From So-So to Great: An Evolution of Playing Maiden’s Quest
Enjoy a surprising turn of events with a tower escape made possible by high heels, a guinea pig, and more in Maiden’s Quest.
The first few times I played through Maiden’s Quest resulted in a rather negative initial reaction in my previous post. I mentioned how first impressions aren’t always everything, though! Something told me there was more to it. For a low initial rating, I should have put it away. Yet I found it calling to me and with it so easy to play… Might I actually like it?
At its core, this is a game about matching symbols and making the most of a randomized deck. However, the upgrades and downgrades must be done strategically. Most cards have 2-4 different sides. Is it worth it to go for extra symbols, or find a hidden exit? Lots of choices!
May 28, 2021
May 28, 2021
8" x 6"
Another Mrs. Claws
I delicately set myself up for a mediocre play experience. A new deck would tell me if I was just confused, or if the game simply wasn’t for me. One never knows at first!
This time, I played as Jenavieve from the box art and went up against Mrs. Claws. That’s not Mrs. Claus, mind you!
Alright. Part of me was very annoyed at the standard difficult level where I shuffled through the deck over and over on level 4. It was endless at times. But then…
I looked at the cards. There were definite strategies. And then I won with the help of a self-folding chair. What?!
Iconic Icon Sets
It all started to come together. Each deck consists of roughly 50-60 cards. Objects, health, encounters, and more add a lot of variety to each hero-boss combination.
Encounters all provide ways to upgrade or downgrade cards, depending on the outcome. It’s actually good to lose from time to time, either by running or actually losing.
Why? Downgrading some cards removes their usefulness, yet others get more powerful or even turn into exits!
It isn’t a case of simply racing to upgrade every card to its gold side. Many are beneficial, yet downgrading is vital.
I overlooked something important when I muddled through the rulebook. Every card isn’t just a set of icons. There are all sorts of items, and many are hilarious!
Take this victory over a goblin. I won with a war censer, stiletto heels, and hard-toed boots. Think about that.
I pictured a censer being used to generate a smokescreen. Curious and choking, a sudden flurry of footwear flew through the air to knock out the goblin. Success!
Granted, I don’t think this is a game that lends itself to deep narratives with the way it plays. Yet it is fun!
A Fancy Way to Win
If it isn’t clear, I went on to play with a new deck because I was suddenly having a fantastic time! This time, I was Pricilla… Not Priscilla, mind you. I needed a reminder.
She defeated this goblin in a different way. All dressed up, she looked less than dangerous with hair extensions and a pearled clutch. Sofia?! Golden Girls reference. Ha ha!
The goblin was likely intrigued by the fancy dress. Then… WHAM! Knocked out by the clutch and tied up with hair.
Many encounters played out similarly, only with less drama and more of a focus on the individual icons.
Meet Mr. Marrow
Pricilla may have been prepared, but her captor was far from easy. Mr. Marrow was more annoying than anything!
When he appeared, he flipped up to 2 defeated enemies. So she had to battle the same foes multiple times. How rude, Mr. Marrow! No relation to Mrs. Claws. Maybe?
I ended up losing several times. The win condition required 1 sun icon and 11 other icons. Yikes!
Perhaps my early mistake was not checking which cards in my deck could turn into exits after being downgraded. It was very difficult to directly go up against this captor!
The Best Kind of Draw
After back-to-back losses, I thought I saw the way ahead. Indeed, I did! I upgraded a lot of cards not only to increase my hand size but to look ahead at the next 5 cards.
So it all came together when I drew this beautiful fan. I arranged the cards as I needed them and was able to choose a set of 4 extra cards to benefit me the most.
The pearled clutch was, in truth, a clutch player! Even with all of this, I barely made it with 13 extra icons and 1 sun.
Easy? Not at all! Yet I reset and played with the same deck, this time escaping through a hidden exit. Bye, Marrow!
Play Number: 5-10
Solo Mode: Included in the Base Game
Play Details: Standard Difficulty Level
Outcome: 3 Wins and 3 Losses
See? Pricilla was excellent in the footwear department, which helped her in unexpected ways! The funny thing is the description for the knee-high boots: “At least they’re not high heels.” Interspersed with heels and stilettos, of course. Ha! And don’t ever forget Sweetie the guinea pig. She was integral to success! This game was painful to learn, yet I’m absolutely thrilled to have it now.
Price & Value
Challenges & Mechanics
Design & Theme
Components & Rules
Achievement & Enjoyment
Distinctness & Randomness
+ Pros (Positives)
- Each card has multiple uses and can be best upgraded or downgraded, depending on the overall deck strategy.
- The humor in the object names and flavor text adds a lot to the experience, even if only for a single encounter.
- Although the choices and decisions may not be obvious at first, every card plays a role in some way.
- Play time may be a little lengthy, yet it’s simple to pause at any point and resume at another time in the future.
- It’s possible to play with the deck entirely in hand, although if table space is desired, only a tiny area is needed.
- A lot of variety is present with the way a deck takes shape during setup, leading to almost endless combinations.
– Cons (Negatives)
- Spelling mistakes are a little too common in the flavor text, taking away from the humorous immersion.
- The card stock seems rather underwhelming for a game where the cards are handled and reshuffled constantly.
- Gameplay can drag on near the end of the standard difficulty level when it just comes down to the right cards.
- Figuring out how to play takes a lot of effort since the rulebook is so confusing and may turn some away.
Complete the Difficulty Requirements
- Overall Goal Progress 100% 100%
Goals and Milestones
Win at least 1 game against Jeliasta Jones.
Win at least 1 game against Mr. Marrow.
Win at least 1 game against Mrs. Claws.
Win at least 1 game as Jenavieve of Joyeux.
Win at least 1 game as Min the Gnome.
Win at least 1 game as Pricilla of Icehold.
Win at least 1 game at the easy difficulty level.
Win at least 1 game at the standard difficulty level.
Continue the Conversation
How has your experience changed with Maiden’s Quest? My rating jumped significantly and although I can’t say it’s going to end up in my top games, there’s certainly something special here. Do you have a favorite object? It’s amazing that I didn’t pick up on the jokes initially! I suppose I was so focused on learning how to play. This one is a lot of fun!