Cardboard Children – Warhammer Quest – The Adventure Card Game

Hello youse.

I’m a big fan of the old Games Workshop game Warhammer Quest. It’s a big ole dungeon crawl board game, full of miniatures and beautiful artwork, with one of the smartest sets of rules you’ll ever encounter. It’s expandable as hell, and there is room all around the margins to make the game your own with fluff and narrative and house rules. The game is long out of print, and it costs a fortune to pick up in complete, good condition. So it’s great that Warhammer Quest is back in some form, even if it’s just as an “adventure card game”.

Oh, you look disappointed. Oh, you look sad. Don’t be.

WARHAMMER QUEST: THE ADVENTURE CARD GAME

In Warhammer Quest, the original game, I love the way you move. You know, like OutKast.

I also love the way you fight. I loved it all. And my worry coming into the card game was that it would be too “cardy”. Far too deterministic. But my worries were kicked down a skaven throat almost straight away. This game is easy to learn, like Warhammer Quest, fun as hell, like Warhammer Quest, and adaptable and expandable, like Warhammer Quest.

And it has exploding dice. Exploding dice 4 life. You know what an exploding dice is, right? It’s like a critical success. A die roll that counts as a success, but also a re-roll that can pop out another success. Or another critical. Allowing you to stack success on success on success. Oh, I LOVE it.

Okay, so here’s how it works. Each player takes one of four characters from your standard Dwarf, Wizard, Barbarian and Ranger classes. Each of these characters has four action cards, used to make four basic actions – explore, attack, rest and aid. Explore lets you move through the dungeon, drawing a dungeon card and placing progress trackers on the scenario’s location card. Attack lets you take on monsters you’re engaged with, and even ones you’re not engaged with. Rest lets you replenish all your shit and get some health back. And aid lets you set up another player for a more successful turn.

Let’s dig a bit deeper. At the most basic level, the game is about placing progress trackers on a card. You explore, roll dice to gain successes, and then convert those successes into tokens that are stacked on one of many possible locations. Each location needs a certain amount of tokens stacked upon it before it is considered explored. So that’s the basic thing – get through each area by exploring it.

But there are going to be monsters hindering you, jumping at you from the shadows, spawning on you. And every time you make a roll for an action, you’re going to roll black dice for any monsters engaged with you, and they can hurt you mid-turn. And then, every turn, after the players have made their moves, these monsters are going to make full attacks. So the monsters need to be controlled. They need to be whittled down while you explore, or they’re going to make a mess of your whole quest. That’s what attacking is for.

You take your action by exhausting your character’s relevant card. And each character’s cards are a little bit different. It’s a real good mix of strengths and weaknesses. There’s a real feel of teamwork as one player rests while another attacks, and yet another lays down some kind of assist to let the resting player leap back into the action with an advantage. In fact, I’d say the game forces players to co-operate fully in order to meet some of the stiffer challenges – and that’s a great thing. From turn to turn, players are going to have to rest – resting is key to the flow of the game. And that means your team has to step up and cover you while you do that. Oh, it’s good.

And those are the basics.

Beyond that, there’s a lot of flavour. Different monsters behave differently. The wolf, for example, will cause a character to bleed, and then will move on to the character who is carrying the most wounds, hunting down the weakest member of the group. Every enemy is like that – they all have some wrinkles that will force the team to juggle their tactics. And then there’s equipment too, allowing for a wide number of rule-bending abilities.

As you explore through each location, you’ll draw dungeon cards that can spring events, spawn new monsters and let your character find sweet new gear. It’s a game full of twists and turns, and the one-action-per-turn pace can become breathless and exciting once everybody has the rules down.

The most impressive thing about this game isn’t that it captures a little bit of that room-to-room monster-bashing co-op feel of the game it’s named after. The most impressive thing isn’t even that you can string short adventures together for a little campaign. The most impressive thing is that there is practically zero book-keeping. Sure, there are wounds to stack on cards, and progress tokens to lay down. But outside of that, the game is so tidy. When you consider other co-op card games, like Sentinels of the Multiverse (an absolute DOG of a game to track properly), this one just feels so damn clean. Everything you really need is on the cards and the dice. You’re not going to be cursing yourself for forgetting stuff. It’s a really smart and economical design.

Is this game a reasonable substitute for the full-flavour Warhammer Quest? Absolutely not. That old game is something very, very special. But this is an impressive attempt to pull some of that game’s magic into a smaller box and support it with modern game mechanics. I was really surprised by how right it all felt.

ALSO – it’s worth saying that the game is a very strong solo game. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys playing a board or card game on your own, this one will give you plenty to get your teeth into. You control two characters, make them co-operate, take on the challenges alone. It works very well, and provides a nice little chill-out game session.

Definitely go check this one out. Here’s a video.

16 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    Aerothorn says:

    I’m sort of surprised that Paizo didn’t trademark “Adventure Card Game” in the same way that FFG trademarked “Living Card Game.”

  2. Wednesday says:

    Hasn’t Warhammer Fantasty been axed?

    I thought it’d been replaced in favour of a more marketable and copyrightable version. We still seem to be getting stuff using it as a setting.

  3. Duke of Chutney says:

    I’ve liked this quite a bit. Of the coop card games I’ve played, its easily the best, but then i’ve not played many or even Paizo’s game. Good words Rab

  4. Premium User Badge

    james.hancox says:

    Hey Rab, have you tried out Dungeon Saga? It looks a whole lot like a spiritual successor to Warhammer Quest, with a bunch of cool minis, dungeon layouts built from cardboard rooms that all fit together… it looks pretty gorgeous! Might scratch that WHQ itch for you.

  5. Hyena Grin says:

    Still miffed at GW for going on a twitter mass-block a couple of years ago, blocking everyone who tweeted at them about their attempt to shut down a book that included ‘Space Marine’ in the title (they claimed to have a copyright on ‘Space Marine.’) It wasn’t like they were blocking hostile tweets, it was pretty much a block regardless of what the content of those tweets were.

    As far as I can tell they never even bothered to unblock those people (at least, I am still banned years later, even though my only comment to them was that they shouldn’t ban people over it). Even though the dispute didn’t go anywhere and the book was put back up on Amazon a couple of months later, and has been available since then.

    Obviously they have the right to block whomever they choose, but to me it just looked like a childish tantrum. It soured me on their products for a long time.

  6. Bfox says:

    Anyone want to talk about that “HeroQuest 25th Anniversary Edition”?

  7. Chmilz says:

    Just played this yesterday. Very similar to Space Hulk: Death Angel, and a handful of others. Pretty decent.

    • Riaktion says:

      Yeah I was thinking the exact same thing when I was playing it, it does share some mechanics with “Death Angel” doesn’t it? Especially the relentless enemies that will overwhelm you if you don’t deal with them.This is a really good card game in my opinion and very much echo it is strong for solo play, probably more so than Pathfinder the Adventure Card game, but then I like that too :)

    • Moraven says:

      Interesting comparison.

      My wife was not big on Space Hulks D6 only and swift deaths, but this might appeal to her more.

  8. tonallyoff says:

    it’s just twitter

  9. capn.lee says:

    stanley delved deeper in to the dungeon, was he looking for treasure? fame? he’s sure he doesn’t know, but onwards he pressed

  10. Premium User Badge

    phuzz says:

    Exploding dice? Oh yes, I know what those are. They’re what my flatmate would always roll when rolling for an enemy against me in Relic. That multiple-six rolling bastard :(

    (love ya really Judaz!)

  11. Immobile Piper says:

    I was wondering where Cardboard Children went. Behind ‘Carboard Children’ tag apparently.

    Administrative typo aside, great stuff as usual.

  12. Parrilla says:

    Kind of gone off everything GW since they decided to destroy Warhammer tabletop game and turn it into some shitty 40k knock off.