Guide to Descent 2Ed Overlord Cards
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Introduction

This article presents a complete review of all Overlord cards released as of now. It will hopefully get a certain mindset across, explaining how to use the OL cards mechanism to best effect. As such the individual cards review part of the list is more of a support document, the core of the article being the list header itself, which I’ll be using here to give my thoughts as an overlord player.

The intent with this guide is to help our fellow overlord players to make an informed decision when selecting their cards, and trying to build a reliable deck. The best you can do, however, is to make your own opinion about the cards as you play them. It will make you better at the overlord role, through analyzing what you could have done better, learning from your own mistakes and slowly trying to optimize your card play quest after quest off the back of your newly acquired knowledge and experience. My locale is likely not the same as yours, therefore you will inevitably find situations where your experience slightly diverges from mine with regards to certain cards.

This list may be useful to beginners, so they can get started on proper grounds, knowing what to expect with regards to playing overlord cards. Experienced players can also use this list as a baseline for discussions. We can expand on how any given card can be used, in which situation it can shine, possible synergies with other abilities, and so on. The goal, ultimately, is to identify aspects of the overlord play that could be interesting to try out, into discussing overlord strategy in general. Despite my extended experience of the game, I certainly haven’t explored the integrality of the possibilities the game has to offer.


OL cards in a nutshell

Overlord cards are the essence of the Overlord power, and I would even go ahead and say that they matter at least as much as the monsters you can use on the map. Why? Because they are the only parameter of the big Overlord equation the heroes cannot calculate nor reliably predict. They probably have a slight idea about what you may have in your hand at any point in time, based on your previous discards and how aggressive your play style normally is, but these cards are still hidden information in essence. Even if they knew what you were holding in your hand (there are a few ways for them to achieve that), they still wouldn’t know when exactly to expect a certain card to be played, as this decision remains yours entirely.

Now don’t make me say something I haven’t said, you will clearly lose if you have no monsters on the map to carry out your plans, and cards alone will not save you from that situation. Fortunately most quests do ensure a certain stream of new monsters coming back into the game, so you can hardly draw blank on that point. Monsters are instrumental to your way to victory. But cards are there to support them. Without the cards, clever hero players will outperform your monsters, and may even be able to tank your game, basically. It’s a bit of an overstatement to say it like this, but that’s how important these cards are. Now I would like to make clear that it is not only what these cards do as such. It is also the feeling for the heroes to have a sword of Damocles hanging over them, putting their plans into danger, and then ruining them, which is psychologically devastating. Have you ever been in workshops where you and your peers spent a decent amount of time getting to an agreement on something really complex, only to get your progress reduced to zero by a simple element of fact revealed to the team as you get out of that 4-hours meeting? Then you start planning again from scratch and try to build your next move on these new facts. Yeah, it definitely feels the same in our context. There is nothing worse for you than a team of confident heroes. You want them to plain out panic, or at least give them enough of a challenge so they keep switching focus on an often basis, into making mistakes. Let’s be clear here, you need these mistakes and misplays to win objectives. The opposite can hardly be said. Heroes knowing what they´re doing AND allowed to carry out their plans will crush any overlord regardless of experience if he/she is playing too conservatively. This is not a game where everybody is having his little individual race and then scores are compared to establish a winner, this is a whole or nothing kind of outcome, therefore what the heroes can do is your problem to address, on top of making sure they do not interfere too much with your own plans.

Another thing that is truly unique about your cards is that the heroes almost cannot interact with them. Besides very few abilities available to the heroes, they just have to suck it up and hope for the least worst of all possible outcomes. This feeling of being powerless contributes to the tension in the game. In fact many encounters are won off the back of overlord cards, with all the drama involved around it. There is nothing more deceptive than something really bad happening to you which you could do stone nothing about. How would you still want to play the heroes side after what I just wrote?


OL Cards and game balance

I believe the overlord player, often the person with the game, or at least one of the most knowledgeable player around the table with regards to game rules, has a big responsibility that is often overlooked. It’s basically the only person able to adjust balance between the two sides. When taking on the role of the overlord, you must first consider your opposition. Your heroes pick the best hero cards and the best hero classes available, and are all very well experienced? Don't pick Magus, then. Look for the best of the best, or you’re in for a treat. This type of game will punish you very hard unless you rise up to the challenge. You need to pick your options accordingly. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if your players are inexperienced or are trying out some obscure hero combinations, then feel free to play something in line with their choices. Reward your players for dumbing down some of the top-tier hero awesomeness by showing them that you too can play lower tiers. You can always adjust your selections afterwards anyway, this is not to say that you shouldn’t buy top tier cards at all, however you could at least consider some other directions as for building your deck instead of sticking to the good old winning formula.

Now let’s be clear about one point here: you should never make subpar choices while playing the game (unless you are teaching the game to somebody) but you could always tailor your choices in terms of monsters or cards to your opposition. Not having the strongest team of heroes gives you the bandwidth to try out new combinations, skill trees, or individual cards you wouldn’t have normally considered at the first place. Always playing the same cards effectively bars you a good part of what the game has to offer, after all.


Building your deck

Picking a basic deck is the first thing to do. What choice is best comes down to personal preference, as both decks are equivalent in power. Basic II is slightly more complex to handle, as in more parameters to take into consideration, although not necessarily more rewarding than Basic all things considered. Basic is more of what I would call an absolute deck, with many cards having a fixed effect you can always rely on. On the opposite, Basic II emphasizes attribute tests so the cards are more random in nature. Now bear in mind each Basic deck has some fat in it, which is going to be the cards you will want to side out as soon as you purchase better ones. You should however never set aside cards “for good”, as you never know if a card could still be useful at some point depending on particular quest objectives or other reasons.

I happen to have a couple of rules of thumb, but please take them as indicators more than actual methods of selection. I´m thinking like this: Dark Charm is one of the best cards out of the Basic set. If all of your heroes are running 3 or more in Willpower, then the card is pretty useless, therefore Basic as a deck loses one of its top tier cards. Would I still pick Basic then? Similarly, if you are not facing a warrior with attributes stats so that you can gain 6 movement points out of Blinding Speed in a more or less reliable manner, then Basic II loses a bit of its appeal, in my opinion. You can see it the other way, which is if the hero party is very low on Willpower on average, then Dark Charm is going to shine and Basic becomes interesting just for that fact. Now obviously, one single card doesn’t make the whole deck better in any way, but you can apply the same reasoning to other cards and get a rough estimate at the overall usability of each basic deck based on similar arguments. With that being said, I would still recommend not to sweat it too much, since your deck is going to evolve anyway.


Specialize or Diversify?

What I´ve found from experience is that you generally want to have a broad set of abilities at your disposal so you don’t restrict your card play to only a few in-game situations. Your basic deck is designed to give you that kind of variety, and I think you need to keep building on it as you purchase new cards. Basically you want your hero players to feel like you could play a card in almost any situation. It might be thatyou can’t, because so much depends on your card draw anyway, but the trick is that your heroes don’t know that. If they know you´re close to 100% about combat, then they can roam the map without the fear to get trapped by something. The tension you impose by making them realize you have a possible play upon them searching or opening a door makes them nervous, into switching focus, into making misplays, into you having better chances to win.

Now even before looking into the various overlord classes you can choose your cards from, I think you should get a grasp of the campaign’s most represented objectives, for both hero and overlord parts. If the campaign emphasizes on killing all heroes, race quests, or a certain figure living long enough to get the quest to time out, etc. Although you cannot predict which exact quests are going to be played and how the heroes will be evolving as the campaign progresses, getting a feel of what awaits you can be a deciding factor for your future purchases and overall investment in overlord classes.

It is my belief that you should decide on a direction/strategy early on, as for which class(es) to invest in, so that you can make good use of your xp. That is, to get good cards you think will be useful, and also possibly facilitate future purchases as in unlocking 2/3xp cards. You cannot re-spec in this game (with a few exceptions) so all xp you have spent is gone and you get no refund for cards you don’t use. I recommend choosing a path right after the Introduction. You don’t really have time to cogitate, as your heroes won’t and you need your deck to get started on its evolution.

The next thing in my opinion is to decide whether you want to run servants or not. What’s so special about these cards is that they do not count towards the number of cards your deck should have, being available at all times. This is huge, and also a reason to always try to get these cards regardless of what cards you intend to spend the rest of your xp on. I would however recommend buying servant cards the earliest possible, since the servant is quite fragile and won’t stand much chance during Act II. Getting some help to win these Act I quests is a good way to keep up with heroes during Act II. The typical winning curve is in favor in the Overlord during Act I and in favor of the Heroes during Act II. It’s a gross exaggeration, but it emphasizes on the importance of winning Act I quests to grab the extra xp early on. Servants are good for many reasons so you cannot go wrong dedicating a xp or two to these cards.

Strictly speaking you could stick to level 1 cards and never buy any level 2/3. There are so many good level 1 cards, sometimes outperforming level 2s, so you could in theory spend your xp immediately once gained to get one more card straight into your arsenal and get the best training curve you can get as the overlord. It’s a proven strategy. Now admittedly, you´d still be tempted to get some of these level 2/3s anyway, but just so you know that doing so wouldn’t necessarily be a suboptimal choice to make, all things considered.

On to the overlord classes now. All of the older overlord classes have the blatant inconvenient of only proposing two level 1 cards for your purchase, one of each (if not both) being really bad. That often means going for the same card twice before getting a level 2. Now purchasing two Web Traps is certainly a good choice to make, but I don’t personally field more than one Blood Rage or one No Rest for the Wicked in my deck, which means for me to be able to get a level 2, I have to force myself to buy a card I don’t want. This heavily contributes to the older classes being quite bad in general, because the game does not encourage you to invest in these trees at all. The level 2/3s are generally not worth that kind of sacrifice anyway.

Newer classes (all smiling now again) give you 4 unique cards to choose from, servants being on top of that. Out of these 4, there are certainly a couple of them that are good enough for you to allow you to dig deeper to level 2 and even below. It is not uncommon to see that most level 2/3s invested by players are from these classes, as recent design decisions clearly made these more interesting/powerful. Now it is my personal wish that the older classes get a redesign so the additional copies are replaced by two new cards instead. That would make a new incentive for exploring these trees again. One can dream.

Some of the overlord classes require focused investment for their cards to be good. You could absolutely buy a single card from Infector or Soulbinder, and witness the card performing okay, but effects stack better if you´re focused on your purchases. Servants-based classes are good to invest on, not only because the servant gets stronger the more abilities you unlock, but because it opens up new plays from your servant.

Should you aim at getting a level 3 card? That’s a tough question. Mathematically speaking, for a full-length campaign, you only get to do that during Act II; how early depending on how much extra xp you could grab from your precious wins. In the vast majority of the cases, that means you get the last 1-2 quests to use your level 3 card, which you also might not be drawing anyway (admittedly the risk is slim). Therefore, if you haven’t won any quest during Act I, then you could possibly give up on the idea to get a level 3. You could still go for it technically, but you´ll have to do the math first. You have to remember that a level 3 card costs 3xp, requires 3 additional xp to be invested in the same class as a prerequisite (often 4xp instead of 3 if you go 2x level 1s and 1x level 2 as many players do), implies that you cannot get a new card between at least two quests just to save up the xp (therefore not evolving). Now compare this to 3 top tier level 1 cards you can buy for that same cost, minus the pre-requisites, with instant access as you unlock the xp. That’s a lot to consider. For me personally, there is no choice here. As much as I find some level 3s to be tempting, I’ll take the three level 1s instead especially if I’m playing competitively. But sure, these level 3s beg to be tried out so go ahead with that if you feel like you have the bandwidth.


Rewards

Overlord cards listed as rewards cannot be acquired unless you win the corresponding quest awarding these. That’s just how it is. Now the problem is, that if you think like me that Rumor Quests should be avoided at all costs (for balance reasons), then the consequence of that decision is that you end up with a bunch of cards you will never get to play - ever. And even if you’re ok with playing Rumors, OL card rewards are really not “rewarding” enough for you to play the rumors in my opinion. Now back to what I was saying earlier regarding balance, feel free to play rumor quests if your heroes need a boost, and get the card as a reward of your kindness

In all other situations, making these cards available for purchase is the only solution I have to remedy this issue. A nominal cost of 2xp is generally how I tackle it, but you could also set an individual price tag on every one of them since some cards are clearly not as useful as other ones anyway. Let’s be clear here: this is a house rule. It also may be more appropriate to run this house rule whenever you feel like you need the additional influx of cards, in other words if your opposition is strong and requires you to get the extra help. You can always negotiate that type of thing with your heroes.


Selecting your cards

You should never have more than 15 cards in your deck, period. Doing otherwise hurts your capacity to recycle your cards quickly enough, and finding the right card at the right moment can become an issue the more cards you throw into your deck. You will be drawing 4 cards to start with, then one per turn. It's a very slow draw engine.

Read the quest objectives first before choosing any of your cards. Select the cards that have a direct impact on your strategy for winning those objectives. Similarly, some of your cards could make things harder for the heroes to win theirs, so these cards are good too on equal basis. Then see what monsters you will be using for each encounter (select your open groups prior to selecting your cards), and depending on their abilities which cards you want to field to support them. For instance, do you really need cards giving extra surges if your monsters don’t have any surge ability (like Elementals). I would normally recommend putting a certain amount of Trap cards into your deck, because these are highly disruptive and unpredictable. Maybe not always disruptive in how powerful their effect is, but they do force the heroes to switch focus and reconsider things, which is valuable for you as an intimidating force.

Set aside anything that doesn’t make it into your top 15. Cards doing a trivial amount of damage, cards relying on a failed attribute test your average hero would be good at passing, etc. And yes, don’t forget your servants if you have any!


Playing/Managing your hand

It is my experience that the overlord has the best chance to stay in the course for meeting the encounter objectives if he/she is careful about playing overlord cards. Only play a card when it actually contributes to advancing your position. You don't play Web Trap for the amusement of seeing one hero being caught by it; you play it because you have a thought out sequence of actions following that play. It is all about efficiency, since your card engine is not really refilling you quickly enough for you to expect isolated card plays to do much in your favor. Let me expand on that: heroes can quite easily recover from the effect of one of your cards, even if that involves several revive actions, however it is much harder for them to come back from a sequence of abilities being played against them.

Playing cards carefully does not mean playing conservatively. The latter is more about not taking risks, while the former is about finding the sweet spot for maximizing your card play. Being conservative earns you no glory in this game, and doesn’t generally cut it. The Overlord needs to take a certain amount of risks to even stand a chance against a highly competent team of heroes.

Hoarding cards becomes a necessity if you want to go big. You don’t have to play a card every turn. You don’t have to empty your hand in one big bang either, actually sitting with only one card or even none in your hand is a situation you should try to avoid at all costs. There is nothing worse than your hero players seeing that you have no cards in hand, therefore gaining confidence and enthusiasm as they no longer see impediments to their actions. You want them confused and afraid of your plays. Actually it is a valid strategy to simply gather cards during the first encounter of a multiple encounters quest so you start the last encounter with your deck in hand. We´re into dirty tactics here, and probably why newer campaigns only provide single-encounter quests, or at least special rules deciding how many cards can be carried forward between encounters. It still has to be mentioned, though.

Another aspect of card management is your ability to handle the heroes’ attempts to force your card play. That’s something you need to be able to read at all times. They can and will trick you into playing your cards to get them out of the way. Heroes will want to minimize the risk from getting hit by your cards when they carry out critical action sequences play, therefore letting a hero bait you and take the hit from one of your cards can be a bargain compared to seeing the card being played in key situations where your card play is out of their control. Your best play here, is not let them do that, by using the information of them knowing about you having the card against them, through trying to make them think they can control your card play. You don’t fabricate bait situations like these without sacrificing some other things. Let them struggle with the set up of their trap and then simply ignore the temptation to fall into it. Or even better, whenever you see the opportunity, deliberately fall into their bait and then bounce back with a second card play the heroes were not expecting.

You also have to think about what heroes or hero classes are played against you. Elder Mok has a heroic feat allowing him to peak at your cards and force a discard. There is not much you can do to counteract this (except running Kyndrithul’s Dangerous Knowledge to punish him, although that doesn’t make you keep the card). I would therefore recommend not buying cards like Unholy Ritual or anything you would normally play on turn 1 - if you know they´re going to be stripped from your hand at the very start of each encounter. A strategy that seems to pay off against Mok and effects of this kind is to keep talking about how a given card is a game changer, imprinting how awesome this card is on your heroes head so this card becomes their prime target when forcing you to discard. It doesn’t matter what else is in your hand, their brain will automatically tag this card with a big red flag thanks to that sneaky work of yours. You still get to lose a good card, but that also protects other cards in your deck, which is the point here. In general don’t speak at all about your cards as this gives hints to your hero players as for what to except and prioritize as a target for such effects.

Playing against Marshall class can be difficult. You need to constantly have an eye on his stamina, and play the bait and switch game over and over. That means card disadvantage, since you have to throw a card to bait him to get to play a second card right after. Dangerous Knowledge can help you dissuading the Marshall player from using this ability, and other cards in the same plot deck can force him to pay more to activate his ability. No Interference can be a good card to play as well, although it throws out a big warning flag to the heroes. All in all, Kyndrithul’s plot deck is the only set of tools currently available you can use to minimize discard effects from Marshall.

Now should you get a card or a threat token from a kill? I think you should always take the card, up to the point where you know who is winning, which is where you’d want the threat instead. You cannot pass on the possibility to draw extra cards, and threat is rarely equivalent to one card in that respect.


Synergies

There are various ways to enhance your OL card play, as plot cards or monsters sometimes have abilities synergizing with it. Using these abilities may improve your capacity to use your OL cards to their best effect. There are a few interesting plot cards to begin with, with such affinity to OL cards:

- Verminous' Always Watching allows you to Scry 1 (reveal top card, put it back on top or bottom of your deck) at the start of your turn during the entire quest, all for 1 threat (besides initial investment). This is huge. Being able to see what comes next in your deck can help you drawing the right card in time, or at least getting rid of something not critical at this point in time. Treasure Hunter does that with the search deck to great effect, after all. A must-buy if you´re into this plot deck.

- Zachareth's Sole Purpose allows your deck to go down in size to 13 cards. Your deck recycles much faster the less card it contains, which is normally a good thing especially if you specialize in Infector or other classes where finding the right cards as soon as possible is crucial for making said class work as a whole. 13 cards also allows you to pack the strongest cards and let the fillers stay in the game box, which can be pretty huge once you start toying with these 2/3xp cards. Hitting these high-power cards a bit more often is a chance you don’t want to pass on.

- Belthir's deck (multiple cards) is built to increase the effect of your Basic cards (core game Basic). It slightly enhances the effects of these cards, which makes them more valuable and impactful. My personal stance, though, is that the “boost” is kind of out shadowed by what brand new cards can give you instead. You are also put in a tricky situation, where you can no longer easily decide what cards to side out without shooting yourself in the foot.

-Kyndrithul's Dangerous Knowledge punishes heroes forcing you to remove overlord cards from your hand. It is a must buy if you are facing this type of effect, assuming the test on Knowledge can reliably fail (possibly backed up by Befuddles if need be).

Monsters can also help you - in several ways. Firstly, you need to play your monster actions so they can fully benefit from your cards. Positioning a master Hybrid Sentinel for an additional Firebreath attack, forcing heroes to chase a monster and later get caught in a trap, etc. Your cards complement your monster actions, and vice-versa. You need to use the physical locale on the map to get the heroes/monsters into direct range of your cards for best effect.

Secondly, a few monsters do have a global affinity to OL cards:

- Master Changelings alter attribute values, which can be extremely useful in conjunction with cards basing an effect on attribute tests, which is... many cards indeed. Changelings, besides being a solid choice of an open group in most situations, can be relied on whenever you need to find ways to make these attribute test failures happen.

- Dark Minotaurs are especially good at netting you infection tokens, as long as you can position them correctly amongst the heroes - and keep them alive. You need the Adaptive Contagion card out for this to work, obviously.

- The Verminous lieutenant allows you to recycle a card from your hand on a surge result, which is a good way to dig for these top tier cards attack after attack.

From a general perspective, monsters with AoE attacks are good candidates for extra attacks, in order to maximize your damage output. Monsters with high speed, or large monsters, are good candidates for extra movement actions, in order to maximize your added range. This does not mean you should never play cards on monsters which do not fall into these categories, but it is an indication of how you should normally select your targets for the strongest possible effect.


On to the individual cards review

Most cards are situational in essence. Their effect can therefore be rated everything between poor and excellent depending on how and why you use them. You will always find players speaking high of a [bad] card because they saw it in action once and were really impressed by what it did. The question you need to ask yourself however is if this was based on a course of events you can reliably reproduce. If so, then the card is probably a good one. But if the stars first need to get aligned, and your opposition needs to be really unlucky for your card to do anything, then you can probably exclude that particular lucky event from your evaluation. How to evaluate that situational aspect then? Well, what is important is that you cannot afford sitting with cards in your hand that you cannot use at all. You need to assess how realistically you can play any given card in your deck.

The ratings below reflect the ability of the card to advance your board position, as opposed to playing abilities that do close to nothing to help you on that point. In that respect it is difficult to rate deck manipulation cards; because they are essentially -1 card you (card disadvantage) even in the eventuality when you get to dig out exactly what you wanted. If that makes you win an encounter, then good for you, otherwise this disadvantage remains for the remainder of said encounter. Cards that pack a strong capacity of reaction to powerful hero abilities are also rated higher than others. You really want to dissuade your heroes from using their best abilities, and punish them when they choose to do it anyway. Finally, cost does matter. Not only the price in xp, but also everything involved to get to the point where you can actually purchase the card, and eventual drawbacks the ability may be listing.

Please note these ratings are only provided for informational purpose. I recommend that you consider every single card when building your deck, even the bad ones, and then setting systematically aside the ones you think you no longer need to consider for the remainder of the campaign. I personally use a program to help me sorting the cards, although there really isn't much a difference between doing this and simply browsing the physical cards. Whatever practice suits you the most will do the trick, as long as it doesn’t get in the way of your enthusiasm for taking the time to strategize. That preparation work is very important.

I personally like to run a short list of cards covering a broad range of options for future consideration, and then re-evaluate that list as the heroes unlock items and abilities. The opposite is also true, where you can see a card you had set aside earlier becoming more interesting as heroes start using effects said card has a chance to interact with.


Further reading

Feel free to read my review of plot decks here:
https://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/205588/guide-descent-2ed-...
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1. Board Game: Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition) [Average Rating:7.72 Overall Rank:89]
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Basic
Critical Blow
This is one of the best attack cards around, period. You rolled that surge but none of your monsters have a meaningful way to increase their damage? There you go. You rolled multiple surges but your monster only has one available surge as per its card? Let this extra surge trigger the extra damage from this card. What is so great about this card is that you can decide to use it after rolling dices. If you see after calculating the damage that the hero falls under 4HP and you happen to have that extra surge, then why not go for the kill to get an extra overlord card or threat token. Also, note that +3 remains powerful as the campaign progresses, as opposed to many other cards' +2, where the added bonus can be lackluster after a certain point.

Dark Charm
One of the best cards in the deck, assuming you have at least one target to pick with low Willpower (2 or less). Otherwise you need to side out this card as soon as possible. But if you´re not going to make any use of Dark Charm anyway due to that, then it's another incentive for picking Basic II instead in my opinion. The card replaces itself if things didn't go your way, which is always a welcome bonus. Most overlords will force the hero to perform an attack, which can be decently powerful especially in the late stages of the campaign (considering the nice Act II gear out there), but moving a hero into a pit space can be hilarious too. Walking into lava/hazard can only deal a certain amount of damage, but could be an option as well, if you have that option. I have mainly been using the card to try and split a tight hero party (Bard range namely), for lack of other reliable ways to do so. If you can manage to get one hero out to get swarmed by your monsters, then it is much harder for the rest of the party to come and rescue him/her later, as it often comes at the price of not moving forward where the objective is. What is no powerful about the Bard is that as long as the party remains tight, he/she doesn't have to move around to revive his friends. Therefore getting out of his range can prove to be essential in contexts like this one.

Dark Fortune
Straight forward effect that I think should always be in your deck (there are two copies). Re-rolling these Xs or these blank sides of the black dice can be a big deal in many situations. Attacking with that Shadow Dragon and getting no surge can be another reason for re-rolling dices, despite the attack is not a failure.

Dark Might
You need to choose your monsters well in order to use this card to its maximum capability. Swarm monsters, Fire breath, Knockback, Subdue etc. These particular surge effects can have a meaningful impact on your board position.

Dash
There is a reason why this card is rated 5 stars. The vast majority of the encounter objectives in this game resolve around your own ability to get something done on time, often implying that you need to move somewhere with your monsters. Even kill-all-heroes objectives resolve around your ability to reach them early, so you can start the pounding the soonest possible. In some situations, having a fast monster move 3 times can be a game changer. 15 spaces to go through, and not even considering the master Razorwing and its 18 movement range if that's you want to have.

Frenzy
Let's face it, it sucks that most monsters in this game only can deal one attack per turn. It just has to be this way, but it does sound unfair indeed. Hero players will estimate the damage they expect to be taking when planning their actions, and this card puts this estimate off balance. A powerful monster can bring a lot of pain with that extra attack, but it's not only about the damage. An additional Knockback can give you that extra help before resuming your monster actions. Now where the rating of that card goes down, though, is that I don't think that card is essential to have in your deck. An attack is an attack, but moving around, or trapping heroes have a whole different impact on the game board compared to a few more hearts added to a hero sheet. The extra effects I mentioned about can only be triggered... if you have the right monsters on the map. Sure, you can defeat a hero with an extra attack, but that type of strategy holds less as the campaign unfolds, plus you have the rolling X situation, basically negating the card. I always side out one Frenzy when reaching a certain point in my OL card purchases roadmap, and sometimes both copies are taken out for non-combat focused quests. An potent card, though, maybe the most emblematic to the naked eye, but not the most powerful by fair shot.

Pit Trap
Pit Trap is one of these cards that can do a ton of grief when played correctly. What matters here is mostly the awareness test into Stunned condition. Stunned is a top-tier condition and makes this card shine whenever you have the possibility to deal it. It works for all archetypes (well, scouts will probably have better chances at avoiding it) as everybody needs to move anyway. The warrior is a good choice of a target, especially if the healer (with condition removal capability) has already played his round before him/her.

Poison Dart
Since the card replaces itself if the hero passes the attributes test, I can't say it's a very bad card per say, however this is one of these you would want to side out as you start purchasing better ones. The effect is truly lackluster.

Tripwire
A decent ability to slow down one hero. On a standard 4-move hero, you just made that hero throw away 3 move points, which in some cases can be quite decisive. Obviously the hero can compensate that loss by spending fatigue to move further, but I personally see this as a good bargain, as it effectively puts that hero further away from using his/her best skills or abilities by filling up on fatigue.

Word of Misery
I like this card in situations where a lot of monsters are able to attack and inflict damage to the heroes. If you like to field small monsters with decent capability to connect their attacks (Goblin Archers, Bandits, etc), then this card can be pretty destructive. The best application I´ve seen is in quests where a big fight ensues in the middle of a big room, so heroes are not really going anywhere, for maximum reachability of your monsters. As long as you stick to this small monster strategic direction, then the card will serve you well all campaign long. You really can't pass on effects dealing several fatigue tokens across the board.


Universal
Dark Resilience (1xp)
There are many quests when the overlord needs to keep a particular monster alive. This card can give you enough time to delay the heroes, so you can achieve your part of the bargain. I think it is a good generic effect with lots of applications, and I happen to buy it in campaigns where hero objectives tend to be just to get rid of a figure (your lieutenant, basically). But the same card played on a high defense monster like Golems, Ironbounds, or even Ettins, can give you a lot of extra time. You get to use your monster for a longer time, and heroes need to spend more actions to get rid of it.

Plan Ahead (1xp)
I find this card best suited in conjunction with Infector or Enchanter class, where you would want to dig for your infection card (enabling infector as an engine), or put out your permanent enchantments (so they get into play the soonest possible). In all other situations, my approach is to just build my OL deck in a way that I don't have to rely on a particular draw order. Having a good multi-use OL deck defeats the purpose of cards like Plan Ahead, which don't do anything on their own.

Schemes (1xp)
So you really want one card so badly, and intend to use Schemes to fetch it directly, the problem being that if you hit a card with the same trait then this is what you will get instead. Like I said earlie, I prefer to build my deck in a way so I don't have to dig too much into it. The deck provides me with a variety of possibilities rather than ultra-specialized combinations requiring a lot of deck manipulation. One noticeable application of Schemes is to retrieve your card lost from Marshall ability, although this is card disadvantage effectively.


Magus
Unholy Ritual (1xp)
Nerfed for good reasons, this card became almost unusable in its current state. What it does basically is making you draw one extra card. You can only realistically use the Ritual at the start of an encounter when you have monsters sitting too far from the heroes to do anything meaningful, as long as they´re not supposed to move anywhere. Situations like that do occur, but require that you have the card in your opening hand too. It's a dead draw past that point, because you cannot really afford losing one action per monster in a group to only get an additional card. On paper, for these overlords looking for combos or card types in their deck, you could justify the expense to give you the extra ability to dig into your deck, but in reality most universal cards do a better job at this.

Word of Pain (1xp)
1 damage is trivial, and I´ll stop people right now saying it can be 4 damage total, as most hero parties will have well balanced composition across attribute values, so somebody at some point will pass the test. This card does not advance your position and should be avoided. There are better ways to spend that XP of yours. Now unfortunately this settles the class as being piss-poor, as you wouldn't possibly want to go up a level ever, if that meant having to purchase cards like these.

Rise Again (2xp)
So you ignored everything I said and decided to invest in Magus only to buy this card. It's a 2xp card, and the listed effect is nowhere near justifying that expense. You get a monster for one more turn, then it vanishes again. In some niche situations, you could revive that Shadow Dragon and Fire Breath out once more, netting you a few hero deaths if the stars are aligned. You could also pick up that object on the floor and complete its delivery in one turn. That's a lot of ifs for an effect that will basically only grant you one additional attack in the vast majority of the cases. Plus the heroes will know the monster is coming back, and can potentially heal themselves to prepare for that attack. All in all, very situational and not worth the consideration.

Word of Despair (2xp)
Not a bad card per say, but only worth the cost if you know at least 3 heroes will fail the willpower test. The problem I have had with this card is that heroes will inevitably rest in response to it. Fatigue is easily recovered if the hero party is built well. I would normally prioritize effects that restrict heroes from playing their best skills by inflicting the fatigue/damage BEFORE they can commit to their action, rather than pinging them after said action has been performed. This game is all about trying to disable (or at least minimize) the best actions available to your opposition, which this card does a poor job at doing.

Diabolic Power (3xp)
Here it is, the pinnacle of the mighty Magus class. You cannot grab just any card, it has to be in your discard pile. YOu cannot choose the attribute to test, it has to be in phase with the card type from what you just retrieved from the discard pile. Can you inflict 2 damage per hero? Unlikely. Like all cards of this type, you can of course fetch a card that will net you the win in the encounter. Could be another Dash for getting this monster to make it to delivery point. The sad thing is, though, what this card can do or cannot doesn't matter much, it's what you had to buy to get there that's crippling your options. Your deck will consist of a minimum of three other Magus cards that plain suck, plus this one, so 4 cards our of 15, for 7 xp spent (1+1+2+3). Obviously you can side out the Magus cards, for getting even more pointless. So if you think that leaves you with the ability to purchase a tier 1 card that you want to be fetching using Diabolic Power, you are probably overly optimistic. Because that's all this card does, and the 2 damage per hero supposing test failures won't cut it for a late campaign card of that cost.


Saboteur
Explosive Runes (1xp)
This card suffers from Web Trap being such a powerful alternative to this, as you would typically bypass this one alltogether if you wanted to explore the class tree. With that being said, there is nothing wrong with Explosive Runes as such, at least as long as your hero party has a very low average value on Awareness. Searching is basically out of the equation here, as the hero doing so would in most situation be too far away from the group for this to trigger on several heroes. However if your heroes like to re-group before opening doors, then this card can deal some decent amount of damage for these 1-Awareness heroes rolling 3s and 4s on the test roll. It's still a gamble, obviously.

Web Trap (1xp)
I don't know if there would be somebody on this planet giving this card a lower rating. I have won quests off the back of this card, and this multiple times. For the neophyte, this card basically immobilizes a hero or - even better - a group of heroes, meaning they lose a turn by not being able to get into reach, or rush towards an objective, unless they spend abilities to get rid of it. The warrior will normally pass the test, and heroes are normally not that cluttered unless you force them to, which means you can seldom catch all heroes with this, but it's still worth it in my opinion. Lately I have been prefering to use this card in situations where a hero is running alone, a bit away from the main group, maybe for searching, or activating some object on the map. By doing so the hero is out of reach of condition-remover effects (unless other heroes sacrifice their turn for the cause, obviously), and at the mercy of your monsters. Ambushing a hero using these tactics can be very effective. You can try and push the hero player to make the decision to run alone and then catch him doing so, your monsters ready. After all you´re the overlord here.

Curse of the Monkey God (2xp)
This card is mostly hilarious for its name and the explanation that follows as for what really happens to the hero. Almost too silly. It doesn't prevent the hero from searching, however if your scout is having a low Knowledge attribute value and happens to search while within reach of your monsters, then it can be an idea to rush to him and take advantage of the lack of defense roll from the monkey. I normally purchase Wicked Laughter instead, which has a broader use compared to the Curse, unless the scout is really that low on Knowledge and the quests I´m going to be playing allow me to make regular use of that card.

Wicked Laughter (2xp)
Attribute tests are key in this game, so any form of Befuddle effects can be a life saver for you as the overlord. The penalty on the test is what I would have expected at the least for a card costing you 2xp, but the replacement effect if passed is a decent consolation price. This card is often on my purchase list. After all it's hard to pass on Web Trap, so level 2s from Saboteur always show up as unlocked on my list.

Uthuk Demon Trap (3xp)
There is no way I can get behind buying this card when there are so many good 1xp cards around I could get instead of this one. Yes, I know, the Matt Damon Trap (in some circles, don't know about yours) is an emblematic card of the overlord's arsenal, but all it does is that it may kill one hero. Said hero needs to be low on both listed attributes for this to make sense (2+2 at max) backed up by a potential Befuddle or Wicked laughter, which would help dramatically here, although burying you in card disadvantage. Then sure, there's a lot of drama caused by the card, BUT you are not going to kill the tank of the hero party (high might), you are not going to kill the treasure hunter popping your monsters one by one (high awareness) but the mage or healer, more realistically, who also happen to have less HP in general. These are more prone to dying to normal attacks anyway, so why would you need Uthuk to help you on that. And then it's "just a kill". For a 3xp card, it's not much. Compare that to the chaos caused by Treacherous Shadows, or the damage caused by Danse Macabre, which essentially cost the heroes way more than one turn to revive one dude. If you have played this game for a long time like me, you know that killing a hero can be mitigated in many ways. In some cases, the heroes don't even get much delayed by it. Now sure, it is absolutely a viable strategy to get to your objectives through combat/killing, but most of the time, especially in the mid-late campaign (where it matters the most), you´re not going to win encounters due to that. Compare that to the top-3 1xp cards available to you. Yes, there is no comparison here. Matt Damon loses (but as always, it's fun watching him do his tricks).


Warlord
Blood Rage (1xp)
I always buy one copy of this card at some point, which I like to use on a monster to finish off the job on the healer or mage. Especially on monsters with AoE attacks, or powerful surge abilities. I have used it on a master Medusa once for great effect (but it was at the beginning of a campaign). Your monsters are disposable anyway, so getting two extra attacks out of a monster dying the next turn can be advantageous. There is also a certain psychological effect to that card, which I like to use against my opposition. Also, you can get a Scourge out using this card.

Dark Fortitude (1xp)
Not a fan of this card. I prefer buying Dark Resilience by a long shot. Plus Pierce is a thing, which means this card might not be always useful as the campaign progresses and the heroes gear up. 2 shields on a Ironskin monster can be quite interesting, though, if you´re into using Golems or Ironbounds in an ad-nauseam fashion.

Bloodlust (2xp)
A draw-4, which is quite awesome. As I don't often go any further past one Blood Rage card, I don't normally find myself in a situation when I need to consider this card. However, for 2xp, it's pretty good for what it does. Ensuring a refill of your hand is far from being a bad thing, especially as it's not reasonable to believe you haven't kept your card count intact up to the point when a hero died for you to be able to play this card.

Expert Blow (2xp)
Boomerang effects are neat. You need to play the card before rolling the dices, though, which means you can well waste it on a failed attack, or not roll the surge making it return back to you, but it's a solid choice of a card. I would replace Critical Blow by this one once acquired. Obviously this card is less efficient on monsters with several surge abilities available (or even more so with double surge abilities ones), where you would typically need to make a choice between the boomerang effect and whatever else you have on the card.

Reinforce (3xp)
Useless in most the situations. Nerfed to oblivion, and not even sure why FFG had to go that far. I wouldn't even buy this card if it cost 1xp. Not because it is that bad, but because there are so many 1xp cards that are superior to this. It's a pity, because I would really love to see more cards interacting with the reinforcements mechanism of the game. Let's get a few things out now, yes you could respawn 8 minion kobolds around a master using this card, but your heroes would get a full round to get this "thing" blasted to ashes anyway. I value choosing my open groups and my overall monster strategy over basing my choices on possible backup effects like these. Furthermore, master monsters are normally the priority of the hero attacks, since they are significantly more dangerous than their minion counterparts. In a typical Golem-in-corridor situation, I always put the master in front of the heroes, because of the Unmovable ability (otherwise many abilities would deny me that strategy). The same is true about many monsters where I would typically prefer the master version to lead the attack, and therefore be one of the first to die, therefore defeating the purpose of cards like Reinforce.
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2. Board Game: Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition) – Lair of the Wyrm [Average Rating:7.90 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.90 Unranked]
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Punisher
No Rest for the Wicked (1xp)
I´m a big fan of this card, and I use it in two different ways. First, I use it on a monster to kite the hero trying to get into attack range to it. Alternatively, I use this to get my monsters into defensive position (basically trying to avoid AoE or LoS attacks). It's a solid card that rarely fails me. Getting extra movement points for your monsters can be crucial. I had situations where some hero was able to jump over my monsters, and this card helped me keeping the blockade intact.

Trading Pains (1xp)
Generally quite useless, as a revival action will net 3-4 health regained on average, meaning 2 damage on a hero which is quite low. The only application I´ve had of this card was when a healer used a heroic feat to revive another hero by writing off all damage. In that particular case the damage can be quite substantial. To summarize, this card can be good to have at disposal if you have some of these heroes around, otherwise quite useless, plus you don't really want to invest more into that class given what's following anyway.

Exploit Weakness (2xp)
Not worth 2xp. It's actually quite uncommon to see a hero ending up filled up with fatigue, as heroes know they are vulunerable in that situation, and would rather assign these surge results to writing off a fatigue instead of added damage. Combat can definitely be used as a pure fatigue-recovery engine, especially if the healer is not able to help the heroes out on regular basis. Enabling one additional attack is not really stellar to start with for tat cost. Strictly inferior to Frenzy, which is a lot easier to trigger. You can compare this card to Out of Darkness, which has the advantage of targetting a hero that should already be low on health, generally granting you a subsequent kill.

Price of Prevention (2xp)
Too convoluted to pull out. No sane hero will be willing to spend 4-5 damage to prevent you from drawing a card he/she doesn't even know what it could be. Hero players are expecting Web Traps in all corners of the map anyway, and they know these cards will be drawn at some point and they can do very little about it anyway. Also, less damage (lower attribute value) doesn't make the card worthwhile. Not impressed by this card.

Blood Bargaining (3xp)
You can combine this with the Rat Swarm's Merge ability to deal a substantial amount of damage to a few heroes, which is a combo you can pull out probably once in a blue moon. There is the possibility to assign the tokens to 4 monsters who are quite tough defensively, and try to blast the four monsters (heroes included, preferably) with AoE attacks. I could think of making that sacrifice (your monsters do take the damage) if all conditions were met for such scenario to be beneficial to me, but in reality there are too many parameters involved for this card to see play/use. Way too situational to be really good, and bearing in mind it costs 3xp, it's an easy pass for me.


Rewards
The Wyrm Queen's Favor
It's not unrealistic that at least one hero will fail the test, and the monster you put into play happens to be a top tier one, the one with Fire Breath and high defense. Not much to say about this, it is just too good to pass on. It's a super Mimic card you can use, a bit on the same nuisance level as a servant, except it's much more powerful. You also play the card at the beginning of your turn, which means you get to activate that Sentinel for best effect, unlike other cards where you have to wait a full hero turn to make use of your new toys, whatever they may be.
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3. Board Game: Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition) – Labyrinth of Ruin [Average Rating:8.18 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.18 Unranked]
Indalecio
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Basic II
Befuddle
Cards like these are mandatory in your deck for many reasons. First off, quest rules often resolve around attribute tests (opening portals, picking up objects, interacting with a NPC etc.). You need to be able to interact with these tests to delay the heroes. Another application is the rest of your OL cards triggering on failed attribute tests. You can back up these cards with well-timed Befuddles to maximize their effect, whenever you find that critical. Forcing a hero to fail an attribute test due to a skill, condition, or plot card, can be decisive too. Two of these cards need to be in your deck at all times.

Blinding Speed
Mobility is everything in this game, as for getting to your objectives, getting into reach for the heroes, or simply making a lieutenant escape the battlefield. Therefore cards like Blinding Speed are essential in your deck. You would use it typically against a Warrior so you can get the jackpot, namely 6 movement points, which is insane. Warriors tend to be the weakest on Knowledge and Awareness anyway, which simplifies the decision making around who to target with this card. The card also replaces itself should the hero pass both tests.

Dirty Fighting
An additional surge can reveal to be essential for triggering these Fire Breaths, Swarm, Blast, Flurry, added damage, conditions, Heal and what have you. It's no secret in this game, a succesful combat result often comes down to how many surges you rolled and what abilities you could spend them on. The Pierce 1 is just the cherry on the cake, but since the Healer tends to be the priority of your attacks, that extra point of damage comes in handy.

Flurry
An extra attack on surge with good possibility to get surge results from that extra green dice is a really good option for you to consider. Being able to Fire Breath once again, for instance, can prove to be powerful. Besides using the card for the extra attack alone, I like this card for giving me a second chance for getting more than 1 surge if that's what I'm after. I will pass on Gargan Mirklace being able to run 5 dices on his attack using this card, which is insane (but then he doesn't really need this card to be insane anyway).

Grease Trap
Grease Trap is an old favorite of mine, which I use to try to make a hero take fatigue while running in a tight corridor. You can play with this to make a hero fall into a pit if he/she is not cautious. The additional effect on a Mage (Stunned) is really strong, so even if you´re not quite able to make great use of the wasted movement, you could still play the card for its Stunned effect alone.

Mental Error
Your mileage with this card will vary. It's definitely worth it if your average hero can reliably fail the test, otherwise without being bad this card tends to be pushed out by other more meaningful cards in your deck. Two additional damage is nice, but becomes less and less relevant as the campaign progresses.

Mimic
One of the best cards in the set, mainly for the psychological effect it causes on the heroes putting some effort into looting these precious search tokens. Getting a Mimic out forces the heroes to spend more actions to take it down and get the loot. Against the scout, you can even get an attack, or simply try to run away (to deny the loot) using the Skrimish action if the map configuration allows it. The Volucrix Minion is quite weak besides in the very early stages of the campaign, but it's a nice addition to your arsenal, making the heroes focus switch away from the objectives for a moment. If the Volucrix is stil there during your turn, then I would highly recommend to just run away the furthest posible with the token.

Overwhelm
Rated mostly because of how situational it is. You may need that extra attack when swarming with your Kobolds in order to take down that hero. In which case it's in fact better if the hero passes the test. Immobilized and Stunned conditions are equally bad for the hero, but they can still be cleared out like any other condition. In all honesty I tend to use small monsters who can shoot from distance rather than melee monsters, Kobolds being the obvious exception. If you know you´ll be using them then this card might be considered for an inclusion in your deck, otherwise I would give it a hard pass, as you can't reliably trigger it unless the encounter resolves around a big combat in the middle of a room stuffed with monsters. An easy side-out for me.

Reflective Ward
I like this card quite a bit. You can play it when a hero prepares for a powerful blow and lacks the stamina, or simply play it to inflict 2 fatigue on a hero to shut down his best abilities. I prefer the latter in most situations. The former has the disadvantage of getting through two steps of defense. The monster rolls first for defense to see what damage is inflicted, which is why this card is not great if said monster is strong defensively and there is no pierce involved in the equation, and then the hero can defend him/herself afterwards as this is not just like life loss. Therefore it may be that the card doesn't inflict much damage, which in turn is often less relevant than the raw 2 fatigue in my experience.

Sign of Weakness
One of your first side-outs, which is not as bad as it sounds considering the amount of good cards in this class. Basically you´re in for the Cursed effect, which only works if you´re targetting a Healer with low Awareness. The monster movement you get from this card is hardly useful in most situations. Cursed is an annoyance for certain heroes and classes, so the utility of this card will depend on what skills and hero abilities/feats you´re looking at. Rendiel's feat is nice to shut down for instance.

Uncontrolled Power
Surges spent on a Mage's attacks can be destructive, in fact the Mage is often the main damage dealer of the group, therefore being able to shut down these abilities triggered on surge can be huge. The actual life/stamina loss is trivial compared to this ability. You need a low-Willpower mage at the first place, though. I would side out this card otherwise.


Universal
Dark Remedy (1xp)
Not justifying the expense in any way. I have been in situations where the heroes were using powerful weapons dealing Burn on everything, or even Terrified, but I´ve also found that even if you could use a card like this to remedy the issue, the problem would still come back anyway. Try to use your monsters in a way that makes them less vulnerable to conditions like these, and try to spend your actions carefully for maximum effect. You can normally stick to your plans even when conditions are crippling your monsters.


Rewards
Splig's Revenge
This card is nuts. Splig is far from being a top-tier bruiser, but replacing a Goblin with him is not just a small upgrade. Works best obviously in the older campaigns where Goblins are omnipresent as set monster groups. I don't normally consider Goblins as my open group in other campaigns. Since the card goes away once Splig dies, I would try to make use of it in the last encounter of a quest you really want to win.

Twin Souls
The issue with this card is that your heroes will alphastrike Merick to deny you the ability to use it, in an effort to get a wounded Merick out for a fully healed up Alric. Otherwise Alric is a much more dangerous foe than Merick, so the card has its merits on paper at least, but you won't be able to utilize it in many quests, including the ones where Merick is present, unless you are going straight for the upgrade before Merick gets any damage.

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4. Board Game: Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition) – The Trollfens [Average Rating:8.04 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.04 Unranked]
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Infector
Adaptive Contagion (1xp)
Poisoned and Diseased conditions are not exactly top tier conditions, and monsters using these are normally sub-par as well to begin with. Unless these monsters are pre-selected for you, that means you don't start the encounter with an edge on that front. Diseased as a condition is certainly better than a point of extra damage or shield, as a fatigue every turn until the condition is cleared can be problematic for some heroes who can't reliably get rid of it. The bonus effect on this card however is neat, as it complements nicely your sets of Befuddles and Wicked Laughter.

Airborne (1xp)
The best card of the class by far, for the reason that it can be purchased and used to good effect even if you don't intend to get more cards from this class. You are going to roll a few Xs whether you like it or not, or miss attacks due to range or good defense from the heroes. In that respect this card is the best source for gaining infection tokens. This card allows you to slowly build defensive advantage on your misfortune, if that's the way you intend to use this card. Otherwise you could also just let the tokens sit there and try to play other Infector abilities.

Contaminated (1xp)
The key card of the Infector class, and yet it's the worst one of the set, because of how it needs to be enabled. Your surge abilties are key to keeping the heroes in check. Putting your surges against that card is subpar in essence. You cannot compare a surge into +3 damage, or Fire Breath, Knockback or Terrified and this. Obviously you may get an extra surge you have no use for, which could therefore generate an infection token. But I am not fond of this build-up mechanism for "later use", as opposed to trying to get something done "right now" so you can at least have a chance at getting your strategy carried out as planned. In the end it doesn't matter if each hero has a million infection tokens on them, what matters is the effort you put and sacrifices you made to get to that state. If you cannot capitalize on these tokens then it's quite pointless and you should just prefer regular surge abilities (one of the core reasons why you need to be selective with your open groups) over the token.

Virulent Infection (1xp)
This card works best when you know you´ll be landing a lot of attacks from small monsters for maximum infection effect. I will say however that putting more infection tokens on a hero doesn't do anything in itself, until the tokens are used, which could be never, with all facts considered.

Outbreak (2xp)
Requires a low-Might party, that the heroes are close to each other, and a ton of infection tokens to be worth it. In other words, you have to find all your infector cards first to be able to put some infection tokens out, then you need to deal a ton of attacks (at the expense of surges or conditions you would have dealt out normally), then choosing to not even use the infection tokens and wait for the heroes to get close to each other to play this card. I don't care if this card can deal a bazillion damage, as the conditions for it to be triggered and net you a clear advantage are truly unrealistic.

Tainted Blow (2xp)
An expensive Dirty Fighting. The boomerang effect is harder to perform than on Expert Blow, but the extra surge can be nice, if you´re not spending it to generate more infection tokens.

Dark Host (3xp)
As always with level 3s, you truly need to invest heavily into the class to get to that point. We can think what we want of the Infector class, but I don't consider it to be the first choice of cards I would personally select, unless I wanted to go all-in with it. Acquiring Dark Host is quite pointless if you´re not all-in on the infector tokens engine. Then you need 3 infection tokens, which are as many instances where you could have spent a surge or dealt a condition to a hero. The only good part is if these tokens solely come from Airborne, in which case Dark Host can be really efficient. That supposes that you don't take out these tokens, and that you can get something useful out of the move+attack the card grants you. Not the best level 3 out there unfortunately.


Rewards
Offertory Affliction
Very useful if you are facing a party equipped with condition dealing weapons like Stunned or Terrified. Heroes tend to ignore monsters with such conditions, as they are not as dangerous anymore, but being able to reverse that situation is a powerful effect indeed. You might not be able to play this card when you get it, though, and might need to do some baiting first.

Secrets of Flesh
Quite nice if you are running a lot of monsters in maps where the fight is concentrated in one big room. In other words, where the probability for many different monsters to be wounded is high. The health regain is not stellar, but the total amount of health regained across your monsters is the figure you should be looking at, especially for these monsters with high defense.

Toxic Reprisal
These conditions can be useful at times, but do not justify the inclusion of such card in your deck in my opinion, also since the requirements for it to trigger is that a hero dies within range of another. Too situational.
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5. Board Game: Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition) – Shadow of Nerekhall [Average Rating:8.38 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.38 Unranked]
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Universal
Placebo (1xp)
Let's get the negatives out of the way: heroes get the gold off their search cards regardless if they use the item or not, which means if you value the gold more than the item, then cards like these aren't worth considering at the first place. However, Placebo can be a life saver in the last encounter of the Finale. You can deny a Health or Stamina Potion and that can basically go as far as netting you the win for the campaign. So yeah, this is one of these "dirty tactics" cards, but one that can prove to be useful even in any other regular quest. Heroes often strategize based on their current levels of stamina, since most abilities depend on that, which is where stamina potions can be a foundation to their next course of actions. Sapping that will destroy their plans.

Refresh (1xp)
I don't normally want to reshuffle my discard pile unless there are only 1-2 cards left in my deck which I know I don't need, which is quite uncommon. After all you are building your deck to make use of all cards in it, so eventually there will be no true "dead cards" in it anyway. However, if you are using Infector, or Enchanter class, then there is an incentive for trying to get hold of your discarded cards earlier than having to wait for your drawing pile to get depleted. Another application is to get these Web Traps quicker to your hand by recycling your discard pile in time. There are indeed some applications for this card, but my personal playstyle leans more towards getting cards that do something rather than preparing for something hypothetical.

Solidarity (1xp)
Very useful card if you know attribute tests will be required across the whole party. It depends on the attributes repartition of your hero group, but it's normally not very hard to find a hero with a 2 or less attribute value for the one you expect to be required by the test. You can try to Imploding Rift everybody with this. Obviously, attribute test-based cards will benefit more from effects like these.

Upgrade (1xp)
Too complicated to use. The game currently doesn't allow you to build your deck based on types, at least in practice, and trying to stick to only certain cards in certain types so you can easily fetch them using cards like Upgrade is very difficult and will always result in subpar choices being made on your end. I have tried to make this work a few times, and just couldn't, at least not so I felt a return on investment.

Diverse Means (2xp)
The only 2xp card (so far) in the Universal class, which means incidentally that you need two other Universal cards before you can get this one, which might be a little bit unusual as overlord players tend to want to specialize first before they purchase support cards from Universal. Anyway no worries, because this card is not worth the cost by a good mile. You need a hoard of cards in order for this card to truly shine, which defeats the purpose of using your cards at the right occasion for waiting to play something as weak as this effect. Hard pass.


Shadowmancer
Imploding Rift (1xp)
Only works if your hero party has rather low Willpower at the first place (if not then sadly skip the card), but if you can get 2-3 heroes to test and fail the test (backing with these Befuddles of yours) then the full stamina loss is truly a game changer, as it forces the heroes to rest without the ability to use their skills with fatigue cost on them. Whenever I start a new campaign, and my hero players are shuffling through the heroes cards, their first requirement is willpower being 3 or more, due to this card. This is as much to tell as if the card isn't a pain for the heroes. A safe investment at 1xp, almost competing with Web Trap for a first purchase.

Mistrust (1xp)
Can be useful in small corridors, or whenever mobility is disrupted by the presence of many obstacles or monsters. In reality though, competent hero players will avoid this situation completely by deciding the correct sequence of hero activation that will minimize the effect of this card. It is really not that hard to counteract.

Out of Darkness (1xp)
An OK card, except you cannot force an attack on that same hero, and that you can only attack a hero in range of ´that figure. This can be a problem when revived from range (like with Bard), if all the hero holds is a non-reach melee weapon. Probably your second purchase in this class to access level 2s, but not stellar as a choice.

Shadow of Doubt (1xp)
Can be very disruptive, especially for Warrior-classes like Knight who want to use other heroes position to trigger effects, or Marshall. Another application is if a hero is supposed to open a door or kill a monster so a second hero can double run to get into position. By forcing the former to act last, you are forcing the heroes to reconsider their strategy. Situational card, can be useful or not, although not a bad choice if your heroes are playing certain hero classes relying on other heroes acting prior to them.

Black out (2xp)
Even if all the heroes are all equipped for range, they tend to operate from close range anyway, to avoid miss on range, so 2 spaces is not really impossible to reach. It's actually in the overlord's interest that they operate further away in order to increase the possibility of a miss on range (assuming no additional range granted by weapon, ability or feat).

Shadow Walk (2xp)
Fly is not a very strong ability in this game, and the application of this card is mostly if you have a lieutenant running around in places with lots of water or sludge. The amount of situations like these are not exactly legion, which means this card has close to zero application in practive. You wouldn't normally want to use this to get a monster into range for 2XP. In some quests you could also benefit from moving a master Broodwalker or Golem into position to block the heroes.

Treacherous Shadows (3xp)
One of the best 3xp cards around. Super Dark Charm that works best against parties with at least 3 heroes low on Willpower, which is where the decision point is for purchasing the card or not in my mind. Forcing the heroes to attack each other is always nice, especially with ranged attacks that can deal conditions.
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6. Board Game: Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition) – Manor of Ravens [Average Rating:8.14 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.14 Unranked]
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Enchanter
Dragonbone Pendant (1xp)
This is a good card to play early, so that you can chew through the heroes' HP at faster rate, and so healing becomes a more urgent issue, eventually disrupting the heroes' overall strategy. I also like to play this card on monster groups that are in need of the extra damage, like Medusae or Flesh Moulders.

Elixir of Stone (1xp)
I like to use this card on a lieutenant to provide him/her with additional defense. Monster groups who can respawn quickly are also a good choice for this card, even if they're just Zombies, since the card is more effective the more monsters can benefit from its effects. Removing this card basically implies that the hero attacking needs to give up most of his surges, which wins you time in most cases.

Rings of Zhol'alam (1xp)
Generally best when used with Kobolds, although competent heroes will snipe them instead if able, with this card in play. Probably an okay-purchase in the early campaign, when heroes rely more on non-reach melee attacks, so they are forced to step into the danger zone. Much more useless in the late campaign in my opinion, plus the damage is truly trivial as the campaign progresses.

Wristlet of Wind (1xp)
I like to use this card in conjunction with groups like Bandits or Goblin Archers, in order for them to get into range, and then get some movement to get out of reach of the heroes. A bit like gerilla tactics.

Rune of the Phoenix (2xp)
Nice when applied to a lieutenant or a monster who needs to be defeated for the heroes to win an encounter, making you gain some time. This card is even better the more defense you have on the monster. For all other encounters where you don't need to "keep somebody alive", it's still nice to be able to ressucitate that Shadow Dragon that just died, and kill the cheers of your hero players in one card play.

Ward of Peace (2xp)
There are some monsters like the Elemental or the Troll for instance who have no use for surge results. However the card also prevents you from using cards like Critical Blow or Flurry, which can be quite bad. There can be situations when a specific group of monsters can be vulnerable to a particular weapon dealing a conditions they cannot afford having, due to some special action on their card that you estimate as being critical, or a specific course of actions you intend to make them commit to. Even in that case, it is likely that the condition will be inflicted again after clearing it via this card. For 2xp, I would not bother considering this card.

Sign of the Last Zenith (3xp)
The card is clearly better the more Enchanter cards you have purchased earlier. It requires that you play as many of those as possible prior to playing that one, so you can later on redistribute them and make that lucky monster group get all of the upgrades. I think it is a nice way to recycle your cards, however none of these upgrades are truly powerful. This card serves an utility purpose rather than an actual game-changing function that you would expect with a 3xp card.


Unkindness
Call of the Ravens (1xp)
An essential card for all overlords, regardless of specialization or playstyle. The 4 damage can often be mitigated by the type of monster being assigned it, but you might as well sacrifice a weak monster as it may be respawning anyway, due to reinforcement rules. The ravens are quite nasty with good attack dices in Act I, and some decent movement (regretting that they cannot fly, though). Their only presence is a nuisance, a distraction that you can really count on, as for getting your hero players' attention to switch from the objectives. After all nobody wants to have a monster on his back all the time.

Beneath the Shadow (1xp)
This card looks like a good defensive ability, but I have found that attacks in the mid-game kill the ravens even with one less surge to spend on said attack. Therefore I don't find the investment worth it.

Beware (1xp)
Rarely useful, too situational, and inferior to other cards in that class. It does complement the Scourge's poor movement and is therefore more useful when played on it rather than on the ravens, but I have yet to experience a situation when I have been able to make good use of this card. If other cards are released in the future making servant movement a critical requirement, then this card will be more attractive. Until then an absolutely non-essential purchase.

Feast (1xp)
You need a kill to enable this card. The health boost is nice, but I think this card competes with other better ones in the class. The servant is disposable and does not defend itself well, which does negate parts of the appeal for getting more health to play with.

Ill-Omen (1xp)
For these low-willpower hero parties, this card can do quite some damage. If you have a few monsters around, getting Doomed into the equation can prove quite dangerous for the heroes. Doomed works very well on a single hero if you can focus your attack on him/her, which yo should be doing normally, so I wouldn't be too conservative here, and get this card even for one hero. Above all, that's also your ticket for purchasing level 2s in this class.

Imitation (2xp)
Can be lethal in the late campaign once the heroes have geared up. I am a big fan of mirror effects, as they heavily contribute to the psychological warfare between yourself and the hero players. It is quite deceptive to see your own attacks being directed back to yourself, after all. The fact you can have several servants out also makes cards like this even more playable, as you get more occasions for doing so, and even maybe better choose your target.

Sudden Flurry (2xp)
Great card if you can position your servant in range of many heroes. An AoE attack that only affects heroes is to be reckoned with. Like with other AoE abilities like Blast or Fire Breath, you can make things even more efficient by throwing more cards into the attack, for best effect.

Envelop (3xp)
I haven't been able to use this card to its best effect. If a hero dies close to other heroes, then you can bet their priority would be to kill off the servant, which shouldn't prove too difficult in Act II, which is realistically when you can afford the card after buying all pre-requisites. It's a fun card otherwise, but it's really hard to pull off. Has fell flat for me anyway.


Rewards
Down and Out
Assuming both heroes have low Might, this card effectively wastes one hero's action. It's a Stunned condition basically. The card replaces itself if the test succeeded, which is a plus, otherwise this card is quite meaningless in my opinion.

Endless Supply
A draw-4 should be rated 5 stars, right? Well, I would always try to stick to 15 cards and even going down to 13 using Baron Zachareth's plot deck. There is no real incentive for running a larger deck, as the chance for you to get the cards you need at any given point in time decreases the thicker your deck is. I don't know if FFG wanted to issue a card to encourage overlords to run larger OL decks, which I find quite surprising.

Unbroken
Preventing these one-shot kills on a Lieutenant can be a big deal if you need to protect a key figure long enough to carry out your plans. Especially useful in the late campaign to taunt these heroes dealing 7-10 damage on every attack.
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7. Board Game: Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition) – The Chains That Rust [Average Rating:8.30 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.30 Unranked]
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Soulbinder
Ties That Bind (1xp)
It's hard to rate a card that gives you a servant for free and that lies in front of you for the remainder of the campaign anything else than five stars. The Scourge is a slow fellow, but it hits hard and spawns very easily. The major strength of this card is that you can activate it anytime whenever a non-servant monster dies, which could effectively throw the scourge in as a replacement of the monster deceased, and therefore deny access to certain areas of the map as a result. You can also combo this card with the Call of the Ravens to kill off a monster at the beginning of your turn to spawn both servants. In all cases, the slowness of the Scourge (which can be remedied nonetheless upon purchase of other cards) is seldom an issue, since all you need to do is to respawn it somewhere where heroes are killing monsters. The Ravens are a bit more tricky in that respect, because of the cost they require.

Dark Silhouette (1xp)
Not the best card in the class deck, but it can prove very useful if you are using this to protect a lieutenant, as long as you fulfill the range requirements. Since the scourge is expandable in essence (as are any servants), this ability preserves your monsters and give you time to use your monster groups to the best of their capability. I rate this a 2 stars for the reason that this card remains situational, and is strictly inferior in my opinion to other 1xp cards in this class.

Grotesque (1xp)
Terrified is such a strong condition, and heroes normally think twice before they commit to attacking if they are Terrified. The fatigue "gain" (or stamina loss, it's truly hard to qualify it, since you "gain" tokens, lol) is even more important in my mind. Obviously only purchasable if you have at least a couple of heroes with low willpower. I generally run it with one 1-Willpower hero and a second one at 2 Willpower, as a minimum requirement.

Possessive (1xp)
Very useful in Act II once the heroes have acquired powerful gear, but it's okay even before if you can afford it. You still need a target that is in range, as you cannot attack yourself, though.

Restless Spirit (1xp)
I have played servants for quite a bit now, and I still manage to come around the low movement of the scourge, and don't feel like the Ravens need to go even faster. Therefore I don't need this card. It's not a bad one per-say, but the investment in servant-based abilities already limits your capacity to purchase other types of cards, so that I wouldn't think going "all in" with this card would be as valuable as in purchasing some of the other good 1xp around from other classes.

Haunted Steps (2xp)
Useful to make the Scourge keep up with a hero trying to disengage, but quite pointless when you think about the cost, for the reasons stated above. Moving around the servant is generally not a huge problem, and you can always respawn if you ever get in a situation where there is no use of your seravnt where it's at. Heroes love to kill stuff, so there is bandwith for your servant to come back into the action without having to fly through the map like you would normally do with monsters.

Unblinking (2xp)
I just love this card. The heroes get to choose between 3 bad alternatives. The life loss is potentially not as bad for them, depending on their level of health, but in campaigns like Mists of Bilehall or Chains that Rust, being defeated is a big deal and therefore life loss gets bonus points from me. Getting at least three heroes caught in this effect shouldn't be too difficult. There are worse purchases you can make for 2 xp, and another reason for getting this card is to get your hands on the 3xp one that follows...

Danse Macabre (3xp)
Just the name. Wow. Shifting Earth baby, I love it. A super Imploding Rift with no attribute test, and forced move as the cherry on the cake. Triggering it is quite easy, and the effect is truly amazing. Another good point is that you don't have to waste xp on subpar cards in order to get to this one, this class as a deck is truly amazing if you´re willing to invest in servants-based abilities. The intent is of course to disable all XP-cost class cards from the hero party, and position them in a way that is beneficial for your monsters to connect their attacks and try to achieve a few kills.
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8. Board Game: Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition) – Oath of the Outcast [Average Rating:7.91 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.91 Unranked]
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Rewards
Unseen Wings
This card grants you a total of 9 move-one-space instances across the board, which is insane. This is not movement, so you can ignore Water/Sludge penalty with this (but not "entering a space" effects, obviously). If you use it on large monsters (assuming the ones with 3 figures for best effect, although 6 movement points is still very good), you can even get them to expand to sort out range issues, and that's even before they get to start their own turn. You can also use this card to target a lieutenant or a monster carrying some objective token to get closer to fulfilling your objective in a race-type quest. I think this is one of the best cards in the game, as you´ll find a utility for it in every encounter you play, and the effect is truly amazing.
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9. Board Game: Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition) – Crown of Destiny [Average Rating:7.87 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.87 Unranked]
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Fire Gems
In my experience, getting to trigger cards like Web Trap on three or more heroes even before rolling the attribute test has become more and more of a challenge. Experienced hero players will know better, which is also why I´ve learnt to play Web Trap to serve other purposes than trying to get the "4 Immobilized heroes achievement" in this game. Therefore I don't think this particular card is worth having in a deck. You need a low-awareness figure to initiate the test to start with, and then the loss can well be close to nothing. At first sight, Fire Gems seems better than Explosive Runes, as other adjacent heroes will take the loss immediately without testing. It also triggers more easily (entering an empty space versus searching/opening a door). However, Explosive Runes can deal more damage for these heroes low on awareness, who happen to roll high on their test. Range is also 2 spaces instead of 1. I value that extra range a tad more, since getting several heroes into range of this attack can be quite tough, as exposed earlier.
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10. Board Game: Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition) – Crusade of the Forgotten [Average Rating:8.00 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.00 Unranked]
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Forgotten Sorcery
I like Sorcery especially on short-ranged attacks, like the ones you would normally expect from Bandits or Lava Beetles. I don't really use Sorcery to get range normally. But I like using this in conjunction with monsters like Flesh Moulders, since they also have damage increase on surge, making them unexpectedly nasty. Medusae also benefit from cards like these since dealing damage is such a problem for them to inflict conditions, with such poor attack dices against heroes with more than their base grey defense dice.
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11. Board Game: Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition) – Guardians of Deephall [Average Rating:8.02 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.02 Unranked]
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Power in Numbers
This card can prove some value during these quests where the big villain awaits in the center tile with an army of Kobolds on its side - and what have you. In this case, you could play this card to deal some fatigue across the heroes, and heal the few monsters that your hero players wouldn't have already insta-popped. I don't think it is realistic to expect the benefits of the HP regain to fully apply to low-HP groups like Kobolds or (especially) Reanimates. 2HP on a high defense monster (especially with Ironskin) is a lot better than 2HP on a small dude, however the problem is that you don't normally get many of those monsters, which means the condition for this card to trigger will be pushed further away. There is also a time window where you can play this card, you really cannot wait for playing it for fear of your heroes decimating your monsters below the listed threshold. Reinforcements allowing you to control the amount of bodies in a room clearly enhance the probability for this card to be played at all, so I´m going to say that it depends on the map layout and how you intend to position your monsters. In typical corridor-warfare encounters (which is probably more than half the encounters available in the game), give this one a hard pass.
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12. Board Game: Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition) – Visions of Dawn [Average Rating:8.08 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.08 Unranked]
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Hard Knocks
I really like this buffed up Knockback ability. Stunned is a top tier condition, and I wouldn't underestimate the possibility to throw the hero into a pit space, or in the middle of your monsters for easy swarming later on. Abilities that allow you to reposition the heroes are neat in this game when you play the overlord. You can chain this with many other effects to maximize your efficiency. Otherwise you always find that too many monsters are out of range for some reason, or that a hero is running around a bit too easily for your taste. Controlling the range of your monsters/cards for hitting the heroes the hardest possible is key to keeping them in check.
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13. Board Game: Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition) – Bonds of the Wild [Average Rating:8.08 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.08 Unranked]
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Hunk of Junk
Strictly inferior to Placebo in my mind. The latter does not require any test. I guess you could field both in your deck for great effect against these healing/stamina potions, but I don't think you should acquire more than one of these cards in your deck. Basicallý you need to be very conservative about your xp. Potions are nasty (for you as the Overlord), but they are rarely game changing, except in the Finale.
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14. Board Game: Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition) – Stewards of the Secret [Average Rating:8.02 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.02 Unranked]
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Splice
Probably worth playing if you are running monsters with Reanimation, like Reanimates or Skeleton Archers. Assuming you can negate the damage on your monsters using these types, you still need to roll the surge on each attack to get the benefits from that card. I think the card is viable as long as you still have a decent amount of figures left, to soak up the damage and perform enough attacks for this to be worth it. You could in theory play this on non-Reanimation groups like Bandits, but you´ll find out that most of these monsters already have surge abilities to spend on. The +2 damage will probably be better than anything else on an Act I minion monster, but on master monsters or Act II minions you´ll certainly not be gaining anything in the end. An okay-ish card in the early campaign if you run many little monsters.
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15. Board Game: Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition) – Shards of Everdark [Average Rating:8.09 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.09 Unranked]
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Mockery
This is the nuts if you have cards like Dark Charm or Imploding Rift at disposal to force out these Willpower tests. Obviously you won't get very far if you don't have at least one hero with 2 Willpower or below. But adding a grey dice to that hero's attribute tests for the rest of the encounter opens up a whole world of possibilties for you as the overlord. It's basically very helpful in those encounters whenever magical doors or portals need to be opened through attribute tests, but everything you have in your hand requiring tests (especially Basic II cards) will be way more effective against that hero. I´m not big on statistics, because I think they somehow cloud your judgement since we´re not in a vacuum here with all these cards that can be playing a role in a particular game, but that added grey dice can make tests on 3-attribute values worthwhile, enabling things like Web Traps on Warriors, Grease Traps on Scouts, etc. That fact alone is pretty big, very few cards can achieve that.
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16. Board Game: Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition) – Treaty of Champions [Average Rating:8.08 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.08 Unranked]
Indalecio
Sweden
Helsingborg
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Hag's Hunger
The effect is quite good, but killing a hero to trigger this card can prove to get harder and harder as the campaign progresses. I would keep the card in my deck for those quests where you think heroes would normally stick together. So no big maps with personal quests or maps where you think the party may split up at some point. For cards of this type, the number of heroes you expect to catch with it is quite important. I would couple this one with Throwback effects from your open groups, in order to control the location of the hero token so you can trap as many heroes as possible.
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