A Hybrid Of Two Great Warrior Races - Warhammer Quest ACG Review

How soon before the Adventure Card Game format becomes a new "thing" in board gaming? We already had the Pathfinder ACG which has 3 iterations already and rumours are suggesting a 4th is in the works. I've only really delved properly into the second one being Skulls and Shackles and even then I've got a ton of content to get through before that one is done and dusted. Let's just say it's going to take me a considerable while. But it's good fun despite its flaws and I think the concept of having the fun of levelling up a character condensed into a card game is a good one. We all like to get new loot, new upgrades, new "shinies" when we play RPG games, it's strangely addictive. I think if life were more like that we'd pay more attention at self-development at work. Imagine if you worked extra hours to get that job done for your boss and then found a crate on your desk containing those new Bracers of Ogre Strength you always wanted, wouldn't that be cool, if somewhat surreal?

The ACG trend is dipping its toes into the board game world further with Warhammer Quest, a license which has a cult following like no other. Personally I never played the original game, but for nostalgia sake alone I'd happily do so, after all I used to play Warhammer and old dungeon crawls like Hero Quest still hold a place in my heart (that reminds me, I really need to get Dungeon Saga played). People went giddy over the reveal by Fantasy Flight Games and now it's arrived and naturally everyone is keen to find out if it was worth the wait. So grab your sword, axe, bow or hammer and journey with me!



Designer:  Adam & Brady Sadler
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Age: 14+
Players: 1-4
Time: 30-60 minutes
RRP: £29.99


Do I Even Need To Describe The Plot?


In standard fantasy form you will control a group of adventurers and seek out to complete quests as part of an on-going campaign. On the way you will battle monsters, gain new items and improve the abilities of your character. Keeping with the Warhammer Quest license you have access to a Dwarf Ironbreaker, an Elven Waywatcher, a Human Warrior Priest and a Human Bright Wizard. Each character has four action cards to use (Attack, Aid, Explore and Rest). Even though the initial actions are the same for everyone, the degree of the character's competency and any additional special abilities are unique to that player. For example a Wizard may be able to attack multiple targets at range, but an Ironbreaker can pull enemies off other players.

During each quest you will be aiming to destroy any monsters that get in your way while exploring the various locations in order to complete the scenario. But you'll have to work as a team. You can't complete the quest without exploring, but you also need to fight enemies off you otherwise you risk getting hurt during your action. No-one is indestructible so resting is essential, but your teammate might be in desperate need of assistance and require your aid to boost his next action. And once you use a specific action, you can't use it again until you utilise your one action that refreshes all your cards, again this is different for each character.

Once you manage to complete the final objective of the quest, you win and then get to slowly upgrade your character with new gear and upgraded action cards before you attempt the next quest in the campaign. As well as the campaign, you can also do the standalone "Delve" quest which takes longer, but incorporates elements of character progression within the quest itself.


There's No "I" in Warhammer Quest, But There's A Hammer!


The gameplay is relatively straightforward although being Fantasy Flight, they again go with their tried method of giving you a small basic rulebook and then a reference guide. I've never been a fan of this as I find myself constantly flicking through rule books trying to find the specific point I need. Why not just have one rulebook with an index at the back, would that be too much to ask? The rules to Warhammer Quest ACG shouldn't take too long to grasp, but the timings of activations and enemy attacks may result in a few re-checks.

Despite the fact you'll be rules checking relatively frequently in your first few games, I still don't know where the publisher got their 30-60 minute time limit from. Perhaps we weren't exploring fast enough or something but 90 minutes seems more likely for a typical quest session and that's not even counting the Delve quest which may even take longer. I don't deny that with time you could probably get that down to 60 minutes per quest, but that's assuming you're not deliberating what actions are best to take with the other players, which let's face it, everyone is doing in the game or checking any rules whatsoever.

The action cards are a neat feature, but they will start getting repetitive before the late game. The key attraction with them is balancing out how many of them you're going to exhaust before you force yourself to refresh them all by playing your "lesser" action. This will involve some deliberation with the other players as you work out who has what left. Add to this the incredibly useful "Aid" action to boost their next move and manipulating the engagement of enemies and you've got a strong feeling of co-operation present here. This is something that can sometimes feel missing or hidden away in co-op games, but here it's always on point.


Everyone's A Hybrid!


Two different games instantly sprung to mind when I start reading through the rules and going through the tutorial mode (which I STRONGLY recommend you do before your first main game) - that being the aforementioned Pathfinder ACG, but also unexpectedly of the Lord of the Rings LCG. The mechanics of both games have obviously been a strong influence in the design of Warhammer Quest ACG. On the one hand you have the progression of your characters, levelling up as you complete each quest and acquiring new gear and abilities. There's the classic appeal of Pathfinder. But having to explore locations, engage enemies and dealing with enemies in the shadows (or staging area) is straight out of the LOTR LCG.

Warhammer Quest ACG is best described as a hybrid of these two systems incorporating the elements of both into the core mechanics. However if you've ever played either of those two games you'll quickly see that it's very dialled down in comparison. It never reaches the same level of immersion and tactical choices as Lord of the Rings and Pathfinder definitely has more variety in the monsters you encounter and your available upgrades. The narrative in Warhammer Quest is pretty basic so you can sometimes forget what you were here for when you're flipping action cards about.

That's not say it's done badly here though. You just have to accept that it's a more limited setting here, but that in turn makes it easier to grasp and work with. There's no deckbuilding for specific quests and strategies here, but you've still got some important decisions to make each turn and you'll still get some cool upgrades unique to your character, just not a ton of them.


Starter Set Plus?


In terms of content, there is enough in the box to give you a decent taster of this system and what Warhammer Quest ACG has to offer. It is however a beefed up starter set at the end of the day. The main quest will take several hours/sessions to finish and you always have the longer Delve scenario as well, but certainly eventually you'll complete them and be waiting for Fantasy Flight to pump out more content for this, which you know they almost certainly will. And they have plenty to add, more items, monsters, characters, quests, locations you name it. I guarantee future expansions will go down the route of "more of the same good stuff" and in essence that's all you really need.

But for what you get as an experience that can be repeated, it's still pretty good value, as the game itself doesn't fetch a particularly high price point, being a card game at the end of the day and not having to waste time adding miniatures for the sake of adding miniatures. It's considerably cheaper as an entry point compared to its two main rivals by far.



Verdict


Warhammer Quest ACG borrows its mechanics heavily from two big board game lineups, both of which are solid and highly entertaining in their own right. However despite being a fun game, Warhammer Quest ACG doesn't quite meet the same level as its rivals. It provides a basic narrative with gorgeous artwork and challenging gameplay, but doesn't reach the immersion of Lord of the Rings LCG. It features the same feeling of progression and upgrading your character, but not to the same level of variety and customization that Pathfinder ACG manages.

However what it does achieve is a satisfying hybrid mix of the two. It is by far cheaper and easier to step into this world than the Lord of the Rings universe with all its expansions and the rules are considerably less fiddly and ambiguous despite being made by Fantasy Flight. It's simpler to play and teach and despite only having four actions to pick from, your level of choices don't feel too restricted. The characters feel unique and different in their playstyle especially once you acquire their legendary loot or upgrade your action cards.

There's enough here to give you a good amount of fun until Fantasy Flight knock out some more content, which this is going to need at some stage. Taking the best of both worlds, yet dialling it down a tone, it's worth giving a try if you enjoy co-op card games.

If you are interested in this game you can find a copy at your friendly local gaming store - http://www.findyourgamestore.co.uk/



YOU WILL LIKE THIS GAME IF:


You were a fan of Warhammer Quest and want to pinch your nostalgic roots.


You enjoy co-op games where there's a big emphasis on actually helping each other frequently.


You were intrigued by Lord of the Rings LCG & Pathfinder but felt the entry point was too high.



YOU WILL NOT LIKE THIS GAME IF:


You are expecting a card game replica of Warhammer Quest - it's based on the theme, but that's all.


You feel the dice can be too punishing.


You already enjoy Pathfinder & Lord of the Rings for their complexity and variety - this is a hybrid and won't reach those same levels.

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