M.C.Crispy
United Kingdom
Basingstoke
Hampshire
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I've been playing boardgames for about 10 years, having spent something like 20 years playing RPG. Now I have a bit of a hankering for playing a boardgame with a bit of a "Dungeons and Dragons" theme. I like co-op games a lot (Arkham Horror is just about my favourite game - ever, but I play Pandemic, Shadows over Camelot, Battlestar Galactica and Lord of The Rings too). I have a requirement that I can finish a game in a 4 hour session (or thereabouts) with my group of five players (including me).

I couldn't find a search that included both co-op (team vs. game) and semi-co-op games (a "GM" + game vs. the team) so I had to resort to browsing and came up with Descent and Runebound.

I think that Descent might fit my requirements, but I'm concerned that (as a Kevin Wilson game) it might be a bit too close to Arkham Horror.

Runebound looks like it won't handle 5 players very well.

Can anybody weigh the pros and cons of Descent and Runebound or compare Descent against any other game that they thing may fit the bill. If you can't compare Descent against a candidate, I'd be grateful for a comparison of Descent with Arkham Horror if you can manage that.

Please don't just say "you should try because it's cool", I need a measured comparison please.

I know that this is a big and picky ask, so thanks in advance for reading this far and for any response that you find the time to give.



1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Markus
Finland
Helsinki
Uusimaa
flag msg tools
You don't need any more.
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I own both and I like Arkham Horror a lot more than Descent.

What you need to realise is that in Descent one player plays the overlord and tries to defeat the other players. He is not a benevolent game master but a competitive player. This can be quite taxing as you are playing against four other players by yourself.

Descent also has miles of FAQs, errate and rules questions. Some of them still have not been answered. The balance of the scenarios varies wildly and unless the overlord manages to kill the heroes in the first few rooms (before they get silver treasure) he will probably lose.

Personally, I would not recommend Descent unless you try it first and like it. It is similar to Arkham Horror in that it has tons of components and lots of rules and theme, but other than that it is a very different game.

Runebound is not a coop game in any way, although there is not much player interaction. I would not recommend Runebound with more than three players. Some might not even recommend playing it anything but solo, but I like the two player game.

You might want to take a look at the upcoming Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft Board Game . It might be what you're looking for and it should released in a few weeks.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Luca Iennaco
Italy
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmb
mccrispy wrote:
Now I have a bit of a hankering for playing a boardgame with a bit of a "Dungeons and Dragons" theme. I like co-op games a lot

You may like to look at Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft Board Game.

mccrispy wrote:
I couldn't find a search that included both co-op (team vs. game) and semi-co-op games (a "GM" + game vs. the team)

Since currently the (questionable) BGG definition of "co-op" includes both "all VS the game" and "team VS team" (with the second team often being a single person), if you use Advanced Search with "co-op" filter you'll get both types (that should be what you were trying to do, but maybe I've misunderstood).
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bess A.
United States
Euclid
Ohio
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I can't compare with Runebound, because I've only just bought it and I'm awaiting shipment. However, it sounded like you were aiming for a co-op, and I'm fairly certain that Runebound is not.

I both own Descent and Arkham Horror, however, so I can certainly compare those. Both are united by a ridiculously long set-up time, a million fiddly little chits, and unwieldy rulebooks that require a couple of rules-lawyers and a handful of BGG player-aids to play. However, you apparently like Arkham Horror (as do I) so these potential drawbacks should be familiar to you and your group

The strong point on which they unite is the immersive theme. Both games are full of tense dice-rolling, moments where you and your team feel a bit brilliant for getting past this or that monster, and characters with variable powers that make each role feel unique.

They are completely different in a few key ways, however. Descent is a tactical game at it's core. You want to position your archers where they can get cover, you want to send your melee "tanks" into the fray at the right moment, you want to shield your powerful-yet-vulnerable magic users. Descent is also difficult because the overlord is very actively trying to outwit you, making monster actions more than just roll dice against some numbers and see what happens.

Descent is also a game that plays with your emotions. In AH, you know you can play really well and still lose to the final boss, but once you get good at it, you usually get to the final boss. In Descent the balance is extremely tricky, so you can get half-way through the scenario only to lose and the game is over, and it's not the cardboard that beat you, it's that jerk across the table who animated your swords against you and made you poor heroes attack yourselves. A lot of people don't take mid-game ending very well. It's rough to get ground into the dirt 3 or 4 hours into the game. It can be hard not to be frustrated with the other team, and it can be hard to find the sweet spot in the game where the overlord is within a hair of winning all the time but the heroes make it to the final showdown.

Another issue is length. If the heroes are winning in Descent, it can take 6-8 hours depending on the scenario. Of course, if the heroes are losing, it can be over in the same length of time it takes to set up the game. So I think it only fits your length requirement if the heroes lose! cry

All that aside, both AH and Descent have an epic feel. When you play it a bunch, you will find yourself talking about "that one time when we were forced to carry around that stupid cursed sword and...".

Ultimately though, it sounds like maybe the new game Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft Board Game might be more your speed. Or perhaps Defenders of the Realm? Both are true co-ops, instead of one vs. many, and both have a much shorter playing time than Descent. I haven't tried CR yet, but Defenders gets a lot of mileage in our group, and is one of my favorite games right now. It starts out feeling a bit like a Pandemic clone, but soon you are immersed in the very different theme and some very fantasy-oriented actions and it stops feeling like Pandemic at all. There are quests that give you special powers, big boss fights (as well as Pandemic-esque clean-up tasks), dice-rolling tension, special character powers and some really epic battles.

Best of luck!
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Markus
Finland
Helsinki
Uusimaa
flag msg tools
You don't need any more.
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
polycrafty wrote:
Descent is also a game that plays with your emotions. In AH, you know you can play really well and still lose to the final boss, but once you get good at it, you usually get to the final boss. In Descent the balance is extremely tricky, so you can get half-way through the scenario only to lose and the game is over, and it's not the cardboard that beat you, it's that jerk across the table who animated your swords against you and made you poor heroes attack yourselves. A lot of people don't take mid-game ending very well. It's rough to get ground into the dirt 3 or 4 hours into the game. It can be hard not to be frustrated with the other team, and it can be hard to find the sweet spot in the game where the overlord is within a hair of winning all the time but the heroes make it to the final showdown.


This is just what I meant when I described the gameplay as "taxing" but you managed to put it into words much better. Descent is one of the few games in my collection that has caused really heated arguments and even shouting during a game.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bess A.
United States
Euclid
Ohio
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
DeePee wrote:
This is just what I meant when I described the gameplay as "taxing" but you managed to put it into words much better. Descent is one of the few games in my collection that has caused really heated arguments and even shouting during a game.
Exactly! (When I started typing the above, there weren't any responses, so sorry for the redundancy!)

But yeah, taxing is a good way to put it too. When we play at my in-laws, a lot of times I have to take a nap break half-way through, because it's just that draining. My father-in-law can't make it through a whole game either, it takes a lot of attention span. He'll play with us for a while, then go off and make us dinner or something, and we'll just run his character for him. He mostly just plays to humor my mother-in-law.

Also, the game absolutely stinks if the OL isn't trying to kill the heroes. This is not a game to wear the kindly DM hat. And that feels very hard sometimes. So if anyone is easily frustrated in your group, you should not choose this game.

You can end up in big rules-lawyering debates too, which can be extremely frustrating. I will never forget the time my dear husband was convinced that a crushing block landing on the hero's head should stop movement. And I had to argue that logically, yes, this is true, but the rules say nothing about crushing blocks stopping movement, and this is a board game not an RPG so we have to follow the stated rules, we can't just make things up because they are logical. We got rather heated, which is pretty funny in retrospect,because we hardly ever argue and are generally pretty relaxed game players.

I can only imagine a rules-lawyering debate in this game amongst a game group where people are casual friends and not a happily married couple.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Scott Nicholson
Canada
Brantford
Ontario
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I really wanted to like Descent, but I didn't.

It didn't feel like adventuring to me.

It is a tactical miniatures game. The team (or at least the groups I played with) spend too much time talking about what steps each character should take on the grid and what they should do.

90% of the game is spent in tactical combat that feels very samey after a while to me, and goes very slowly with a group that analyzes everything.

It doesn't feel at all like AH (which feels more like an adventure).


In Runebound, Prophecy, and similar games, you don't spend much time in the combat at all, so it feels more like an Adventure.


7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Guido Gloor
Switzerland
Ostermundigen
Bern
flag msg tools
The statement below is false.
badge
The statement above is correct.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
snicholson wrote:
It is a tactical miniatures game. The team (or at least the groups I played with) spend too much time talking about what steps each character should take on the grid and what they should do.

Quite true. Which is why my copy of Descent includes an egg timer meanwhile
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bess A.
United States
Euclid
Ohio
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
haslo wrote:
Quite true. Which is why my copy of Descent includes an egg timer meanwhile
Funny, our copy includes two Taboo buzzers! Just because people were getting a little obnoxious with the 'Fail' genre of sounds when a dice-roll went badly for one team. Somehow, the Taboo buzzers indicate 'Fail' with a little less schadenfreude.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Nate Owens
Philippines
Cainta
Rizal
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Totally with Scott on this one. Descent looks way more fun than it actually is. It really plays more like an efficiency game, and the whole engine encourages the heroes to be cautious, without ever really giving them much incentive to move faster. Because of that conservative feel, it can move glacially slow sometimes. When it takes 90 minutes to get through a small room, maybe there's something wrong with the game pacing.

I have had fun playing Descent, so I don't want to come down too hard on it. The campaign version is quite good if you have the time and the group for it. It doesn't come close to being as much fun as Arkham Horror though. AH is a lot more free-wheeling, with more interesting choices, better story-telling, and a generally looser vibe. Both games have ludicrous amounts of rules, but Descent feels much more burdensome. It isn't true co-op anyway.

I can't speak to Runebound, as I've never played it. I do think that Prophecy looks more interesting though.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jim Wilde
Canada
Edmonton
Alberta
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Consider Defenders of the Realm. As a long time roleplayer myself, this game has really got me excited...
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Darren Martin
United Kingdom
Lincoln
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I'm in danger of rehashing old threads here, but in my opinion it looks like you need a game like either Heroquest or Warhammer Quest. Warhammer quest is seen by many as the "Holy Grail" of dungeon games as it allows players to play cooperatively against the system (there is no DM involved). However it is out of production these days, and will set you back a hefty fee on ebay. Heroquest is much easier to get hold of though, and is much simpler to play. The downside is, you will need someone to act as a DM.


Hope this helps

Pincher
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Stephen Williams
Canada
Mississauga
Ontario
flag msg tools
Avatar
mccrispy wrote:

Can anybody weigh the pros and cons of Descent and Runebound or compare Descent against any other game that they thing may fit the bill. If you can't compare Descent against a candidate, I'd be grateful for a comparison of Descent with Arkham Horror if you can manage that.


Descent can't really be compared to Arkham Horror, the two games are entirely different.

Descent is a truly epic experience, at least combat-wise, and I have a lot of fun playing it, however, it is not what I would consider a "co-op" game by any means. It is one player vs many, with emphasis on the "vs." Other people have already talked about the competitive nature of the game though, so I won't rehash that myself.

You mention you're looking for a board game with a "D&D theme." While Descent is certainly a high fantasy setting, it may fall short of this expectation in a couple important ways. Firstly, there's the fact that the rules are designed to allow the OL a reasonably good chance of winning which might clash with the general RPG idea that the heroes always win (or should always win) in the end. Secondly, there's the fact that Descent's rules don't always represent what common sense might demand of a situation. To understand this, you should understand Descent's origins.

Descent's game engine was borrowed from another Kevin Wilson vehicle, Doom: the Boardgame. Doom's engine was designed to replicate the suspense, violence and general video game-iness of the Doom franchise (in particular Doom 3.) I think it succeeded reasonably well in that regard. However, the fact that Descent uses the same engine with a few tweaks means that Descent ends up feeling more like a computer game RPG than a tabletop RPG. Heroes can't jump over standing water in a dungeon, treasure gets handed out to all heroes when one of them opens a chest - even heroes who are in town or on the other side of a closed door. These are just a couple of examples of the kinds of logical fallacies that might irritate your group if you're expecting the game to be "D&D lite."

I'm not saying you shouldn't buy it - I personally love the game - I'm just making sure you know what you're getting into, as it might not be what you're looking for based on your OP.

Descent is playable in 4 hours, barely. I'd budget 5 or 6 for the first couple of games while you learn the rules. I'd also stay away from the Advanced Campaign expansions unless playing 4 hours at a time over several sessions is acceptable to you.

Runebound is a grand adventure, and more along the co-op lines of AH in my opinion. It is technically a competitive game, but there's little if any player interaction so you can all do your own thing and just be happy for whoever wins. Runebound tells a story through the event and encounter cards that get drawn during play, and everything escalates toward the final goal of defeating the Dragon Lord Margath (or 3 of his lieutenants.) Expansions and Adventure Variants allow for new stories with different end goals (sometimes radically different) although there is always only one winner from the ones I've seen.

Playing a 5 player game in 4 hours is unlikely, to say the least. Most people dislike playing more than 3 or 4 because of downtime between turns, but I don't mind it so much since I also enjoy watching my friends take their turns. That's a matter of personal taste, though.

If the co-operative (non-aggressive) aspect is most important to you, I would recommend Runebound over Descent as a game to enjoy a nice relaxing afternoon with friends, although it will probably take some work and maybe even some house rules to gt it under 4 hours with that many players.

If you can handle a little adversity and accept that it's more like Final Fantasy than D&D, then Descent will probably fit your bill quite nicely. I'd say get the base game first and play it through before spending $200+ on all the expansions, though. Nothing worse than dropping a wad on all the shiny extras only to find out you really don't like the basic premise.

Descent Pros: highly tactical combat, epic dungeon crawl experience.
Descent Cons: No room for a role-playing attitude, OL might feel ganged up on if its always the same guy (ie: you.)

Runebound Pros: tells a story in its own way, doesn't need to be played with a PVP mentality (although it can be.)
Runebound Cons: long play time for many players.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
M.C.Crispy
United Kingdom
Basingstoke
Hampshire
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Wow! Geekers, thank you all so much for taking the time to reply with such useful input! I'm truly amazed. Special thanks to polycrafty and Stewi for their insight.

I have a buddy who is a member of a gamin club; he suggested I go along as a guest and see if anyone will play Descent to get a feel for it. I think that might be a good idea - especially as I hadn't noticed that the duration is so high. (Digital cameras and snap-top bags pretty much fixed the problem of running over multiple gaming sessions, but still, a 6 hour game is pretty long.)

I'll take a look at Heroquest, Defenders of The Realm and Castle Ravenloft Dungeons & Dragons Board Game to see whether they might be better matches for my need.

Thanks once again to all of you for contributing

1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
M.C.Crispy
United Kingdom
Basingstoke
Hampshire
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Luke the Flaming wrote:
Since currently the (questionable) BGG definition of "co-op" includes both "all VS the game" and "team VS team" (with the second team often being a single person), if you use Advanced Search with "co-op" filter you'll get both types (that should be what you were trying to do, but maybe I've misunderstood).


Nope, you didn't misunderstand and I thought that I had done that - but I think that I may have added extra criteria that excluded some of the expected results. I'll give it another try, thanks
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.