Exploration in tabletop gaming is a magical thing to behold, often for adults, but especially with children! Few game genres offer more opportunity for exploration than dungeon crawling, so when I learned that such a game was being produced specifically for younger children, I was very keen to check it out.
The Quest Kids is a competitive game of cavernous exploration for 2 to 4 players, and is recommended by the publisher (Treasure Falls Games) for ages 5 and up. Players are going to be exploring a dungeon together, taking on one of the game’s four heroes – Noah the Warrior, Ivy the Elf Princess, Skylar the Viking, or Crash the Wizard. Right away we noticed that each hero has a unique skin tone, and half of the cast is female. From the moment that we opened the box, Big Bean claimed Ivy as hers alone, which as we’ve mentioned before, speaks to the importance of players being able to see themselves represented in games!
Navigating a dungeon filled with hidden secrets and dangers is what The Quest Kids is all about. The game board is largely made up of a grid, with clearly marked spaces for dungeon cards to be placed face down. These cards come in three varieties – green-backed cards always provide rewards, grey cards offer slightly better rewards with a slight risk of monsters hiding on the other side, and red cards offer amazing rewards with the most monstrous baddies hiding in random spaces.
As each tile is explored, characters gain more freedom to explore the dark depths. So long as dungeon tiles have been cleared, players have complete freedom to travel about the board. While movement mechanisms in these sorts of games can often add tension and immersion, it’s a brilliant decision by first-time designer Dustin McMillian, as my children were looking for a fresh exploration each turn, and didn’t want to be slowed from getting that instant gratification.
Opposing creatures in this game are not “defeated”, “beaten”, and certainly not killed. Rather, they are “scared away” by our heroes, which a lovely touch to avoid any talk of violence. To scare off the monsters of the dungeon, players need to boost their skills in three areas: Magic (yellow), Wisdom (red), and Power (purple). These skills are simply represented by cards that are collected, and then spent as currency to defeat monsters. However, if a player is unable to defeat a monster on their own, they can call upon their fellow players to help! Players are welcome to contribute the skill cards needed to overcome a dungeon card, and if they do, they’ll receive a “Kind Kid” card, which rewards helpful players with bonuses and/or points to be counted at the end of the game.
Once all dungeon tiles have been explored, even if all the baddies haven’t been scared away, the game ends and players count up their star points (which appear on nearly every card collected in the game). Whoever has the most wins the game!
COMPONENTS & ARTWORK
I suspect the copy we received was a special Kickstarter edition, as our box included both cardboard characters in plastic slotted bases and some surprisingly tall miniatures. Not huge by CMON standards, but by just about any other metric, these are over the top in terms of size. Despite how cool the minis look to me, my girls much prefer the detailed artwork of the standees. Big Bean in particular believes they “just look more real”!
It was a pleasant surprise to discover that the game’s artwork comes courtesy of Apolline Etienne. One of our favourite games from last year was Fossilis from Kids Table Board Gaming, which also features Apolline’s artwork.
The board is interesting and colourful without being too busy, and sets a nice tone for the game to come. Also included is a cloth bag for holding circular treasure tokens. While the bag didn’t seem necessary to me, it was quite possibly Little Bean’s favourite part of the entire game – reaching into the bag and seeing what goodies wound up in her hand!
Most of the other components are cards of various sizes. If I have one wish for an improvement on the components of the game, it would be for the dungeon cards to be thicker, closer to that of a thin cardboard. My girls occasionally struggled to flip these cards over, and I suspect that their boisterous little hands might eventually cause them some damage.
BIG THUMBS : HOW IS IT FOR ADULTS?
I thought about skipping this paragraph, but figured it’s worth being crystal clear – this is not a game intended for grownups, who will likely not find much fun in this box without kids at the table. As a parent, I had a tremendous time watching my girls (currently ages 4 and 5) play through this game, but I don’t believe it offers any sort of experience that adults could dig their teeth into on their own.
LITTLE THUMBS : HOW IS IT FOR KIDS?
Little Bean quickly found herself deeply immersed in the world of The Quest Kids. She couldn’t keep her bum in her chair, popping up to her knees with excitement throughout the game, especially when had opportunities to reach into the aforementioned cloth bag. Big Bean absolutely fell in love with the Kind Kid cards, and started offering to help everyone at the table, even when they didn’t need help to scare a monster away!
Immediately after finishing our first game (which Big Bean would like you all to know she won), both girls were asking to play again. Which is when I pulled out The Trials of Tolk the Wise, a campaign-style expansion for the game. My girls remember from Zombie Kidz Evolution that secret envelopes usually translate to fun and excitement, so they are both super keen to dive into the mysteries within that expansion box.
Thus far, The Quest Kids has been a smash hit with my children, and I expect that we’re going to be playing through the campaign expansion very quickly. My guess is that the sweet spot for this game lies between the ages of 5 and 10 years old, so if you have budding gamers in your life that are in that pocket, I would highly recommend checking out The Quest Kids. I’m unsure if the game is destined for retail shelves, but curious folks can certainly find a copy to purchase directly from the Treasure Falls Games website!
VERDICT: Two Little Thumbs WAY Up!
Thank you to Treasure Falls Games for sending us a copy of The Quest Kids to review for this article.