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Descent: Journeys in the Dark» Forums » Reviews

Subject: The MMORPG World of Warcraft ruined Descent for me rss

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Mijjy B
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After the game of Descent I played recently, I had a scout through the Descent reviews to see if any had covered this topic, I couldn't find one but apologies if it has been.

In essence though, Descent is a game that should have been released 20 years ago & back then it would have found a devoted audience that love dungeon romp-whackfests (I certainly do), like a true Warcraft boardgame rather than World of Warcraft: The Boardgame which is a separate beast altogether. I really wanted to like Descent, I really did, it's got a brilliant theme (& I love theme in games), great figures & looks madly impressive on the table.

But there is something dramatically missing from Descent that to me, leaves the game broken. The missing component to Descent is the concept of "Threat". Threat is something that is very well handled in World of Warcraft, the MMORPG, but in Descent, it's simply a non-issue.

There is a saying in Warcraft, "If the Healer dies, it's the Tanks fault. If the Tank dies, it's the Healers fault. If the DPS dies, it's their own damn fault". This meant that everyone had a role to play, the Tank to maintain the attention of the enemy focused on him, the Healer to keep the Tank up & the DPS to not only damage the enemy, but to moderate their threat such that they did not cause more threat than the Tank. If the DPS caused more threat than the Tank, the enemy would leave the Tank & start to hit on them instead & they usually went down like a wet blanket & the party would often wipe. Good raiders would never let their threat overtake that of the Tank, if they did more than once, they'd be kicked off the raid for not doing their job properly. This concept was of course expanded in the 10 & 25 man raids in the game. And also when fighting certain bosses where threat was not an issue, other tactics would be used to overcome the boss.

But this concept does not correlate in any way in Descent & that is the great weakness of the game. The GM, knowing that his monsters are (as said elsewhere) like "Balloons with Hammers", will suddenly use them by intelligent design & go straight after the squishies (read "DPS"), ignoring the Tank or closest character, no matter how "fierce" they may be or how much they try to attract the attention of the monsters, it's all for nought as the monsters just go kill the wizard, the rogue, the healer & then the warrior in an order something like that. Indeed, after the years of playing Warcraft, I'd say that without "Threat" in Descent, the game is essentially broken.

20 years ago, I would not have cared, I would have spent hours planning approaches to attacking monsters & trying to work out to stop them from hitting the squishies & even when then finding out it's impossible, I'd have still happily played knowing that if I got first strike on the monsters, their "intelligent" play would have mattered not.

But not any more.

There are other similarities with Warcraft, the notion of knocking over the bosses, getting better loot, using that & going after the stronger bosses again, a progressive dungeon bash of sorts.

For the record, I stopped playing World of Warcraft shortly after the release of World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King, the game just got too easy & was no longer a challenge (this was after being a regular 40+ hours a week obsessive Warcraft gamer)

But I still have that fantasy craving, however Descent has not scratched the itch. Perhaps some creative gamer could come up with a Threat variant that could be applied to Descent & captures the imagination like Warcraft did. Until then though, I'll leave the game alone.
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Patrick G.
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Other than comparing apples to oranges and getting confused as to why they don't compare let me say a few things.

There is no GM in this game. GM has connotations from D&D of a guide not the pure evil hellbent on the destruction of the heroes like the Overlord is supposed to play.

Play a campaign. Team dynamics of the players become a lot more important. Grant it there is no healer but there definitely becomes a tank character that tries to block the larger creatures from getting to the other characters. Another character will develop the skills to run around a lot and pick things up and another will usually become the one who prepares to attack on the OL's turn. And the game itself doesn't fail at this... it just isn't setup for it. It makes no promise to have anything resembling a video games illogical AI.
Lets face it. Threat is a stupid idea. Nothing in the real world works that way. "hey look at me" doesn't get killers to shoot people in flak jackets... they will still shoot the civilians. My point is Threat in WoW(I play it myself although I am proud to say I have never played that hardcore) is a dumb mechanic and only in place to allow the game to work.

WoW can be a fun game. But it also gets very monotonous. I mean if you like wiping on the same boss for hours and hours go have fun. If you like spending a couple hours and either winning or losing the level play Descent.

I am also confused as to why you expected any board game to be anything like WoW especially in regards to combat.....
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Nate Bivins

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I'm going to guess that you haven't played much Descent.

At first I thought that the strategy was so simple for the OL, just hit the squishies.

But one thing you seem to neglect is that each character has conquest value. The squishies usually have half the conquest value of the beefy fighters.....and there's a great decision on the part of the OL. Do I hit the squishies which are easier to kill for half the reward, or do I hit the beefy fighter and get double the reward.

Also, the OL has to take into account who is actually a threat to him. Is the beefy fighter the main damage dealer, or is the squishy rogue or mage the main threat because they can run and get all the treasure and glyphs?

I think you need to stop comparing WoW to boardgames, and realize that Descent, while different, is a very complex, deep tactical boardgame, with it's own clever mechanics that actually work quite well.

Think of it more like a tactical puzzle than a typical RPG dungeon crawl, and you'll appreciate it more.
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Justin Jenkins
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Threat in the video games is a crutch to provide predictable behavior to allow encounters to be overcome in methodical fashion given the non-blocking nature of the mob and player character models in the game. Don't get me wrong, as a variable to manage in a fight, it adds it's own flavor and challenge, and trying to figure out positioning within a few pixels to keep a mob from breaking through your front lines would be pretty silly. It is, in the end, a limitation of the media, and is much of why I HATE PVP in WoW, because the human controlled players DO go after the squishies first, and you have ZERO ways of preventing it, only mitigating it.

However, on a board you don't have that problem, you have very clear locations, line of sight, and rules for obstacles. There is nothing more frustrating for an overlord than players who figure out a way to choke all the monsters between a rock and a tank, while still keeping LOS to any potential flanking spawn points. It becomes much more tactical instead of technical IMO.
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Rafa Madrigal
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My point of view is simply that these two games don't compare.

Each belongs to a completely different ruleset with a different objective player-wise.

But even regardless of that, the main difference is that in Descent, there's no AI, there is another human player playing as the bad guy. I also play WoW. Now, look at Descent as a PvP arena in WoW. In PvP there's no such mechanic as threat, it simply doesn't exist. If a group of three players fight against another group of three, the first thing they'll do is to attack the weakest one (healer, caster, etc) regardless of how many warriors with plate armor there are.

Descent is a PvP game with a human Overlord against any number of human Heroes.

WoW PvP works.
Descent works.

Anything else to explain?
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Sergio Sanchez
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Disclaimer: I've raided in WoW too.

So yeah this is not WoW, period. The way this game is designed would make it boring for the Overlord. What I've seen so far is that the characters that fit the "tank" role in this game are kinda hard to kill most the time (I've seen a mate surviving an entire turn receiving damage from 10 monsters and not dying). Taking this into account imagine the fun the overlord would have knowing that EVERY monster would have to go for the "tank" first, cuz you know they generate more threat, and then watching his monsters die trying to kill the tank.

In WoW the fun is had from ONE side, the raiders side. Here the fun comes from BOTH sides, remember that.
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Jon M
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I've not played Descent so have a question. Is there facing and if so how much of a benefit is there in attacking something in the back? If you want to talk about "reality" in a fantasy setting then how many creatures are going to run past a man with a sword and allow him to stab them in the back. Very few presumably. Does this type of mechanic exist in this game?
 
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Jon_1066 wrote:
I've not played Descent so have a question. Is there facing and if so how much of a benefit is there in attacking something in the back? If you want to talk about "reality" in a fantasy setting then how many creatures are going to run past a man with a sword and allow him to stab them in the back. Very few presumably. Does this type of mechanic exist in this game?


There are not facing in Descen
 
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Patrick G.
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No facing issues.
Descent FAQ wrote:

"The direction a figure is facing has no effect in the game. Heroes and monsters are assumed to be constantly looking around and can therefore see in all directions."
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Chris Siple
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I guess if there was a threat mechanic similar to WOW in Descent you would have a game that would play well Solo and Cooperative. Sounds a whole lot like the new Castle Ravenloft I have on preorder

If only we could get the best of both Descent's character development and item upgrades with Castle Ravenloft's AI driven monsters along with unique character powers merged in to one boardgame. Id also like a little of WOW the boardgame's character customization thrown into the mix
 
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David Aubert
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Let me put this straight ...

You don't like Descent because mobs can act cleverly.
Yeah that IS a flaw in the design. laugh

What's the point of designing a game if it doesn't blindly copy WoW ???


...

Or maybe it's WoW that got the flawed design ...

Or maybe WoW and Descent have nothing in common and this topic is useless.


As a rant, your text is OK, but as a review I had to say "Worst review ever.".
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Also remember in Descent as a hero, you are going to die. Even when you win the game, you will die many times.
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Patrick G.
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Misfits wrote:
I guess if there was a threat mechanic similar to WOW in Descent you would have a game that would play well Solo and Cooperative. Sounds a whole lot like the new Castle Ravenloft I have on preorder

If only we could get the best of both Descent's character development and item upgrades with Castle Ravenloft's AI driven monsters along with unique character powers merged in to one boardgame. Id also like a little of WOW the boardgame's character customization thrown into the mix

Descent was never meant to be solo'd or cooperative. It was meant as heroes vs Overlord. Sure there might be balancing issues her and there but its pretty good with errata. I enjoy not having AI monsters. lol.
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Hankroyd wrote:
Let me put this straight ...

You don't like Descent because mobs can act cleverly.
Yeah that IS a flaw in the design. laugh

What's the point of designing a game if it doesn't blindly copy WoW ???


...

Or maybe it's WoW that got the flawed design ...

Or maybe WoW and Descent have nothing in common and this topic is useless.


As a rant, your text is OK, but as a review I had to say "Worst review ever.".

Can we petition this be switched to "general"? lol.
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theredtree wrote:
Jastin wrote:
Also remember in Descent as a hero, you are going to die. Even when you win the game, you will die many times.

That's what ruined it for me... no threat of permanent death. At least in Arkham Horror when you are devoured you have to start over completely.

To each their own. Much easier to swallow coming back from death(or near death however you want to look at it) with magic than early 20th century technology.
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IndyJinx wrote:
Threat in the video games is a crutch to provide predictable behavior to allow encounters to be overcome in methodical fashion given the non-blocking nature of the mob and player character models in the game.

I'm going to disagree with you here. Threat is a by-product of the need to have variety in the game. Players expect "warriors" to be wearing heavy armor and be hard to kill. That is the archetype. If they also did equivalent damage to characters who are easier to kill, there would be no reason to play the other character types. But if they don't do good damage, they have to do something else to make them worthwhile. Hence threat/agro/whatever.

MMOs thrive on character variety. It forces cooperation and encourages people to play longer so they can try out the different character types. Threat is a mechanic that has evolved to aid in synergistic party design which emphasizes character variety.

Misfits wrote:
I guess if there was a threat mechanic similar to WOW in Descent you would have a game that would play well Solo and Cooperative. Sounds a whole lot like the new Castle Ravenloft I have on preorder

I haven't seen anything implying Castle Ravenloft will have threat. Am I missing something? The AI "scripts" I have seen are usually "attack the closest."
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Dormammu wrote:
IndyJinx wrote:
Threat in the video games is a crutch to provide predictable behavior to allow encounters to be overcome in methodical fashion given the non-blocking nature of the mob and player character models in the game.

I'm going to disagree with you here. Threat is a by-product of the need to have variety in the game. Players expect "warriors" to be wearing heavy armor and be hard to kill. That is the archetype. If they also did equivalent damage to characters who are easier to kill, there would be no reason to play the other character types. But if they don't do good damage, they have to do something else to make them worthwhile. Hence threat/agro/whatever.

MMOs thrive on character variety. It forces cooperation and encourages people to play longer so they can try out the different character types. Threat is a mechanic that has evolved to aid in synergistic party design which emphasizes character variety.


I agree, but the crutch is there to hold up the idea that the tank should be taking the damage in absence of any other way to ensure that. In Descent you have positioning, obstacles, and rules keeping enemies from passing through players that you must exploit to keep the monsters focused on the tank. That doesn't work very well in video games that allow a monster to just walk right through the tank, so an artificial method of keeping that control is created. As I said, it works fine in that context, and it's something that I actually enjoyed managing in all of my characters.

My point was that such a system is not required in a game like Descent where control was meant to be achieved through tactical means, and to hopefully give the OP a different viewpoint from which to evaluate the game.
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Dormammu wrote:
IndyJinx wrote:
Threat in the video games is a crutch to provide predictable behavior to allow encounters to be overcome in methodical fashion given the non-blocking nature of the mob and player character models in the game.

I'm going to disagree with you here. Threat is a by-product of the need to have variety in the game. Players expect "warriors" to be wearing heavy armor and be hard to kill. That is the archetype. If they also did equivalent damage to characters who are easier to kill, there would be no reason to play the other character types. But if they don't do good damage, they have to do something else to make them worthwhile. Hence threat/agro/whatever.

I am going to have to agree with IndyJinx. It is a crutch. It is what allows us to learn the fight. Otherwise it would be PvP encounters all the time. Like they had in certain raids in WoW. I thought those were the most fun to be honest. The same fight time and time again gets EXTREMELY boring. It becomes mechanical instead of exciting.

Dormammu wrote:

MMOs thrive on character variety. It forces cooperation and encourages people to play longer so they can try out the different character types. Threat is a mechanic that has evolved to aid in synergistic party design which emphasizes character variety.

I know plenty of people that happily only play their favorite class. I am one of them. Have an 80 lock and that's it. Only ever got one other toon above 20 and that was eye-gougingly painful.
 
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I think the OP is either completely misguided in what to expect from bored games or is really laughing at us for taking it seriously. lol
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Dormammu wrote:

Misfits wrote:
I guess if there was a threat mechanic similar to WOW in Descent you would have a game that would play well Solo and Cooperative. Sounds a whole lot like the new Castle Ravenloft I have on preorder

I haven't seen anything implying Castle Ravenloft will have threat. Am I missing something? The AI "scripts" I have seen are usually "attack the closest."


This is quoted from one of the designers Peter Lee found http://www.geekdo.com/thread/554789/evolution-of-monster-tac...


Quote:
I thought about having the turn order cards be numbered 1-5, and you'd assign those cards in order from least vulnerable PC to most vulnerable PC. Some monsters would gravitate towards the lowest number (least vulnerable), others towards the highest number (most vulnerable). I decided not to because it ultimately undermines the strategies at the table. The biggest fear I had with this game is the potential problem with any co-op board game: "in Soviet russia, game plays you!" I want the players to make as many decisions as possible while still having the game maintain a constant pressure.

The closest thing that I've done is targeting by amounts of hit points remaining. (Typically the most hit points remaining. I think it's a more satisfying game when you barely win with everyone at just one or two HP eft.)


So it seems threat in some instances will be based on remaining hit points.
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theredtree wrote:
corkysru wrote:
theredtree wrote:
Jastin wrote:
Also remember in Descent as a hero, you are going to die. Even when you win the game, you will die many times.

That's what ruined it for me... no threat of permanent death. At least in Arkham Horror when you are devoured you have to start over completely.

To each their own. Much easier to swallow coming back from death(or near death however you want to look at it) with magic than early 20th century technology.

You don't start over with the same investigator, you have to pick a new one.

I know. That was my point. Coming back from the dead is impossible in AH but in Descent with magic its understandable.

 
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corkysru wrote:
theredtree wrote:
corkysru wrote:
theredtree wrote:
Jastin wrote:
Also remember in Descent as a hero, you are going to die. Even when you win the game, you will die many times.

That's what ruined it for me... no threat of permanent death. At least in Arkham Horror when you are devoured you have to start over completely.

To each their own. Much easier to swallow coming back from death(or near death however you want to look at it) with magic than early 20th century technology.

You don't start over with the same investigator, you have to pick a new one.

I know. That was my point. Coming back from the dead is impossible in AH but in Descent with magic its understandable.


Except not all "deaths" in Arkham Horror are being devoured; Far more frequently your investigator is just knocked out or gone insane. At least in the (relatively few) games I've played, being devoured is not a common occurance (at least not before the final boss). It can happen, but it's not the norm.
 
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sigmazero13 wrote:
corkysru wrote:
theredtree wrote:
corkysru wrote:
theredtree wrote:
Jastin wrote:
Also remember in Descent as a hero, you are going to die. Even when you win the game, you will die many times.

That's what ruined it for me... no threat of permanent death. At least in Arkham Horror when you are devoured you have to start over completely.

To each their own. Much easier to swallow coming back from death(or near death however you want to look at it) with magic than early 20th century technology.

You don't start over with the same investigator, you have to pick a new one.

I know. That was my point. Coming back from the dead is impossible in AH but in Descent with magic its understandable.


Except not all "deaths" in Arkham Horror are being devoured; Far more frequently your investigator is just knocked out or gone insane. At least in the (relatively few) games I've played, being devoured is not a common occurance (at least not before the final boss). It can happen, but it's not the norm.

True again. But i was comparing being devoured to being killed in Descent. Cuz lets face it... if a monster in descent knocks you unconscious it isn't going to stop eating/shredding/otherwise molesting your body. :-D
 
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Well, as a few other people have said, it seems a little odd to say Descent is broken just because your opponent is cleverer than the AI in World of Warcraft. I don't think it's fair to compare the two games in any way.

However, someone else has mentioned Ravenloft and I thought I would mention something about that... Your problem seems to be, you are playing an opponent who will target your weak characters rather than following a certain AI module. In Ravenloft, you play co-operatively, so everyone is playing against the game, and the game retaliates using a simple AI system that consists of a series of IF statements. You work down the list until you find a condition that is true, and then you activate that action.

True, the action will usually end up being "attack the closest hero" but by using this system, you may get more of that WoW flavour you didn't get in Descent for several reasons. First, as a team, you will probably explore new areas of the board with your tanks as each new area means new monsters, and as the AI says "attack the closest" your tank can soak up the punishment. This system is further enhanced when you consider one of the squishies (ranger) has an ability that allows her to reveal new areas of the map without necessarily putting herself in a position to be the closest target (so she can hide behind the tank and still reveal a new area).

Furthermore, within the confines of the AI, you can make decisions that are best for you. For example, if a monster is supposed to attack the closest hero, and there are two heroes at exactly the same range, then the group of heroes gets to pick which one is attacked - Basically, you can force the monsters to go for the tanks.

Anyway, just to be clear, I haven't even played Raveloft, and I wouldn't want to recommend a game I haven't played first hand; but from my understanding of the Ravenloft system, it may be more to your liking (although there is only levelling to level 2).

As an aside: I did note you say you got bored of playing WoW because it was too easy, and yet you dislike Descent because you don't like the monsters going for the squishies. Just saying...
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someotherguy wrote:
Pure idiocy.

The idea of "threat" is a tacked-on game-y mechanism with no real life equivalent. Do linemen in football use "threat" to protect the quarterback? No, they use the real-world physics principle that no two objects can occupy the same space. In other words, they get in the way, because they know that if they don't, their QB doesn't stand a chance. If you have poorly defended party members in Descent, you need to use positioning to protect them, and to quickly kill the few flying creatures that can make a mess of your positioning.

If you want a skill or ability that makes your opponents fight like a bunch of stupid automatons, attacking the best-defended character, then I suppose WoW is for you.

Also, Descent doesn't even have healers, which I love. I'm sick computer dungeon crawlers, where every challenge can be overcome by a huge pile of healing potions. I applaud Descent for being different. It isn't meant to take the place of a proper RPG, or a computer RPG. It's a boardgame with its own take on a familiar setting.

Playing too much WoW does not make you an expert at Descent.



Yeah, I played WOW for over two years and got sick of the grind. I am a huge DandD fan and was really liking 4th ed. But I think the thing that kept me from really liking it was the "threat" mechanic.

I think after I have used it I am very burnt out on it. I think 4e had the potential to be great, but I have grown to hate the idea of the tank.

Why would a creature attack the biggest and strongest and most armored guy? Wouldn't he kill the no armored guying shooting lightning bolts at him?

I like descent because of the tactics of the creatures. I play my creatures differently than many though because I don't always attack the squishy. With some creatures I see as dumb I attack the closest. (skeletons and beastmen) Sometimes I will factor in that there is a master monster and play the monsters more intelligently.
 
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