Review : Bargain Quest

Thursday, 22 August 2019  |  Russ

A Review by Nick Gouldstone

Overview
Bargain quest is a game where you and your colleagues own and run your own fantasy shop selling all manner of sublime and mystical knick-knacks to the locals in an attempt to curry the greatest level of prestige. You display your shiniest sword or mightiest tome to draw in a wandering adventurer and then using your…..”persuasive” sales tactics, sell them the goods they need (or believe they need) to take their money and maybe help them survive a fight or two. 

Gameplay
The game is split into several phases, with the main goal being to have the most prestige and money by the end of 3 monster fights. Initially players draw item cards in a draft format where each player draw 4 cards and drafts them around the table. After this each player chooses an item in their hands to put in their shop window to entice the passers-by to lure them into their shop. Each player then compares the attractiveness value of the item to determine who gets to allure someone in to their shop first. Once this is done, players select item cards from their hands to sell to each hero, taking money from their available funds which are placed on each of them at game start. This is the meat of the game as this is where you take all of their money and give them items in return which may or may not be of use to them in future. All that matters is the money to an unscrupulous shop keep. After this the heroes venture into the boss monsters lair and each of them have a chance to fight the boss attempting to cause damage and stay alive in the process. This earns you a prestige which is the equivalent of a victory point. Once this is complete there is a phase where the players can purchase either upgrades to their shop or hire staff members to work for them which both give bonuses to make their gameplay easier. Finally, there is a clean-up phase where each player discards their hand down and resets the board with either new heroes who replace dead ones, new employees and possibly a new monster. 

Mechs and Gears
Many a board gamer will be familiar with the concept of drafting cards but for those who are not, a draft is where each player is dealt a hand of cards. From that hand of cards the players select one card to keep themselves then pass the rest to the next player to a predetermined left or right player. This continues with the hands being passed in a circular fashion around the table with each person picking a card from it until all cards are gone. This mechanism is always enjoyable for me as it mitigates a lot of the luck in a game which requires you to draw a hand of cards which allows for a deeper strategy. The premise of the game is set out really well as it does feel like you’re a shop owner and the stories that come from playing the game are great. The players smirk when you announce you are selling a “hardly used” Warhammer and a 2nd hand magic elixir to a monk for a “nominal” fee and everyone laughs. The game has a mechanism in it as well that if the players do not cause any damage, there combined efforts cause a single wound which does artificially speed the game up. There is also a deck of characteristic cards which add an element of luck to the game in that before they go adventuring, the heroes flip one meaning you may have a charismatic monk who gets extra attack, or a cowardly fighter who loses defense points which again makes for funny quips and stories. Lastly I find that the idea of selling items to these heroes which aren’t necessarily helpful to them just to get their money makes you feel like snake oil salesman at times but it is a fun feeling to send a rich nobleman into a dragons den with only a torch and a small knife, only to then get eaten. 

Components and presentation
The game comes with beautiful fold out boards which are the shops for each player with delightful artwork. The cards, money and tokens are all high quality though I have seen better, these do the job well indeed. The overall style of the rulebook is set out well and allows for an easy play through and explanation of the rules is fluid and easy. Also, which is always a bonus for me, there is a turn summary on the back of the rulebook for reminders which is detailed making it easier for all players involved. 

Final thoughts
Bargain Quest is on the lighter side of a medium weight game but fits a gap in my own collection for being a cartoony looking game of becoming a fantasy shopkeeper. The game looks very nice and the gameplay is simplistic with very little to maintain but a lot of choice in what to do and what you can take from people. The diverse range of heroes is a little slim in the heroes deck with a few duplicates so if I had any real criticism it would be to include more of a range of different hero classes in the deck as well as the employee deck as well to add variety. The game has good replayability as there are 4 different type of each level 1, 2 and 3 bosses so the combinations lead into this. I would recommend this game to any role player who enjoys a giggle in their games, any board game who is looking for a higher level filler type game or anybody who likes the premise of a street market salesman selling broken swords and chipped shield from the back of a wagon. 

 
Thoughts from Russ at The Board Game Hut : I played this with Nick and it's great fun trying to offload your wares onto unsuspecting adventurers....and so funny when the goods they've bought from you fails to protect them in the battle! I am looking forward to playing again with some of the expansion content that is coming soon when the game is released to retail.
 
We are participating in Renegade's early release program so you can get the game 2 weeks before general release if you're collecting in store! You can find the range of Bargain Quest and it's expansions here : www.theboardgamehut.co.uk/search/for/bargain+quest/