Last night a few of us got together and played Arcadia Quest for the first time. I have to tell you that, while you can go out and read on and on about a game before playing, prep yourself and friends by watching video tutorials, reading the rules until you go cross-eyed… nothing will prepare you for what awaits you in this game.
What struck me right off the bat is the PvPvE system. Yea… PvPvE. For the unitiated that’s Player vs Player vs Environment. What this means in Arcadia Quest is, unlike other games, you have no Game Master. Wait what?!?! No Game Master? We’re all doomed! Who’s flying this thing?! Oh right, that would be… *ahem*… sorry, got carried away.
In this chibi infested game, you play through scenarios that place you in environments within parts of a castle, working your way to the center to take back the city. To do so you must complete a series of quests. Completing quests requires you to kill members of opposing guilds (PvP style) as well as locate items, kill monsters scattered throughout the city, or liberate city folk (PvE style). What makes Arcadia Quest somewhat unique is a system that only forces reaction from the monsters upon interaction. Huh?
So there’s a room full of monsters ahead. The door is wide open and one is peering out. You run past… oops! As you run past the monster, alarmed at your sudden presence (Hey, the guy is just trying to to his job okay? He has a wife, baby on the way, and a horde of mouths to feed already. His one job is to protect THIS room from adventurers. So back off! Sorry… sorry, it’s been a stressfull day and Bob over there is really getting on everyone’s nerves) he takes a swing at you. Yea. It’s really, truly like that.
So attacking monsters or moving past a zone next to them forces them to react to you. Why not skirt past them and just do your thing? Because those monsters could hide quest items that are only available from doing that scenario. Okay, big deal. Eventually you’re going to play all the scenarios and get to the center of the castle and… huh? What do you mean we don’t play all of the scenarios? What do you mean there’s a limited number of quest items?! You mean Jason is the only one that gathered it and finished three quests and now the scenario is over?!?! What the HELL?!!!!! Again, it’s just like that.
There are eleven available scenarios in the base box, but you only play six. The winner of each scenario picks the next until you reach the middle. Meaning you don’t get to explore everything and it may be up to somebody else as to where you go next. You’re going to have to plan and play carefully as, after each scenario, the next one could be more difficult.
But…. Jason was the only one to get that hammer!!! How will I be able to survive the onslaught of stage two?
Oh right, we did mention that the monsters level after every scenario. Right?
That’s okay, so do you.
Random items, gold for kills, gold for completing quests… basically, gather gold. Amass as much as you can. At the end of every scenario you and your friends will have the opportunity to draft new equipment and skills for guild members. Getting upgrades will prep you for the upcoming battles of progressively more challenging enemies and quests. Find those combinations that will help you against the areas as well as those that will help you take down the other guilds. There are plenty to choose from, so take your time and think through your strategy.
Our take away at the end of the night? Arcadia Quest is easily one of the best tabletop games out there. Easy to learn and quick to play, it will have you running for the next scenario, and a few expansions!