Bargain Quest is a game by Jonathan Ying, published by Renegade Game Studios. It is for 2-6 players. In this game, players take on the role of an Items shop owner in a fantasy realm. Each player will need to supply the bravest of heroes with weapons and equipment to face off against some of the most dangerous monsters. Of course whether the heroes win or get eaten alive is of no consequence. What really matters is who makes the most money and who’s shop is the most famous. In the end, the player that can make the best deals and gain the most money and fame will be declared the winner.
To begin, each player chooses an Item Shop board, unfolds it and places it in front of themself. They will also receive a 5 coin from the supply. The first player is chosen and receives the Quest token. The Item deck is shuffled and placed in the middle of the play area within reach of all players. The Monster cards are separated into 3 stacks, one for each of the 3 ranks. Each pile is shuffled separately and then 1 card is taken from each stack and placed facedown in order with the rank I card on the top, rank II in the middle and rank III on the bottom. The remaining Monster cards are returned to the box. The 3 card Monster deck is placed facedown in the middle of the play area. The Adventure deck is shuffled and placed next to the Monster deck. The Upgrade cards are sorted into decks, one for Display Upgrades and one for Storage Upgrades. The side with the cost should be placed face up. Both decks are placed in the middle of the play area. The Employee deck is shuffled and placed facedown next to the 2 Upgrade decks. The Hero deck is shuffled and placed facedown next to the Item Deck. A number of Hero cards equal to the number of players are then drawn and placed faceup in a line. Coins equal to the purse value of the cards are placed on each of the Hero cards. The remaining coins, star tokens and wound tokens are sorted into separate piles and placed within reach of all players. Once this is done, play now begins.
The game is played over a series of rounds. Each round consists of 6 steps. The first step is the Supply step. In this step, the top card of the Monster deck is flipped face up, if it is face down. Players are then dealt 4 item cards each. Each player will then choose 1 of the cards in their hand and draft that card, placing it face down on their shop board. Once each player has done this, the remaining cards in the player’s hand are passed to the player on their left. Players repeat the same process of drafting a card and passing cards until all the cards have been drafted. Once this happens, play moves to the next step.
The second step is the Display step. For this step, each player will take all the cards that they drafted from their Item board into their hand. They will then choose 1 card to place on Display by placing it face down in the display area of their board. Once all players have completed this task, the cards on display are all flipped face up. This takes us to the third step.
The third step is the Shopping step. In this step, players check the number of hearts on the item card on display in their shop. The player with the most hearts will choose first and will take 1 of the heroes from the line of heroes in the middle of the play area, placing it beside their shop board. The player with the next most hearts chooses and completes the same process. This continues until each player has a hero in their shop. It should be noted, when choosing heroes, the player must choose a hero that has at least 1 class icon that matches the item they have on display in their shop. If a player cannot choose a hero with a matching class icon, then they must wait until all the other players have chosen their heroes. They will then choose one of the remaining heroes to enter their shop. If there are more than one player unable to choose a matching class icon hero, then the player with the most hearts will choose first and so on. The player that chooses the last hero will also take the Quest token. Players are then able to sell item cards from their hand to the hero in their shop. To do this, the player must make sure that any item they sell matches the class icon of the hero. To sell an item, the player takes a specific number of coins from the hero’s card equal to the price of the item card, placing the item under the hero card so that the item’s bonuses and abilities are able to be seen. Once this has been done, the item is considered equipped to the hero. Players can continue to sell items, as long as the hero has the money to purchase them and they match at least one of the class icons. It should be noted that the item on display in a player’s shop, can not be sold. Any unspent coins are left on the hero’s card. Once players have finished selling and equipping items, the equipped hero is placed in front of the player’s shop board, representing their shop during the next step. Once this is done, the item cards in each player’s display is returned to the player’s hand.
The fourth step is the Adventure step. In this step, the heroes will face off against the monster. First each hero is randomly dealt a card from the adventure deck. This card may affect the hero’s attack or defense values by applying modifiers to them. It can also apply special effects which are resolved as written in the text. Next starting with the player with the Quest token and continuing in clockwise order, each player will resolve 2 steps. First if the hero’s total attack value combined from items and/or adventure cards meets or exceeds the monster’s toughness value, then the hero has successfully wounded the monster and may place a wound token on the monster card. They will then gain 1 star token. Second, if the player’s total defense value combined from items and/or adventure cards meets or exceeds the monster’s total strength value, then the hero survives the encounter and the player will gain 1 star token. If their defense is lower than the monster’s strength value, then the hero is defeated and the hero card is discarded, along with all the items equipped to that hero and any coins remaining on the card. It should be noted that if none of the heroes are able to wound the monster, then a wound token is placed on the monster anyway. This is to signify that together the heroes were at least able to cause a tiny bit of damage to the monster. Once all the heroes have completed their attacks and defenses, if the monster has a number of wound tokens on it’s card equal to or greater than the total number of players, then it is defeated and discarded. Each hero that survived gains coins equal to the value in treasure chest icon on the bottom of the monster’s card. All the Adventure cards are then shuffled back into the Adventure deck. If there are no more monsters remaining in the deck, then the game ends and players move into scoring. If the monster was not defeated, then each hero that survived will gain coins equal to the value in the coin icon on the bottom of the monster card. All items and adventure cards on the surviving heroes are then discarded and the hero cards are returned to the middle of the play area along with any coins placed on their card from adventures or unspent from shopping. It should be noted that if there were any heroes defeated during this step, a new hero card is drawn from the deck and placed in the middle of the play area with the others in the line. Coins are placed on the new hero cards equal to the card’s purse value.
The fifth step is the Upgrade step. For this step, the top two cards from the Employee deck are placed face up near the Upgrade cards. Starting with the player with the Quest token and continuing in clockwise order, each player may choose to purchase either an Upgrade card or an available Employee card, paying the cards cost in coins to the supply. The purchased card is placed face up next to the player’s shop board. There are 2 types of Upgrade cards; Display and Storage Upgrades. Display Upgrades allow the player to place additional item cards on Display. Storage Upgrades allow the player to place additional cards into storage to be saved for later rounds. It should be noted that each player’s shop may not have more than 1 of each Upgrade card type. Employee cards have special abilities that may optionally be used to help during a particular step of play. Once an Employee card is purchased, a new card is drawn to replace it from the top of the Employee deck. It should be noted that a player’s shop may not have more than 1 Employee card with the same name. Once players have had a chance to purchase an upgrade or employee, the remaining available Employee cards are shuffled back into the Employee deck.
The sixth and final step is the Storage step. In this step, each player must choose one item card from their hand to place in storage, by placing it facedown on their shop board. Any cards remaining in the player’s hand that are not placed on the shop board are then discarded. Once all players have completed this step, the round is over and a new round begins.
The game continues until one of two things happens. If during the Adventure step, there are no more monsters remaining, the game ends and scoring commences. The other way the game can end is if the hero deck is empty when a new hero is to be drawn. In this case the game ends immediately and all the players lose the game. To score, each player will add up their final score by gaining 1 point for each star token they have collected and 1 point for every 10 coins that they have (rounded down). Players compare scores and the one with the most points is the winner.
This game has a lot of really cool and amazing looking pieces. There are so many different sizes and types of cards. There are the regular sized item, hero, employee and upgrade cards, then there are the smaller euro sized adventure cards as well as the larger tarot sized monster cards. Each different card has a really nice finish to it and the artwork on each is really awesome looking. I especially love the different character portraits found on the hero and employee cards. Each card draws you into the fantasy world of the game and is really rich in theme. The iconography for each card is quite easy to understand and shouldn’t take long to remember what each one means. Another really thematic element that this game excels with is the individual player’s item shop boards. These completely blew me away. Each one has unique artwork that is custom for each board. There are no two boards alike. The thing that really got me about these is that not only does the board have that thematic element of looking like the inside of a fantasy item shop once the board is unfolded and laid out in front of you, but when it’s folded up there’s artwork on the back that looks like the outside of that shop. For me this was over and above what I expected and it really amazed me. Just like each item shop is different, each player board both outside and inside is different. Thematically it’s perfect. The last few pieces included with the game are the quest, coin, star, and wound tokens. These are all thick shiny cardboard and look quite nice. The quest token is a large square token with the initials and artwork of the game’s name found on the box cover. Nothing spectacular but it’s easy to spot on the table. The star tokens and wound tokens are small circles with specific designs for what they stand for. Star tokens have numbered stars and wound tokens have a skull. These get the job done rather nicely. The coins are a bit bigger and come in 3 denominations. Each fits in with the theme of the game and looks nice. I do think however that I may end up upgrading these to metal coins and possibly even upgrading the quest and wound tokens with something a bit more appropriate and thematic than just cardboard. One more thing I’d like to point out about the components that I found quite cool. When I first opened the box and saw this stack of cardboard sheets, I notice that in one corner of the sheet there’s a nice little notch just big enough to get your finger down in so that you could easily pull out the sheets to get to the pieces beneath. Over the years I’ve played tons of different games and not once have I seen such a simple and easy fix to get the punchboards out of the game box. Why hasn’t someone thought of this before. Needless to say, this game really impressed me with the theme, the look and the feel of each and every piece. I can truly say that it’s one of my most favorite games in terms of components.
9 out of 10
The rulebook for this game is really well designed. Virtually every page is full of great looking pictures and plenty of examples. There’s an excellent section that explains each of the different card types in great detail. The book also has a step by step guide to each of the different steps of the game. Each one well written and easily explained. The rules are very stream lined and flow easily from one thought to the next. The book also includes a few variants like an advanced 2 player varian and a reliable heroes variant that does away with the adventure deck and any cards that reference it. There are also some additional rules for playing with more than 4 players. On the back cover, there’s an excellent overview of each step of a round of play. This is an excellent reference, especially when you’re first learning the game. Everything is extremely easy to read and understand. This is one of the best looking and easiest to understand rulebooks that I’ve ever come across. There wasn’t a single concept or rule that I didn’t easily get. I’ve extremely pleased with the overall look and feel of the rulebook. It’s well done.
9 out of 10
This has got to be one of the most fun games that I’ve come across in a long time, and it’s an easy game to learn and play on top of that. Over the years I’ve played many different fantasy rpg video games. I always loved stopping in to the local item shop and seeing what kind of loot I could equip my characters with. With this game, I get to feel what it’s like to be on the opposite side of the counter and sell all this cool swag to the would be heroes. I love the card drafting that starts each round. I love looking through my hand and seeing what kinds of cool items I could possibly use. Of course determining what’s going to help the lineup of heroes the most is the key. From there it’s all about finding a way to draw your chosen hero to your store. After that it’s raking in the coinage and equipping the sucker….I mean hero. Once your hero is equipped it’s off to face certain doom against one of a selection of nasty and despicable monsters. If you’re hero can withstand the monsters attack, then they’ll stick around and possibly be back to buy more stuff. If not, well there’s always the next naive hero. Another key to this game is upgrading your shop with upgrades and employees. In many cases these can be the key to making sure you have what you need when you need it to lure that hero and make his coin purse lighter. Needless to say, this is a game that I really, really enjoy. About the only thing that could make it better would be some solo rules or an expansion that lets you play solo. Other than that, there’s not a thing I’d change about the gameplay. As I stated earlier, I love the card drafting. Fans of games like 7 Wonders, Sea of Clouds and Fairy Tale may enjoy the card drafting in this game as well. Fantasy game fans may also enjoy working the other side of the counter like I did in this game. Either way, this is a game that I highly recommend. It’s most definitely made it’s way into my top 10 games. I’m sure most of you will find something to love about it too.
9 out of 10
Bargain Quest is a light weight card drafting game where players become item shop owners in a fantasy realm. The game isn’t a very long one. Most game sessions last around 45 minutes, give or take. The components are absolutely amazing. I love the artwork and the player boards are to die for. The rulebook is great too. It’s well written and super easy to understand. The game itself is a whole lot of fun. I love the card drafting and the theme carries over really well too. I think fans of card drafting games like 7 Wonders, Sea of Clouds or Fairy Tale will really enjoy this game. Fantasy game fans should also like the theme and fun in this one as well. The only thing that can improve this game is the addition of some solo rules or an expansion that has a solo variant with it. Either way, this is a game that I highly recommend. It’s one of my top 10 favorite games and is one that I’ll be playing for a long time. Now, can I interest you in a bag of holding or possibly a cat familiar. It’s only had one owner and it’s the purrrfect price.
9 out of 10
For more information about this and other great games, please check out Renegade Game Studios at their site.