Altar Quest is the latest from Adam and Brady Sandler of Blacklist Games. It uses the modular deck system (MDS) from their previous titles; Street Masters and Brook City. It's a Gothic horror, high fantasy style, co-operative game set in the doomed and broken lands of Aridika.
Some believe its ruin was down to the cursed soil it was built on. Others lay the blame at the feet of the vampire bloodline of Count Luric. The Kingdom has a new queen, and heroes have been sent to gather treasure and riches to increase her domain.
However, mysterious Altars have begun to erupt from the earth of Aridika. With them, strange magic and unsavoury creatures appear, seeking the other worldly powers associated with ancient Altars.
Playing Altar Quest
In Altar Quest each player takes on the role of a hero. Each hero comes with their own unique powers and abilities. It's here that the MDS comes into its own. So, what is the MDS, how is does it work, and how is it used?
In essence, there are a collection of set card decks that can be mixed and matched for each different game. However, as they are set decks, set-up and pack up is much simpler. Each hero has their own hero deck, there are threat decks to choose from which will provide the main source of enemies you will face, you choose a sinister villain deck for your worst foes and then pick your quest deck. There are many combinations, therefore each game of Altar quest will provide a different story with different interactions increasing replay-ability and ensuring interest each time it hits the table.
Heroes work together to complete their quest without raising the awareness of the supreme villain. However, due to the Altars and the magic associated with them, this is easier said than done. Each time an altar dice is brought into play it will provide rhunes that can be used to bolster both hero and enemies supporting attacks and provide choices and risk at every turn.
The adventure takes place on a beautifully designed dungeon game board. As such, players' adventures can take different turns each time they play - interacting with different rooms and their contents. This is thanks to the modular nature of the decks used to set the quests, feature cards and other cards.
Each time players enter a room they will draw cards from the feature decks and populate the room with stunning environmental miniatures. These include bookcases full of weighty tomes of ancient knowledge, racks of weapons or one of the fabled Altars. Players then draw a quest card which will awaits them inside the dungeon chamber and finally three threat cards are drawn to populate the room with monsters, traps or events.
Features added to a room not only enhance the visual appeal of the game, but can be interacted with. This provides heroes with vital supplies or other benefits when heroes draw a search card. This allows additional strategy in each room and in every new game of Altar Quest.
There are a number of special cards in the game including equipment cards providing weapons, armour and other objects that provide support to the heroes on their quest. Equipping your hero can make the difference between success and failure in combat and equipment cards can also add rhune effects if the rhune is available in the altar pool. Each hero has specific equipment cards contained in their hero deck, but additional cards can be added throughout the campaign.
Quest cards provide heroes with the objective for the game and add additional narrative and flavour to the world which you inhabit whilst immersed in Altar Quest. There is a set-up card that explains how to prepare the game board and any specific quest rules. The rest of the quest deck provides the detail of what will be found on the rooms as the heroes explore.
Quest cards may have effects that are resolved as they are revealed or on the next turn. The beauty of the MDS is that each deck will behave differently dependent on the other decks, hero, threat and villain decks they are combined with providing huge amounts of variability with each new game. This is further enhanced by the way each player and team chooses to approach their quest.
So, what else does Altar Quest provide? Well, a ton of beautiful miniatures. These are simply stunning and alongside the feature miniatures, the hero and villains will create an epic banquet for the eyes as you and your band of heroes set out to discover the dark secrets of Aridika.
Having spoken to Adam and Brady, it is clear their gaming history is steeped in classic dungeon crawling and fantasy gameplay with them listing: D&D, Warhammer Quest and Descent, alongside modern classics including Lord of the Rings Journeys in Middle Earth. They have used this foundation and their own MDS to develop a stunning game with increased depth and gameplay, building on their previous projects and have faithfully mapped this onto a Gothic horror, high fantasy theme that stays true to the roots of this style of gaming.
They have produced the game for you if:
- You love a dungeon crawler, full of heroes and villains, with plenty of interaction in each room.
- Your games must have a detailed story and world with its own lore .
- You need your games to be quick to set-up and clear away.
- You prefer easy to follow rules and need games to have a strong table presence, with high quality gameplay and design.
- You want a game that you can come back to time and time again.
- You just have to have a game that can be played once or as a campaign over many plays.