Chucking dice is a way of life at my house, and Arcadia Quest might be my all-time favorite dungeon dive dice chucker. It’s got just enough story, plus it features player-versus-player (PvP) and player-versus-environment (PvE) skirmishes that always make me laugh.
Rolling dice is a blast. Rolling crits to continue rolling dice is even better. Add in top-notch miniatures and the best loot system in history, and you’ve got gold just sitting in the box.
I had the chance to get a review copy of Arcadia Quest: Inferno (2017, CMON Limited) last year. It sat on my shelf for a while because I decided I only wanted to play it with those who knew the original game, so that we could collectively evaluate the changes in play from the base game to Inferno.
Come for the minis, stay for the Hero variety. But you may or may not stay for the newest additions to the Arcadia Quest system.
Damned If You Don’t
If you’ve never played any of the games in the Arcadia Quest family (the base game, Inferno, Starcadia Quest, or the nine expansions), check out my review of Arcadia Quest to get a sense of how the game works.
Inferno uses the exact same rule set as the base game, but the story is a bit different: the Heroes from each of the guilds of Arcadia have to venture into the Underworld to save the city from eternal damnation. Luckily, that story doesn’t get in the way of the game’s core loop. Players will again guide three Heroes through a six-scenario campaign (or one-off missions), fighting monsters and each other to complete quests.
And, most importantly, NOTHING has changed with the game’s Upgrade Phase, the best loot shopping in board game history. (No, this is not an exaggeration.) So, what is different in Inferno?
First, you’ve got 12 new Heroes to choose from. Variety is good. There are over 100 different Heroes available across all of the games in Arcadia Quest, so if you just need more options, those options are out there.
Second, Angels. There are five Angels included in Inferno, all of whom can be unlocked during scenarios by rescuing them from the clutches of Villains. Angels are slightly better than the Heroes, and when one is acquired, it can replace one of a player’s three Heroes.
Angels also have cool powers and stats that will make you want to rescue them whenever you can. I’ll admit that it was a strange feeling to arm Angels with, say, the Fancy Blade or any of the other melee weapons in the game (look out for my murderous Angel!!), but I got over it the first time an Angel made a kill to complete a quest and add coins to my purse.
The third change is Damnation, which essentially serves as a push-your-luck mechanism that permeates almost all of the abilities in Inferno. Certain card effects, monsters, and weapons penalize a player with Damnation tokens. These tokens stick with a Hero for an entire scenario, but sometimes offer cool effects for taking them on. On the flip side, they can drive up negative effects like Death Curse cards if enemies can take advantage of your desire to live like the damned.
We found the addition of Damnation to be…fine. In a pure dice chucker, you’re already playing with fire every turn. Damnation fans those flames by making you think twice before using a weapon that saddles you with tokens just for being activated. Sometimes, you’ll have a weapon that lets you add an attack die if you take on a little more Damnation, but then realize that a monster’s ability adds wounds if you already have some tokens on a Hero.
So there’s some push-pull there, but it didn’t feel particularly game-altering. In some scenarios of Inferno (just like the base game), you’ll be done in 45 minutes. In that time, you aren’t faced with that many chances to take on Damnation, so my group found itself regularly taking on Damnation since those tokens clear every round anyway.
Do You Need It?
I look at all expansion content the same way: is it a nice-to-have, or a must-have, assuming you enjoyed the base game?
Technically, Inferno is a standalone game, so you don’t need Arcadia Quest in order to play. That said, all of Arcadia Quest’s Heroes and bad guys can be used in Inferno, and vice versa. (That’s not true for all of the quests and upgrade cards, because many of the new goodies in Inferno feature Damnation.)
It is fair to say that if you love the base game, you will really enjoy Inferno. Setting aside Damnation, Inferno’s “more is more” approach means that you get more options for everything by adding this content to your collection. Swapping in Heroes from the base game or adding in different monsters to fight in each scenario means you might never need any more content for the Arcadia Quest family.
The rules overhead for Inferno’s additions is very light, so it doesn’t feel like new systems would be too heavy to just start with Inferno for new players. The cards that come with Inferno, Brimstone cards, are laid out on the map during setup and trigger lots of Damnation effects by spending a movement point on a turn. Otherwise, there’s nothing really unique to explain with the new stuff.
A note about the minis in Inferno: wow. Just, wow. The details on these sculpts are really something. I know this is a six-year-old game, but CMON does minis like nobody else in the business. Some of the bosses in Inferno are absolutely mind blowing, and the sculpt for the Undertaker is filthy cool.
The Inferno storage solution, though? Yikes. Technically, everything fits in the box, and that’s an achievement unto itself. But does it fit well? Do you have any idea where each mini is supposed to fit back in its case? And can you possibly get all of the tokens to fit in-between, under or on top of the cheap-looking plastic that’s included? Good luck. It’s always fun to watch a game of Arcadia Quest put away. None of the minis fit cleanly, and if you’ve taken everything out to set up a game night, then it’s impossible to remember where each mini should return.
All of this means that Arcadia Quest: Inferno is a nice-to-have addition to the family. If you’ve got $100 lying around and you love a good dungeon dive, Arcadia Quest: Inferno will do you right!