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Subject: Does Forgotten Souls (official co-op mod) save Descent 2nd Ed? rss

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Bryce K. Nielsen
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I have a love/hate relationship with Descent 2nd Edition. I love the looks and can't resist buying everything, but hate the gameplay and general experience. Let me explain... no, there is too much. Let me sum up:

When it first came out, I was both excited and leery of the game. As with most FFG games, it looked great, and at a glance some of the mechanics felt like a good step up from 1st Ed. However, once I got the game and played it a few times with my friends, it fell short in a major way with a bunch of minor problems adding up to a not-so-fun game for us. The worst parts for us were less the mechanics and more the changes from a 'dungeon crawl' to an 'adventure' game. When it's more important for the heroes to run and grab wheat than kill the bloody goblins, it's not so fun for us.

Low and behold, FFG announcted Game Night Kits for Descent. These kits promised a change in mechanics, from a 1vMany style game play, to a pure co-op. But even better, these kits promised some things that we found missing from the game, such as "leveling up" during a quest, finding treasure during a quest, a mechanical reason for killing monsters, and what appeared to be a fun game playable in one night.

So, needless to say, I had high expectations for this kit. I got my grubby little hands on the kit this week...

Descent Game Night Kit: Forgotten Souls


The kit was relatively light. Packed in a non-discrete cardboard shipping box, it contained a Getting Started booklet, a Rule booklet, 10 Monster Activation Cards, 12 Exploration Cards, 10 Peril Cards, and 3 POD sized sheets for tracking doom and monster kills. It also contained acrylic health tokens and blue dice.



The acrylic pieces are kind of cool, but the transparent dice are not very different from the normal dice. Maybe if I had a whole set I'd notice it, but so far, meh. The rulebook wasn't very large, 16 pages with 5 of those being setups for specific encounters. The modified gameplay was light enough that if you know the core rules, it takes tops 10 minutes to explain how this co-op works.

How does it work?

The co-op is embodied in a quest. The one included in the kit is called Forgotten Souls. The heroes stumble on a village where everyone is dead and a small boy leads them to a cave. Boy disappears, door slams shut, and the heroes now have to go through this dungeon to the end to find a way out. The villagers are in here, but now zombies. There are also barghests, flesh mulders, and dragons, and a big bad dragon deep at the end.

Enough flavor text, how does it actually work? The game is played very similar to the core game. There's a board with the heroes and monsters on it, the heroes play exactly as the do in the base game, the "Overlord" has a turn as well but it's been automated. The heroes win by going through the encounters and accomplishing a specific goal. The heroes lose if the Doom token ever reaches the same space as the Fate token (they are on the same track, Doom goes up, Fate goes down).

How the game differs from the core game in the following ways:
- Encounters
- Overlord's Turn
- XP & Loot

Encounters
Encounters are the main way of playing this game. There is an Encounter deck, and as the heroes explore the dungeon, they draw encounter cards that describe the map and monsters. There are three 'stages' to the game, and this is represented by special encounter cards. The first stage encounter is shuffled with the first 3 cards, the second stage is shuffled with the next 3 cards, and the final stage is shuffled with the last 2 cards. At the end of each stage, Heroes are rewarded XP and can immediately spend on skills (more on that later).

An Encounter indicates how the map is built, what monsters start on the map, and the specific goals for that part of the map. An Encounter is a card and a map description. Each encounter has an Entrance and an Exit, the Entrance hooks to the previous Encounter's Exit. The Exit has a door. The door cannot be opened until the Encounter card has been discarded (the objective of that particular encounter fulfilled or failed). Succeeding quests usually just refreshes the Fate track (one part of the 'timer' in the game). Failing a quest usually involves increasing the Doom track (the other part of the timer). Once the encounter is done, heroes can open the door exploring the next encounter. If they linger (say to Rest or use some Healing actions), then the Fate does down, the timer moving along, so heroes don't want to linger too long (one maybe two turns) before opening that door or they will lose the game.

Here's an example of an Encounter:



This Encounter is called Fog-Filled Passage. The card explains the special effects in this area (you can't use fatigue to move!), and the rulebook shows which tile(s) to use and which monsters are on the tiles. Notice, there are 2 ways to discard this encounter: in the blue, once you kill all zombies you refresh fate and discard the card. In the red, there's a timer that increase each overlord turn. Basically, at the third overlord turn, advance doom and discard the card. The green arrows on the map indicate the entrance and how you hook it up to the main board. The red is the exit. Once you discard this encounter, you can open the door and proceed to the next encounter.

This can lead to some very interesting maps. Look at this game in progress:



You are seeing 4 different encounters hooked together.

Overlord's Turn
A huge change to the base game, the Overlord is now automated. There are 3 phases to this: Overlord Effects, Fate, and Monster Activation.

Overlord Effects are described on the current Encounter Card. The bottom 'red' half of the card is what happens during this phase. Some encounters will spawn monsters, some will have a timer increase, some do nothing. If the Encounter Card has been discarded, you do nothing during this phase (skip to the Fate phase).

Fate only happens if the Encounter Card has been discarded. Basically, it's the timer to keep the heroes from lingering too long. Sometimes, after an Encounter has completed, there are still monsters and the heroes want to kill them. Sometimes they want to linger to Rest or Heal, etc. Either way, this phase is what makes the heroes hurry on to the next Encounter. The heroes first move the Fate token down the doom track (if Fate and Doom are on the same space, heroes lose). Then they draw a Peril card, which tends to cause damage or spawn monsters. The top half is enacted if there are no monsters on the board, the bottom half is if there are monsters on the board.



Remember, this phase is skipped if there's an Encounter card in play, so the heroes are highly encouraged to hurry up and get to the next Encounter.

Monster Activation happens at the end. You draw a Monster Activation Card, and follow the order of the card from Top left in a Z fashion. Here's a sample card:



The base rules are still in effect, a monster only has 2 actions and can only attack once. The card above describes how a monster activates. You follow the tactics listed top to bottom until one applies, do that action. Keep going down the list for the next applicable action. If the remaining tactics can't happen, go back to the top of the list and repeat. Most actions are move or attack, though targets can vary (farthest, most wounded, etc). Also, some Activation Cards have special effects for that monster group (for example, the card above the Zombies can't miss). There are rules for applying surges on attacks, and how to move (Spot vs Engage).

Loot & XP
Something completely new to Descent 2nd Ed is Loot and XP. There are still Search tokens and a Search deck like the base game, but those 'treasures' are lame. This version of Descent has added a way of gaining the real treasures mid game! It all has to do with the Loot Track:



It's an ingenious way to reward heroes for killing monsters, and lends a bit to scaling. In brief, every time a monster is killed, the 'heart' track (Loot Stack) goes up by one for each square the monster filled (zombie = 1 move, barghest = 2, shadow dragon = 6). If that monster was a Master, in addition to increasing the Loot Stack, you increase the 'fatigue' (Loot Payout) by one. Once the Loot Stack reaches the number of heroes marker (4 for two heroes, 5 for three, 6 for four), you draw a number of Shop Cards for the current Act equal to the Loot Payout. Pick one card to give to a hero, and then reset both tracks.

So, this gives heroes real incentive to kill monsters (in addition to Encounter goals, which is often "kill monsters").

XP is rewarded at the completion of the special Stage encounters. Stage 1 ends with 2XP if the heroes were successful, 1XP if failed. Stage 2 ends with 3XP for success, 2XP if failed. And in the last stage, the final goal is harder if you failed these quests. Oh, and you start the game with 1XP. You spend your XP right when you earn it. You can save it to spend later if you wish.

Winning & Losing
In addition to the above changes, it is important to know how to win or lose. Winning is going through to the 3rd Stage Encounter Card and completing it successfully. In this particular quest, you make it to the Throne Room and try to dig your way out to freedom, while fighting off zombies and the big bad dragon.

Losing the game is two fold. If the Doom token and the Fate token ever reach the same space, you lose. It's the basic 'timer' of the game, which almost all co-ops have. The Doom track goes up usually when you fail Encounters. There is no way to reduce the Doom track either. The Fate track moves when the heroes linger after completing an Encounter. It also moves if a Hero is ever knocked down. It retreats and completely refreshes from time to time (usually by successfully completing an Encounter). So watch that track!

The other way to lose is on the Stage 3 Encounter, if you fail that Encounter, you lose the game. Oh, and one more thing to note with the Stage 3 Encounter: it adds perma-death into the game. If your hero is knocked down, it is out of the game for the rest of the game.


First Play-through

I tried it out with a friend of mine who doesn't really like 2nd Ed. He's not the biggest hater in my group (he even helped me play-test Lair of the Wyrm), but overall he's never been impressed by 2nd Ed, and his comments after playing is always, "This just makes me want to play Road to Legend!"



This was our setup. We chose to use Heroes we hadn't used before, both from the Labyrinth of Ruin. I picked Pathfinder Durik with the Beastmaster class, and my friend played Dezra The Vile as a Runemaster. The opening Encounter wasn't too bad, killing monsters, searching for treasures, gaining Loot.

We passed through the 1st Stage successfully, and progressed to the second stage. Not having played any of the Encounters made for a fun exploration. Every door was new, and there are some really nice Encounters. Some are straight-forward "kill them all", but some are ingenious. One has no monsters and a search token. When you move adjacent to it, you have to test Willpower. If you fail, it 'fades' and moves one space to the exit. If you can't pick it up before it gets to the exit, Doom goes up by one. Another, the Kennel, the dogs are sleeping. If you sneak past them to the search, you succeed and can then kill them. If you wake too many up, you lose and Doom goes up by one.

We completed the 2nd Stage, again just in time, and that's when we realized that we were supposed to spend the XP right when we got it (or save it for later). So we spent our 5XP, and were stacked for the end. The very next Encounter was Stage 3, so we jumped right to the end. The final dragon died rather fast, and we quickly made our way out and won the game.

Even though the game was a little anti-climactic (the end goal wasn't to kill the big bad dragon, it was to escape the map. Even though we did kill the dragon, we were bummed that that wasn't the goal), we rather enjoyed it. The game was a little bit easy, though I think we were just lucky in our draws, and our heroes + classes were quite effective for us (having the Wolf helped a lot). We both want our other friend who hates 2nd Ed to try it and see if he likes it.

How does it feel?
So, not that I've played the game, is it a better incarnation for Descent? I think so, let me try to explain why:

Loot System!
One of the things that frustrated me with 2nd Ed is that there is little to no loot in the game. A good dungeon crawl needs loot! Finding a potion is not loot. This version of the game actually has loot! It was fun killing the monsters and increasing that Loot track, drawing Shop cards and getting some pretty cool loot. This also solves one problem our group has with 2nd Ed: there's incentive to kill the monsters. We feel in normal 2nd Ed quests, it's usually better to run past monsters to the objectives. In most the encounters here, it was better to kill monsters, and there was inherent reward for doing so.

XP mid-game!
Another frustration with 2nd Ed, if you're not playing the campaign, it's kind of boring. You never gain XP in a one-off quest. So you never have the opportunity to make your hero better. Dungeon Crawls tend to have some kind of growth that adds to the satisfaction of the game.

Both the Loot and XP system allow for great 'growth' in the game that seems desperately lacking in 2nd Ed if you're not playing the campaign.

Random Dungeon (Exploration)
I really liked how the Encounter laid out. It was fun to lay the map out. It connected very nicely. And they even have an ingenious way to layout if the board overlaps (connecting edge pieces). It also added a great feel of Exploration. You never know what's behind the door until you open it.

Excellent Flavor
Even with a random dungeon, it never felt stale. Every Encounter had its own story and it was fun to go through them all. It wasn't just 'random monster here' and 'random corridor there'. While each Encounter is random, the individual encounter has such great flavor and specific effects it doesn't feel random.

Spawning and Monsters
Each Encounter has its own monsters, and they have their own rules for 'spawning' additional monsters. Some don't spawn any at all, and after the Encounter is over, Peril cards might spawn them. Some do though, extra Flesh Mulders from a cauldron of souls popping out. Extra zombies crawling from the ground, etc. They implemented a great way of spawning monsters without the annoying 'reinforcement' from the core game.

Monster Activations
The monsters activated in nice and even sometimes unpredictable ways. I really liked the mix, it kept us on our toes. It was interesting to see the special abilities that monsters were given as well, kind of a replacement for the Overlord cards, and it made a lot more sense. I've never liked the Overlord cards (in either edition) since they're so random as to when they happen. But in this, the monsters have random special abilities, and sometimes they're tied to specific encounters (for example, one Flesh Moulder activation states, "If the Lava Tomb is the current encounter, each flesh moulder ignores range requirements and gains Pierce 1"). This added to the overall feel of the quest.

Game Length
Just over 3 hours for the whole thing, perfect for a good game night IMHO. The few times we've played campaigns, it seems like we spend 3 hours on just one quest and the aftermath (shopping/xp spending). So we get a whole, complete game in about 3 hours.

No Overlord
A personal favorite, I like removing the OL from the game. It removes one level of contention. Sometimes in my group, the heroes will think a rule is to be interpreted this way or that, and the OL is different, and it just brings out contention. In a pure Co-op like this, that level of contention is gone.

Is it all roses?
No, there were some things about this new way of playing Descent that I didn't like so much.

A little too easy
This might have been a combination of our luck and our heroes and our classes, but we didn't go down once. And I don't think we even failed a single Encounter. However, talking with others, it seems like it's nice and challenging. A few more games and I might change my opinion of this.

Power creep
It seemed like the last level we started having a lot of Act II shop items and were almost too powerful. It felt a little like 1st Ed's quest, where at the end when you gain Gold Treasures and just wail on the final boss.

Crappy LOS
Not a fault of the kit, but the crappy Descent 2nd Ed LOS rules appeared a few times and since the monsters had LOS to pretty much all the heroes, on a Spot move they would sit still at extremely long ranges. In other words, because of the LOS, the game was easier than it probably should have.

Anti-climactic Ending
The ending came very fast. It is random, our Stage 3 came right after Stage 2's encounter, so we didn't get to use Act II items for long. Granted, that was the randomness of the encounters (our last card in the stage 2 group was the stage 2 encounter, and the first card in the stage 3 group was the stage 3 encounter. It could have been the opposite, there could have been 5 encounters between the stages).

Limited Monster Selection
There's only 4 monsters in the game, period. Nothing else, just Barghests, Zombies, Flesh Moulders, and Shadow Dragons. There's no mechanics for for swapping out with other monsters like the Traits of the base game.

Everything is tied to the quest
I'm torn on this. Everything is tied to the quest. The monsters you use, the encounters, the peril cards, the stages, etc, it's all tied to the Forgotten Souls quest. There's nothing you could use from this quest in another co-op quest. That's really too bad, since it would be nice if you could have more 'generic' components that mesh together. However, because they are tied, it creates a much more cohesive experience.

Replayability suffers
Even though the encounters and perils are randomized, since everything is tied to this quest, it suffers its replayability. After a few games, you're going to see the same encounters over and over. And if FFG puts out more Print-On-Demand quests, none of the components will be interchangeable with this quest so this quest will remain stale for some time.

Conclusion
Check out this map:



This was the final map of our game. The overall feel was so much more epic than any game I've ever played in 2nd Ed. It truly felt like a 1st Ed game, a large sprawling map with big monsters and great loot. THIS is the type of game I was hoping for in 2nd Ed. You get the cleaned up Actions, organized Classes & Skills, different Conditions and interesting monster abilities of 2nd Ed, but the epic scale and monster ass-kicking of 1st Ed. In fact, I was thinking about it, if we didn't play with the automated monster AI and played with a player as Overlord, I think this would play nicely. But as it is, it's really fun.

Other than everything tied to the Forgotten Souls quest, there is a lot of goodness here. I'll be playing a few times in the next month (hosting my FLGS's local game nights). I can't wait to see what other kinds of quests they piece together. And who knows, maybe they'll make agnostic components that can interchange between quests.

TL;DR - Does Forgotten Souls save Descent 2nd Ed? Yes. And I can't wait for more quests.

-shnar

P.S. I'm toying with the idea of doing a PBF with this kit...
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Dirk Meijer
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Re: Does Forgotten Souls save Descent 2nd Ed?
Great writeup. As a player who likes to play OL, I'm curious: isn't the monster programming too predictable? Like you could end your turn in such a way that a weaker player would stay out of harm's way?

I like to play risky and unexpected gambits to surprise the heroes and hopefully, lure them into my traps.
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Re: Does Forgotten Souls save Descent 2nd Ed?
Shnar, great report, sounds very promising. How did you get a copy of the Game Night Kit as an "Enduser"?
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Re: Does Forgotten Souls save Descent 2nd Ed?
Thanks for the great review and detailed explanation, shnar. I think the co-op modules will revive a lot of interest in Descent, and that's a good thing!
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Jo Bartok
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Re: Does Forgotten Souls save Descent 2nd Ed?
As long as they don't release anything as commercial product that really fixes D2E, as long as that is not the case, I am not that exited.

From the Website
Quote:

Even if you don’t attend a Game Night at your local retailer, the adventure included in Season One 2014 Descent Game Night Kits, Forgotten Souls, will be available to you via In-House Manufacturing after the kits are rotated out of circulation later in 2014. For more on the experience and themes in co-op Descent, here’s a word from developer Jonathan Bove.
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Stephen Williams
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Re: Does Forgotten Souls save Descent 2nd Ed?
Good review, and lots of nifty pictures! Thanks for giving us all a detailed break down of how the co-op system works, Shnar!

Overall I think it looks great and I can't wait for the POD general version of this to be available. I think I agree with your own findings regarding pros and cons. I wasn't really disappointed with D2E as it was originally released, but bringing back some random exploration and looting mechanics is nice.

The only thing I'm disappointed to read about here is how everything is tied specifically to the Forgotten Souls quest and there's no modularity. Also kind of sad that there are only co-op rules for four monsters, and no open group options.

However, from what I read here, I'm confident that enterprising fans can homebrew something a little more generic using this rule set as a foundation. Incorporate all monsters and some generic encounters to build truly random quests. I'll probably try my hand at that myself in due time.

I think the potential is there to make a fully randomized quest generator for those who just want a random dungeon crawl and don't care about story. At the same time, those who do want story can play Forgotten Souls and other official/homebrew co-op quests that follow a similar pattern. I do appreciate that story is thick in FS, thick enough to obfuscate the essentially random dungeon generation, at least for those time that I don't want a mindless roguelike dungeon crawl.
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Re: Does Forgotten Souls save Descent 2nd Ed?
Wow, if Shnar likes it, it must be damn good laugh
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Re: Does Forgotten Souls save Descent 2nd Ed?
Great review, though the title is a little presumptuous.
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Michael Hancock-Parmer
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Re: Does Forgotten Souls save Descent 2nd Ed?
It presumes, correctly, that Descent 2nd Ed needs saving for some people, including shnar and myself.
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Re: Does Forgotten Souls save Descent 2nd Ed?
miflhanc wrote:
It presumes, correctly, that Descent 2nd Ed needs saving for some people, including shnar and myself.


So it should say "for some people". Cos, y'know - Descent was performing *so* badly before the solo kit showed up!
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Michael Hancock-Parmer
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Re: Does Forgotten Souls save Descent 2nd Ed?
For reals, though, if there available online, I'd have bought it yesterday. Why tie to the FLGS? I've never played Descent at my FLGS because no one there even knows what Descent IS - they carried ONE copy of 2nd edition when it came out. Then they sold it.

And no, it's not my job to evangelize for FFG.
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Re: Does Forgotten Souls save Descent 2nd Ed?
Good review, shnar. Thanks.
I do hope that FFG will amplify the possibilities of coop experience. I think I will purchase the set when on POD.
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Re: Does Forgotten Souls save Descent 2nd Ed?
bleached_lizard wrote:
miflhanc wrote:
It presumes, correctly, that Descent 2nd Ed needs saving for some people, including shnar and myself.


So it should say "for some people". Cos, y'know - Descent was performing *so* badly before the solo kit showed up!

It's ironic. Of all the people I talk to who've played Descent, only one person I know likes it. Everyone else says it's such a let down, including people outside my group. In fact, a lot of people I know that bought Descent have sold it to make room for other games like Myth.

So, anecdotally, 2nd Ed needs saving. Especially now that the dungeon crawl playing field has so many other options to choose from (Dungeons & Dragons: The Legend of Drizzt Board Game, Myth, Mice and Mystics, Shadows of Brimstone: City of the Ancients, hell even HeroQuest 25th Anniversary Edition devil). This kit has gone a long way to turning 2nd Ed into what 1st Ed used to be, but with the modifications (some would say improvements) of 2nd Ed. Really, it's what 2nd Ed should have been in the first place. It's made Descent more Descent like.

-shnar
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Re: Does Forgotten Souls save Descent 2nd Ed?
Thanks for the writeup. That last shot... Awesome!
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Re: Does Forgotten Souls save Descent 2nd Ed?
Thanks for the write-up!

While I still enjoy Descent with an Overlord and whatnot, this is certainly a welcome direction for the game to go... perhaps with a lot more different ways to include everything released.
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Re: Does Forgotten Souls save Descent 2nd Ed?
shnar wrote:
bleached_lizard wrote:
miflhanc wrote:
It presumes, correctly, that Descent 2nd Ed needs saving for some people, including shnar and myself.


So it should say "for some people". Cos, y'know - Descent was performing *so* badly before the solo kit showed up!

It's ironic. Of all the people I talk to who've played Descent, only one person I know likes it. Everyone else says it's such a let down, including people outside my group. In fact, a lot of people I know that bought Descent have sold it to make room for other games like Myth.

I actually really enjoyed Descent, though my brother struggled with it. But honestly, everything about this coop version sounds WAY better. More leveling up, more loot, more exploration, and all presented in one game session instead of trickled out over several game sessions.

Though, the idea of a solo-able variant being the "game night kit" seems... backwards. Shouldn't this have just been PoD, with some other group-focused variant for game night? Maybe some sort of PvP variant would have made more sense. Regardless, I can't wait for it.
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Bryce K. Nielsen
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Re: Does Forgotten Souls save Descent 2nd Ed?
dwjmeijer wrote:
Great writeup. As a player who likes to play OL, I'm curious: isn't the monster programming too predictable? Like you could end your turn in such a way that a weaker player would stay out of harm's way?

I like to play risky and unexpected gambits to surprise the heroes and hopefully, lure them into my traps.

It was vaguely predictable. I mean, there's only so much monsters can do right? They pretty much move and attack. So you could gauge for that. But whom they attacked and how they moved varied per card. Also, there are 10 different cards to make these actions less predictable.

Here's a small sampling of 4 different Flesh Moulder cards:



Not only do different activation cards have different abilities (a nice replacement for the Overlord deck IMHO), but the tactics vary wildly. The top left and bottom right ones have the moulders running away if they are adjacent to a hero, while the other ones run to the heroes. The bottom left one even grants a new ability for that turn only to Master moulders (an AOE attack).

So while they are generally predictable, they all do different enough things that it doesn't become utterly stale. The only real downside is how all these monsters are tied to this one quest (all four monster are on the same card, and certain special abilities are tied to encounters of this specific quest), so none of these cards could be used in other/future quests.

-shnar
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Re: Does Forgotten Souls save Descent 2nd Ed?
TylerDax wrote:
Shnar, great report, sounds very promising. How did you get a copy of the Game Night Kit as an "Enduser"?

I begged my FLGS for one. They were able to procure two, and said if I was willing to donate my time to run this at the game store for the next couple months, I could have it. It's my reward for being a Descent game night hoster

-shnar
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Bryce K. Nielsen
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Re: Does Forgotten Souls save Descent 2nd Ed?
ionas wrote:
As long as they don't release anything as commercial product that really fixes D2E, as long as that is not the case, I am not that exited.

From the Website
Quote:

Even if you don’t attend a Game Night at your local retailer, the adventure included in Season One 2014 Descent Game Night Kits, Forgotten Souls, will be available to you via In-House Manufacturing after the kits are rotated out of circulation later in 2014. For more on the experience and themes in co-op Descent, here’s a word from developer Jonathan Bove.

From that quote, it sounds like they are going to release this as a commercial product later in 2014. IMHO, it's to give them a chance to do any final tweaks before releasing it.

I do agree with Montag451. Seems like an odd choice for a game night. The other game night kits tend to have some kind of competition involved with them (Star Wars LCG and X-Wing you fight with each other, LotR you're supposed to do tournaments with the nightmare decks, etc). Not much tournament/competition for this game. Though it's still a nice shot in the arm for Descent.

-shnar
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Bryce K. Nielsen
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Re: Does Forgotten Souls save Descent 2nd Ed?
Stewi wrote:
The only thing I'm disappointed to read about here is how everything is tied specifically to the Forgotten Souls quest and there's no modularity. Also kind of sad that there are only co-op rules for four monsters, and no open group options.

Agreed, though I'm torn about that. If they made everything too generic, then it would play more like Warhammer Quest and that's a meh game for me. I like that the narrative behind this quest has some cohesion. Having said that, it means you could never use these Encounters in other quests. The Lengthy Sewers kind of feels like it could be used in other quests, but the monsters in this quest have some tactics that specifically address that encounter.

Monsters are the same way. Tying 4 monsters to 1 card was probably a bad idea. It's too bad they couldn't have done it like Gears of War AI, where a monster group had their own cards, then you just shuffled them together. Or perhaps you left the monster tactic cards separated, and just drew one if that monster was on the board. Then at least as new monster group cards were created, you could swap out monster groups in any give quest. As-is right now, these 4 monsters are the only ones you'll see and use in the Forgotten Souls quest.

If only they could have used an icon to represent a type of Encounter, then built the encounter deck with those random icons. Then encounters could be swapped in and out, and only the Stage encounters would be specific to a quest. Same thing with monsters. They already have Trait icons, why not just use those? Build a monster deck with any monster matching that trait. In this quest, only the Shadow Dragons and Zombies felt needed for the narrative. Barghests and Flesh Moulders are 'filler' monsters that could just as easily be swapped with other monsters.

Oh well, we'll see if FFG learns from this at all and makes an even better, more modular version of this co-op game.

-shnar

P.S. The cynic in me says FFG did it this way so you would have to buy a POD just to play a quest, and not be able to create a lot of 'generic' dungeons on your own...
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Thomas King
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Re: Does Forgotten Souls save Descent 2nd Ed?
My view is that it's a short term problem, but long term win.

With only one quest at the start, there's not much replayability, and very little you can do to mod or expand the quest. But given time, when we have say 4 or 5 quests to choose from, each one with a distinct flavor of story, unique mechanics and monsters, this will be the better way of doing it.

It's a long term investment in the game's future, and I think it could do wonders. The question I'd have is how long do we have to wait for a new quest? Given that it's basically a couple decks of cards, mostly utilizing everything already released, I hope it's not too long between new quests.
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Richard Dewsbery
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Re: Does Forgotten Souls save Descent 2nd Ed?
I like 2nd ed. But I'd really like to get hold of this kit. Unfortunately, my FLGS is getting just two, and they were both spoken for within minutes (and long before I got a look-in). I'm hoping that they do produce a commercial release that allows co-op play.
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Bryce K. Nielsen
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Re: Does Forgotten Souls save Descent 2nd Ed?
Montag451 wrote:
With only one quest at the start, there's not much replayability, and very little you can do to mod or expand the quest. But given time, when we have say 4 or 5 quests to choose from, each one with a distinct flavor of story, unique mechanics and monsters, this will be the better way of doing it.

I still think you could have done that with only very minor modifications. With Quests, you just have encounter types and you build a deck based on the encounter types for that quest. For example, all of these cards should have an 'underground' trait. Then some could have say an 'undead' trait, or a 'cave' trait or a 'dungeon' trait. Then the quest could say "Take 3 random Underground Dungeon cards and mix with the stage 1 card. Then take 3 random Underground Undead cards and mix with the stage 2 encounter." The only thing that needed to be quest-specific are the stage cards.

Monsters are a little trickier, but I think you could have a Monster deck for each monster that were some general tactics, say 6 cards. Then each quest could have specific monster cards that were for the monsters in that quest, say 4 cards. The quest could also state use these monsters, then choose 2 more from these traits (and assuming cards were made for them).

With those tweaks, you could still have a nice narrative with the quest, but have some generic, modular, randomized components to have a new experience every time.

-shnar
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Ryan Stripling
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Re: Does Forgotten Souls save Descent 2nd Ed?
Great write up! This definitely intrigues me. I really enjoy D2e as is with it's campaign system, but this would be great for one-off quests for a random game night. The power creep worries me. That was one thing I hated about 1e one-offs: by the end it became a foregone conclusion. I love the loot and in-game XP though. All in all, I'm very pleased by the report.

I wonder what this means for the future. I would assume there will be a series of PoD co-op quests released, but will they become more modular? And will the commercial version of this quest be tweaked at all? Just as I think my interest in buying more expansions is waning, they add a new wrinkle...
-ryanjamal
 
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Re: Does Forgotten Souls save Descent 2nd Ed?
Great write-up indeed.

Thanks for sharing.
 
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