Quest for the Faysylwood

Faysylwood Press, £11
Designed by David Shaw
2-8 Players, about an Hour
Reviewed by Dave Farquhar

The first time I saw Quest for Faysylwood (I'm sure this is the opening line of a Daphne du Maurier novel Rebecca I think), I thought 'Oh no! Talisman meets Up Front' . This turned out to contain an element of truth, although the result was better than I expected. Quest for Faysylwood describes itself as a fantasy role play card game. It is certainly a card game, and is on a fantasy theme, but contains little or no role play.

The game is played using a double size deck of playing cards, nicely illustrated in black and white. There are eight heros; each player selects one and helps him or her to be the first to reach the legendary Faysylwood. Heros are your usual D&D types, each having a different ability:

Dwarf - clears mountains, likes axes, locates gold;
Elf - clears forest, magic user;
Fighter - tough cookie;
Magician - strong on spell use, no armour;
Priest - magic user, may cheat death;
Ranger - mobile, good fighter;
Thief - evades danger, nicks stuff;
Sorceress - magic user, may charm foes.

Each hero sets off alone, and never shall they meet. As the quest progresses heros acquire followers and items, thereby becoming stronger. The wood is located, and victory achieved, by the first player to successfully negotiate five terrain cards.

Player turns are carried out individually. The hero is placed in front of the player, and trudges along, with followers and equipment laid above the card, and terrain below. The hero is always located in the terrain card furthest to the right. Rather than explaining the rules in detail, I shall run through one sample player turn.

Movement Phase: Egbert the elf is on his third terrain card. His first was a forest, which caused him no problem, being an elf. The second was a city, where he had purchased a war horse for one gold piece, and acquired a sword and shield (all three played from his hand). However, Stumpy the dwarf has recently played a swamp on Egbert. Since this has not yet been successfully negotiated, and our elven friend has no path card in his hand, he flips the top card from the deck. Checking the random number he sees it is a four, less than the eight or more required to find a way through.

Encounter Phase: Egbert searches his hand, and finds no items or followers he could encounter in a swamp. He does, though, hold a magic suit of armour which he would like to wear. Merely having the card in the hand is not enough, however. Feeling confident Egbert plays bandits on himself, and proceeds to fight them. If Egbert wins, three points of treasure will be his, which he can use to claim the armour.

The first decision facing Egbert is whether to use physical or magical combat. Having no decent spell cards he draws Pinprick, his sword, from its sheath and, hooves flailing, he rides his mighty war horse at the bandits. Egbert has a physical combat rating of two, and to this he adds one for the sword, and two for the warhorse, plus a random number. Drawing a five, this totals ten. The bandits have a combat value of three, and flip a ten, totalling thirteen. Egbert loses the battle by three; his shield can absorb one hit, but this is not enough. Luckily for the elf, Dobbin dies on his behalf, leaving Egbert alone and on foot, lost in the swamp.

Hinder Phase: Egbert is feeling somewhat miffed by this time, and would rather like to get his own back on Stumpy. He could play fog on the dwarf, to slow his progress. Looking around at the others though, he sees a rather smug looking Merlin the Magician sitting back stroking his owl. "I'll teach him" thinks Egbert, and sends a dragon to attack the mage on the plains, where he is currently resting. The dragon attacks as an eight, and draws a six, adding two as a terrain modifier, giving sixteen. Egbert watches pityingly as Merlin, a strength three magic user plus his apprentice (one), waves his arms around a bit and launches a firestorm (three), flipping the next card, the random number drawn is a ten.....seventeen in total! The dragon goes down in a ball of flames, and Merlin raids its treasure cave (worth six), finding a bag of gold (one treasure point), and a wand of frost (five points). These are both played from Merlin's hand into his inventory. "Buggeration!" thinks Egbert, as he discards, and makes his hand back up to seven.

Thus the game continues. Heros start off very vulnerable, but as the game progresses they gain strength, which in turn leads to them killing tougher foes and finding better treasures. The game works pretty well in what it attempts to achieve. Interaction is limited, but there is a reasonable amount of flavour. Quest for Faysylwood is pleasant to play, and should be a hit with people who particularly enjoy fantasy games. For the more general Sumo gamer, however, I don't see anything that makes it really stand out.

Dave Farquhar

On to the review of Montgolfiere or back to the review of Ko-An.

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