Arcadia Quest: Inferno
This will review both Arcadia Quest and Arcadia Quest: Inferno with differences noted when needed. Both are standalone games that can be combined as expansions for one another.
Theme and Mechanics
In arcadia quest, players control guilds of 3 heroes that are fighting evil and each other to complete 3 quests before the other guilds do. There is an overarching story and campaign, with players improving their guilds abilities and equipment from game to game. The theme and mechanics work well together, but the mechanics to really reinforce the theme that much, but it also doesn't seem overly abstracted.
On a players turn, they will chose one of their 3 heroes to activate. That hero will get a movement and an attack. Every character gets 3 movement, and movement can be spent to open doors and use portals as well as move one space. A players attack depends on what equipment they have. Players will roll a number of attack dice based on equipment and abilities, and will hit on sword results if using a melee weapon, and bow results if using a ranged weapon. Both types of attacks will hit on a crit result, and the crit result can be re-rolled (in addition to providing one hit). Players can attack each other, and the defending player will get defense dice based on equipment and abilities, and will block one damage for each success roll (defense also has a crit result). Monsters will get to attack players in reaction to movements or attacks, and will provide gold when killed. Equipment is exhausted after each use and cannot be used again until a player rests. When a player rests, they regain dead allies and refresh all their equipment. Explore markers can be picked up if you end your turn on them for a reward (health potion, refresh potion, extra turn portion, or trap). Enemies each have their own stats and abilities represented by their cards, and are controlled by the opposing players when activated. Each game has PvP quests for each player (the quest is completed by killing a character of that players guild) and 3 unique quests dependent on the scenario which will award titles and special equipment. The first player to complete 3 quests (one of which must be a PvP quest) wins.
In Arcadia quest inferno, some equipment and abilities will produce "damnation". These tokens will be placed on characters, and will effect the results of some combats and other game effects in a negative manner, like a sort of karma mechanism. For example, a very powerful sword may require that a player take damnation when they use it, and a demon's attack may gain one extra die per damnation on the target.
Also in inferno, there are angels that can be rescued and added to your guild. There are 2 paths to choose on a campaign, and each path has certain angels associated with it. One path will allow you to rescue those angels, while the other will make them your enemies.
Also in inferno, there are brimstone cards, which are events that are triggered by players by spending movement points while on their space.
After each game titles are awarded for completing specific quests, and awards are assigned (least deaths, most gold, game winner, etc) and (if playing the campaign) players draft a new set of equipment and use gold earned in game to purchase new and better equipment and gain penalties based on the number of times the character died. Equipment and characters are kept for the duration of a campaign (but death penalties are discarded after 1 scenario), consisting of 6 scenarios.
Art and Components
I love the art for this game. It's very cartoony and cute. The cards don't all have unique art on them, though. The components are very good. The board is made up of very large, thick cardboard tiles. The cards are the mini sized cards of decent quality, and character cards are full sized (both heroes and enemies). The player boards are thin card stock. There are a TON of miniatures for every character in the game (enemies and heroes), but the soft plastic can be droopy. There are a lot of good quality cardboard bits for the explore tokens, spawn tokens, portals, doors, coins, health and death markers.
Replability and Expansions
Replayability is extremely high because of the number of characters and equipment cards available. Each campaign plays out differently because the scenarios will be different on each play through of a campaign (except the first and the last scenario, which will be the same each time you play a particular campaign). In addition to the variation in scenarios and guild character combinations and equipment combinations, there are a TON of expansions.
Arcadia Quest: Beyond the Grave adds a new scenario, new enemies, and a few new heroes. This expansion also adds RIP cards that trigger events and can be used by spending movement points (much like the brimstone cards). The scenario is a shortened 4 game non-branching scenario focusing on ghosts, Frankenstein, and zombies.
Arcadia Quest: The Nameless Campaign is a promo scenario that is difficult to find, but adds a "new" scenario, which is the exact same as the base game scenario, but replaces the bosses with harry potter like villains.
Arcadia Quest: Pets adds a new campaign, and adds pets that can be used in any campaign. Pets are adorable little figures that can be added to your heroes in your guild. Each turn, the pets can move either before or after your heroes turn, and they provide extra abilities for heroes adjacent to them. Pets cannot attack. The pets can be leveled up between scenarios of a campaign.
In addition to these, there is a seemingly endless amount of extra characters you can buy, extra pets, a scenario book that combines both the base game and inferno into a single campaign, and 4 dragon scenarios that are cooperative and can be added to the end of any campaign for one final epic battle.
The Up Side
Tons of replayability. The game gets way more fun after a scenario or two when you get to start making cool combinations of characters and equipment with synergy. I really like the exploding dice mechanic, it makes combat more exciting when you start to get crits and do a lot of damage in an underdog, ill advised combat. The game looks great with the tile art and all the minis on the board. Drafting a guild at the start of a scenario is really fun. The best part about this game is finding cool combos. With all the extra stuff, there is SO much to explore in terms of characters, team building, and combo building.
The Down Side
Set up takes way too long. There's a lot of digging through tiles to set up the map, and then seeding it with all the enemies, doors, and portals and it is very tedious. I know this is "first world problems" but you're going to need at least 2 large boxes (probably 3) to contain everything if you go all out on collecting this game, which only makes the set up worse.
For those not a fan of randomness, the combat is all dice rolling randomness. With the crits, there can be UNLIKELY victories that should never happen. It can be frustrating if your one attack guy annihilates my guy with 6 defense because I rolled poorly and you got a ton of crits. Luckily though, death is not so bad (you just resurrect with a rest action and are none the worse off... until next game).
Over the length of the campaign, their could be a run away leader problem. The game does a lot to try to prevent this (only able to save 1 coin, only one death penalty per character, death penalties discarded by healing and after one game), but if some one gets a good combo of equipment on the right character, they could be pretty unstoppable (like spike with a lot of defense).
The first game of a campaign is FAR less interesting than the subsequent games. (because everyone has the same basic starting equipment and not much to combo with)
The down side of any campaign game, getting the same group together enough times to complete it can be challenging.
WARNING: Masmorra: Dungeons of Arcadia IS NOT an expansion for Arcadia Quest. It is a stand alone only game in the Arcadia Quest universe, and cannot be combined with Arcadia Quest
I love this as a light hearted don't-take-to-seriously beat 'em up game. I've played through 3 complete campaigns, and I can't wait to get a group together for the pets campaign, still. It doesn't seem to get old.
8.5 out of 10