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Doug Poskitt
Wales
Cwmavon
West Glamorgan
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Hello everyone,

Not long ago I took receipt of Descent: Journeys in the Dark (2nd Ed) and have been busy reviewing the rules and such. The Heirs of Blood campaign came with the game itself, and from what I understand this replaces the original offering - The Shadow Rune.

I have gotten a copy of The Shadow Rune. I have read on the forums here that Heirs of Blood is the better, more balanced campaign. I am wondering whether I should just jump right in and play this, or whether I should have a go at Shadow Rune first, then Heirs of Blood.

Basically, what I am asking is whether Shadow Rune is worth playing, given that FFG swapped it for Heirs of Blood in recent printings.
 
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Sadgit
Germany
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Here is what I posted on a similar question. Might be helpful here.

Half a year ago, I was in a very similar position. My group opted for using base game heroes and classes and decided to go for the Shadow Rune campaign first. The thinking was that we get familiar with the system and play all the other full and mini campaigns afterwards, adding more and more components on the way. Little did we know ...

We completely underestimated the time it would take us to finish The Shadow Rune. We have been playing approximately 4 hours every forthnight. Half a year later, next Monday, we will finally be playing the last quest. I have to say that the team composition changed a couple of times in between, because of people dropping out and new people joining, which usually eats up some time. In addition, some people in the group are notorious over-analysers, so in the first couple of sessions, a hero turn could take up to 40 min. Most of the times we only managed to get a single encounter done in one session! So we finally decided to add a time-limit for turns (10 min heroes, 10 min overlord, no limit for first turn in an encounter) and this works really well.

As the overlord was at the verge at getting steamrolled by the heroes we allowed the overlord to add a plot deck and more monsters at some stage of the campaign. This helped a lot to keep the game interesting and even challenging for the heroes. Heroes got shop items from 2 expansions shuffeled into their shop decks, although, I think, the variety in the base game is good enough for a full play-through of a campaign

The introductory quest of Shadow Rune is a great tutorial. Having played a couple quests of the Heirs of Blood and Shadow of Nerekhall campaigns with other groups in parallel, I think, that the relatively simple mechanics in Shadow Rune are great for starting Descent. After adding a little help for the overlord the balance is fine. Although most people think that the Shadow Rune is an inferior campaign compared to other two I mentioned, I am really very happy that we started with this. Starting with another campaign and then going back to Shadow Rune would not have worked as well.

The group also played a couple of RtL quests in between but only after we already were familiar with the core rules of descent. RtL is quite different in many aspects. I love the competitive character of the standard game, so RtL is not really my thing if I have the other option. For you it might be the other way around. I suggest starting with standard, to get the rules down and then try RtL after one or two sessions. See what your group likes better. Keep in mind that standard supports up to 5 players, RtL up to 4 players.

Last suggestion for the first session: Descent is a game of rules. Before starting this fantastic experience, at least one member of the group needs to read the core rulebook very carefully. You should also get a print out of the most recent errata and read it. The next day, read those again very carefully. Your group will still make many mistakes. Do not worry, keep on going, using resources here and at the FFG board to help you along your way. Most importantly: Have fun on this great journey!
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Seth Goodnight
United States
Newmarket
NH
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Sadgit wrote:
Last suggestion for the first session: Descent is a game of rules. Before starting this fantastic experience, at least one member of the group needs to read the core rulebook very carefully. You should also get a print out of the most recent errata and read it. The next day, read those again very carefully. Your group will still make many mistakes. Do not worry, keep on going, using resources here and at BGG to help you along your way. Most importantly: Have fun on this great journey!


^^This is really important. Read and reread the rules after the first few play throughs. Don't forget to read all of the inserts and examples either. There are a few rules hiding in those as well. Also, encourage your players to do the same. More eyes on the rulebook helps everyone.

I haven't played Heirs of Blood yet, but I enjoyed the Shadow Rune quite a lot (even as OL). My group (3 heroes) got through it in 9 sessions of about 3 hours each. Then again, I tend to play Overlord more like a game master than some folks. Part of me wants to see the heroes win, but I'm not going to make it easy. I won two of the quests, and the heroes won the rest.
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Mlai00 Mlai00
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@ Sadgit Jones:

Your playtime is an outlier. My playgroup consists of ppl who don't know of any boardgames other than Monopoly and Risk, and wouldn't be able to tell Descent apart from AD&D P&P. We got through 2 scenarios in half a night, even after wasting a lot of time chatting and setting up (for 1st time).
 
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Fox Reinard
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Shadow Rune has been a largely negative experience for me. Half of the quests seem terribly imbalanced in favour of either the heroes or overlord, although I will admit this is speaking from a first impression as overlord against a pretty potent hero setup and a very limited selection of monsters. I won the Interlude and ended up with... a relic! Hooray! I can't actually use the relic at all unless I win two Act 2 quests!

My main complaint about the Shadow Rune isn't about balance. It's about the narrative. It seems to have been written in much the same way Descent 1e was. Many disjointed quest storylines, only tied together as an afterthought in a few cases; the Interlude and Finale quests tailored around the story they ended up with.

Contrast this with Heirs of Blood which has a much stronger narrative cohesion overall while still being a bit open with where the story is driven, Labyrinth of Ruin and Shadow of Nerekhall which each seem to focus on a very specific story.

The last thing that I dislike about Shadow Rune is that its quests just seem bland for the most part. Most of them seem to end up being a race to a spot on the map.

Today I finished a play through of Siege of Skytower (from Heirs of Blood) for the second time and adored it. It contains race-elements but the amount of strategy involved on both sides puts it far ahead of anything that I can name from the Shadow Rune for how much it kept my interest. The first run was declared a practice run because the hero players had no idea what they were supposed to do. I was all too happy to give them another shot. I like it when a quest is interesting to play.
 
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Sadgit
Germany
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Mlai00 wrote:
@ Sadgit Jones:

Your playtime is an outlier. My playgroup consists of ppl who don't know of any boardgames other than Monopoly and Risk, and wouldn't be able to tell Descent apart from AD&D P&P. We got through 2 scenarios in half a night, even after wasting a lot of time chatting and setting up (for 1st time).

Yeah, I guess it is. Your group manages to do two encounters in 2h? Wow, that's really fast I think. With the 10min-rule we usually manage 2 encounters in 4h if everything is set up before people arrive.
 
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Joeri Rotthier
Belgium
Hemiksem
Antwerp
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Sadgit wrote:
Mlai00 wrote:
@ Sadgit Jones:

Your playtime is an outlier. My playgroup consists of ppl who don't know of any boardgames other than Monopoly and Risk, and wouldn't be able to tell Descent apart from AD&D P&P. We got through 2 scenarios in half a night, even after wasting a lot of time chatting and setting up (for 1st time).

Yeah, I guess it is. Your group manages to do two encounters in 2h? Wow, that's really fast I think. With the 10min-rule we usually manage 2 encounters in 4h if everything is set up before people arrive.


The first couple of quests will be shorter indeed, but once you get to the interlude it will take you close to 2h per encounter, 4h per quest (setup included)
 
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