burnie beaumont
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Oklahoma
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This is my first review here, and because a lot of has been written already, I'll keep it short and focused on my experience playing with younger gamers.




Point by point overview.

Object: Players lock horns in an competitive game reminiscent to old school Dungeons and Dragons. Except there is very little story, the monsters are mindless automatons, and the Dungeon Master (called and Overlord in this game) is supposed to kill you.

Price: Hefty, but worth it. The Descent price tag appears hefty, but compared to the money you would spend to make Dungeons and Dragons visually entertaining it is well worth it. And you can rob some of the components for D&D if you like.



Bits to keep up with: several hundred, mostly oddly shaped peices of cardboard confetti, including very cool plastic miniatures, and some very, very cool dungeon pieces that fit together puzzle style. All these help keep track of all the things that can go wrong deep in a dungeon.


Rulebook: Easy to read, short in length, and neat to look at. Big, you'll never misplace it.

Game Complexity: Not too shabby. The game bits help you keep track of everything. Paper and pencil not needed. You will be looking at the rule book alot to make sure you are playing correctly

Length: 3-4 hours, or more. Clear your schedule.


How you feel after you play: Exhausted.


The younger gamer and Descent

I bought this game hoping to provide a stepping stone into RPGs for my too younger nephews, ages 15 and 11. We broke it open and played it for six hours the first time out. Being used to videogames they were dazzled by all the colorful bits and peices that came with the game. The dice rolling was fun, and the math involved wasn't very hard. There is some basic counting involved to determine how much damage you bash a monster for, and the hardest part mathematically is doing a bit of subtraction when you you allow for armor, and armor piercing weapons. The counters to help you keep track of effects like poison, how many life points you have, so book keeping is almost non-existent. Unlike the D&D Minis game, which my nephew claimed had too much math to be cool, this game makes the math easy, and you don't have to bother yourself with writing anything down.

My take:

This is a tactical miniatures game simulating the combat elements in Dungeons and Dragons, or more appropriately a D&D-like video game. It's a mindless killathon, sprinkled with motivational loot. It should keep any kid interested for long enough to get your moneys worth. But be sure you play it in a room with out anything else going on. And playing during a weekend where they are grounded from the video game console is highly recommended.



Replayability:

We have played this game four times in the last year or so. This is a fun game, but it can be mentally exhausting. There is quite a bit of action and never a dull moment, and that's the problem. There aren't very many places to pause and take a breath. The mechanics call for monster spawning that throw hordes of monsters at the players. And if you are familar with Dungeons and Dragons, it will feel like you played a 100 rounds of combat straight. Older players may wake up the next day with something akin to a hang over.

This game is best played every couple of months. Too many trips into the dungeon will likely cause burn out. There is a campaign expansion called Road to Legend, but a person would have to have plenty of time and an enjoyment for migraines to play it.

Can this game get a kid to stop playing videogames?:

Yes and No. The design of the game is based off of a boardgame simulation of DOOM, so it is already very video gamey in nature. There are tons of visuals to keep any kid enchanted....for a while. My younger nephew lost interest the last time we played. He knew he was in for four hours of rolling dice, and opted out to play Grand Theft Auto.

I have to say I was mildly disappointed that I couldn't entertain him with mindless violence at the kitchen table. So we packed it up, and I read the rules to Tannhauser which I had bought them for Christmas. After he got tired with his computerized sociopathic thug simulator, I lured him back to the table where we had a round of more educational historically inspired simulated violence.

I don't know if my experience is typical, but I think kids who grow up with video games are conditioned to have a constant flow of new experiences. If they don't get it they become bored. I have no trouble getting my nephews to play boardgames, I just have trouble getting them to play the same game twice. Which is good for boardgame companies, and bad for me and my wallet.

The Dungeons and Dragons, video games....a slight digression.

There are a lot of comparisons of Descent and the new Fourth Edition Dungeons and Dragons. While I haven't played the new D&D, I've thumbed through the rule books, and I can see a very Descent-like footprint. I don't know if the D&D designers borrowed some ideas from this game, or both games are trying to simulate video games. But for the record, Descent did it first. And oddly enough, headaches aside, probably does a better job of it.

Back to the kids...

If you are pressed for time, and you want share killing dragons and slaying elves( you'll have to purchase an expansion to slay an elf) with the youngsters in your life, this game is a sure bet. Just make sure they don't have a video game where they've already killed a dragon on slain an elf and you'll be good to go.


Rating: 6 out of 10

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The Galaxy is Just Packed!
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Nice review. FWIW, my 6 and 8 year old boys loooooove Descent, and will always pick it over their Wii any day.
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Charles Hasegawa
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Road to Legend is designed to offer much shorter playing experiences (I haven't tried it yet myself). If you like the game, but think its a bit much - you might want to consider the campaign expansion...
 
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David Aubert
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Good review


but the father in me want to ask : Isn't GTA forbidden to children in your country.

I can't imagine letting my 11 old son play with that. (Though I did enjoy it myself )
Sorry to write about that but that really shocked me.
 
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burnie beaumont
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Oklahoma
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Yeah, they aren't suppossed to have games games like GTA. Another relative on mine let my nephew rent it. I voiced my objections, because I think games like GTA are crap. The bad thing about it is that they sell that game in the same display case as the regular games. Kinda like selling cigarettes in the candy section. And there is a lot of under handed marketing going on over here. The vid game companies know if it has a M rating on it it will sell like hot cakes. They also know that any kid will have an intense curiosity about it and likely find a way to play it.

Also, there is not enough awareness about video games over here. I remember when someone loaned me a copy of GTAIII a few years ago, and I was shocked at the level of violence and language. I thinkk there are a lot of folks that buy these games for kids and they have no idea of the content. They have no idea about the rating system. So a lot of kids get exposed to it out of ignorance.

When I watched my nephew play GTA I was totally impressed with the graphics and the ability of the game to look like a real world. I thought about how much time and money went into making it. How it was a beautiful engine totally wasted to run a sociopathic thug simulator.
I could also see how there was no way that a boardgame could compete with it. And it also got me thinking about the notion of selling cigarettes in the candy section and how that is what is really going on here.

My regular job is a school teacher and I can tell you that there are going to be a lot of cognitive problems and social problems because of the video game industry. Hell, I already see it in my classroom every year. Kids minds are being conditioned to be more passive and reactive. They are also being conditioned to be impulsive thinkers which may lead to problems later in life. Problem solving and patience is becoming a lost skill.

Video games don't provide the cognitive exercise that boardgames do. With a boardgame you read the rules and play it several times just so you can learn how to play the game correctly. Then once you know the rules you begin to try out different strategies for success. All this is good for a kids cognitive development. And each game played builds on itself. Socially, the interaction that boardgames provide is always a good thing. Video games just let you tune everyone out. You don't learn how to lose, you don't learn how to take turns, you don't get to share a laugh.

But the one thing I see with kids when they play boardgames is that they have an big appetite for the social interaction. Which is a good thing, and something video games cant replace.
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Gilles Duchesne
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beaumont wrote:
Video games don't provide the cognitive exercise that boardgames do.

I know I don't really start a discussion about that here, but I still felt compelled to point out that this is a very broad statement. It's like saying "Movies cannot explore the same range of emotions as theater does." Clearly the mediums are different, and they tend to go in very different directions, but there are all sorts of "video games" out there, far beyond the Top 10 sellers at GameStop. It'd be a bit sad to lump them all together under a couple blanket statements.
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burnie beaumont
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Oklahoma
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I'm sorry I complained about video games, a tiny bit. I just wanted to respond to my friend from France. The thing about these posts is that I dont have enough room to elaborate on everything, and yeah somethings will come out looking like blanket statements.

But my intuition as a professional educator still stands...constant reactive conditioning over several years cannot be good for cognitive health. Just like twinkies, beer, and pizza, video games need some moderation as well.

Enjoy your video games, dude. And forgive me for making a blanket statement about something you feel strongly about.
 
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Matt Fantastic
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So first you make a rather bold statement about how Decent is "better" than D&D 4E without ever having actually played it, and then you suggest that video games as a medium are somehow less capable of providing the same general experience as a board game, and in fact are harming our nation's children.

Perhaps if you made an effort to understand and experience something before highmindedly dismissing it out of hand, you'd not look like such an ass and your otherwise reasonable review would carry a bit more weight.

It's folks like you that make me embarrassed about my teaching career and narrow minded moralist teachers like yourself that I'm far more worried about causing issues for students. You'd do your students a service to make an effort to understand the culture of which some of them choose to take part and a media they choose to consume rather than treating it as some ill of society. Did you know there are pornographic books, better tell kids not to read anymore right?

Thanks, I'll get off your lawn now.
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burnie beaumont
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Oklahoma
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Gee whiz dude. its just games man. Sorry I jerked your chain on this one. Save the hate for some one else. I'm a pretty liberal guy and I do like to play video games, and In my class rooms I do talk about a lot of things the kids like. One time I broke down the halo instruction manual for a 17 year old kid that had a second grade reading level just to motivate him to try to read more.
ANyway, life is too short to argue about this bullcrap. I don't think im going to post anymore.
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Josh White
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Wow! Nice comeback to the unexpected table-flipping shoot out Haha, before that this was quite a neat discussion to read, I understand your view points.

I grew up avidly addicted to video games, and yet I also played a lot of D&D and board games with friends. In my experience, a good game is a good game, period! We loved trying different things and the different experiences you could have with dice and cardboard pieces than with a 500 dollar electronic simulation machine.

I will say that video games, though I still love them today, have a tendency to bombard kids (and adults, lol) with such non-stop flash and excitement, it can take some re-socialization to get back to enjoying a good board game sometimes. This was interesting for me as I have a very active imagination and enjoy various types of media. I would feel 'fatigued' after video gaming for long hours, I needed a fix and the little plastic pieces just put me to sleep. Hence loading GTA3 and beating the face off of an old woman with brass knuckles for twenty minutes.... scary huh? Lol.

Don't mind the hater, your review was good and offered a nice perspective. If a kid enjoys it, I probably will too! And hey, if the argument persists, you can always blame out McDonalds-eating, the-world-revolves-around-me-thinking, impulse-driven, lazy and manipulated culture! Weeeee!
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Shawn Riordan
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beaumont wrote:
I'm a pretty liberal guy and I do like to play video games


If you are truly liberal, then I think you need to take a moment and give consideration to the possibility that you have some misconceptions about video games.

You say they are not cognitive. The only way you could say that is if:
- You believe that all video games are the same.
- You haven't played many strategic video games.

The truth is, video games, board games, role playing games, movies, comics and TV shows are all the same. They provide entertainment. Some editions/instances of them provide entertainment that is more intellectual. Some, more visceral. Some of it is aimed at adults. Some of it is aimed for all audiences. Some of it is aimed exclusively at children.

For you to characterize Rockstar (the company who makes the Grand Theft Auto games) as being some sort of nefarious institution with desires towards corrupting children, is a mistake on your part.

The only point you made, that I can support you on, is this:
Boardgames are more social.

I am sorry that some people took a swing at you in this thread. I can't excuse their behavior, but I can understand it. Maybe you can too? Imagine if somebody said something blatantly false and derogatory about some hobby you enjoyed. For example, lets say you like watching Football and sometimes play it yourself. Then someone comes along and says "Football is the entertainment of the unintelligent. It encourages violence and takes away valuable weekend/evening family time.".

If you were a fan of Football, wouldn't you get a little hot under the collar after hearing that statement?
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Shane Meehan
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I am a bit surprised that video games are being so vehemently defended on this forum. I for one think the poster is very qualified to give his opinions regarding the effects of video games on a child's learning. Certainly they do encourage a more passive approach considering that video games almost entirely passive activity. Ive spent hours of my life playing video games and then thought to myself, how would this look if the screen were blank? In fact the screens are blank. Human beings were not meant to stare into boxes and click buttons for hours on end(sounds like my job actually).

The very big difference, and in my opinion why this forum exists, is that board games require us to be social. It requires interaction. it teaches us teamwork, diplomacy, commerce, strategy, etc. The most successful board games are fueled by this human interaction.

In contrast, these qualities are almost non-existent in video games. Strategy games were replaced by RTS which demand quick hasty decisions. Teamwork only exists in the online environment which has its own host of problems. Video games try to fool us into thinking we are no longer human, that it is OK to be isolated, sociopathic button-mashers striving for a false sense of accomplishment and self-worth. Board games always remind us that we are human because the real fun in a board game is not what happens during a turn but between turns.

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James Gambrell
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As an educational psychologist specializing in intelligence measurement who has researched the topic, I can tell you there is absolutely no evidence that video games negatively impact measurable cognitive development. Social development perhaps, but not cognitive skills. In fact, there is weak evidence that they enhance visual cognitive skills, reaction time, and even problem solving ability (for example: http://www.popsci.com/entertainment-amp-gaming/article/2009-...).

Despite what the media will tell you, the measured intelligence and mathematics skills of all western children has been going up rather dramatically for the past 70 years (3 IQ points per decade is the standard finding), and TV and video games likely play a role. The amount of complex visual stimuli people see and respond to today completely dwarfs what existed back in the 1950s, and cognitive skills have changed as a result.

Cognitively, a video game is nothing more than a set of complex visual stimuli requiring rapid processing and motor response. The content of the game (violence, drugs, stealing, etc.) are only motivational and are not important to the cognitive system. The child's mind is simply processing visual images and producing motor output, much the same as it would if it were running some machinery or working with a database at work. Most hardcore gamers, even kids, actually begin to see past the thematic elements of the game and focus on the abstract game mechanics, much like hardcore board game players do.

As for video games vs. board games and the cognitive merits of each, I would say that in general video games provide much more cognitive stimulation and would result in more cognitive growth. This is mostly just a result of the sheer number of hours played. It doesn't seem likely for a child to ever put as many hours into a boardgame as they could into a video game, because video games are mostly single-player. It is fairly common for kids to play video games 3-6 hours per day every day. I have never heard of any kid playing a boardgame this much. Also realize that there is a massive diversity of video games out there, some of which are just like boardgames. Games like Civilization IV are unquestionably superior to any similar boardgame in every technical aspect. The advantage of the boardgame is the social interaction.

Many of you may find it difficult to agree, but I think the reason is most adults value social development and real experiences over any development kids might get from being stuck in front of a screen. Being glued to a screen for 8 hours a day like a robot couldn't possibly be healthy, could it? Kids should be interacting with one another, playing an indoor game or ideally playing outside. Well the truth is, for good or for ill, most adults now also spend 8 hours a day glued to a screen like a robot. Video games can no longer be called unnatural experiences, since so much of modern adult life revolves around the use of computer software, videoconferencing, webinars, etc. I can tell you from first hand experience as an employer of undergraduates that those with gaming experience (especially PC gaming) are much quicker to understand how to use new software than those without.

Psychologically, I would say the drawbacks of video games are primarily motivation. Some might say social, but in reality most of the video gaming kids and adults I know socialize quite heavily, and there is only weak evidence for impaired social skills being actually caused by video games. Many players today actually prefer multiplayer to solo games. More likely, your child likes video games because he had poor social skills to begin with.

The evidence for motivational problems is much stronger, yet even so the AMA still recently ruled against the recognition of "video game addiction" as a mental disorder. I would say the motivational problems caused by video games are a side effect of their own success. Video games are essentially products designed to be the most engaging activity it is possible to create using video/audio stimuli and fine motor response (and now gross motor and verbal response as well). With developers competing intensely over the past 2 decades to create the absolute most motivational activity possible, it is no surprise that gamers find other activities boring by comparison.

Also keep in mind that there is nothing inherently superior to social development as opposed to visual cognitive development. Plenty of kids are just as distracted from school and work by their social lives as gaming kids are by their gaming lives. A employer no more wants an employee who is always blabbing on their cellphone than they want an employee who is always browsing game websites or playing flash games at work!
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