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Gary Hammond
New Zealand
Christchurch
Canterbury
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Context:
I am a newbie to RPG and D&D style games with Descent being the first dungeon crawl I have played. I like to play solo games and I really enjoy games like Zombicide with multiple players. I also tend to prefer coop games. I have only played through Forgotten Souls (FS) once and will update this post after I have done some more play throughs.

I purchased Descent and tried to have a go solo playing Heirs of Blood both as the overlord and the heros. Big mistake! I have not tried Road to Legend yet either. So my experience is a couple of false starts and one solid play through.

Be warned, there will be some bias in this review as I only have Zombicide to compare against for monster AI, thematics and play experience.

The stuff in the box:
There is not a lot in the box for FS. There are the peril cards, monster activations and encounter cards along with the help sheet and doom/fate/loot card. As others have pointed out, having to print out the manual is an inconvenience but has probably been done to keep the costs down (or profits up). Quality is on a par with the main Descent components.

Rules:
As I had a poor initial introduction to Descent I thought I would prepare myself a bit more this time. I have read through every post in the FS forum trying to pay particular attention to the rules questions. My initial impressions of the base Descent rule book is that the majority of the rules are there however it is very poorly indexed and the rules are scattered throughout the book. There are a number of times I have seen a rules question in the forum where the answer was in the rules book but was in an odd place. Another point is that the font and size of the text is woeful for those of us who have less than 20/20 vision. These comments also apply to the rule book for FS.

As a general comment about Descent and not specifically at FS, there is a very high cost of entry in learning the rules and it's large amount of exceptions to the rules. At one point when I was walking past with the game 'mid-game', it dawned on my just how much text there was on the various cards visible on the playing surface. As a guide, there are more than 2100 rules posts on the main Descent 2 forum. These means either poorly written rules and/or lots of complexity. Be warned!

I have also watched a few play throughs on you-tube and a common thread is just how much post editing there is for incorrect rule interpretations. The best example is Rodney Smiths play through where the game ending result was reversed due to a rules interpretation problem.

And did I mention that the rules are complex?

Having said all of the above, that is what is attractive about Descent in general. For other newbies, there comes a point when you stop fretting over the rules and start to enjoy the adventure. Just make sure that you do a lot of preparation and study before attempting this on your own. Ideally, I would recommend playing a few games with an experienced group first. I wish I had.

Now as far as the FS specific rules, the rules for each encounter are on the cards and are not too bad. Again there are lots of posts here on the forums relating to interpretations of the rules with the 'Room of Souls' being the one that sticks in my mind the most.

Game Play
I will not describe how the rules work and describe a play through. Others have already done that better than I.

The format of the game is one of don't hang around and get through the room as fast as possible before the game timer kicks in and you face a peril. The rooms provide a variety of challenges and due to the encounters being randomized a bit, repeat play throughs should still hold replay-ability.

The peril cards throw in some interesting challenges except for the one that is 'advance doom by 1'. This detracts from the game quite a bit and could see where this would turn people off the game if it would occur at a critical point in the game. It takes away all control and influence that you otherwise may have. There is nothing you can do to prevent or mitigate this. Others have suggested removing the card from the peril deck and I plan to do so next time I play.

The monster AI is actually pretty good. There is enough variety and some interesting combination effects if you happen to hit a monster activation card at the same time as a specific room effects. There is enough leeway in the monster activations with respect to monster placements on moves that you can sometimes make it easier/harder for yourself depending on where you place the monsters. Not having to have an overlord player is great and something that FFG should be more supportive of in the expansions. For not having a person play the overlord character, it is worth buying FS and Natures Ire (NI) if you like playing solo.

For my play through, I seemed to get a pretty good run through and entered the final encounter in good shape. Due to some really unlucky dice rolls and strategy that was flawed (I think I should have gone all out to kill Tharn first), it was game over in 3 turns.

During the game I was still learning so I made a number of rules mistakes which in balance seemed to be both for and against my heroes. I have learned to just accept the mistakes and continue the game instead of trying to unwind them. This should hopefully decrease as I get more familiar with the game.

As a guide, it took me nearly 6 hours of gameplay (over a few nights) to work my way through to the end of the quest. I expect once I am familiar with the rules and spend less time analyzing/optimizing to death the possibilities, the game time will drop.

I do like the ability to pause the game due to the small encounter time. These help divide the quest up into manageable bite-size pieces conducive to pausing the game.

Summary:
For a newbie to the genre and the Descent/FS in particular, I would recommend that you do some homework before just ripping into the game. Especially read the other posts here at the forums as it certainly cleans up a lot of the finer points in the rules. If you have a photographic memory, the rules won't be a problem.

Thematically the game works pretty well. It feels like there is a story and you are working towards something instead of just playing against the games mechanics.

FS is a good solid solo game and I suspect an even better coop game with a group of friends. Even though I lost, I feel that I had a good entertaining challenge where I am keen to doing it all again. This time I will try with a thief so as to not lose valuable actions when opening doors!

Would I recommend FS? If the limit of complexity that you like is something like Zombicide, then no. If you enjoy a thorough mental work out like I do, then an emphatic yes! I have purchased Natures Ire as well as I am very happy with FS.

Please note that this review is with only after a single run through in solo mode so keep that in mind at all times. I would like to update this review after some more quests.
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Arthur Rutyna
United States
Plymouth
Michigan
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Thanks for posting. I've had Descent 2 for years, and have only played a demo at Gencon. Recently I've picked up Forgotten Souls and also will soon be getting Dark Elements & Nature's Ire, so I need to get this to the table. From your review this looks fun and promising.
 
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mateo jurasic
United States
Florida
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All of the coop pods are great but very hard which makes them less fun than they could be. The new free and pay coop campaigns that you use with the phone or pad app are better with a much more reasonable difficulty level
 
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