Tim Burris
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I wanted to like this game. I was sure I would. I played Descent 1st edition once, four or five years ago. I do remember it being more fun, but having read the rules I can't say for sure that I'm not looking at the past through rose-coloured glasses. Anyway, after three plays as the Overlord and one as a hero, I'm finding this game just doesn't do it for me. It feels too light!

I like all different kinds of games. My favourite games are Diplomacy, Rex, Twilight Imperium, Puerto Rico, and Chess - but I also love King of Tokyo, Talisman, Relic, Axis and Allies, Blood Bowl Team Manager, Seven Wonders, and even (shudder) Risk. In these games I have the feeling of making lots of meaningful decisions, of weighing options, of calculating risk/reward and making a choice, that I don't see in Descent. I enjoy theme - I love the theme of Arkham Horror, Android, Talisman. What I don't really care for are co-op games. I do like Arkham Horror, but I don't exactly treat it like a co-op game. I do my own thing, much to the horror (lol!) of some and the amusement of others. Sometimes I'll say I'll do one thing and then do something else, just for the reaction it elicits. I'm a troll at heart, this is just way more fun for me than "co-operative optimization." I love optimizing, but find co-op games often result in one or two "leaders" emerging who do most of the thinking, while the rest of the players are limited to moving their pieces around the board and occasionally reminding the "brain" of things he may not have remembered.

So I figured I'd enjoy playing as the Overlord and ruining the Heroes' day, but it just doesn't do it for me. I find it hard to care about the game. It's not a downtime problem, but I find myself checking out and not even paying attention during the Heroes' turn. The encounters have been split about 50/50 between overlord and hero victories, each one pretty close, though it always seems like the heroes will win, until the overlord pulls off an "unexpected" move and either suddenly turns the tables or fails to do so. To me, there just isn't enough game here. The biggest tactical questions seem to boil down to "Will I have line of sight," and "Will this monster fit in this hallway right now?" Even worse, the whole "campaign" thing just makes it more difficult for me to care at all about the outcome of the individual sessions. Oh boy, a reward...for next time...yay?

But I enjoy Talisman and Relic, games everyone seems to say are way more of a crapshoot. Unexpected stuff happens all the time, people say you just move left or right but you have to make a choice every turn (or nearly every turn), and I have won probably 80% of the talisman/relic games I've played.

Is it just me or do others feel this way? Am I missing something that will reveal itself with more plays? Is it just the quests we have played? Is act 2 better? Is 1st edition better? Is this game more fun if you don't play a "campaign?" I have been told I am crazy for finding this game "lighter" than Talisman, King of Tokyo, or Seven Wonders.
 
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Jan Tuijp
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I have no experience with 2E, but it seems to be 1E Light, combined with a light version of RtL. It has its own following.

You seem to be a natural 1E sort of person. The RtL campaigns of 1E are very, very different to your depiction. RtL did to re-playability what Einsteins Theory of Relativity did to Newtons Law. It didn't make it obsolete; its just not applicable to very large objects. cool

RtL contains an enormous amount of variables and mechanics that makes each session of any stage of a campaign feel fresh and there's certainly no such thing as a bored Overlord (some might even argue that he is more fun to play than the heroes). But it is very demanding in terms of time and dedication.

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Rafal Areinu
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Talisman has decisions like "do I go to black knight, where I'll lose 1 health for sure or to space where monsters are stronger, where I might gain something or lose 1 health?"

I found my talisman wins to be pretty random. Even though I'm making most optimal decisions I just get bad rolls and draws. I'm pretty sure that I would be winning more than 80% of my talisman games if not for the fact that I'm basically forcing players that are strong enough to go for the crown to do so! Most players don't know when they are ready to win and needlessly level up past that point...

That doesn't mean I don't like Talisman

You might try playing Descent 2E as 2 player game. You will be playing all 4 heroes, this way you get rid of "brain of the team" problem, and it won't be co-op game anymore.

You could also try on of the following:
1) Play on epic rules, where you play only 1 game. You are not forced to play campaign.
2) Play mini-campaign, where you could finish all quests in one sitting. Online there are rules for mini-campaign from Lair of the Wyrm, but you might do something similar with connected quests from original campaign.

Those suggestions MIGHT improve your enjoyment based on your post, but might as well not. I urge you to try
 
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Robin Reeve
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Bizud wrote:
To me, there just isn't enough game here. The biggest tactical questions seem to boil down to "Will I have line of sight," and "Will this monster fit in this hallway right now?"
Those are really about the least tactical questions that Descent is about.
It seems that you have missed the depth of tactical reflexions that Descent provides.
I really don't find the reasons you give, to say that Descent is simpler than Talisman under that aspect, convincing.

I like both Talisman and Descent a lot.
But they are totally different beasts.
Talisman has a very long playing time, is quite random and does not ask a lot of tactical reflexion.
Descent plays much quicker, has many factors in addition to randomness and does ask a lot of tactical reflexion.

Both do offer a good thematical immersion.

Now, if I understand, you are more a "loner" than a "team player".
I don't quite understand why you find pleasure playing your own way and pi$$ing off your gaming partners by not cooperating with them in AH.
But, clearly, if that is your usual profile, I understand quite well that you prefer Talisman over Descent, as the former excludes any cooperation.
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Robin, I 100 percent agree with you.
 
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Playtime advantage, if any, is a very slight one for D2. But at least in Talisman you more or less can win with anybody, in D2, my experience (41 plays) is OL, OL, OL and then some more OL domination. In two games where the players are in adverserial roles, ironically Talisman is the better balanced one for (or because) of all its randomness.

As for the OP's approach to AH, we'd play max one game, that is all. Hell, if it were my copy, I'd probably just pack up in the middle of the game if a player just screws around and doesn't play to win.
 
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Dam the Man wrote:
Playtime advantage, if any, is a very slight one for D2. But at least in Talisman you more or less can win with anybody, in D2, my experience (41 plays) is OL, OL, OL and then some more OL domination. In two games where the players are in adverserial roles, ironically Talisman is the better balanced one for (or because) of all its randomness.

As for the OP's approach to AH, we'd play max one game, that is all. Hell, if it were my copy, I'd probably just pack up in the middle of the game if a player just screws around and doesn't play to win.
Your experience of Descent is not shared by all the players who consider that the heroes are overpowered.
Most debates about balance are not serious and are a specific obsession among some Descent players.
Talisman is not more balanced than Descent.
Balance is a myth.
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Rauli Kettunen
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30-11 advantage in wins for the OL, with 6-7 of the hero wins coming from First Blood, doesn't seem like anywhere near balanced for my take on what balanced means.
 
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Rafal Areinu
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Well, that is YOUR experience.

Check out this thread:
http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/955497/balance-statistics

it has spreadsheet with results from many players. It doesn't seem that overwhelming in OL's favor.
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TL;DR "Talisman has more tactics thank Descent. PS: I live for the trolling" devil
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Aswin Agastya
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I kind of get your complaint Talisman is a random game, and you find strategy there. Descent is supposed to be strategy game, but it doesn't have as much strategy as you expected.

I suggest trying to enjoy Descent from the theme standpoint too. I find Descent tactical/strategic play is pretty subtle, and actually a good portion about it is about resource management, not tactical positioning.
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Areinu wrote:
Well, that is YOUR experience.

Check out this thread:
http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/955497/balance-statistics

it has spreadsheet with results from many players. It doesn't seem that overwhelming in OL's favor.


That doesn't tell me anything about a group's playstyle. In particular is the OL playing DM/GM or playing to win is a big factor. Probably THE factor. Any results from the former approach wouldn't even matter to me, because it's not how I feel the game should be played, each side doing their absolute utmost to win, period. CK or no CK isn't shown either.

And it's not like I've been OL for all the campaigns, you can check out the PBF campaign here on BGG to see four heroes who never had a realistic chance at winning a single quest (even rarely won an encounter).
 
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Tim Burris
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Maybe it is because we have only played the base game, but we have never lost a game of Arkham Horror, and it's because we are all so tactical that we cannot help but optimize it to death, so I say, screw you guys, we are going to win anyway, if I have to lie to my "fellows" in order to get the trophy I want, I'm gonna do it because that is more fun than "winning more." The reaction I get out of it is just a bonus. I'm playing to win, but since we can't seem to lose, if we are in a position where someone getting lost in time and space really isn't gonna matter, then yeah, you're getting dunked and I'm stealing your trophy or whatever. It's really a vote of confidence in the team, that I am choosing to make a less optimal, but more hilarious, move. I am definitely more of a loner than a team player. I can't handle asking "ok guys, what should I do on my turn so we can all have the most efficient turns?" Advice is fine and appreciated, but when the game is paused so the group can "collectively optimize" I find it totally immersion-breaking. I have seen Arkham Horror literally put players to sleep because they felt like slaves to the team, and I feel the only way to reject that is to go rogue, flip everyone the bird and do things for the lolz.

I do see the resource management aspects to descent, especially as the overlord...You wanna make the heroes use up their once per game abilities and apply pressure so that they're forced to keep using fatigue, and all the monsters are just speed bumps between the players and the objective and everything else is a smokescreen. Maybe that's the problem, it is all really about that one thing, the objective, but it feels like the game tries too hard to construct a game around it that ultimately doesn't feel all that tactical or strategic. I don't need "balance" and love asymmetry (Twilight Imperium, Diplomacy, Rex, etc), but I have no issue with randomness either.

Randomness in King of Tokyo or even Settlers of Catan hasn't prevented one or two players in my group from winning the vast majority of their games (after literally hundreds of games), suggesting that it's mostly the player and not the dice that is winning the games. But in Descent, it certainly does seem like the players are overpowered, as the overlord has mostly won due to player oversight, but it seems like even a tiny tweak could tilt this completely in favour of the overlord due to how all-important the objective is. And the longer a campaign goes on, the more likely things will be skewed to favour one side or the other. Close games are generally seen to be a good thing, but not if they are "artificially close"...generally I like a game more the more scope there is for good players to be really good at it.
 
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Aswin Agastya
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Actually when I was talking about resource management, I was talking about the heroes: actions & fatigue. Try getting a good player playing all 4 heroes. That's how I play Descent.

Playing heroes can be pretty complex with all the different skills, equipments, fatigue costs and surges. When 4 heads try to work this out, it's often not much better than 1 head managing them all. Especially with a good head. When playing 4 players, the good head will get diluted. When playing alone, all the different characters will click together and work in unison without disagreements.
 
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Bizud wrote:
I can't handle asking "ok guys, what should I do on my turn so we can all have the most efficient turns?" Advice is fine and appreciated, but when the game is paused so the group can "collectively optimize" I find it totally immersion-breaking. I have seen Arkham Horror literally put players to sleep because they felt like slaves to the team, and I feel the only way to reject that is to go rogue, flip everyone the bird and do things for the lolz.

I can see why you don't like Descent. You have put your finger on an interesting point about Descent's balance: Descent is pro OL if the heroes are just mucking around doing their own thing. But if the heroes do the very thing you hate, optimising as a group and play as a coordinated team, then the heroes become stronger than the OL. Not being team players will lose the heroes the game. It does raise the question "should 4 players really be playing the one side of a game?", but it is what it is and it's definitely not for you.
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Rafal Areinu
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Dam the Man wrote:
Areinu wrote:
Well, that is YOUR experience.

Check out this thread:
http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/955497/balance-statistics

it has spreadsheet with results from many players. It doesn't seem that overwhelming in OL's favor.


That doesn't tell me anything about a group's playstyle. In particular is the OL playing DM/GM or playing to win is a big factor. Probably THE factor. Any results from the former approach wouldn't even matter to me, because it's not how I feel the game should be played, each side doing their absolute utmost to win, period. CK or no CK isn't shown either.

And it's not like I've been OL for all the campaigns, you can check out the PBF campaign here on BGG to see four heroes who never had a realistic chance at winning a single quest (even rarely won an encounter).


No, it doesn't tell you about playstyle of a single group because it tells you average of many groups, that is much more reliable than data from single group.

Sure, your OL is playing to win. Good. And what if his heroes are just... bad at being heroes? If there's gap between skills then even encounters that heroes could easily win will be lost. Unfortunatelly data there doesn't tell us anything about previous scenarios, and snowballing effect is big factor. If heroes win 2 quests then they have higher chance to win third than when they lost first 2 quests.

But what the data I linked shows is, for example, number of players, which IS a big factor. Honestly I can't see heroes winning many of the scenarios in 2 player game.

If you think OL's "playing to win" is THE factor then I'll tell you one example that it is NOT. My previous OL was playing to win with everything he had, but was just bad at tactics and lost all games for whole scenario. My current OL is pretty good, and rolls damn well, but still lost 3 quests out of 3 we played(mini campaign in Lair of the Wyrm). All his loses were by hair width though, and he lost mostly because of bad luck near end of the scenario. But he plays for the win and will use anything at his disposal. He uses good monsters for the job and I can say it's my favorite overlord to play against. He's not as good as me though.

Personally I've never lost as OL, except for First Blood games or solo games, where I was both sides.

I don't believe that "is OL playing to win" is THE factor. I suspect most of the data from what I linked you was from people playing to win, not from dungeon master games. The most important factors are:
* player skill
* which heroes, skills, items and monsters are used
* snowballing effect
* rolls
* scenario balance
* rule comprehension
And while rolls on average are about the same for both sides sometimes failing one roll 2-3 times in a row can make a game...

As for final point, rule comprehension, I don't think 2 groups play this game the same with the amount of unclear rules, things that people forget, and other small mistakes.

And sure, there are times where heroes have no realistic chance to win, but sometimes the OL just has no realistic chance to win. Have you heard about all those turn 1 wins in 2nd encounter of death on the wings? Not so hard to pull off by certain groups even if you stacked 15 cards from first encounter... And winning first encounter is pretty tricky for the OL.

Sevej wrote:
Actually when I was talking about resource management, I was talking about the heroes: actions & fatigue. Try getting a good player playing all 4 heroes. That's how I play Descent.

Playing heroes can be pretty complex with all the different skills, equipments, fatigue costs and surges. When 4 heads try to work this out, it's often not much better than 1 head managing them all. Especially with a good head. When playing 4 players, the good head will get diluted. When playing alone, all the different characters will click together and work in unison without disagreements.


This depends on the group. If there is strong hero mastermind and others just try to help him by reminding him of things he overlooked then we get super mastermind
 
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Rauli Kettunen
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Areinu wrote:
Personally I've never lost as OL, except for First Blood games or solo games, where I was both sides.


How do you not call it OL-favoured then?
 
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Rafal Areinu
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Because I know that I play this game better than my opponents. When I play solo(controlling both sides) OL doesn't win every time. The only thing that is tricky is playing heroes while pretending I don't know what cards OL has at hand. For me those solo games are better indicator of game balance then when playing against others, because I know exactly how good my opponent is and I know exactly why the winning side won.

With equal skill on both sides OL isn't impossible to defeat, not even close to that... And he isn't total pushover either. It's not completely equal, I don't believe it's possible to be, but it's nowhere near what you make it to be.

Also when I'm on hero side the only reason I'm not winning every time is that I let other players on my team think for themselves, and only give small pointers from time to time.

When I was playing "mind of the team" and didn't let others make their decisions there was no realistic chance for OL to win. I never lost as heroes when playing that way.

And why am I not "playing to win" as a hero and letting other heroes think for themselves? I only act as their mentor, and OLs mentor, teaching both sides the quirks of the game. They are learning fast and honestly they often surprise me with their insight. Few more games and I won't be able to make statements like "I've never lost as X side" anymore, as they will just be playing too well!
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Tim Burris
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Pretending not to know what's in the overlord's hand seems huge, though, as that's the only thing I've seen decide games in the overlord's favour. So much so that some apparently houserule that the overlord must either play or discard at least one card each turn, so that he can't just save up a bunch of cards for that key moment when monster X needs to kill target Y or run to the exit or whatever. The more I think about it, the all importance of that objective and how it seems to ALWAYS hinge around one particular turn is doing the game no favours in my view. It's not just that the game is co-op, since I found overlording to be dull as well. Having read a couple of the review threads I found one comment that really struck me: Since there are nothing like attacks of opportunity or zones of control, since moving diagonally is no slower than not moving diagonally, and since even large monsters can squeeze themselves through almost whatever they want, "There was little to no point to the tactical map. Figures essentailly engaged whoever they wanted with little regard to sensical combat needs." Given this, since this isn't a great example of squad-based tactics why not just play Dungeons and Dragons? Because Descent is shorter?
 
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Rafal Areinu
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Bizud wrote:
Pretending not to know what's in the overlord's hand seems huge, though, as that's the only thing I've seen decide games in the overlord's favour.

1) I know when I'm cheating myself
2) You probably forgot to roll dice then...

By the way:
Dam the Man wrote:

How do you not call it OL-favoured then?

Bizud wrote:
the only thing I've seen decide games in the overlord's favour.

You guys seem to have drastically different opinions on which side the game favors.

Bizud wrote:
Since there are nothing like attacks of opportunity or zones of control, since moving diagonally is no slower than not moving diagonally, and since even large monsters can squeeze themselves through almost whatever they want, "There was little to no point to the tactical map. Figures essentailly engaged whoever they wanted with little regard to sensical combat needs." Given this, since this isn't a great example of squad-based tactics why not just play Dungeons and Dragons? Because Descent is shorter?

In D&D everyone wins as long as they have fun. In Descent one side wins. Descent has tight rules made to make game competitive. In D&D DM just makes sure everyone else has fun.

Things which that quote listed aren't required to make good squad based tactical game.

Descent is fun precisely because every turn hinges on you doing something for the objective. The objective isn't "kill all monsters", and both you, and the quote from the review seem to want to kill the monsters. Combat here is the background for more important things. Now, you don't have to like the idea of objective oriented play, but it doesn't make this game bad, RPG, shorter D&D nor "not a great example of squad based tactics".
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IMO, The two games are, mechanically, entirely different.

Talisman is an "adventure boardgame": each player plays for himself, and there is no game master. A typical turn is: move, draw card, resolve encounter with a die roll. The miniatures are no more than markers to tell which space each player is on. Adventure boardgames are *NOT* similar to miniature skirmish games.

Descent is a "dungeon crawl": most of the players play cooperatively in a party, against another player who is the game master. The party players play only one character, the game master multiple monsters. Turns involve complex moves and actions simulating combat. The miniatures are important to resolve combat issues, such as line of sight. Dungeon crawls are somewhat similar to miniature skirmish games.




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