a player who appears too strong, can help put things back on a more even keel.
If you’re going to play this a lot with 4, then I think eventually you’d want to add some expansion content, but you’ll be spoiled for choice when you do and, most importantly, there’s still a good fun experience to be had with what’s here – 8/10.
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I'm an avid board and card-gamer, still trying to figure out where Board Gaming fits in my new life as a dad.
I enjoy thematic games (Fantasy, Cthulhu, etc) and play a lot of cooperative games, along with a bit of competitive gaming (currently Dice Masters and Destiny) when I can make it out of the house.Competitively. When not playing games, I can be found doing a mundane office job, or working on my own Blog, Fistful of Meeples.