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Descent: Journeys in the Dark» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Impossible dungeon? rss

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Matthew Pincus
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It's hyperbole calling it impossible, but what the hell do you do with the 4th dungeon from Well of Darkness?

I played it last night as Nanok, Hawthorne, Landrec, and Astara. Between the swarms of monsters and ample space to spawn, plus all the damage of traps - and their excessively low cost thanks to Trapmaster and Kobolds, it felt helpless.

A couple well times webs and opportunely played consecutive traps really slowed me down, but I still would've needed a miracle just to get through the rune door.

(side note: Does Astara activate glyphs in unrevealed areas? We assumed not.)

I thought about splitting my party up to prevent spawning, and in hindsight that seems to be the way to go, but without taunt or grapple, that leaves Landrec and Astara very vulnerable. Hawthorne did have grapple, so I would have sent him along with Landrec, who had a rune with blast. Then Astara and her ghost armor and fatigue potions might have been safe behind a cleaving Nanok.

As it turned out, with them all together, Nanok and his 5 armor got killed twice and the mages were picked off by spawned (ridiculously undying) skeletons.

What strategies does everybody else use?
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Brian M
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We used the 'quit playing Descent after Well of Darkness because the quests were so damn stupid' strategy.
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Mike Kollross
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Spreading out more would definitely help. The kobolds and trapmaster combo is pretty powerful.
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Wally Jones
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Don't worry - It gets worse! Wait until you see the final battle.

Just keep trying. I think it took me 4 times before I finally beat it.
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Matthew Pincus
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(cross-posted in sessions)(also, spoilers, if you haven't played the 4th WoD quest - the one with hordes of kobolds)

Took another shot at this today - it was epic.

For one, it was a much better idea to start at 1 pm than 8:30 pm. It's a huge, long level. Took about 5 hours.

I picked out Hawthorne, Nanok, Varikas and Landrec. The first room went quickly enough. A few spawns slowed me down, and you generally need to kill everything to keep moving forward. Landrec actually died, but I just brought him back, after sitting out 1 turn, in the glyph just past the door.

In the second room, I sent Nanok with Landrec one direction, with Varikas and Hawthorne headed the other. Thanks to a Horde of Things and Brilliant Commander, Nanok and Landrec would have to deal with a master ogre and 2 beastmen, and they also had a head start moving that way.

The OL, different from last time, used the same tactic of turtling up, sending most of the monsters back and making me come to and through him. Landrec did some strong work with the blast rune, but thanks to some sorcerers, he got killed again. Nanok was on the ropes, but managed to escape with the rune key, through the glyph - after the OL played the card that makes heroes pay a conquest to use a glyph.

On the other side, Varikas and Hawthorne started slow, but ripped through that arm eventually. By the time they'd cleared it and glyphed out, Landrec was back at the rune door, preventing spawning and Nanok had just escaped. They would've actually managed it quicker, but a lone kobold hit Varikas, the OL used crushing blow to leave him weaponless. So many wasted surges!

They moved past the rune together. I didn't quite spread out enough to avoid some painful bolt attacks. I think he hit 2 heroes once and 3 heroes once before I killed the dragon. I also killed both ogres to upgrade to silver weaponry, but didn't get too lucky. Hawthorne ended up with a sick axe - RGG, with a surge for damage or pierce 2. Landrec ended up with 2 weapons, one for blast - but no extra damage, and another for extra damage or range, with bonus surges. Of course, I'm a curious idiot, so I went into both pit traps, even though I had the blue key.

Into the last room, I knew better than to mess with the gold chests. Thanks to a second Horde of Things, the wall of kobolds and and hell hounds had some extra backup, plus command.

I tried to move in quickly. Landrec landed a nice blast 2 with high damage - aided by 2 extra fatigued power dice. I got a little gun shy once "Big" started coming at me after every move.

As the room progressed, Hawthorne and his grapple ended up surrounded by kobolds, keeping the heat off the other 3. Knowing I needed to hit Big with all I had, he left them behind chase Big down.

There were more deaths, master ferroxes spawned behind me. A big party, really.

Down to 7 conquest tokens, Varikas died. Down to 3, Landrec ate it. Seeing Nanok and Hawthorne both suffering, I had to go all out in hopes of ending it.

Nanok missed, naturally.

Hawthorne got dodged. The OL had been saving that one. Apparently Hawthorne was the only one getting through Big's 10(!) armor. If I'd only known, it would've been closer - I kept using pierce 4 or 6.

Finally, it was Landrec's turn, and I knew it was my last chance. He was in town, having just died. Since it was a last gasp, I asked the OL all about big. One way or another, this was it, and I didn't really have decisions to make. I had to get to Big and battle. He still had 7 health, and of course, his 10 armor.

Landrec went shopping (house rule - just 1 MP) with a fatigue (4 left), sold some silver EQ, bought a training die and a fatigue potion. Another fatigue into the dungeon, 2 more to move forward, the last to drink the potion, then 2 more to get adjacent to Big.

His weapon was something like WGG, with a surge for range or damage, plus either 1 or 2 free surges. I paid my 4th fatigue to roll a 5th power die. The roll came up great. 15 damage when it was all said and done.

Big was down to 2 health. I had the surges from my weapon, the surges from my natural ability, plus 1 damage from an ability card. I had to do 12 damage to end it.

When the dice fell, it all added up to 13. Hallelujah! I'm jumped for joy!

But wait. Big goes out with a bang. He ends the game rolling a blast 3 attack on him. RGG and 2 power dice. I can do this. Nanok had 5 armor, a shield for 2, and 5 health. Landrec was full at 12, with 2 armor. Varikas had 4 armor and 7 health.

Bam! 4 on the red. 3 on the green. 3 on the 2nd green. A surge and a blank gave me some reprieve.

I won the game with 1 conquest token, my healthiest hero at something like 10, my next best at 4 and my last 2 at one measly health. If either of those power dice come up with a heart, I was done for. That has to be the closest game in the history of Descent.
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Jeremy Lennert
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Point of information: by the official rules, the overlord is supposed to immediately tell the heroes the stats of any named monsters they encounter, just not the abilities. So you probably should've known about the 10 armor starting the moment you opened the door.
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Matthew Pincus
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Really? We NEVER play that way. Killing named monsters is impossibly tough sometimes because we have no idea what to do. Today I slaughtered some heroes on the quest after that with my wall of bones skeletons.

Where in the rules does it say that? What exactly needs to be said? All special information? Why is it not listed in the section that is read to the heroes?
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Peter Folke
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One thing that can help in this particular dungeon is the fact that only named monsters can open runelocked doors. So you can pretty much cut off some areas for spawning after you have cleared them (and you don't even need to clear them, just run!)

But I agree, a very difficult quest (as most WoD quests).
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Gilles Duchesne
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pincus99 wrote:
Where in the rules does it say that? What exactly needs to be said? All special information? Why is it not listed in the section that is read to the heroes?


Descent rulebook, p.16 wrote:
Named Monsters
Named monsters (e.g., Narthak) are unique monsters described in the Quest Guide. Like master monsters, they are represented by the red figures. When the heroes encounter a named monster, the overlord player must explain any different or special stats the monster possesses. The overlord player is not required to reveal any special abilities the monster may have. Named monsters are immune to Stun. In most quests, the hero players receive one or more conquest tokens for slaying a named monster.
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Jeremy Lennert
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pincus99 wrote:
Why is it not listed in the section that is read to the heroes?

As far as I can tell, the gray boxes don't separate what you read to the heroes from secret information only the overlord knows, they separate flavor text from pure rules text. Some of the rules text is kept secret, some of it is not, and they don't always do a terribly good job of indicating which is which.


Even for named monsters' special abilities (which are secret), I have assumed (though it doesn't seem to specify in the rules) that those are revealed once they affect the game. To not even tell the heroes that their attacks are being negated by armor or Fear or something sounds particularly nasty and unfair. I would certainly be frustrated if the game came down to whether or not the heroes correctly guessed which secret ability the boss happens to have--and even if you think that would be fun, it would destroy replayability.
 
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Andrew Clarke
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Congratulations on managing it: this is an incredibly hard map for the heroes under any circumstances.
It does sound like your Overlord wasn't a very good player though. For a start, they played Brilliant Commander. In fact, they played four power cards at least during the game, none of them particularly great, and one of them (assuming you were using the Treachery rules), which they must have actually substituted into the deck. This is admittedly quite a good map for power cards in general because it is long, but three of those played trigger off areas revealed, of which there aren't any more than usual.
Against a really competent Overlord, I'd go so far as to say it's basically impossible for the heroes to win.
 
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