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Descent: Journeys in the Dark» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Mocking the Overlord. A brief review. rss

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M.D.W
United States
San Angelo
Texas
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I have always had a great time playing dungeon crawls. When I saw this was out I really couldn't resist picking it up from my local retailer. The box cover looked cool, the figures looked awesome, it has a modular board set up, it was just chalk full of stuff to make a great dungeon crawl.

My rating system!
= Lacking.
= Somewhat lacking, but not too shabby.
= Good stuff! Meets expectations.
= Kicks booty, above expectations!

First impressions of the box and components. Holy cow this thing is huge, awe inspiring even. So is the price, but really not much more expensive than an video game and I sure as heck feel like I'm getting a lot of bang for my buck. Opening this bad boy up I realize it is just overflowing with stuff! Lots of stuff, I don't even know what this stuff is for. Start punching and seperating chits, marveling at the monsters and heroes. Half way though I'm thinking, geeze thats a LOT of counters and bits. They are good looking bits and going through them I get an idea of what they are used for from the art alone, and the art is good. The hero cards, chits and cards look great. The figures are awesome! They are a lot bigger than I thought they would be and the sculps are pretty good. A few of the figures were bent, one of them to the point of not being able to stand on its own. This turned out to be an easy fix, I used the Days of Wonder method (Hot/Cold Water) of fixing BattleLore figures to repair them and it worked like a champ. All in all the figures are great and I couldn't wait to play!
Components:

I feel I need to go over the rules a bit before I get into gameplay. It comes with two books, the rules and the scenario book. They are both very well done in the art department, great pictures to go along with the rules themselves. After a read through I found myself with a good understanding of how the game plays and how to set up the scenarios. The only drawback I found was during play, when I felt the need to look something up it seemed to take more time than I would have liked. A good index, or quick reference guide would have been a good addition. I found myself reading entire pages to find an answer. On the other hand, the answers were all there after a bit of looking. Familiarity with the rules will certainly eliminate this problem but in early games it is a bit of a time sink.
Rules:

I'm not going to get into the detailed mechanics of game play. The rulebook is available at the Fantasy Flight Games website. I'm going to focus on how I felt the game played instead. Set up takes a little bit of time, especially during the first play. Experienced players will shorten this time by setting the game up together, choosing heroes and skills while the Overlord sets up the scenario and prepares his encounters.

The game is team based, the heroes versus the Overlord/Game Master. In essence you select your heroes, or randomly choose them from the hero cards and you will have a group of 3 to 4 dungeon crawling adventurers. The selections are interesting, some heroes look like monsters themselves while others have a more traditional fantasy look to them. You have a good variety of Wizards, Rogues and Warriors to choose from. The other player takes the role of the Overlord. The Overlord in not really a game master, but more of a player trying to stop the heroes using Monsters and Traps. I found I really like this, everyone gets to play and its fairly competitive and surprisingly tactical. The heroes get a selection of skills based off the selected hero that add some powers and abilities, they can also pick up and buy more powerful items, potions, and weapons throughout the game. The Overlords power comes from a deck of cards that are drawn each round, this deck provides additional monsters to spawn and traps to spring.

Gameplay is pretty simple. Without getting detailed you basically move around the dungeon and attack monsters or they are attacking you. Collecting treasure and gold. Heck, thats what a dungeon crawl is all about! Lots of dice rolling in combat! I love dice rolling combat in this type of game, it adds a sense of the unexpected and drama. Not to mention its just plain fun to roll a bunch of dice. The dice are pretty cool, they calculate your range and damage at the same time (If range is an issue). While your rampaging around the dungeon the Overlord is doing his best to kill you, or usually repeatadly kill the weakest member of your party. He will do this with monsters from the scenario or from newly spawned monsters from his overlord deck, as well as nasty traps during your turn. Basically each time the overlord strikes down one of the heroes he takes away some of the partys Conquest Tokens, when they are gone the Overlord wins. If the heroes complete the scenario before that happens they win. Your not out of the game when the overlord ganks you, your hero is teleported to town and can come back on your next turn. You are able to play through to the end, and don't get regulated to soda and snack fetcher person for the rest of the game.

I've played games where the heroes cut their way throught he dungeon mocking the Overlords futile attempts to stop them from winning and ransacking every last treasure and item from the dungeon to games where the Overlord laughs as another trap is sprung on the wizard and he makes another unexpected trip to town. It does get pretty competitive but always fun, winning or losing I've always had a great time playing. It really hits a certain mark in the dungeon crawling experience with me. Its fun to play the monsters and equaly fun to play the heroes. The time seems to really fly during a game, and there is always some trash talk that ends in tragedy or triumph. A great social game. I have found that I almost always forget a rule during one of our sessions, but its never been game breaking. And the biggest downside of gameplay is the lenghth it takes to play. This mainly effects the chances in our house about how often it hits the table, you really have to schedule a time to put in at least 4 to 5 hours for some of the scenarios. Unfortunatly we can't always get our players together for that length of time. Its always possible to create your own scenarios and Fantasy Flight has a great resource for doing just that on their website, so I might try to design some shorter games in the future. There are options!
Gameplay:

I really enjoy this game and want to get it on the table a lot more often, the scenarios are fun, the game looks fantastic on the table, and the gameplay is quite good. Play I find to be tactical every turn as the heroes try to find the best plan to deal with newly encountered rooms and adversaries. While the Overlord prepares his next trick to decimate the heroes best laid plans. Its great fun! As I mentioned earlier the only really downer is the game length. I think If I could get a regualar game played in 2 to 3 hours as opposed to 4 to 5 hours it would see more table time.
Overall:
 
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Universal Head
New Zealand
Nelson
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Professional creative visual communication: www.universalhead.com
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Game summaries and reference sheets: www.headlesshollow.com
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Quote:
A good index, or quick reference guide would have been a good addition

Sorry to self-plug, but you might find my Universal Head reference sheets and rules summary helpful. Nice review BTW.
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Randall Silver
Belgium
Gent
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Good review for my favorite game. If you're done with the scenario's of the basic game, have a look at the expansions. They rock.
 
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mike jones
United States
Oregon
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For a players referrence you could also flip over your quest guide to use the one that the game provides. Especially helpful to us when trying to remember how many movement points are required for certain actions.

What I would have found helpful in the instructions (this is one of my favorite games too) would be an index.
 
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