Starcadia Quest Showdown is a Player vs Player expansion for both Starcadia Quest and Arcadia Quest, published by CMON. Designed by the likes of Thiago Aranha, Guilherme Goulart and Eric M. Lang, the game sees 2 – 4 players taking on each other – with no monsters getting in the way. Lasting under an hour, crews will gear up with new upgrade tokens before dueling it out in PvP action! However, will all Starcadia owners want to take part in a Showdown like this? Let’s find out!
(Editor’s note: You will need either the Starcadia Quest core box or any Arcadia Quest core box [Classic or Inferno] to play Showdown.)
As well as the obvious change of making the game entirely PvP focused, the Showdown expansion tweaks and changes a few aspects of Starcadia Quest, starting with setup. The first change is that included are new player boards, with players still able to pick their colour during setup. These boards only feature space for 4 upgrades per character though, and on the reverse has spaces for a team of 3 characters – for use in a 2 player game.
Another change is how players acquire starting equipment. Pouring a range of the starting upgrade tokens into the Hollow bag, with 72 new upgrades included in the expansion, equipment is drafted. Starting with one player they pull out tokens from the bag; 6 for 2 – 3 players and 8 for 4 players. Each player going clockwise around the table claims one, until all are taken. Passing the bag onto the next player this process is repeated until all of the upgrade tiles are claimed and each character has all 4 of their slots filled.
Starcadia Quest Showdown comes with a single double sided central board, ditching the modular tile based system seen in the base game. This allows a specific balanced battleground to be utilized for the teams to fight it out on. The board is double sided, with a 2 player side and a 3 – 4 player side, with surprisingly no extra spaces afforded on the 3 – 4 player side of the board. It’s somewhat of a shame that even the artwork is the same, aside from a different number of starting zones being shown. Part of the fun of the modular tiles was the visually different environments and while the depicted Showdown board features interesting looking areas, walled corridors and such there isn’t the extra interest of variety.
Regardless of the number of players the board features only a few important locations. With a single stimpack and recharge token location, and only 2 computer terminals, these can quickly become fought over, with the teams potentially needing them for abilities or just to survive. Moving around the board is also slightly different from regular Starcadia Quest. Whilst a player still only activates one character per turn the movement can be split between all characters in the crew. Given the close quarters of the Showdown board this is super helpful for retreating characters back around a wall and into cover, whilst another jumps out and can attempt to down an opponent.
To some extent this ability to split movement adds another layer into the tactical nature of the experience and for good reason. In the base game, and other expansions, dying is more of an inconvenience – with other teams only getting a single point towards victory. In the base game a single point wasn’t a huge amount of the final score. In Showdown every single kill counts as it is a simple race to see which Crew can rack up 3 kills first. Remembering there are no events or monsters running around, only kills on other player characters matter. Therefore, every space of movement, every angle you leave your characters uncovered from and even how well you have drafted upgrades is important.
Half of the excitement of other Starcadia Quest expansions comes from the inclusion of new miniatures, be that monsters to tackle along the way or new heroes to pick from. Showdown features no new miniatures, though it does offer a huge range of new upgrade equipment tiles. Importantly though, it offers gamers a new way to use Arcadia Quest miniatures in the sci-fi setting.
Coming with 60 character cards, heroes, pets and mounts from past Arcadia Quest games have new cards designed to make them playable in Starcadia Quest. For people with those games and expansions, this is a new opportunity not only to get them off the shelf but to get a totally new experience from the same miniatures. Unfortunately, it does mean that included in this expansion are a lot of unusable cards in the box if you don’t own any Arcadia Quest content.
Starcadia Quest Showdown is a rather unique expansion, with it designed with two potentially separate gamers in mind. For those that love taking down their friends in the PvPvE regular games then this points the spotlight firmly at that. The adjustments to drafting equipment and movement allow players to get stuck in and smash Crews together – in short sharp conflicts. All of the Arcadia Quest conversion cards however are almost an offering to fans of the series whom have all of the content, enabling them to get even more out of what they have. As someone with limited Arcadia Quest experience that does leave me wanting to have more content but it just feels slightly odd that an expansion requires so much else to be fully used and enjoyed.
(Editor’s Note: Starcadia Quest Showdown was provided to us by Asmodee for the review. The expansion is currently available from local board game stores! Find your local store here.)