A Solitary Review – Quests of Valeria

This review, like ones I will be doing in the future, is based solely on the solo mode of the game, which for many games is not the intended way to play it. Or at least, it’s not the “traditional” or “normal” way to play, and in some solo modes it shows (as they sometimes feel tacked on or insufficiently tested/designed). I’ll reflect on this in each of these reviews to give solo players an idea whether the game is something they should pick up specifically for solitaire play.

Game: Quests of Valeria
Publisher: Daily Magic Games
Designer: Isaias Vallejo
Main Game Mechanisms: Tableau building, action management
Number of Players: 1 to 5
Game Time: 20-45 minutes

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Example of a solo setup for Quests of Valeria. I think the draw and discard piles are backwards from the multiplayer setup (and from how the playmat is oriented) but it works.
*NOTE: Playmat is completely optional and not necessary for gameplay. It’s sold separately.*

Description:

Quests Of Valeriais another game in the Valeria universe by Daily Magic Games. Same art style and basic card type (i.e.: Citizens), and the tableau-building aspect is still strong with it, but the twist in this game is you don’t have buildings or domains to add to your area, or monsters to fight. This time around, you hire citizens into your guild to then send out to complete quests.

The solo mode has you working through a limited number of cards to gather as many victory points (by completing Quests) as possible. At the end of each turn, the leftmost Citizen and Quest cards are discarded, with the rest sliding over and the empty spots being filled from the respective decks. When there are no more cards in either the Citizen row or the Quest row (because the deck ran out and you couldn’t fill the spaces anymore), tally your points and compare to the ranges in the rulebook. If you score enough, the kingdom bows before your prowess. Score too little and they may question your capabilities.

The basic turn consists of performing two actions. Each action, however, can lead to further bonus actions as hiring Citizens allows you to use whatever power they have, which frequently leads to additional actions. Similarly, when you have the right combination of Citizens in your guild (your tableau, Citizens in your hand do not count and are only either used to hire Citizens in the market or hired from your hand into your tableau) you can use an action to complete a Quest and those have bonus actions on them much like Citizens. Quests are the only way to score at the end of the game as they are the only place victory points are found.

Review:

The solo mode setup has you removing a portion of the cards from the Citizen deck before shuffling and dealing, seemingly the ones that have interaction with other players (such as stealing or discarding from them). The notable exception is the Thief which at face value steals a card from an opponent’s hand when hired. As you have no opponent in solitaire, and the rules don’t say how to treat the card differently, it left me bewildered as to why the Thief was left in the deck when all other opponent-interaction cards are removed or how to use the hire power.

I have since checked Board Game Geek to learn that the card, in solo mode, should instead steal from the discard pile (although it’s still not clear if you choose or if it’s random) but the fact that you have to go to an outside resource to learn this, and that it’s still not entirely explained, is frustrating. Because of this, the solo rules are not fully playable out of the box which kinda makes it feel like the solo mode was just a tacked on feature to attract solo gamers like myself. A poorly designed/implemented solo mode in the end is worse than not having a solo mode at all.

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Example of the final scoring of a solo game. 8 quests and a total of 31 points. I ended up having a lot of inefficient quests (I consider requiring more than 3 cards for a single quest to be inefficient unless the quest is worth a lot of points and/or has a lot of requirements, which none of these did) and so I didn’t complete a very large amount in total.

Thankfully, the rest of the solo mode is enough to push past this oversight and the experience itself is overall positive. It’s not difficult to score at least moderately well (which I did in the example above) and the different guild masters, who give bonus victory points for certain types of completed quests, allow for different strategies across plays. In the above game the two types I needed for bonus points popped up a lot at the beginning which caused me to have to discard several due to being unable to complete them fast enough, but I still managed to complete eight Quests total. My strategy has been to only complete the Quests you get bonuses for, but perhaps that’s not the best way to go about it. I’ll have to experiment as I play more!

Conclusion:

Having played all 3 Valeria games solitaire now, and despite the Thief confusion, I think Quests ranks as my second in overall playability/enjoyability of the solo mode in and of itself. I consider it above the solo mode for Valeria: Card Kingdoms (as it’s more fun in its implementation) but not as good as Villages of Valeria (which I think is DMG’s most polished Valeria solo mode to date and the one that feels like they put the most effort into). I’ve never run out of Quests, the end game is always from the Citizens running out, but I think that’s the best case anyway as having Citizens left but limited Quests just leaves you with nothing to do for your final turns.

Overall, I give Quests of Valeria solo mode a solid Okay. It’s not amazing but it’s not terrible. If you don’t see yourself playing it for anything other than solo play then I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it, but if you want to play it solo in between sessions with other people then I’d say go for it. It seems like it’d be good fun in a group and I look forward to getting it to the table to try it that way!

Game On!
Scott – The Solitary Meeple

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