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Descent: Journeys in the Dark» Forums » Sessions

Subject: A game across demographics rss

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Junior McSpiffy
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Riverton
Utah
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I have smart nephews. Maybe I just feel this way because they are being raised right under my partial influence and have varying interest in games. So this Thanksgiving, I decided I'd see just how far I could push the matter. I brought Descent. I will be sure to include a few details of the gameplay itself, but the main focus of this review is how three players of distinctly different ages did in one session together.

The Players

Jeff is my brother-inlaw. Late 20s-early 30s. Father of 3-and-a-half. (And my sister will be quite happy when it becomes a full 4... but that's another story.) He would be a most avid gamer were it not for the fact that he lives in the middle of nowhere Montana and, as previously stated, is a father of 3-and-a-half. He drew Landrec the Wise.

Nathan is the oldest of those who call me "Uncle Dork". At 14, he is your typical low-interest, "nothing is all that great that I should smile" teenager, but not that angsty. Just too cool to act like anything is cool. I've got him hooked on everything from Munchkin to Princes of Florence, and he has a natural aptitude to picking up games quickly. His draw was Ispher.

Kody is 8. (And in regards to the title, if you think 8 isn't that different a demographic from 14.... meet people.) I haven't had much chance to spend time with him, but according to his dad, Landrec Jeff, he loves Warcraft on the computer if he gets to use all the cheats. And what few kids games I've passed onto them (Labyrinth the Card Game being the favorite) he has eaten them up. Kody received the alter ego Mordrog.

The Event

It was scenario number 1, in part because I thought it would be the easiest for them, and in part because it was the first game I'd overlorded and I'd hope it would be an easy one for me to figure out as well. Jeff and I both noticed that the group just happened to be drawn as a well-rounded group, one magic user, one ranged specialist and one brick. Also, Jeff was the one who got the magic user, which I thought was good since they tend to require more subtlety. An 8 year old had the mindset of a brick. See the problem. Throw the brick at the problem. No problem.

The game itself went fairly standardly, with the exception that being my first game running it, I failed to remember (legitimately... not one of those "oh deary me... I must have plum forgot..." not rememberings) that there could be only one spawning a turn. I don't think it had too much of a turn on the game as Ispher also had the scout-rat as a familiar. Spawning was a pain. Are we sure I can't kill the rat? They cleaned out the first two rooms rather easily since I saved most of my cards to grab the big upgrades (draw extra card, spawn extra creatures, turn one creature into a boss). They came to the locked door and were perplexed for a moment, but they finally figured out that they needed to find the trigger/key. Open the door, spawn more monsters, and then they realized that they could close the door with the brick inside, trigger the lock, trigger the rune, and leap through to town and back out to safety. Quite impressed. I got to turn Mordrog into a monkey. They got to the bossman and almost pulled it off. Alas, evil triumphed.

The Real Fun

So if you are disappointed with the synopsis of the game itself, too bad. This session report isn't about the nitty-gritty of the game. It is about the nitty-gritty of the gamers. So, now for the real review.

Landrec the Wise
Landrec was clearly the leader of the group. He managed to keep his character up to speed while being the one player of the three who could keep the big picture in mind. Because there was only one meta-player, it gave a different experience than some of the reviews or sessions I had read. There weren't four people hunkered over the board micromanaging every move trying to gain every fractional advantage. The game went quick. And the attitude towards it was light, not laborious. Landrac did a good job of keeping the party moving through relatively quickly as well. They got bloodied a little more than they needed to because of that, but for their first game, they did a good job, in large part due to Landrec's leadership.

Ispher
Ispher enjoyed the game, although as I hinted at in the description of the aforementioned 14 year old, it was sometimes hard to tell. He got the game. Mecahnics, flavor, all of it. He did a great job of knowing what upgrades to aim for, of how to maximize his advantages and minimize his weakness, he ran that accursed rat quite well, and kept track of all that was Ispher. I don't know if he didn't do more in keeping track of the larger scale of the game because Landrec was taking charge of that, or he just wasn't interested, or he just couldn't get the big picture element of it, although I doubt the last reason was the case. Like I said, he had fun, but he seemed to be more about himself and killing stuff and not about helping the overall strategy.

Mordreg
This is why I wrote the review. The kid is 8. And he corrected me quite quickly if I passed him the wrong dice. He knew what to do with his character. He may have needed to be helped with the big picture, but without being told, he would run in, whack things with his ax, then run away again. He even helped dad once in saying which monster he should kill and which one dad should go after. But even with all that, it was still about fun for him. Every time I rolled the dice, I had this little kid staring at me really intently chanting "Red X... red X... red X.... red X...." He would remind me with the slightest hint of mock malice that I turned him into a monkey. (When we played again at Christmas, he would still tell me from the time he saw the box "You better not turn me into a monkey".) But most impressively of all, when he drew a gold treasure, the Rune of Rot, he didn't just look at all the pretty dice he could roll and wish that he could have it. He looked at it and saw it was a magic item and not a bow or sword, and instantly said "Dad, you can use this!"

Guess what my sister got Landrec and Mordreg for Christmas? Now if they could just get a second hero in the family.... let's see... Alison is 6....
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Steve R Bullock
United States
Palm Coast
Florida
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I like the way you spotlighted the players in the game instead of telling about the game itself. It sheds a bit of light on people and the various ways different ages react to a game. Good job. Too bad no photos were taken of the event.
 
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Joe West
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Ypsilanti
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Great review. I enjoyed reading about the interactions between players of many ages.
 
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