Lawrence
United States
Tustin
California
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My Background
I'm a relatively new board gamer who has come from a background of casual D&D and PC RPGs. That said, theme and story are more critical for me than most. I mostly played HoB using Redjak's Automated Overlord for a fully co-op experience with the girlfriend, with us playing 2 characters each (though I did play overlord a few times with other groups). We have just finished Act I. I have not played other expansions yet, so Shadow Rune is really my only basis of comparison.

The Story
Heirs of blood is rather unique in that it dives head first into the story with 10 pages of beautifully illustrated text chronicling the early adventures of Sir Merick and Sir Alric, as well as their eventual downfall as Alric's death leads to Merick's eventual downfall and corruption at the hands of Lady Eliza. The writing is a bit jumbled, as it jumps about between character perspectives and time periods, but it gives a more interesting look into some of Descent's more colorful Lieutenants. Reading this section aloud to my girlfriend was a bit time consuming, but it served to draw her in and get her excited for the campaign (a big achievement in my book).

Heirs of blood is much more story driven than Shadow Rune. You aren't just chasing goblins across a map for randomly arbitrary reasons - you're trying to save the fugitive nephew that Lady Eliza has been searching for, or defending against the invading armies of lord Merick. The quests feel more connected and it tells an overall better story than Shadow Rune.


The only way this could've been more story based is if it were Mice and Mystics.

The Mechanics
HoB includes a few gameplay tweaks that help maintain a more even balance:
- During the shopping step, players always reveal 5 cards no matter the hero count
- In two-hero campaigns, each hero may perform one free attack (not including special actions that include attacks like Rage). If they do not perform the free attack, they may recover 2 health at the end of the turn.
- If using plot decks, the Overlord may not use a card to summon Lady Eliza or any story lieutenants.

These tweaks really helped in two-hero campaigns. I initially thought it would overpower the heroes, but the first four encounters we played like this remained well balanced. I'm not sure what the long term affects of 5 shop items would be.


While the encounters are a bit harder than Shadow Rune, the adjustments really help balance this out for two-hero games.

The Difficulty and General Game Play
The maps are much more expansive than those in Shadow Rune, adding complexity and therefore playtime per encounter. This often gave a more epic feel.

One drawback is that the expansion suffers from some of the same swing issues that Shadow Rune did. There are also some missions that felt much more difficult for one side or another, while also giving much better rewards to a specific side. This made choosing the next quest that much more critical. We felt more invested in the outcomes, since the victor had a large impact on the branching story path. As mentioned in another review, the reinforcements are more often restricted to certain monster types. This was especially helpful in the early part of the game because nobody enjoys being pinned down by an endless stream of Shadow Dragons on the second encounter of the campaign.


Balance is much better than Shadow Rune.

Overall
When I first picked up Descent, I was honestly a bit disappointed. I loved the mechanics and characters, but the story was severely lacking. Each mission really felt like a light... skirmish at best. There were very few missions where we had any real tension or epic feel. HoB changes this with more detailed immersion and by making the outcome of each battle have decisive consequences.


My only regret is that this was not the default campaign in the box
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Patrik G
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Thanks! Much needed!

I bought the book a couple of days ago, but I haven't come around to playing it yet.
 
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Norman L.
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nice review! its actually the default campaign in the box now.
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Roger McKay
Canada
Bedford
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Normiyagi wrote:
nice review! its actually the default campaign in the box now.


It wasn't in the box I bought a week ago.
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Norman L.
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your copy had probably been on the shelf for a while. FFG updated their site w/ the new rulebook that clearly states that Heirs of Blood is the new campaign (found within 2 separate booklets).
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Atanasije Stojkovic
Serbia
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Normiyagi wrote:
your copy had probably been on the shelf for a while. FFG updated their site w/ the new rulebook that clearly states that Heirs of Blood is the new campaign (found within 2 separate booklets).


What?!? I can't believe it I just bought the game for 80€. I wish the store owners had informed me there was a revision so that I could wait a bit for the newest reprint to arrive. Does this mean I have actually got to spend an extra 25€ (which is basically more than a quarter of the entire game's price) effectively raising the price to over a 100 Euros in order to play this?

P. S. What do you mean by "2 separate booklets"?
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Roger Bartels
United States
Spring
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Sargeras777 wrote:
Normiyagi wrote:
your copy had probably been on the shelf for a while. FFG updated their site w/ the new rulebook that clearly states that Heirs of Blood is the new campaign (found within 2 separate booklets).


What?!? I can't believe it I just bought the game for 80€. I wish the store owners had informed me there was a revision so that I could wait a bit for the newest reprint to arrive. Does this mean I have actually got to spend an extra 25€ (which is basically more than a quarter of the entire game's price) effectively raising the price to over a 100 Euros in order to play this?

P. S. What do you mean by "2 separate booklets"?


There are booklets for each act, I and II.
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Mateusz Ok
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That's why they decided to do it quietly - I am wondering whenever to buy it, but seriously, giving away for free the thing you sold for 25$ is like joking from players...
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MattOdd wrote:
That's why they decided to do it quietly - I am wondering whenever to buy it, but seriously, giving away for free the thing you sold for 25$ is like joking from players...

Two things to point out - 1. the new printing also has corrected cards. 2. With the older edition you get the Shadow Rune campaign and can buy Heirs of Blood separately, with the new printing there is no way to get the Shadow Rune (at least not in a legal way). And shadow Rune is not as bad as some people claim, it actually has a better training scenario.
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