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Subject: Replacing Descent - DungeonQuest or Ravenloft? rss

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Joe Reil
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So… I am a big fan of Descent, played "Vanilla" occasionally and had an RTL campaign running for a while which eventually stalled. I did pick up Sea of Blood and I was considering trying to get a campaign going for that, but as of now I’m considering selling/trading off what I have for Descent in favor of something lighter.

This is, primarily, an issue of time. I love Descent, but have a hard time getting it out due to the time constraints. We have a regular game night once a week, which is mostly shorter and lighter games. I do occasionally arrange a session for slightly heavier games and Descent was one of these. When I had my RTL campaign going, we tried to have two sessions a month, which worked for a while, but timing conflicts started cropping up, leading to the aforementioned stalling problem.

As I said, I was going to try to get SOB going, with some of the same people and some different ones, and this again, would have been once or twice a month.

I’m now starting to get iffy on this being possible at all. Aside from gaming, I have a number of minor projects and hobbies. Only one of these comes close to the time or interest level that I put into gaming, however, and that is music. I play guitar and bass and I’m starting to sing a little. Over the last few months I’ve put a lot more time into music than I had before, working with a few different groups. I have a full-time job, and a family. We have one game night a week already, that does include other family members and if I continue to work on my music related projects, that will take up more of my spare time and there’s only so much of that to go around. With all of that in place, it looks very unlikely that I’ll be able to maintain a regular event for Descent, for at least the next year or so and probably longer.

So, rather than have it taking up lots of space and never being used, I am considering putting up what I have now for sale or for trade and perhaps investing in a lighter game that might scratch some of the same itch.

What I’ve seen so far indicates that Ravenloft will probably be the winner between the two. The play style looks to be closer to what I’m used to with Descent and other Dungeon crawl games, and we do pretty well with Co-Op games now (Pandemic, Forbidden Island, Red November) so I have a chance of getting this out on our regular game nights (where Descent doesn’t stand a chance) and a Co-Op Dungeon crawl would be a nice change of pace from the more competitive style of Descent and the other “adventure” games in my collection (Last Night on Earth, Siege of the Citadel, Space Hulk).

Of course, there are other games I may not be aware of, so… Based on all of this – any thoughts?
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Bess A.
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I'm not sure that there is any true replacement for the head-to-head tactical challenge of battling your favorite evil-overlord/pesky-hero-team that you get with Descent. But if you are looking for a fantasy adventure game that plays a little lighter and shorter, I can make a few suggestions.

Defenders of the Realm is a great co-op game that can play up to 6 and has a very aggressive beat-the-game challenge ala Pandemic, but with quests and fantasy and boss fights. It really scratches the team-challenge and fantasy fun itch. And it plays in about 1-1.5 hours.

Prophecy plays quickly and lightly too, but gives you a good fantasy-adventure feeling. You get the satisfaction of collecting special equipment and skills to level-up your hero, but it's all very streamlined and you get a lot of good decisions as to where to go and what challenges to take on. It's like a good ameritrash fantasy game got a little euro-ized... in a good way. Don't worry, there are still dice. I believe there is an official co-op variant in the expansion, but it is meant as a competitive game. It plays in less than 2 hours.

Runebound (Second Edition) is one we haven't played yet, but just picked up in hopes of finding a good Descent alternative (we've Descented-out some of our buddies, and need a little break from it). It definitely has the fantasy adventure thing going for it, and it is supposed to play very well with 2-3 players, and plays in about 3-4 hours (I believe). Although this is a competitive game, there are some feasible-sounding co-op variants, and from what I can tell, it can be played in a very minimal-contact way so that it really becomes a race to the final challenge instead of a kill-your-opponent thing.

Best of luck!
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Joe Reil
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polycrafty wrote:
I'm not sure that there is any true replacement for the head-to-head tactical challenge of battling your favorite evil-overlord/pesky-hero-team that you get with Descent. But if you are looking for a fantasy adventure game that plays a little lighter and shorter, I can make a few suggestions.


Well of course, nothing will be exactly the same, and I have to stress that I love Descent and that it's just not a good fit right now.

Defenders of the Realm is on my radar, as well, I didn't bring it up here because it seems like it would scratch a different itch (a slightly heavier Pandemic - which gets lots of play at our house - with a strong fantasy theme).

Runebound seems like it's more abstract than I'm looking for - I really like the tactical level game - Descent, Siege of the Citadel, Space Hulk - so ideally I'd like to find something else with that feel. I'll take a look at Prophecy as well.

Thanks!
 
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Adam Tucker
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Prophecy is similarly abstract (perhaps slightly more so than Runebound), both are still pretty good games for what they do.
The Prophecy: Dragon Realm expansion gives some pretty good options for co-ops (since you mentioned liking them). Prophecy also tends to be slightly quicker, and work better for more players (3 is probably the upper limit for Runebound and even then is probably pushing it). I don't really like just the base game for Runebound; I find it works much better with the Runebound: Sands of Al-Kalim expansion. Unfortunately I don't have much experience with any of the other big box Runebound expansions, so I'm not sure if any of them are as good as Al-Kalim.

Back on topic, as to what you posted about looking for: Ravenloft is probably your best bet. The closest game I can liken it to is the old Warhammer Quest. It still doesn't quite scratch all the itches of Descent, but it is quicker, highly open to expandability, gives a bit of the tactical dungeon-crawl feel, and seems to be a pretty good game (from what I could tell of my one play at GenCon - no pre-release copies soblue ).

I also really like Dorn, but it is very much a Euro version of a tactical dungeon-crawl (there are no dice!), and the board is static, giving it less replayability (and making it more difficult to add tactical layout variability through expansions - Dorn: Koschei's Eternal Return does not have a new board, but is still a good expansion).
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Bess A.
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RedShark92 wrote:
Runebound seems like it's more abstract than I'm looking for - I really like the tactical level game - Descent, Siege of the Citadel, Space Hulk - so ideally I'd like to find something else with that feel. I'll take a look at Prophecy as well.
Aha, well, if it's more the tactical part you are looking for, have you considered Heroscape Master Set: Battle for the Underdark? That definitely has the tactical thing, and the scenarios can be as long or short as you choose, anywhere from 1-4 hours. The new set is D&D themed, so that works for the fantasy aspect, and it's just a crazy good time of assembling your team and battling it out. The rules are very streamlined, but it shines in the flexibility of scenario creation (there are provided scenarios too), and the variability of the character abilities. I have heard of people playing this with as many as 8 players, and it also plays very well with just 2. The character sheets can be flipped if you want to play it with young kids.

They give you a book of scenarios, you can create your own, or there is a really large, active network of users on heroscapers.com where you can get lots more scenarios and info.

And if you want to get into some of the other sets, you can have your elven mages fight robots, dinosaurs, barbarians, elementals, civil war soldiers... a big time-traveling free-for-all.
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RedShark92 wrote:
I really like the tactical level game

I don't think either game from your OP will fit this bill. Castle Ravenloft uses "rooms" as the movement units. When a monster moves into your room, it automatically ends up next to you. So there's no tactical positioning. It's more like timing of using resources.

Dungeonquest is just a randomfest. It is gonzo and wild and has very little to do with a game like Descent.

Descent is a hard game itch to scratch with another game if you like the game itself. If you like the feel of dungeoncrawling but don't enjoy Descent, there are many options out there. But you do enjoy the Descent ruleset, so it's a tricky question. It's too long even when playing the shorter Road to Legend-style games?
 
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Save yourself a few bucks.

Make your own quests. Each room in a quest takes about 45 minutes to an hour. See "The Rescue" on the FFG user-submitted quests.

D*mn kids. laugh
 
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Take a look at Mage Knight Dungeons. It's OOP, but was a CMG, so is pretty high availability and low cost. I also think there's a good chance of seeing some sort of "dungeon crawl" rules for Heroscape in the not too distant future.
 
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Joe Reil
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polycrafty wrote:
Aha, well, if it's more the tactical part you are looking for, have you considered Heroscape Master Set: Battle for the Underdark?


I’ve played it, at least the older version, and have the basic Marvel set.

Dormammu wrote:
RedShark92 wrote:
I really like the tactical level game

I don't think either game from your OP will fit this bill. Castle Ravenloft uses "rooms" as the movement units. When a monster moves into your room, it automatically ends up next to you. So there's no tactical positioning. It's more like timing of using resources.


That’s too bad – judging from the rules, it looks like the Heroes do still move square to square, with the enemies moving by tiles. Not ideal, but not a deal-breaker. I may hold off on buying until I get a chance to play, though.

Quote:
Dungeonquest is just a randomfest. It is gonzo and wild and has very little to do with a game like Descent.


Also too bad. I don’t mind this style, but I’ve got that niche reasonably well covered already. Almost definitely passing on this one.

Quote:
Descent is a hard game itch to scratch with another game if you like the game itself. If you like the feel of dungeoncrawling but don't enjoy Descent, there are many options out there. But you do enjoy the Descent ruleset, so it's a tricky question. It's too long even when playing the shorter Road to Legend-style games?


The campaign style is OK, but the main problem is I’m really not going to be able to set-up and play a campaign on anything like a regular basis. The other hassle is the set-up and tear-down time – I found this was much more manageable with the campaign setting because a lot of the work (character set-up is a big one) was already done upfront.

solidhavok wrote:
Take a look at Mage Knight Dungeons. It's OOP, but was a CMG, so is pretty high availability and low cost. I also think there's a good chance of seeing some sort of "dungeon crawl" rules for Heroscape in the not too distant future.


I have MKD stuff and I am very fond of it. Haven’t played it in a while, though I’ve been making an effort to get it out again. I have a reasonably sized collection of the 3D Tiles, but I’m leaning towards selling or trading them, and just going back to the cardboard tiles. They’re not quite as nice visually but a heck of a lot easier to set-up and the require much less table space.
 
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If you don't mind doing a bit of crafting, I recommend checking out Dungeon Plungin'.
 
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A Paula G
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If you have only two players to accommodate, Claustrophobia seems to do everything that Descent does but in about 45 minutes, including setup and take down. For more players, I second the suggestion for Heroscape Master Set: Battle for the Underdark. It doesn't hurt that the minis come prepainted in both of these games.
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D&D 4e replaced Descent for me. We don't go into a lot of "roleplaying" but just set up the board and whack the monsters (you know, old school goodness).

4e is loaded with board game goodness.

Goodbye Descent. How 4e Made this Jaded Dad Love D&D Again.

Based on your choices though, Ravenloft is probably what you are looking for. DQ is not a dungeoncrawl (don't let anyone tell you otherwise). It's a game of random screwage with no control over anything. And that's what makes it AWESOME. It just happens to take place in a dungeon.

But it is no way a dungeon crawl.

Ravenloft, on the other hand, looks like an obvious choice to replace Descent. Far less fiddly and possible way more fun. And definitely a dungeoncrawl. I'm looking forward to picking it up!
 
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Dormammu wrote:
RedShark92 wrote:
I really like the tactical level game

I don't think either game from your OP will fit this bill. Castle Ravenloft uses "rooms" as the movement units. When a monster moves into your room, it automatically ends up next to you. So there's no tactical positioning. It's more like timing of using resources.

This is not entirely accurate, monsters move by tiles, but heroes move by spaces (a tile is a 4x4 grid of spaces, most of which are part of the dungeon, some of which are walls). The positioning for heroes is most definitely tactical, since heroes can be moved tiles away by traps or events, and can be slowed (speed of 2 spaces - at best can double move 4 spaces, the length of a tile, but then the hero forfeits their attack) or immobilized (works like you think it does), furthermore multiple heroes have abilities where positioning matters.
While ranged attacks are extremely simplified (for both players and monsters) only monster movement and positioning is not terribly tactical, it is a co-op game (the heroes can even manipulate monster movement slightly to be in their favor).

Dormammu wrote:
Descent is a hard game itch to scratch with another game if you like the game itself. If you like the feel of dungeoncrawling but don't enjoy Descent, there are many options out there. But you do enjoy the Descent ruleset, so it's a tricky question. It's too long even when playing the shorter Road to Legend-style games?

Personally I find the Road-to-Legend campaign rules unbalanced and woefully under-playtested.
Dungeon crawls:
Descent: Journeys in the Dark
Doom: The Boardgame (extremely similar to Descent and pretty much currently unsupported)
Warhammer Quest (very hard to find and very pricey, expansions even more so)
HeroQuest / Advanced Heroquest (Also hard to find and pricey, veers further away from Descent style play)
Dorn Euro-style dungeon crawling; highly tactical, no dice, deterministic combat
Claustrophobia Some interesting concepts for game mechanisms, but 2-player only and my understanding is that combat and movement is tile based, thus again lacking tactically.
Tomb No tactical positioning, combat is minimally tactical (and frequently confusing, unless they've cleared up a ton of rules since the initial release)
Dungeoneer Minimal tactical movement, combat not very tactical.
Munchkin Quest More parody than actual game, the room tiles, add a modicum of room based tactical movement (not the type the OP is looking for) to very poor minimally tactical game play.
Formidable Foes Minimal tactical movement, combat simplistic not tactical.
RPGs with tactical level combat (tend to add more more to the game and take even longer than Descent, are generally not nearly as condensed as a board game, plus multiple sessions are usually needed for game progression)
Some print and play games

There are a few tactical combat games that are similar to dungeon-crawls, such as Space Hulk

While there are quite a few dungeon crawl or similar games, as far as I can tell, extremely few have the type of tactical level positioning and combat that Descent offers. If there are so "many", please let us know what they are.
 
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