Board Game Review: Arcadia Quest Inferno

The original Arcadia Quest was a well received and popular game with some fantastic miniatures, plenty of quests to complete and lots of ways to approach each game that you played. You picked your faction and, alongside (and indeed against) other factions tried to complete certain objectives all while trying not to get killed in the process. It was, by all accounts (I haven’t played it myself) a well balanced and incredibly fun game to play.

So what’s Inferno? Some kind of expansion? Well, yes and no. It’s a standalone expansion, so the original game isn’t required to play it, and there’s no reason to even know the original existed in order to play this properly. Obviously most of the rules are the same so some knowledge would be useful, but the instructions are well written and very detailed, so you’ll have picked it up after your first 1 hour campaign. Being standalone means you get a huge quota of awesome looking minis, the whole set of level tiles, a whole new book of quests to carry out and the full set of weapons and various other cards to help (or hinder) you along the way. It’s a hugely impressive bundle, and while the box art is a bit bonkers everything inside is impeccably organised and positioned, making it easy to pack away once you’re done.

But what of the game itself? You’ve got four new factions to play along with, and a bunch of new characters to choose from to join your faction and form a team fully capable of kicking some monster backside. Once you’ve picked your teams, everyone is happy and the game has been set up you can start on your quest; each one has its own tile setup, letting you position the hellish looking tiles in such a way to give each quest its own challenges and personality. You’ll start with very little in terms of equipment, but there are various items scattered around the game which you can pick up and give you characters a bit more bite in their attacking or defending. Thanks to the quality of the minis there’s very little to suggest you’ll have to sit for a little while working out which character was which, and the slightly-cartoony-but-also-slightly-badass looking characters have plenty of personality about them. Similarly the bad guys are pretty distinguishable from each other, and once the real big guns come into play (and of which is pictured below) you’ll find it impossible to mistake them. Each quest takes about an hour or so, and it’s not out the question that after doing one, you’ll decide to do another. And another. And… oh, it’s 2.30am. It’s addictive for sure.

So looking at what else is new in Inferno, we’ve got some elements which don’t clear themselves up when you move onto the next quest. That’s right; your characters, progress, equipment and various ailments carry over between missions, making this a game which is best played by the same people, using the same factions, over several sessions. Don’t worry about leaving it set up though, a pack of progress sheets are included in the game, letting you effectively save your progress, pack away, then restore your game back to how it was next time round. Very cool.

That big dude… he’s not the biggest. There’s bigger. Yeah. He’s big.

Anyway, these new continuous elements. Damnation tokens can sometimes be applied to your characters, causing different effects depending on the equipment or weapons you have on your character. For each two of these your character has they get a death curse card, which will often use up an inventory slot and generally be a nuisance to you. That said, we came very close to running out during a two player game, so with more players I can see you being a little short on the death curse cards. I’m not too sure what you’d do if you ran out, but you might find there’s a bit of rule making up to be done about that. It’s the only area where this happens, but it still seems odd considering that over time, your damnation tokens can really start adding up especially as many of the items and weapons have abilities where you can take damnation to give you addition dice rolls or deal extra damage to your enemy. It’s also worth remembering that this damnation can draw other factions to attack you, with some weapons providing additional damage if your character has tokens attached to it for example, and while it’s possible to heal yourself and remove damnation the cards to do this won’t come up as often as you’d hope…

Obviously the bad guys are all new as well, with some of the smaller minions being relatively easy to get rid of but working their way up to the enormous Underlord, who spends his time sitting in a huge throne and causing crazy damage to your faction when he attacks. You could argue he’s overpowered – he takes a lot of killing, and deals damage to every one of your characters whenever he attacks just one of them, but it’s not as if you’ll be having to deal with him every 5 minutes. I’m pretty sure he’s meant to be difficult. Even so, it can be pretty annoying when your health starts to plummet with very little effort at just the wrong time, all the while being screwed over by your Damnation tokens that have added up over time. It doesn’t make the game particularly nasty to play or anything, but was certainly something that caused a few sweary moments across our table.

There’s no mistaking the Inferno theme…

But let’s not take away from the fact that this is still a really great game, even though it carried a hefty price tag nudging towards three figures. There’s loads to do with the various quests, you can redo them with different teams and get different abilities, which in turn leads to needing new tactics each time. You’ll get your money’s worth over time, that’s for sure. I’d also worried that the different theme of this game might make future expansions awkward with the newly designed tiles (take Carcassonne Winter Edition as an example of this happening) but having also taken a look at some of the expansions (reviews of which will be up pronto) they’ve done something pretty clever to make sure they’re compatible.

Given that this seems to be Arcadia Quest with a few added extras, some of which have potential to be annoying, it’s hard to suggest which version to buy. I imagine if I was going into the series for the first time I’d go for the original, just to get to grips with the game rules without some of the more punishing mechanics, but that’s not to say Inferno isn’t a very very good game, because it is. It’s gorgeous to look at and play, it’s got some great quests and the combination of slightly co-op but mostly competitive gameplay works fantastically well.

Actually, y’know what… just buy both of them. Sorted. You might not feed the kids this month, but you’ve got some great gaming ahead.

Arcadia Quest: Inferno
Available Now, RRP £99.99
Find your local stockist here

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