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Descent: Journeys in the Dark» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Into the Dark - A 10 year celebration! Observations rss

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Paul Newby
England
Bolton
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Hi everyone,

It's been a while since I last did an observations session report. In fact it seems to be I get round to doing one a year (World of Warcraft in 2012, Android in 2013 and Doom in 2014).

I posted earlier that myself and Hayley were celebrating 10 years of Descent with a lazy Sunday session playing the first quest 'Into the Dark' so here's the session report to back that up!

As usual with large games, I try to set a lot of it up the night before. I realized that I hadn't set enough up this time however, as I was playing four heroes and hadn't realized how much set up time this can take! Choosing the heroes, selecting skills, spending money, organizing health & fatigue tokens, etc., etc. There's a lot for one player to do!

Eventually we were ready to play at around 12 lunchtime. Hayley was playing the Overlord (Overlady?) and I had randomly drawn Mordrog, Bogran, One-Fist and Runewitch Astarra.

On the random drawing of heroes, I must say that I really enjoyed it. I usually let other players choose a hero, especially if I want them to enjoy the game for the first time - someone they like or can relate to is great for them to play rather than lump them with a hero they are not keen on. But for me, I didn't mind who I got - so it was all good.


(The card on the right of Mordrog was a skill for another hero - not a feat for Mordrog. We played without feats).



Hayley was confident as the Overlord and was really excited to play the 'baddie'. I had seen her behave similarly previously when we played Doom, when she played as the Invader - so I was a little concerned because she trounced me in that game!






I started off quite cautiously as I had never played the heroes before in Descent and was hoping for some quick synergy between my four champions!

I soon realized that Mordrog was a beast! All that health and armour meant he was front and centre in the first area, laying waste to beastmen and skeletons alike (when he could finally reach them - a movement of three wasn't his best feature!).

The first junction the heroes came to, they took a left and headed for the door at the end of the passageway. Skeletons pursued us all the way but Bogran was picking them off with his trusty bow.

Astarra was kind of hiding in the middle at this point and One-Fist kept shouting "One-Fist" at everyone (similar to "I am Groot" I reckon), but kept losing out on the melee front to the awesome Mordrog.

Then came the heroes first problem - over confidence. That and the fact they hadn't noticed they needed a red key to get through the blasted door! Recriminations followed in the corridor - which to be honest didn't last very long - seeing as I was controlling them all, so I blamed the Runewitch and moved on! (The three boys kind of told her that it was all her fault. I think One-Fist had a proper sulk, especially as he wasn't contributing much anyway!).

This led Hayley to become even more confident.




I now had to back track and this confused Bogran and Astarra so they decided to repeatedly die. In fact Astarra was so upset she decided to stay in town and train instead. The boys were not impressed.

But, while she was gone, One-Fist opened a gold chest and found a very good magical staff that Astarra renamed to 'the awesome staff of death-Kill'.

With this new weapon (and others) equipped, she rejoined the fray and was unstoppable.

Then the heroes second problem arose. Razorwings! Accursed flying things that stun relentlessly. Mordrog became a statue turn after turn as the hateful Razorwings constantly pecked at him, stunning him so that he could only use half actions.

Then the Hellhounds turned up with their pierce 3 ability and turned everyone into stunned burning statues. Great.

The heroes became bogged down in a war of attrition at the junction and my conquest tokens were dwindling every turn it seemed. Bogdan at this point still had a standard shop sword for some reason and even I was getting annoyed with him! He couldn't hit a barn door, and even when he did, his crappy sword just bounced off the monsters! To make matters worse, he then got turned into a monkey! Cue hilarious monkey impressions from both sides of the table for two turns!

At this point One-fist was still shouting "One-Fist" a lot, but unsurprisingly (except maybe to him,) shouting that wasn't actually causing any damage.



Stunned and being breathed fire on every turn was wearing the heroes down - and then, Astarra re-appeared! Armed with 'the staff of utter death kill things' She managed to get a shot off at the big giant - and then promptly died - again.



By this point, Manticores were causing mayhem, Razorwings were stunning the heroes, Beastmen suddenly appeared then began to wade in and I could not get a shot off on the big guy!

Astarra had one chance to kill him and caused so much damage with her super staff that he only had one wound left! But then, you guessed it - she died!

Two more turns later (after she re-appeared) she delivered the killing blow to Nathrak the giant! Victory!



This was a fabulous day! A great game that has been reviewed and analyzed to death. My observations are as follows:

1. Set up and dismantle can take a long time - so be prepared if you are have friends or family over for a game.

2. The game really captures the heat of battle between heroes and monsters so well! I realize some players aren't keen on the constant spawning and relentless pursuit of the heroes, but I loved it to be honest. I liked the fact that the beastmen that turned up late to the fray had pursued us to this point and then pounced.

3. Similar to Doom, I have been converted to only playing with two players. The synergy between heroes is much easier to manage if one player controls them all. Also, similar to Doom, it becomes one v one and all the fun that brings as opposed to 50% Overlord versus 12 1/2% per hero.

4. We played with just the base game, not even with the town cards or skills from any expansion. No treachery, no new heroes or monsters, Just the base stuff - and it was great fun. I'll only add an expansion and all it's goodies as we progress.

5. The game can be long if you want it to - and we did. We played for six or so hours stopping for more tea and coffee (and then more wine). I understand people wanting to knock a quest off in 90 minutes, min/max the gameplay and treat it purely as a tactical exercise without theme, but we wanted to immerse ourselves in it's world and we had such a laugh doing that, almost roleplaying the little scenarios that arose - the monkey god trap, the burning breath of the hellhounds, the constantly being stunned, One-Fist being second best to Mordrog, etc., etc.

6. Although the game is obviously tactical, I found it so easy to enjoy the theme. We bought into the story, the theme and the whole setting. I think (and am hoping) that this game was designed with that in mind. Maybe because it is now a decade old, players have peeked behind the curtain once too often and reduce it to strategies and tactics, best options, best kit, best heroes, etc. Blitzing and min/maxing are all possible in this game, I know this, but isn't that missing the point somewhat? If players like to play at that level then good luck to those guys and girls, but for me it's about the thematic experience first and the mechanics second.

7. I don't think we'll see many games like this ever again. Which is so sad. Games nowadays seem to want to almost excuse themselves and apologize if they go over 90 minutes. Again I understand if people have less time to play games like this, but boy oh boy, if you have got a spare Sunday, Descent will give you some great gaming memories - if you let it!

Thanks for reading!
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Sean Conroy
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Excellent upon awesome. Makes me really happy to have finally gotten my hands on the 1st edition with WoD, RtL and AoD.
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Bryce K. Nielsen
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I'm so jelly!

-shnar
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Kevin Wilson
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The Nicholas Cage of games! Oh god, not the beeeeeesssss!
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Brings back a lot of memories for me! I've probably played Into the Dark about 100 times or so, (99 of which as the Overlord, of course). Glad you had fun with it!
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Paul Newby
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KevinW wrote:
Brings back a lot of memories for me! I've probably played Into the Dark about 100 times or so, (99 of which as the Overlord, of course). Glad you had fun with it!


It was great fun! We are looking forward to playing the second quest this Sunday too.

What is really great is that Hayley can't wait to play again! I think she's found her calling as the Overlord.

One quest down, dozens to go!
 
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Paul Newby
England
Bolton
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We played the second quest on Sunday 1st Nov (The brothers Durnog) as part of our 10 year celebration of Descent.
It was fabulous!



I managed to win as the heroes but Hayley was much closer to winning as the Overlord this time. I know the first two quests are weighted towards the heroes as learning quests - but I'm still counting it as 2-0 up for the good guys!

Roll on quest 3!

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Paul Newby
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Bolton
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The third quest 'Problems of Life and Death' was played on Sunday 29th Nov (and finished Mon & Tuesday night!)

This quest is the first time the Overlord has a realistic chance of winning really. And boy oh boy don't I know it! Hayley was ruthless, playing the 'Doom' card and such quite early on. Her being able to draw three cards per turn instead of two really put the pressure on me, both because of the increased threat gained potential and of course the cycling through the deck to get conquest issue. Nightmare.

This quest introduces Naga and their dreaded grapple ability.



I had drawn Silhouette, Spiritspeaker Mok, Battlemage Jaes and Lyssa as the heroes.

There always seem to be one of my guys that performs like they've got a hangover and in this quest it was Silhouette. Despite having a good bow, extra training on ranged and good movement, she repeatedly died, missed her targets and was generally about as much use as a fifth wheel.

This was made worse by the fact Hayley received 3 conquest tokens every time she keeled over!

Lyssa was the hero - as I turned her into a melee champion believe it or not - who'd have thought that?



My observations of the game are still the same, but with an addition. This game can take a very long time to play. I'm lucky as there is only myself and Hayley at home (my daughter is all grown up and lives away, and we currently have no pets to worry about!), so we can leave the game set up, rather than try to finish it in one sitting and burn ourselves out on it.

We played Sunday afternoon, Monday evening and Tuesday evening, for two or three hours each. Fabulous!

The only downside is that normally we have a glass of wine (or three) whilst playing. When you play for three days on the trot this can be a problem! (or not depending on your point of view). I also think my decisions get braver the more wine I've had. Table talk certainly becomes more colourful!



Battlemage Jaes held the corridor whilst the other three heroes scurried around the final chamber to weaken master Naga Kisst-Haa.

As usual they were harassed by a seemingly never end of Beastmen (I'm starting to agree with the view that 'Beastman War Party' is very powerful).

Jaes had an item that allowed him to stun all enemies within six spaces of him, which spelled the end for Kisst-Haa, as he used it to good effect to stun four enemies at the end of his turn. If he hadn't done this, Hayley would have surely killed him with those 4 minions - and potentially won the game!

The very next turn he unleashed an unstoppable burst of magic with his staff that destroyed Kisst-Haa and won the quest!

This game just gets better and better. It's becoming an experience as opposed to just another board game. As soon as we had finished, Hayley was already planning a date for quest four. (I am 3-0 up at this point). Considering we had played for three consecutive days, that's high praise indeed!
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João Carriço
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That is amazing! It's good to see this game receiving some love, people often seem to dismiss it because a new version is out (which is different from this game imho). It's all about having fun, and this game still gives a lot of fun and good memories! I play it everytime I can. May the overlord win next time! devil Sorry but we overlords must root for each other devil
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Martin Plourde
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Your review is just perfect. This is exactly how we approached the game when I bought it in 2007. I always played the overlord, first it was me and 2 friends, then we were 5 and played twice a month for nearly 2 years, our games would last 4 or 5 hours! The group started to fall apart due to the obvious events of the 'game of life' (children, day job, girlfriends, moving out of town etc..). The last few times I played, it was me with a buddy controlling 4 heroes or 2 friends controlling 2 each, and it was more tactical, more treacherous, less social. However, I was able to reunite 3 original members from my very first group for the first time in nearly 4 years, and we played 6 hours, like we had never stopped, added house rules along the way for town actions (with alcohol obviously) and it was just perfect this way. Much better than any party game I have played in my life!

This game will remain special because not long after our original group split up, one of the guy, Jay, commited suicide, and he was roomate with the other 2 guys. That was a tough time and we played a different game after that. It's too bad I was not recording my plays in 2007, I would probably have 30 more plays under my belt, most of them with the original '5', and lot's of cool stories to accompany each of my plays.
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Paul Newby
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Bolton
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Wow Martin. That story of your descent experience is incredible!
I'm so sorry you lost your friend that way - that's truly terrible, and you have my condolences.

The game is a classic in my opinion. We love just playing the two of us now. I can see many months ahead of us creating fantastic memories of quality time spent together doing something we both enjoy. And all around a boardgame!

I'm really big on creating memories in whatever we do. It doesn't have to be a 5 star hotel in the Bahamas for that (nice, however!).

Playing a boardgame with someone who is close to you can create fabulous memories - as I am finding out with Descent.
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Henry Akeley
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The more perplexing question (for me) here is how/where do you find a wife willing to play this all day with you and enjoy it herself? Cheers to both your fun gaming experience and SO who will do what you love with you.
 
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N F
United States
Greenwood
Indiana
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I could never get my wife to play Descent. However, I was thrilled when I finally found a game she would play 2 player with me. Mice & Mystics. It's like a kid version of Descent, there are cute little mice, and the story reads like a disney fairy tale. Anyone wishing their wife/gf would play descent with them but wont', you might want to give M&M a shot.
 
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