Review time! Today, I’ll be taking a look at a drawing game called
Loony Quest is a game that was published by Libellud in 2015, designed by Laurent Escoffier and David Franck. The game was originally published by Blue Orange Games in 2014 as Doodle Quest, but Libellud redeveloped it and gave it its own flair. It wasn’t available in the US for a while due to licensing issues, but Asmodee was able to bring it to our shores in 2016. The setup is that the king of Arkadia has set up a tournament to find an heir. You’re hoping that’s you.
The game comes with 21 double-sided level cards, 52 bonus and penalty tokens, 5 transparent tracing sheets, 5 drawing boards, 5 dry erase markers, 5 scoring sticks, 5 player tokens, a 30 second sand timer, and an insert that features a scoring track just inside the box. Each player will get a board, a transparency, and a dry eras marker, as well as a player token and matching scoring stick.
At the start of each game, you’ll choose a world to compete in. There are seven different worlds of increasing difficulty, and most have six levels (the seventh [Epic World] only has four). You’ll put the first level of your chosen world onto the box insert (which has a conveniently shaped slot for the board) and then flip the timer. Players now have thirty seconds to complete a drawing challenge as laid out on the level board. But here’s the problem – you are drawing on your own transparency and must just eyeball the board to hopefully get it right.
There are four different missions you may have to complete:
- Link means that you’ll have to connect point A to point B with one continuous line.
- Move is where you draw a continuous line, starting at one point and ending anywhere.
- Ring is where you’ll have to completely enclose certain targets within circles.
- Mark is where you’ll draw dots to try to hit certain targets.
When time is up, or everyone is done, each player will in turn place their transparency on the board to see how they did. Often, there will be obstacles you had to avoid, as well as reward spots you wanted to hit. Some spots will give you points, some spots will lose you points, and other spots will give you a bonus or penalty token. Bonus tokens could be pranks to pull on others (throw a banana peel on their board that they must avoid, balance a mosquito on their pen while drawing, or hand a penalty token to another player) or power-ups (cancel the loss of points due to hitting an obstacle, or score two extra points). Generally, these can be played whenever you like. Penalty tokens will affect you in the next round. You could get a cramp (draw with your arm held out straight), get the claw (draw while holding your pen between your thumb and pinky), hit the vortex (flip your drawing board from the white side to the busier and more distracting side), get a switch (draw with your non-dominant hand), or meet Cyclops (close one eye while drawing).
As players score points, they have to be mindful that two players can’t have the same score. Therefore, you’ll have to move your score marker to the next space if there’s someone already there. After the boss level is finished, the player who has scored the most points is the winner.
COMPONENTS: Libellud is well known for doing a great job with their bits, and this is no exception. Everything is high quality, and looks great. The player boards are nice and solid for writing on, the transparencies do their job well, the markers WORK…just great quality overall. Two things I want to lift up. First, the insert is extremely well designed. It holds everything, provides a space for the current level to be displayed, and has the scoreboard imprinted around the edge. Those tongue depressor score markers are a great innovation. The other thing is how well designed the level boards are. The art is great to begin with, but the obstacles are all in appropriate places and nothing feels impossible.
THEME: The theme is very light here, but you get the sense that Libellud was going more for a classic video game feel in the way things are set up. I have a feeling if they could have made this into a side-scroller, they probably would have. From the worlds to the obstacles to the strategically placed enemies and even the final boss level, this game screams video game to me. So that’s more of a thematic link, I think, than the king of Arkadia organizing a tournament. (Hey, Arkadia, there’s another clue!)
MECHANICS: The biggest mechanism in this game is the drawing element. You’ve got the four possible missions, and you’ve got the spatial awareness needed to succeed. There’s a significant push-your-luck element in the game as players decide whether or not to risk disaster by going for bonuses or more points. There’s a little bit of take-that with the banana, mosquito, and broom pranks, and there’s a little bit of dexterity involved with most of the penalties (and heaven help you if you get more than one at once). It also features real-time play, which most people know really appeals to me. Despite all of this going on, the game is still really quick to play. Everything works pretty smoothly. I do wish there was some kind of easier reference as to what the bonus and penalty tokens do.
STRATEGY LEVEL: Let’s face it – there’s not a whole lot of strategy here. It’s mostly about who can eyeball a picture and create their marks better than anyone else. There are a couple of tactical decisions that pop up, however. In some of the levels, you might be able to spot a pixie hiding somewhere. If you do find it and manage to hit it with one of your lines, you’ll be able to play a side quest. However, they are generally not easy to find, and if you do see one, it won’t be easy to get to. So that’s a decision you’ll have to make. Beyond that, it’s just a question of what you want to go for – points, bonuses, you name it. But no, there’s not a lot of strategic depth here.
ACCESSIBILITY: This is an easy game to explain, and an easy game to understand. There’s not a whole lot of complexity involved. It’s a good one to turn your brain off and just play.
REPLAYABILITY: Because there are seven different worlds in the box, this game has a pretty high replay value. I suppose it would be possible to practice and get really good at the boards, but a) don’t be that guy, and b) seriously, what is wrong with you to even think about that? Go out and play games, don’t sit their practicing your Loony Quest drawing skills!
It just occurred to me that it would be really difficult to have Loony Quest tournaments because people would probably do just that – practice. But then, I guess it would be fun to have Loony Quest tournaments that introduce new worlds no one has played before. That would be cool.
SCALABILITY: You can play this game with 2-5 players just because that’s what’s in the box. The more players you have, the longer it will take because you have to wait for everyone to compare. Theoretically, you could really play this game with as many people as you had transparencies for, but you should probably NOT. Scoring would probably be complicated.
INTERACTION: There’s not much interaction in the game. The only things are the prank bonus tokens. You could also say the scoring mechanism is also a form of interaction as two players can’t land on the same spot, but I’d say it’s more a consequence of seating order. I wouldn’t call it multiplayer solitaire, but it’s close.
FOOTPRINT: You don’t need a whole lot of space to play this game. Just a spot for the box to rest, and places for everyone else to be drawing. You don’t even really need table space for that since the boards are all pretty solid. So a small table should be sufficient.
IS IT BUZZWORTHY? I really like this game, but at the same time, I recognize that your mileage may vary. If you don’t like real-time games, or you don’t like to draw, or you really feel spatially challenged, this might be a tough one to get into. However, I think that it works really well in a nice casual atmosphere, and I think it would really make a good bait style game for people – one that will bring people to the table.
That will do it for today. Thanks for reading!