Warhammer Quest the Adventure Card Game by Fantasy Flight Games is a reinvention of the classic miniature ‘Quest’ game by Games Workshop. In the original game, a band of adventurers entered the dungeon, fought monsters, encountered peril and if things went well escaped with their lives and forgotten treasures. Thankfully, that is still the premise of WQACG.
How to play – in a nutshell
To setup the game you pick one of the 6 included quests and each player (1-4) picks a character(s). The specific quest will tell you how to build the quest decks; which include the locations you will encounter, the monsters you fight, the items you may find as well as what happens if you win or lose. This part is cool because this game strings 5 of the quests together to create an ongoing campaign, the sixth quest is basically a mega dungeon. It also suggests that future sets will come up with more quests, monsters, adventurers etc. Let’s be honest it wouldn’t be FFG if they didn’t set a game up for expansion and WQACG is ripe for it. Based on how quickly it’s selling and the number of fans, an expansion is practically a guarantee.
There are four characters to choose from: a Warrior Priest, a Dwarf Ironbreaker, an Elf Waywatcher, and a Bright Wizard. If you aren’t familiar with Warhammer – Cleric, Fighter, Ranger, Blow-stuff-up Wizard. Each character has four basic actions that can, through the course of a campaign, be upgraded.
The four actions are Attack, Aid, Explore and Rest and while each character has those actions each character’s actions works differently giving each a distinct feel. On your turn you play an action and follow what the card says. Your action will give you a number of positive dice and a number of negative dice for every monster you are currently engaged with. This is FFG so of course these are custom dice.
The game precedes like this as each character plays actions, battles monsters, explores the dungeon, collecting loot and hopefully winning the quest based on the conditions of the quest card, which is not always kill the boss monster. If you are playing through the campaign win or lose in a quest you proceed to the next one in the campaign. Between each quest you return to town to lick your wounds. This is also where you can upgrade you basic action cards to more advanced action cards. You can also upgrade your equipment and in the one arbitrary rule increase the number of magic items you can carry. This rule is a throwback to the original game and I think really only exists for balance in the game so you can’t load up on magic items. I don’t like the rule from an RPG concept but I get it from a design perspective.
Monsters have AI that works surprisingly well for a non-tactical game. Monsters will charge players, snipe them, inflict various status effects and generally be a pain in the players’ ass. This works well to create a very active feeling dungeon game. It doesn’t give the depth of tactics that minis on a board would have but it does successfully distill that feeling into a card game. If you’ve played the Dungeons and Dragons Board games the AI is similar.
Your entire progress is tracked by the peril meter which makes things more difficult for you as you progress. If you are familiar with other games that use this mechanic, like Arkham Horror, getting to the end of the peril track does not cause a loss. Instead it just sits on the final space and continues to punish you.
They have managed to turn a board game into a card game and keep distinctive characters, monsters, dungeon locations and quests. The players really need to work together to plan their actions as this game can go south really fast.
In the last game we played things seemed to be going well and then as we entered the boss layer it just erupted and kicked all out asses. We were too bold, stormed in too fast and got swarmed. The previous time though we were too cautious and basically died the death of a thousand cuts on our way through the dungeon. You really need to balance your approach, too fast and you’ll get mobbed, too slow and you won’t have enough resources left.
You need to make choices that will both immediately help you but also consider the long game as an action played now won’t be available next turn. Do you take a hit to help ensure another players survival? Do you push ahead or try and clean up your back trail? The co-op element really comes out when you are all working together as a team to overcome the obstacles in front of you.
The game scales well from 2-4 players, solo play is also an option by playing two characters with no other special rules. The game is keyed to a higher degree of difficulty with the goal of making you work for it. Fortunately losing doesn’t stop your progression it just makes it harder. So you can finish the game without ever winning, which is kind of a unique feature. While there are only a handful of quests in the set the variability does provide a lot of replay.
I’ve seen the game compared to Space Hulk Death Angel and LoTR LCG. I have and like Death Angel but have never played the LoTR game. You can definitely see the framework to Death Angel underlying it. I also think this game pays homage to its original, miniatures game in the same way Death Angel does to Space Hulk. In terms of difficulty I’d say it’s similar and both have that impending doom feel. I also find that both games feel pretty fair and losses make you reflect on what you should have done and don’t just feel like randomly getting stomped beyond your control.
Another similar game I’ve played that comes to mind is Shadowrun Crossfire. A game I enjoyed but always felt like it was missing the story and the difficulty felt very arbitrary and out of control. A bad random seed right from the start can kill your game in Crossfire. I played WQACG on a Friday and sold Crossfire on Saturday. WQACG completely addressed all my issues with Crossfire to the point where I’d never want to play it again. I also have far more confidence in FFG to keep a product going than Catalyst games.
If you’ve read this far my love for this game should be pretty obvious. I think it’s great and has grown on me with repeated plays. It has also grabbed the attention of the people I’ve introduced it to. For our group this is a success.
I could grumble about the rule book. It isn’t perfect – it’s typical FFG. Trying to follow through the tutorial and learning from that alone will leave a lot of questions. But if you read it all through as well as the definition book it does answer most questions and the index is actually pretty good. The game also has a very active BBG forum for it with the designers answering a lot of questions until the official FAQ comes out.
If you enjoy co-op games and fantasy themes this game should definitely be on your radar. Even if you aren’t a fan of co-ops, like Pandemic, Forbidden Desert or Castle Panic (I’m kinda burned out on them myself) you should still consider this game as it appeals to the adventure side of the equation especially if you are an RPGer at heart. This game scratches a lot of itches. Grab your sword, grab your bow, use powerful magic to lay waste to your enemies and maybe, just maybe you’ll save the town in Warhammer Quest the Adventure Card Game.
Reviewed by Chris Groff