Ok, I know hepcat gave his thoughts earlier, and I think I'm in complete agreement. There's a lot going on and the first time you're playing Altar Quest - there's so many parts to juggle. However, after you get a feel for the flow and more importantly what you can expect each round from the various cards activating, then the real game play emerges and you can lose yourself in the strategy of the card play and the tactics for moving the miniatures.
Knowing how each round is going to flow and which cards are going to activate first on the Threat turn can make a huge difference - particularly when certain Altar Dice are showing. For example, because the enemies in your threat area activate first, if they use that Altar Die, it's re-rolled and then unavailable to the Boss that round (assuming you roll a different face). However, if you stun a threat (like I constantly do with Rowen) then the Altar Die isn't activated by a minion and instead the Boss uses it - and it's likely worse. Add in trying to end your turn near a room feature to gain a free activation (which might get you resources, treasure, or a scenario-specific card) and you have a lot to juggle on each turn - way more than a game like Street Masters or Brook City.
This feels like such a great implementation of the modular deck system - all the parts are firing and working together great. I would advise playing the same boss, minion and adventure theme over and over and just swap out the characters. Again, that first game is going to be brutal, but after you just know how to handle those modular elements, learning each character will be much more fun.
The biggest downside is the space. Here's a shot on Round 4:
I have it set up in a way for true solo that lets me play on about 1/2 of the game board with all the bits on a set of side folding tables, sorted in cups and using a card holder (just out of frame). Otherwise it would be a giant, sprawling mess. Because you're only going to see about 9 rooms (I think) per game, I can just keep myself to 1/2 a board and if I get bored with this setup, just rotate the map around and play in a new area.
The rule book isn't great and I'm kinda surprised. I don't know if they're just assuming people are familiar, but it really needs an edit for clarity. There desperately needs to be ~15 minute videos on Youtube to show a typical turn or how to move through each element (one short video for Hero turn; one short video for Threat turn). There are plenty of 2+ hour videos, but some are quite old. Short, punchy tutorials are needed.
I like how combat is different and more RPG-like with various tests. The exploding dice element always make it possibly worth any type of attempt because who knows? Maybe you'll get a critical result and get to roll another die. Or maybe you'll get a focus roll and be able to convert that to another success. I loved both in Street Masters and it works really well in this game.
This is definitely what I was hoping for. I'm not entirely sure every character will work in true solo Rowen (the Hobbit
Burry) is hard to hit but I'm having a problem dealing with threats. However, with so many characters to try that alone is worth the game (for me). IF it becomes too much, I can always add an Ally and see how that goes - just so many options.
Might not be for everyone, but it's a winner for me - I can tell already.