by Paul Feldman
Fantasy Flight Games’ Warhammer Quest: The Adventure Card Game feels more like an old school Dungeons & Dragons hack-and-slash sesh than a card game, but without all the pre-game prep a traditional tabletop RPG calls for. Calculating encumbrance might have been a great way to pass the time in Algebra II, but now we’re all grown-ass adults who have to argue with strangers on the Internet. Who has the time?
Like the other two FFG games I’ve reviewed, Conquest and Forbidden Stars, WQ: TACG borrows from a universe already established by Games Workshop, only this time it’s the world of Warhammer Fantasy instead of the grim darkness of Warhammer 40,000. To me, Warhammer Fantasy always felt like the edgier European cousin of Dungeons & Dragons. The biggest difference? Guns. Black powder rifles, pistols and cannons abound. Some fantasy purists might decry the presence of firearms in what would otherwise be considered a High Fantasy setting, but if there’s one thing we’ve learned in the last 30 years, it’s that Games Workshop doesn’t give a f*****************k. And, much like its sci-fi counterpart Warhammer 40,000, the world of Warhammer Fantasy is a much more grim, dark, skull-bedecked place than your average D&D campaign setting. It’s recently been rebooted as Warhammer: Age of Sigmar, but the vibe is the same.
In Warhammer Quest: The Adventure Card Game, a plague has decimated the population of the city of Schompf. The source of the plague has been traced to the sewers, and the evil that dwells within. You and up to three other intrepid adventurers are about to step into a horrific netherworld of carnage, monsters, lethal traps and untold riches. Let’s Ride!
But first, who will you play?
A Dwarf Ironbreaker
A Wood Elf Waywatcher,
A Warrior Priest
And a Bright Wizard
FFG’s also already released two expansion packs, adding Witch Hunter and Troll Slayer to your choice of characters.
Next you select if you’ll be playing an ongoing campaign which could stretch out over a few sessions, or if your party would prefer what’s called a Delve Quest: A self-contained, one-off dungeon adventure. I’d like to think in the actual world of Warhammer that if your Dungeoneering career hasn’t taken off enough for you to quit your day job, you can still get your buddies together for a weekend Delve Quest and call in late on Monday.
As they’ve previously done in games like Eldritch Horror, FFG has created a cooperative game with delightfully intricate mechanics. Game play is orchestrated through various decks of cards regulating what kind of Dungeon area your party is exploring, randomized monster attacks, events going on in the Dungeon independent of whatever your party’s doing at the moment and what treasure, magic items, weapons, etc. you discover. It’s like an analog AI engine, made out of cards and dice.
Game play was a little bumpy until we got the hang of the rules, and again, my only critique of the game would be that the rules could be laid out a bit more clearly. Every Fantasy Flight game I’ve played presents the rules using two books: One that covers the basics called “Learn to Play”, and one that goes more in-depth entitled “Rules Reference”. Personally I’d rather have everything in one spot, as we found ourselves going back and forth between rulebooks. The last thing you want to do when facing down a Goblin Shaman is ask him to wait while you figure out if it’s his turn to attack you or not. It makes your party look unprofessional in front of the whole Dungeon. As I’ve mentioned in a previous review, FFG did a bang-up job on their gameplay video for Eldritch Horror, I’d love to see similar videos for their other games.
And then, there is the question of soundtrack. Of course I have a few suggestions from the world of Metal, but given that this is Fantasy, which to me, hearkens back to the 70’s for some reason, might I also suggest the soundtrack from the Rankin Bass animated production of The Hobbit? Put that one episode of South Park out of your mind for a moment: “Down, Down to Goblin Town” is the “We Will Rock You” of Geekdom:
Otherwise, Metallica’s Master of Puppets (the whole album) goes nicely with subterranean monster combat, as would anything from the oeuvre of Black Sabbath or Iron Maiden. Or, if you’re feeling a touch maudlin, there’s always America’s soundtrack for the Last Unicorn (which I happen to love)
Netflix’s Stranger Things was bookended with scenes of 80’s kids playing D&D. I believe the connection and camaraderie you see happening between those kids is what’s driving the Board Game Renaissance we find ourselves in the midst of now. We’ve been missing that feeling while we’ve sat alone staring into glowing screens for the last fifteen or so years. Warhammer Quest: The Adventure Card Game is atmospheric, fun and smart. It bridges the world between board games and roleplaying games adeptly, bringing the best of both genres to the table. Pun Intended.
RELATED: Listen to Paul’s Episode of the Hit Podcast Kneel Before Aud: Episode 29 – PAUL FELDMAN: Writer, Gamer, Metal Head
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