This box set is an expansion to Descent: Journeys in the Dark and requires the base game to play with. Inside the box you’ll find a full color rulebook (not nearly as large as the one in Descent because they don’t repeat any of the basic rules of the game), four sheets of thick cardstock boards that you’ll need to punch out, six new character reference cards, a stack about 2” thick of cards, and thirty-three new plastic miniatures. The box has a cardboard insert that takes up most of the room inside and the box itself is easily 2-3 times larger than it needs to be to hold all of the bits that come inside. Ok, that’s not entirely true. The rulebook and thick cardboard sheets are made to a length and width to fit perfectly inside the box so those dimensions of the box are understandable, but the extra depth of the box is really not needed, even with all of the minis you get.
Six of the figures match up to the new characters and they are molded in grey plastic. They are made out of the “bendy” plastic like the green army men that you might have grown up playing with, but they hold a pretty good amount of detail and are certainly passable for a boardgame. The six hero figures are easily matched up to the artwork on their cards and you can paint them if you like. I’ve seen some impressive paint jobs on these guys by fans of the game so if you want to go that extra mile it’s very do-able.
The other figures make up the new monsters in this expansion. There are only three new monsters, though, but they come in two colors; red and white. The red ones represent more powerful versions of the monster while the white ones are standard monsters for that type. There are three (2 white / 1 red) golems who are strong and tough, eighteen kobolds (12 white / 6 red) which really caught my eye because there are two of the little buggers on each base, and then you get six ferrox (4 white / 2 red) which are a monster that a wizard made out of ones that are in the base game.
I’d definitely recommend using any of the figures in a D&D game and many of them can find usefulness in generic fantasy miniature games. One thing that they do suffer from, and this is true of the figures in the base Descent game and also the Doom game, is that the bases of some (usually the larger figures) have a tendency to warp. This can be remedied by plunging them into boiling water and then holding the base down flat as it cools. It’s a step that I’d rather not take with miniatures, and certainly wouldn’t be ok with doing it for standard tabletop gaming miniatures. I’m also very ok with leaving them as-is and just playing the dang game.
The new cards include lots of new skills, equipment, spells, treasure and terrible things for the Overlord to do to the players. If you’re new to Descent it may look like a standard dungeon-crawl kind of game and you could get the impression that it’s just D&D-light but there is no challenging DM in Descent. The game always pits the heroes against the Overlord. I know you’ve probably played with some DM’s that acted like this (instead of honestly challenging and fair) but this is the whole basis behind Descent. The Overlord player is trying to beat the heroes and can do anything that’s fair in the rules to crush them. The heroes are trying to beat the Overlord and his monsters and traps and successfully finish the mission that they’ve started. It’s a game that has a very confrontational side but there’s also a cooperative aspect to it if you’re on the heroes team. Don’t get bent out of shape because the Overlord dropped a 10-ton boulder on your warrior or zapped your thief with a lightning bolt, that’s what he’s supposed to do. Ok, back to the cards. One of the main rule additions to this expansion is the addition of Treachery points for the Overlord. This allows him to seed the deck (what he uses to spring monsters and traps on the heroes) with a certain number of specific things that he wants in there. It’s a nice touch but doesn’t open the floodgates for the Overlord because it’s still a random draw as to what will come up for him to use.
The cardboard pieces are easily removed from their frames and none of them tore at all. They are all very thick and will stand up to a lot of use. None of my card pieces from the base game have warped at all and I’d expect the same long life out of these pieces. About ¼ of the new pieces are for rooms and hallways so you’re not dramatically increasing your total floorspace by much.
None of the new rules are hard to digest and the addition serves its intended purpose, which is to add on to the base game with new stuff. It does this quite well with multiple new scenarios, new characters, new rules and lots of other stuff to play with. If you’re a miniature gamer that’s looking for a dungeon crawl kind of game then I’d suggest you start with the base Descent set first as this is unplayable without it. If you’ve already gotten the base game then this is a great way to add to it that’s not very expensive considering how much we spend on individual figures sometimes.