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Warhammer Quest: Cursed City, initial thoughts from a Level 0 perspective

It seems like I’m behind on the hype craze for most releases by GW nowadays, to the point that I’m way behind on 9th Ed 40k and 3rd Ed AoS. But this isn’t a bad thing as I can pick and choose what I’d like based on products not hyped like it’s a life altering product.

One such purchase was Warhammer Quest: Cursed City. One of Games Workshops most infamous botched release from last year that caused a stir within the miniature hobby community. It’s still on sale today, however, you can forget that the expansions ever existed in the first place. Another classic GW decision to make a core board game have limited print run expansions.

My copy of Cursed City was a second hand product that included no miniatures, but the rest was sealed and new. Since I have a many alternative proxy miniatures in my collection, I could still play the board game with appropriate miniatures.

In fact, my copy of Cursed City only costed £20! Since purchasing the set the price has inflated to £25 at the same store, so I was pretty lucky to have considered getting Cursed City whilst I could grab it. The miniatures sold separately would well exceed the original price of a fresh boxed copy above £125+.

This post follows my recorded journey at Level 0 playing Warhammer Quest: Cursed City.

First game

I started by reading the rules for several days, absorbing all the rules in mind as well as watching several YouTube vids to help me see how it played out. From the guidelines I played my first game of Cursed City at Level 0 for the Hunt Journey. This mission is all about slaying champions in order to progress the quest tracker by 10. Fulfilling that with at least one survive hero was the requisite to win.

I won’t go into the details of the entire gaming session, but I’ll explain my initial thoughts from the game.

My first game of Cursed City testing out the rules and making some errors on my first go.
  • Once you get used to the rules and turn sequence it can be very fun and intense at times.
  • Enemy Hostile Spawning Can be an issue as it’s too far from the action.
  • Most of the Encounters are champion free units, making a level 0 game last 3+ hours in my gameplay.
  • Enemies don’t use range weapons, so you’ll probably just run away without consequences.
  • Gorslav is an ass, make sure you decimate the Zombies when he’s on the table.

Overall for my first game testing I thought it was fun and at times intense. When Gorslav is I play and Zombie Hostile groups are around, they can prove very intimidating despite appearing to be easy kills with only 2 wounds each. Oh, and the gravestone markers can be a nightmare if you don’t destroy them. Each one can Spawn zombies, and in my second game, it got messy…

Second game, the proper first journey

  • The game was much better this time around with a Cheat sheet on hand, all the rules simplified on three pages
  • Again, the game took way too long to finish as most of the Encounters didn’t have Champions.
  • I hate Zombies.
  • I really, really, really hate Gorslav
  • Nightfall came and basically spelt the doom for my party.

Here’s my problem. I think Level 0 is either me not playing it right and it’s taking me 3+ hours to slay 10 champions, or the game itself isn’t balanced for fresh playthtoughs? From what I’ve seen online I’m not the only one who’s experienced this same long drawn out gameplay, though others say it’s more yo do with enemy spawning that’s the issue.

On the spawning issue, a new Hostile Encounter is placed the furthest from any hero and placed near a Lychgate. He issue is it takes a heck of a long time for that unit to do anything to your group of heros for several turns. The way I’ve gone around it is by spawning a hostile group clockwise on the Lychgates, so say a unit of Hostilee is slain, and their initiative card has two dimonds corresponding with its combat track placement of being the second unit. I’d spawn them at the bottom right corner Lychgate, which is only a board or two away from my band of heros.

My primary issue though is the Champion spawning. So a deck of Hostile Encounter contains a total of 19 cards that are shuffled and placed down as a deck of cards. On each card is a table contents of different encounters based on your highest levels character. In this case all of my heros are Level 0.

For a Level 0 you’ll get 8 Hostile Encounters that contain a Champion, and 8 cards that don’t contain a Champion. From the Champions you get, if you slay them you’ll have a total of 8 Quest tracked steps, just short of 10 to win the game.

The problem is when put into practice you’ll be playing a lot of non-champion units. I played the Hunt Journey for 3 hours to only achive five slain Champions on my quest dial. In both my games I played up to ten turns and both times I only got to slay 5 targets.

If you played a level 1 and above, this drastically changes when the scale of Encounters is heavily more to slay compared to non viable units. Its like the rule writers on purposely made it a grind at Level 0 with a weird Hostile Encounter reinforcement rule. Whilst many would say that a challenge is a good thing and stay close to the rules and level up the way its written, I really don’t want to spend two days grinding on a mission that just doesn’t sit right with me.

I’d rather have a game contined within 2 hours that still challenges from the foes and events that take place, rather than a grind based rulset that forces me waste time on a long drawn out game. The challenge is already in the game as shown by the Nightfall space that can be lethal when units are Empowerd. On top of that some Hostile units can be pretty lethal in their own right like Gorslavs buried action, the Korsagi’s brutal output of attacks and defence and the Zombies unique ability to spawn new models by placing gravestones on a free space.

I’m going to try the other two journey missions to see how they go. However, if they are a grind too, then I’m just gong to play as a Level 1 team onwards. From my observation with the Encounter cards, Discovery cards and Explore cards, a Level 1 playthrough is much more balanced after calculating the chances of senario.

Third game, Journey 2

I’m beginning to think this is either me doing something wrong in order to make the game slower, the design of the game is intentionally grinding for a game that lasts 6 hours just to level up heros and decrease one or two point fron either Fear or Influence (which one will go up regardless and more by Crisis fail), or this is actually a really badly thought out game that tries to be like Dark Souls without the charm.

I want to belive that it’s the former case, but I’ve read the rules right and rechecked them over and over. I’ve even watched several playthroughs on YouTube to see how it’s done. The criticism for Cursed City appears to be a case of grind.

If people say it gets better once I level up my Hero’s (for how long though until I finally get to level 1 for all???) then I hope it’s true. I’m starting to consider other creative ideas if this game is becoming nothing but grind for the sake of grind. The game is fun for sure once it gets going, and I really like aspects of the game for its environmental situations and difficulty in making hard decisions on the journey.

But the long drawn out gameplay is an issue for me.

Until next time,

34th Tribe

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3 thoughts on “Warhammer Quest: Cursed City, initial thoughts from a Level 0 perspective

  1. I’ve been reading your thoughts on Cursed City with interest on Instagram and I’m glad you posted them here because I can respond in a more detailed manner here. Grinding in board games is a source of criticism and controversy from what I gather. There are other big name games that have a similar problem. Having said that, the main criticism I’ve heard of Cursed City is that the grinding is too much and it takes away from the fun of the game. Your experiences seem to support that if I understand everything correctly. I’ve heard people say that the game can be saved by houseruling so hopefully that helps you. Boardgamegeek.com would be a good place to check for that though I’m sure there are others as well.

    When Cursed City was announced, I was pumped for it. I missed out on Blackstone Fortress and kind of regretted that because it got a ton of support from GW but I like Warhammer Fantasy a lot more than 40k and Cursed City looked like a throwback to that so I was sure I would get it. I ended up deciding against getting it for reasons I don’t remember and I haven’t regretted that because it seems like the game is unfortunately not one of their better board game releases and support for Cursed City has been minimal at best. With that said, you can’t beat the price you bought it for and I bet the game can be saved with some houserules so fear not! I look forward to hearing your thoughts as you play more and I have a feeling you’ll figure this out and get some fun out of Cursed City.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think you got the hero turning up wrong, there are more. So for example there is a hero rat, a hero bat, a Skelton champion that all.count as hero’s. If you check the cards it say something like if 3 rats are in play 1 I’d a big rat (numbers and names might be off not got the book for reference) and these count as hero’s for need 10 kills. I think the order zombies and the little feral vampires do as well. As such I’ve done this 1 in an hour or so (second time around after getting used to it).

    Liked by 1 person

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