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Descent: Journeys in the Dark» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Into the Dark - A 10 year celebration: Quest 5 rss

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Paul Newby
England
Bolton
Lancashire
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Hi all, it's only been a month since myself and Hayley played quest 4 of the base game but Hayley was looking forward to playing quest 5 'Last Wishes', so here goes.

I randomly drew my four heroes as usual and ended up with Varikas the Dead, Red Scorpion, Runewitch Astarra and Vyrah the Falconer. Both Vyrah and Red Scorpion were new to me and I say 'ended up with' rather than 'the pleasure of the company of' because only Varikas is worth 4 conquest tokens and Astarra had let me down before so I was apprehensive as to how low conquest heroes would measure up!

Regardless, I decided that because my previous strategy of splitting the heroes up into two groups of two had almost worked, it was worth another try. I thought the two girls (Astarra and Red Scorpion) would make a good pairing, so that left Varikas and Vyrah trudging off on their own.

Hayley was looking her usual confident self as the Overlord - especially as she had won the previous quest, but I was confident - ish in my heroes.

After hearing of the old man's plight with the dread dragon Tog we set off to find his lair and end the beast!



Now this quest introduces the concept of staircases and I underestimated them completely (specifically - their nuisance factor!), but more on that later.

My intrepid band were faced with a multi level layout and I assumed the dragon lived in the deepest depths (otherwise known as 'level 3').

Vyrah confidently opened the door flanked by his trusty falcon Skye. As an aside, I soon realised Skye is very useful for the other heroes more so than she is for Vyrah himself, seeing as familiars have to move at the end of their heroes turn, and Skye reduces enemy armour by one point so the remaining heroes can wade in on the affected enemies that are suffering the armour penalty. This is just one more level of complexity and tactical decision making required in an already tactical game. I'm big on synergy between heroes - especially in a two player game of Descent and Skye added another welcome element to my tactical decision making process.



However, all my confidence and enthusiasm went right out of the window when literally on Hayley's first turn three beastmen, a sorcerer and a skeleton killed Vyrah! Turn one! WTF!?

I realised then that this was going to be brutal, but as always seems to happen to my heroes, one of them performs like they came home from the tavern a couple of hours too late the night before and Vyrah kept that trend going... For the remainder of the quest, no matter what weapon or armour I gave him, he repeatedly missed with his bow, died and generally was about as much use as a fifth wheel.



My other problem soon raised it's head too. Red Scorpion. How on earth do I get the best out of her when she has one black dice in each discipline? I initially went for melee with a kick ass sword, thinking that she would compliment Astarra's magic abilities. Big mistake. Like Vyrah, she also couldn't hit a barn door, until I reequipped her with an awesome magic Fire Staff, at which point she became unstoppable. I guess for some reason, she just didn't like the sword and preferred the magic!

Runewitch Astarra was doing particularly well - compared to her previous outing anyway, until she got close to red Scorpion, at which point they just both loved dying together! Girls are rubbish!



Suddenly Red Scorpion made a bid for the stairs by way of a copper chest and I was moving! Vyrah by this point had literally moved one space! One space! What the hell was wrong with him? Astarra was performing like a woman who had left the gas on back home and Varikas was slowly trudging onwards (movement 3 - standard), oblivious to everyone else's predicaments.



This first level was a nightmare! It felt like there was a hundred ways for Hayley's minions to get to us. There was just no way to cover all lines of sight - even with Varikas having Boggs the rat as a familiar.

So I decided to make a run for it thinking 'well at least Bane Spiders can't follow downstairs'. A decision that would bite me hard later on level 2!

Once I decide my heroes would run for it, I failed to use the Guard order often enough which led to both Astarra and Red going on yet another shopping trip following their joint deaths! Girls and shopping eh?



By this time, Vyrah had almost reached the stairs and Varikas... well Varikas was just busy being Varikas, but I was forgiving him what with him already being dead and all... and to be fair at least he wasn't constantly dying. He was just taking f.o.r.e.v.e.r. to get anywhere!

But, the boys were holding the fort on level one whilst the girls were browsing the haberdashery section of the market. And I was lucky this coincided with a dearth of spawn cards for Hayley.

It's worth mentioning again here that we play with a house rule around conquest tokens that basically means once the heroes reach zero, the Overlord starts to accrue them and I have to win them back. We prefer this system to stopping playing as soon as the heroes reach zero. Whoever is in credit by the end of the quest wins! Simple.



A couple of turns later and I took advantage of Hayley's lack of spawn cards and was making excellent progress to the stairs down to level 2. All four heroes were in sight of each other and in the same passageway - even Varikas! Progress!



This is where I made my biggest mistake. I moved Vylar down the stairs at the end of my turn - after the three other heroes had already moved. When will I learn to reveal a new area at the start of my turn - not at the end of it!



I was over confident - again, because I'd gotten all the gang fairly close together, but the stairs proved a different challenge than just revealing any old area on the same level. I obviously didn't have chance to activate the glyph on the new level and as you can see in the photo, Vylar was extremely exposed to danger! In my head I'd written off the first level as 'done' almost like in a videogame mentality.

Of course once Vylar and Astarra died (again) guess where they respawned? Back on the flaming first level - surrounded by Hellhounds and skeletons that I'd left behind as no great threat - especially as since only 1 space monsters can use staircases. Doh!

Much hilarity from the Overlord of course as Hayley proceeded to hound Vylar and Astarra every step of the way back to the staircase. This was compounded by the dreaded 'Doom' card making it's unwelcome appearance.



On 'level 2' a stupid Ogre kept knocking my trusty heroes back so they couldn't return to help the others or really make any progress forwards. I had a nightmare few turns and this meant the conquest token advantage swung to Hayley. Eventually I sacrificed Vylar to run to activate the glyph and give me some breathing space at least - even if he died after he got there, which ironically this was the one time he didn't actually die. In fact I think even he thought 'how the hell did I survive that?' as the Overlord's dice rolls threw up more 'X's' than is probably statistically possible!

Eventually I managed to get a foothold on the second level with the help of Red Scorpion and her amazing Staff of Fire. She really came into her own - torching everything in sight, and I was happy that she had found her niche as an awesome magic user as opposed to a hopeless melee expert.



By this time we broke for our evening meal, where traditionally we put all hostilities aside as we break bread!

Once combat resumed, I opened a bottle of red wine and sometimes that is the catalyst for my tactical decision making to go sharply south! But in this case I think it filled me with dutch courage. I certainly took more risks. But even with wine flowing freely, I still remembered to move all my heroes down to the third level at the start of my turn as opposed to the end. Lesson learned from my second level disaster!

As a side note, I think my dice rolls get better the more wine I drink..?



To my surprise I was faced with a door that split the level. This was only the third door I'd encountered during this whole quest so it kind of threw me for no understandable reason. Where was the damn dragon!?

Much to my despair, I soon found out, as I opened the door to be faced by the not so mighty sounding Tog!



I had plenty of coin by this stage and was ready to visit the market to spend, spend, spend. But oh no. The sneaky deceiver had sprung a trap removing the glyph and it literally became a fight to the death!

I panicked after causing substantial damage to the beast by placing Astarra on Guard at the end of her turn and then for some inconceivable reason plonked Red Scorpion right in front of her so Astarra couldn't even hit the dragon in the Overlord's turn! Schoolboy error!

I could hear Astarra screaming "Move you stupid witch!"

At this point Hayley still had two conquest tokens and I feared that if I lost a couple of heroes here and the corresponding conquest, I would lose the quest regardless of what I would get for slaying Tog.

But.... Hayley made a mistake! She didn't take advantage of Tog's minions to protect him as she was blinded by his healing ability, thinking it would be enough to prolong the fight whilst she wore my heroes down.

I was determined to stick to the plan of 'kill the dragon - ignore the minions'. Easier said than done to be honest, but my single mindedness paid off, for only two turns later, Astarra unleashed a petrifying blast of magic that slew the beast! I gained four conquest and victory was mine! I had won by two conquest tokens. So close!



This is turning into an epic campaign of Descent. We both love it and are already planning to play quest 6. And with the Well of Darkness and Altair of Despair, Tomb of Ice, the Advanced Campaign... wow, just wow.

I've touched on this before but I wanted to expand on it slightly by saying that I always choose the four heroes randomly. I literally turn all the cards over, shuffle them and deal four out. In a five player game I would probably let the players choose the individual heroes but as a single player controlling all four heroes I really enjoy working out how the heroes I've drawn best compliment each other. Yes, sometimes they die a lot (especially early on), until I find their strengths and weaknesses and play accordingly, but I'm finding this part of the game really enjoyable. I can't even really put my finger on it as all logic says selecting your heroes should be the most satisfying, but I'm really enjoying the challenge of randomly selected ones.

The game goes from strength to strength in my eyes. Wonderful!

The more tactics presented in each quest, the more rewarding an experience Descent is. I've said it before and I'll say it again, there's nothing quite like spending a long, lazy Sunday with someone you care about playing an epic board game like Descent.

Once again, thanks ever so much for reading!
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Luke Butler
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What is that fancy mat I see!? Ooooooooohhhh shiney!

Great session report! Thanks!
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Paul Newby
England
Bolton
Lancashire
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Thank you for the kind words!

The town mat is from here on the geek. The player mats I made myself years ago but have since lost the template (damn you windows 10!).

If there was enough interest, I could remake them I guess, but there are so many good ones already posted in the files section.
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Andrew Park
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I really like your playthroughs, I can feel the excitement and anguish of playing through the levels. Ive only played a few levels and am going to start a new campaign with my group after we have completed Imperial Assault.

I was wondering however when you use the house rule of...

"Overlord starts to accrue them and I have to win them back"

How are the token won back?

Thanks
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Paul Newby
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Bolton
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Thanks so much for the compliment! I'm really glad you like our playthroughs, because we have great fun playing Descent and I enjoy sharing our experiences.

The house rule of the Overlord accruing tokens and the heroes winning them back is simply this: Once the heroes are reduced to zero conquest tokens, the overlord gains them instead of the game ending.

The heroes can still gain conquest as normal but first they have to reduce the amount from the Overlord. For example:

The heroes currently have 2 conquest tokens. The overlord kills a hero worth a conquest value of 4. The OL now has 2 conquest tokens (he reduced the heroes by 2 and then gained 2 himself).

If the heroes then activate a glyph, they gain 3 conquest so they would reduce the OL's 2 to zero and gain 1 for themselves, and so on.

Whoever is in credit at the end of the quest is the winner. We find that this way, the swing between who is currently winning is fun to watch - and more importantly, we finish each quest - especially seeing as they take quite a long time to play!
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