Reaping the Rewards: ‘Quests of Valeria’

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Quests of Valeria

In “Reaping the Rewards,” I take a closer look at the finished product from a crowdfunding campaign. Quests of Valeria was originally funded on Kickstarter in May 2016 and was shipped to backers last month. It will be hitting stores soon. Quests of Valeria is the third game from Daily Magic Games set in the Valeria universe—you are a Guild Master assembling teams of Citizens to complete various types of quests.

Note: This review is an updated version of my original Kickstarter Tabletop Alert, which was based on a prototype.

At a glance: Quests of Valeria is a game from Daily Magic Games for 1 to 5 players, ages 14 and up, and takes roughly 45 minutes to play. It retails for $25, with a release date of March 24. You can pre-order directly from Daily Magic Games or check in with your local game store. I think the game could be played by younger kids if they have some experience–probably 10 and up would be fine, though there are some Quest names like “Investigate Suspicious Death” or “Assassinate the Double Agent” that may be a bit much, depending on your kids.

Quests of Valeria components
Quests of Valeria components. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Components

  • 24 Quest cards
  • 68 Citizen cards
  • 6 Guild Master cards
  • 4 Reference cards
  • 2 Action tokens
  • 6 Tavern tokens

The artwork for this game, like Valeria: Card Kingdoms and Villages of Valeria, is again done by Mihajlo “The Mico” Dimitrievski, so the illustrations are in a similar style and helps tie the games together visually. The icons will also be familiar to those who have played other Valeria games: gold, strength, and magic are the three resources; Citizens come in four different types; and so on. There are a few new icons, and I have to admit that some of them aren’t immediately intuitive, but overall the game is fairly easy to interpret.

The Quest cards all have (tiny) flavor text on them, just to add to the theme of the game, and each one has a unique illustration. I like the flavor text, simply because it adds to the thematic feel of the game, but you could also ignore it if you just want to focus on the mechanics. It would be nice if the text were a little larger, but there’s a lot of info on the cards already.

Quests of Valeria box
Quests of Valeria box. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

The whole thing fits in a small box, slightly larger than a double-deck box so that there’s room for the tokens. The cardboard divider isn’t fancy but holds everything in place just right. Excellent box sizing!

Quests of Valeria reference card
Double-sided reference cards. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

There are double-sided reference cards, reminding you of gameplay, end game, and then all of the various icons you’ll see on the card. The text on it is a bit small, so you may need to get out your reading glasses, but otherwise it’s fairly comprehensive.

How to Play

The rulebook and a free print and play version are available to download.

The goal of the game is to score the most points by completing quests.

To set up, shuffle the Guild Masters card and give each player one face-down. You should look at your Guild Master card and then keep it secret from the other players–it shows which two types of quests will give you bonus points.

Quests of Valeria setup
The Tavern setup, with Citizens and Quests. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Shuffle all the Citizen cards together and deal 3 to each player. Then deal 6 in a row on the table, forming the Tavern. The Tavern tokens are placed above the cards to indicate the cost of hiring each Citizen. Shuffle the Quest cards and deal 6 face-up below the Citizens. The rest of the Citizen cards and Quest cards are set nearby to form two separate decks, with a space for discard piles next to them. Pick a starting player; play will proceed clockwise.

On your turn, you get 2 actions from the following (you may repeat actions):

  • Draw: Draw 1 card from the Citizen deck.
  • Hire: Hire 1 Citizen from the Tavern or from your hand.
  • Reserve: Optionally discard all Quests from the Tavern and refill from the deck, then take 1 Quest from the Tavern and put it in your hand.
  • Complete a Quest: Complete 1 Quest from the Tavern or your hand.
Quests of Valeria citizens
Some citizens look familiar from Card Kingdoms, but the icons are a bit different. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

To hire a Citizen from the Tavern, you discard cards from your hand equal to the cost shown on the Tavern token, between 0 and 3. To hire a Citizen from your hand, it costs 2 cards. When you hire a Citizen, you immediately get the bonus printed on the bottom of the card, if any. Hired Citizens are placed on the table, forming your tableau (also called your Guild).

Reserving a Quest means that you are the only person who can complete a particular Quest, and you take it from the Tavern and place it in front of you. Quests in the Tavern may be completed by any player.

To complete a Quest, you must have the correct resources required for the quest in your tableau: usually you will need some number of resources, as well as a particular number of specific types of Citizens. These Citizens are then discarded, and you place the Quest card face-down in your completed Quests area on the table. You also receive any bonus printed on the Quest card. Quests come in four types: Commerce, Battle, Adventure, and Subterfuge.

Quests of Valeria quests
There are four different types of quests. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

At the end of your turn, you refill the Tavern–slide all Citizens into the empty spaces (toward the “0” cost space) and then draw new Citizens from the deck to refill. Quests are also refilled if there are open spaces.

The game end is triggered when any player completes their fifth Quest. The game continues until the end of the round–that is, everyone will have the same number of turns.

Add up all the Victory Points in your completed Quests, and add any bonus points earned from your Guild Master card. The highest score wins. Ties go to the fewest Citizen cards in the Guild, and then to fewest Citizen cards in hand.

Quests of Valeria Guild Masters
I’m one of the Guild Masters (top left)! Disclosure: my bookshelves are not actually that neat. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

The Verdict

Quests of Valeria is the third in the Valeria line of games from Daily Magic Games. Although each game is set in the fictional world of Valeria and has similar artwork and icons, they are all quite distinct from each other and not really related when it comes to the gameplay. Quests of Valeria uses a combination of tableau-building and set collection. It actually reminds me somewhat of Lords of Waterdeep, except that it’s a card game instead of a worker-placement game. Instead of using worker actions to acquire all of the necessary resources for a Quest, in this case, you usually get them by hiring the right Citizens.

Some of the strategy in Quests of Valeria comes in figuring out how to string together card effects. Hiring this Citizen will give you a bonus Hire action, which gives you enough gold to complete this Commerce Quest as your second action, which then allows you to draw another card. Since you only get two actions per turn, getting those bonus actions can be a huge boon.

Quests of Valeria tokens
These tokens track the first player and how many actions you’ve taken. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Speaking of those two actions: because of the way that actions can cascade, the two action tokens included in the game can be really handy. By passing them along to the next player, it’s a lot easier to keep track of how many actions you’ve actually spent.

Another part of the strategy, of course, is ensuring that your opponents don’t get the resources they need–for instance, by hiring the Citizen you know they really want. The way the Tavern pricing works, the Citizen in the lowest slot is free, and the most expensive one costs you 3 cards. But if you take the freebie, then that means some other Citizen will slide down into the free slot for the next player. So you have to decide how many cards you want to invest in a powerful Citizen, or how likely it is that nobody will hire it and you can hire it for less on your next turn. I do like the way that the costs are structured–rather than having different prices on individual cards, the game lets the market decide on the price. If nobody wants a card, it will move down until it is free, but if a valuable card appears in the Tavern, somebody may decide it’s worth spending 3 cards to ensure that nobody else gets it.

The game is fairly easy to learn–aside from a few of the less common icons, everything is straightforward and pretty simple to pick up. I’d say it’s a medium-weight game: it won’t be too difficult for less experienced players, but it has enough to it that your more experienced players won’t be bored. It may not scratch your heavy-strategy itch, though.

I think Quests of Valeria is another solid title in the Valeria line.The finished game turned out very nicely, and adds to Daily Magic’s growing library. It’s like a compact version of Lords of Waterdeep, and if you like the idea of building up a Guild of Citizens to complete Quests, I recommend checking it out.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this game.

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