Crusaders Games

Fantasy Adventure (Card)

Some co-operative fantasy adventure games major on using card decks, standees or tokens rather than using plastic miniatures, and may also have a static map with less emphasis on tile exploration. These often feature a deck building mechanic, and can allow deeper solo gaming options, tempting you with many expansions. Here are my current favourites that are not focused on miniatures :

1. Too Many Bones – Chip Theory (2017)

A dice based co-operative or solo outdoor adventure where you are tasked to defeat one of six tyrants. The core box is big and beautifully designed, with a huge number of amazingly coloured dice await, with coloured playmats for the characters having neat spaces to slot in your dice as you roll them. Whilst this has no miniatures, you do have solid round chips, with the tyrants, monsters and character ones being weighty with excellent printwork and a nice shine to them, they are simply lovely to use. There are 4 gearloc characters in the main box (and 3 more initial expansions), and when you start to dig into their variety, there is an amazing amount of gameplay, as each gearloc has its own dice sets, with unique abilities to unlock. When upgrading your gearloc, decide each time whether you need, health, attack, defense, more dice to roll or work through its skill trees, and you won’t get close to using them all in one game. Battles are at the heart of the game, with a good selection of different monster types, and they are tough but immensely fun, and the small battle mat is great, making movement, targets and positioning important and visual, but not becoming overly complex in its execution. The game is very tactile, rolling the dice and moving chips around. This is an adventure game with text storylines for each encounter, it is also a tactical battle game, and feels like role playing by gradually developing your character. It works amazingly well as solo experience, playing as either one or using two gearlocs.

2. Darkest Night 2nd Edition – Victory Point (2018)

A co-operative or solo adventure game, where the world has been ravaged by the evil necromancer, and is covered in blights, tainting the seven core locations. As the last heroes you must search for clues to locate missing holy relics, which will provide a way to defeat this enemy. Heroes start with 3 power cards, and these will help you directly support each other, increasing dice, or maybe provide unique abilities. There are 29 characters to choose from, and all have their own theme and attributes to try out, it has so much variety. The game features a darkness tracker which builds tension and increases the difficulty as time progresses, but your hero adventuring will bring new powers or treasures to help you. The production on this 2nd edition is now amazing, from artwork, large tarot cards, thick tokens, large and small board choices, and the hero standees are lovely, with miniatures an extra option but not being a necessity. This game presents loads of strategic choices, co-operative interplay and a develops a kind of storyline narrative too. In my collection it replaced Eldritch Horror which is another great co-operative game with standees.

3. Aeon’s End 2nd Edition – Action Phase (2017)

Aeon’s End is a straightforward deck builder, played solo or co-operatively, you must save the last town of Gravehold from destruction. Taking the role of a spellcaster, you will open breaches to cast attacks at the huge nemesis monster, while also building up aether to get yourself more powerful cards. Each nemesis comes with its own deck of attacking options which really do change up the challenge you face, including a themed mixture of power attacks, summoning new minions, and just dealing straight damage, and together with a variable turn order each round you always have to adapt to changes. This game just does everything so well, the 2nd edition artwork is a massive improvement on the original with excellent card art and player mats, and the mechanics of preparing your spells and timing your attacks is great fun. There is a lot of extra content available including an alternative core set called War Eternal and other add on expansions, where you will obtain new spellcasters, nemesis monsters and spell cards. Its simplicity of rules have given it the mantle of the most enjoyable co-op deck builder i currently have.

4. The 7th Continent – Serious Poulp (2017)

A solo or co-operative game where you investigate a strange island to solve a series of curses. This exploration game works by revealing a landscape map of cards as you move around the land, uncovering new areas, learning skills and crafting tools to help you. You will constantly be faced with decisions, which actions to take or objects to keep or use, and the game builds a storyline, with some of your decisions becoming permanent game changes. This design is amazingly clever, you can easily save your game to return later, and the rules seem relatively smooth to learn and play. Your life energy is a deck of action cards, which you deplete as you explore, making every decision vitally important as you never want to waste too much energy. This game contains many neat touches, from amusing you to making you sigh with desperation, and you will always be second guessing whether you should indeed have built a certain item. There are 3 curse quests in the box, with 3 more expansions and whilst knowing the terrain may reduce replay value a little, I have enjoyed restarting and seeing how it will all unfold a second or third time as there are many random elements to change the game. This is such a clever and unique gaming experience which probably works best solo or with two players.

5. Thunderstone Advance (2012) / Quest (2018) – Alderac

A competitive rather than co-operative deckbuilding game, where players each turn will work from a hand of six drawn cards to build a short strategy for the round. They will gradually improve their decks by obtaining or upgrading heroes, and buying new weapons and equipment from the village in order to enter the dungeon and defeat monsters. This game has great theme and artwork, and a number of expansions which provide loads of extra cards, so that the choices for game set up becomes huge. There are different variants you can play, customising what is available to buy or recruit, and which monsters you will face, and you can tweak the game length by increasing or reducing the monster deck, or play epic style where all cards are randomly available to draw from. This game is easy to learn and play, but working out some killer move combinations does take more strategic thought, and as such the game works well on different ability levels. Setting up themed dungeons to play is immensely enjoyable, and I have adapted the boxed solo rules to my own version to make it more enjoyable and tactical > Thunderstone Solo. The game was relaunched as Quest in 2018 with new fresh looking artwork and adding in new village options, dungeon room tiles, wounds and making overall gameplay more interesting and engaging, as there are more choices to make each turn.

6. Lord Of The Rings LCG – Fantasy Flights (2011)

A living card game based within the Lord of the Rings fantasy setting, and features some great artwork. You embark on varied scenario quest challenges which are determined using a specific encounter deck from which locations, monsters and treachery events will emerge. To combat this you choose three hero characters to adventure with, and build yourself a custom deck of allies, events and equipment to support you. The questing mechanic provides an amazing co-operative or solo game experience, as you decide each turn who to quest with and who will defend or fight for you. Now this is a relatively tough game, but many expansions will enable better deck building which improves your chances of success, and this is a key part of the game enjoyment and takes time to do. I play this entirely as a solo challenge with one deck, and it offers more replay value than any other game i have. You can switch your heroes, take new allies and equipment, try different quests, and its combinations feel unlimited. My additional webpage focuses on the best quest scenarios available using a single deck solo game > Lord of the Rings

 

7. Gloom of Kilforth – Hall or Nothing (2017)

This card based fantasy adventure game sees heroes move around a map of 25 locations, encountering events, meeting strangers or fighting monsters, each character trying to complete their own quest line. At the end of their journey lies an ancient enemy plotting against them, and one that you must defeat, either co-operatively or competitively, to win the game. Time is precious though, as the locations are falling into gloom each night and when this takes over the whole map you will lose. The game distills a story about your hero into one game session, and as you play you will obtain new skills, items and spells, largely through encounters or competing quest stages, and each game offers up a different journey. The artwork in this game is truly amazing, the detail and effort that has gone into each card is very evident so that it is a real joy to own, and notably there are no side edge borders to reduce the view. To get the best from the game you need to use your imagination as you play to convert your encounters into a storyline, and for roleplayers this is an easy concept. This game is impressive and it works particularly well as a solo experience using one hero.

 

8. Warhammer Quest Adventure Card Game – Fantasy Flights (2015)

This co-operative card and dice game has the Warhammer Quest dungeon crawling theme and brand at its heart, and sets up a neat character and player interaction, as your heroes interact and support each other to complete quests. In line with the original miniatures game, monsters will come thick and fast from the shadows, and your characters each have a set of 4 actions to use to combat the dungeon, and combining them with each other is critical. There is a light but specific storyline being told by each of the quest cards, and the mechanic of using your card actions and dice rolling works beautifully. This game also works really well for solo play, controlling two heroes and offering up tactical choices and story development, and is reasonably tough to complete. It is an excellent and relatively quick dungeon experience, but really needed more content to keep it fresh, which sadly we will not see officially as the agreement between FFG and Games Workshop has ended. I have written four custom scenarios which have become popular with game fans > Warhammer Quest Adventures

 

9. One Deck Dungeon – Asmadi (2016)

A tiny box game that features dungeon exploration using a deck of cards, combined with dice rolling and manipulation. You search through a dungeon over 3 levels to find and defeat a boss monster, the deck of cards acting as a timer and providing doors for you to open and investigate. Fighting monsters or avoiding traps involves rolling your dice, representing your skills, and allocating them onto the cards to block reactions and damage. This is a very quick and fun adventure game and even better with the addition of the new stand alone expansion called Forest of Shadows.

Previously Owned Fantasy Adventure Card Games (No Miniatures)…

Legends of Andor, Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, Robinson Crusoe, Arkham Horror LCG, Xenoshyft Dreadmire, Eldritch Horror, Dragonfire.