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Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition)» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Complete first edition owner has his say. rss

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Vaughan Edge
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I've been following the uodates for this game on the FFG website as they appeared.FFG did a good job of promoting the game. For me it was a definite purchase. I was expecting a much improved game to first edition. If it turned out 2nd ed wasnt to my liking i would have more of everything for first edition. So far so good.

That Sinking Feeling.
The game was rolled out to local gamestores and initial reviews appeared. As i read each one a became a little more disappointed by what i was reading. Ive used the term throwing the baby out with the bathwater, this sounded like what FFG had done.
Main gripes were:
Dumbing down. I was getting the distinct impression that the game had been oversimplified. No more order tokens, the ideas behind new combat dice etc...
It's a completely different game to D1. Huh, why call it Descent then? Why not start a new franchise alltogether?
Everything is revealed on the board. No sense of exploration and adventure.
Doesn,t cater for smaller individual quests, seems it emphasises campaign play.
No treasure chests!! Gasp. I love treasure chests. The feeling of looting the dungeons and getting ever more useful goodies is D1's carrot on a stick.
Play time sounds too short
I was thinking of not buying but stuck to my guns. After all it would provide more material for first Edition quests. I ordered the game.

Game unboxing.
First impressions:
Not much of anything really. Probably size wise a little more content than the D1 expansions. Lack of items, small event deck, small search deck.
However to be fair it would appear as little compared to a complete first edition set.Times are hard blah blah so less is more. I could only think back to unboxing the original coffin box descent. It seemed packed full of goodies.
What i did like were the miniatures. I think the Elementals/Merriods and Ettins look great. Infact all the monster types seem pretty good
The dungeon/outdoor tiles. To me these are so much better than the original D1 tiles. The artwork is very thematic. There are all kinds of rooms such as labs and torture chambers.
Outdoors there are cemetries and fields. The whole tile thing buts me in mind of Mansions of Madness. I,m really impressed with the tiles.

I remained underwhelmed and disappointed. All i needed to do was set it upand confirm this. Right?

This is a pure asessment from learning the rules solo. I have no group experience with second edition yet so take what you will from this review.

To understand where i am coming from with second edition i will need to make some statements about first edition.
Our group has been playing D1 for about 3 yrs.
We enjoy it. Some of us are ex-roleplayers. Those who have only played roleplayng videogames enjoy it too.
I loved to explore the dungeons, campaign or no. Take down the enemies and buff myself up for the showdown.
Great but,but...
A game could become a pure exercise in attrition. I don't mind playing a game like this for 4-5 hrs. So long as there is progress. Personally as OL i would cut the players some slack and perhaps be mean right at the end. I remember playing as an adventurer and needing a key from a master monster. Said master monster was undying and was on gold or platinum level. He was an absolute b*****d to kill. Oh and did we kill him, again and again and again. Meanwhile the monster spawns kept filling up the room. 4 hours late we conceded the campaign. This had happened several times in a year campaign. We had asked OL to house rule undying to respawn once only but he overruled our objections.
You can have great fun with D1 but it can just become an outright lesson in attrition as the OL keeps respawning. Some levels it is impossible to man the shadows to prevent the monster spawns and then
you start grinding your teeth, go glassy eyed, and wish you had gone for that meal with your GF.
This is why people urge the OL to facilitate a better experience. People argue that its not an RPG and OL should play to win. If you have RPG experience as DM (i do) then you can play as OL to give the players an adventure and enjoy it just as much.
I digress, i like D1 but it really can bog itself down with the wrong OL.

I have played through the Introduction and Castle Daerion so far and so far i am pleasantly surprised by how it plays out.
First and most importantly too me is the attrition aspect. Each quest seems to have clear objectives. Once achieved its on to the next area or the campaign phase of the game.
The monster spawns are handled much better. The castle Daerion quest is tough but initial impressions leave me confident that i won't have to single handedly fight the hordes of Mordor anymore.Just that one card reinforce rather than an OL deck that literally spews baddies. Then the undying is managed well with rise again. The monster rises for one turn and then dies for ever.

Great. It needs to do more than this to please me. I listed under sinking feeling i have listed my main concerns about D2. It would appear that they are unfounded. Its early days but my dislikes have become likes.
Not much of anything. Less really is more. I,m not bogged down with components and can have the game set up in 10 minutes. There is enough here for campaign and to begin developing your own quests.

IT ISN'T dumbed down. The monster cards and status cards are just the ticket.They have all the info you need in the heat of combat.No flicking through rulebooks.
The combat is less "mathy" but this was never an issue for me with D1.Its quite satisfying that an attack can be resolved quickly and give it some urgency.
The class system looks really promising and gives a traditional RPG feel to the tactics. It should encourage more teamwork.

At heart its still Descent. I believe this anyway. It is a refined version of the game. The campaign is its main strength. Some have been put off by this. Me too. Not sure i would want to take individual quests from the campaign and play them alone. There is no XP gained and no character progression. The Epic option just seems tagged on and is not my idea of progression. There is nothing stopping people developing mini campaigns. Maybe one XP point per master monster. You could design a Dungeon with max of 3-5 XP. Do away with the campaign phase and have rally points in the dungeon where they could spend XP. Perhaps even a shopkeeper. WHY NOT. Think Resident Evil 4 or some of the japanese roleplayers.

Everything revealed, no exploration. Looking at many of the quests all the monsters are revealed from the get go. Mainly because they are actively chasing objectives. It gives the OL more to do than just kill the heroes. It adds depth to each encounter. This really surprised me but i like what FFG have done here. Each encounter in the campaign reaaly has a narrative. Infact i feel this is going to be more RPGish than D1. Will explain below.

No treasure chests. I don't care anymore. You have a 1 in 12 chance of finding a chest when you search. Who is to say the item you find within will be relevant. Usually you will find potions. The potions are so much more effective now it van be good to find them. I am making my videogaming background apparent here. "Wizard is about to die" anyone? that moment in Gauntlet where you here thet quote and then find a health potion. MINT. It can happen in D2 too.

Shortened play time. In retrospect its a good thing. I can see us having more control over our play time. The campaign is much shorter as well (estimates about 20 hrs). I think my group would play several quests so would have it done in 3-4 sessions.

The campaign is one of the most impressive things about the game. This is what gives it the RPGish effect. I love the art on the map. The quest book is great. Each little adventure has a mini story. Setting up and playing Castle Daerion i could see lots of oppurtunity to add to the games narrative. For instance, on the way to the castle one of the travel cards required each player to roll against awareness. Each failed roll netted the overlord a card from his OL deck. Rather than just read the card you could explain to the players that they see shadowy figures in the trees, make an awareness roll. If they fail explain how spies have listened in on there conversation and will reveal
some of the players plans to the OL. There are lots of oppurtinities for this in the encounters as well.

I love the way the quest book is like an adventure module. Its one complete adventure that could be played 2-3 times. I'm hoping any expansions are structured around similar campaigns with a similar quest book.

I confess i am pleasantly surprised by D2. All my games will play with D2 rules now. I think this is the dungeon crawler i had hoped for. It has lots of potential. Conversion kit is a must buy for me. Not sure if D2 and D1 tile fit together but if so i have alot of stuff for designing own campaigns. FFG, you done good.
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Jon Ben
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Thanks for your thoughts. I'm also a D1 veteran of many years. I opened up my copy of D2 yesterday with a little hesitation. I was likewise blown away by what I found.

Doing away with the conquest points and having more mission based quests is brilliant. Win or lose you get something in the campaign mode and move on to the next adventure. The OL isn't necessarily hell bent on destroying heroes to deplete conquest points, she doesn't have to save threat counters or worry about that whole card economy. No longer will a single Beastman war party take out half the team.

It seems like they've structured the expansions to be new campaign settings and that seems like a great idea! New heroes, tiles, monsters and a world of adventure for them to take on.

The components are great, having the conditions on cards is so amazingly awesome, no more looking through the rule book. Plus all conditions work the same way, needing you to actually do damage to inflict. The map tiles are very good as you point out but it might be nice to see terrain like in D1 for creating your own quests. Of course I have a bag of pit traps, water and rocks so I'm good.

Anyway I'm rambling on, you did a great job. I will add one more thing that I was very happy about, the women of Descent second edition. Half the heroes are female, which is nice to see, but what really surprised me was that they are all wearing clothing. The female warrior looks like a warrior, not some sexed up wet dream with a steel-plated bra on. It's sad that these kind of non-sexist representations are surprising, but there you go.
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Soylent Green
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Glad to hear your experience! I have every 1e item, expansion, etc. (except for the metal figures... only a couple of those) and I came out of the terrinoth event so excited about 2e.

I had a night last week where I sorted and packed up all my 1e stuff. I just don't see using it anymore... (at least not for a long time.)

I kept a few things - the stomach tile... I mean - come on - I want to have it for when they get swallowed.

I took out some stair tokens (there is a quest where there are stairs) and I took out all the cooper coins. Just so we can give 50 coins to the hero who kills the master monster... they will be meaningless - but hey - I have them all why not!

I think there were a couple of other items I pulled... can't remember. I hope to make use of some of the tiles... I want to convert some of my favorite 1e quests into 2e quests - but I think I will try that with 2e tiles first and see if I can't get "close enough" instead of using 1e tiles... we'll see.

That said - it was a little sad to box up all of the first edition stuff - a LOT of cardboard will never get used again. But having all of the 1e plastic to use in 2e really excites me to get to play more!
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Dr. Healex
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D1 and D2 tiles do not fit together. The tiles are "just" different enough to not allow them to fit together.
I also feel that the conversion kit is a must buy, even if you don't own d1. More monsters and heroes are a very good thing

I wish you the best on your first experiences PLAYING this version.
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Michael Hancock-Parmer
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I've posted in Descent 1e and 2e fora, but I would just say that any 1e folks looking to play some more 2e ruled adventures with their 1e sets should be happy to hear that my 1.5e Rulebook and Quest Guide are off to a good start. I have a couple quests waiting to play test this weekend with a rule book ready for corrections, etc. I imagine this is more good news for those not interested in buying 2e (just yet, waiting for Christmas, or ever). I am certainly looking forward to offering my gaming friends the option of 6-hour Descent or 90 minute 1.5 Descent.
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Kelly Overholser
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I'd say that the coins from D1 could easily be used in D2 as a way to track hero treasure during a session. At the start, hand out whatever coins they had left over from the previous game, and whenever they get a search card, give them the gold from it right away. Makes keeping track of how much gold they have a bit easier if you don't have the record sheet handy.
 
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Todd
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JonBen wrote:


Anyway I'm rambling on, you did a great job. I will add one more thing that I was very happy about, the women of Descent second edition. Half the heroes are female, which is nice to see, but what really surprised me was that they are all wearing clothing. The female warrior looks like a warrior, not some sexed up wet dream with a steel-plated bra on. It's sad that these kind of non-sexist representations are surprising, but there you go.


That is fantastic. I think that Defenders of the Realm also does an okay with it's female characters.

So I never purchased descent in the past because I heard that the game was fiddly and took at least 6 hours to play.

So one adventure can be completed in 2 hours?

How difficult is it to teach?

If not playing a campaign do the individual adventures have good replayability?

Are there real decisions? I dislike Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft Board Game because it feels repetitive....fight, move, fight, move...nothing to think about.

Thanks for a great review.
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David Moffett
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Todd,

Quests are broken into two encounters and while it's messier than stopping after a whole quest is completed you can stop halfway through a quest between encounters, this breaks the game into delightful bite-sized chunks.

It's very, very easy to teach. My girlfriend is a fan of simpler games (Kingdom Builder, Alhambra, Ascension, etc.) and she not only picked it up quickly but she liked it. I was flabbergasted because she usually hates this style of game and thought Descent 1e was the worst thing ever.

I think there are interesting decisions, certainly more interesting than Ravenloft.
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Georg D.
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Tiddleydwarf wrote:

This is why people urge the OL to facilitate a better experience. People argue that its not an RPG and OL should play to win. If you have RPG experience as DM (i do) then you can play as OL to give the players an adventure and enjoy it just as much.
I digress, i like D1 but it really can bog itself down with the wrong OL.

I'm in the camp which claim the highlighted sentence is true. BUT if yu play it thi way you need a reasonable OL. If we realised that some aspect of the game make it not fun we houseruled it. (undying and net were ome of the first things we houeruled) I as OL had never a problem with nerfing the OL. But this should happen before the game starts. After the game starts I want to play hard and mean *g* (within the agreed rules).

Quote:

At heart its still Descent. I believe this anyway. It is a refined version of the game. The campaign is its main strength. Some have been put off by this. Me too. Not sure i would want to take individual quests from the campaign and play them alone. There is no XP gained and no character progression. The Epic option just seems tagged on and is not my idea of progression.

Unfortunately this is exactly my problem with D2e :-(

Quote:

There is nothing stopping people developing mini campaigns.

I hope there will be some good ideas how to do this soon.



Beside this thanks for sharing your thoughts. Except for the focus on campaigns we had the same problems with D2e. As you have no more problems now I hope I won't have them too.
 
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Hank B
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JonBen wrote:
The female warrior looks like a warrior, not some sexed up wet dream with a steel-plated bra on. It's sad that these kind of non-sexist representations are surprising, but there you go.


Lame. It's called FANTASY for a reason.

On topic, I am looking to get into a dungeon crawler and have Runebound on the way, great review and looking seriously at this game. After all this would be a great time to jump in.
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Wade Fox
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I've almost finished the campaign with my son, and one thing I think people need to be aware of going into second edition is that it is a lot more unforgiving than the first edition. As a player, especially, if you are not thinking about your objective and how to stop the overlord's objective, you're sunk. You have to really think tactically. I don't think it is dumbed down at all.
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Justin Smith

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wadefox wrote:
I've almost finished the campaign with my son, and one thing I think people need to be aware of going into second edition is that it is a lot more unforgiving than the first edition. As a player, especially, if you are not thinking about your objective and how to stop the overlord's objective, you're sunk. You have to really think tactically. I don't think it is dumbed down at all.


Mechanically it is dumbed down, as far as tactics and strategy: not so much.
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Wade Fox
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One great thing about the shorter games. It now has that "let's play again factor." As a result, I've played a lot of Descent since last Friday, more than I've played of first edition in a long time. I do miss the really epic games a bit, but you could set up an epic game with these rules, too, I think.
 
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Cody Konior
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This was a crazy good, well-written review... a damn emotional roller coaster!
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Ian Allen
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JonBen wrote:
some sexed up wet dream with a steel-plated bra on.


I'll be in my bunk.
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Tristan Brightman
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Hank34 wrote:
JonBen wrote:
The female warrior looks like a warrior, not some sexed up wet dream with a steel-plated bra on. It's sad that these kind of non-sexist representations are surprising, but there you go.


Lame. It's called FANTASY for a reason.

On topic, I am looking to get into a dungeon crawler and have Runebound on the way, great review and looking seriously at this game. After all this would be a great time to jump in.


Wait, your fantasy is a world where people don't rail against misogyny?

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Hank B
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supertris wrote:
Hank34 wrote:
[q="JonBen"] The female warrior looks like a warrior, not some sexed up wet dream with a steel-plated bra on. It's sad that these kind of non-sexist representations are surprising, but there you go.


Lame. It's called FANTASY for a reason.

q]

Wait, your fantasy is a world where people don't rail against misogyny?



Calling a drawing of a warrior woman, who happens to be dressed sexy at the same time, misogyny is part of the problem. Have fun at the bra-burning (wait that could actually not be that bad), I have revoked your man-card in advance. If you ever think, "Gee that cartoon should put some clothes on," you are already lost. You stick with "Bertha, the Viking Warrior Hag." I'll take "Alexis, the Seductive Sorceress," any day of the week.
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Ian McCarthy
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Hank34 wrote:
supertris wrote:
Hank34 wrote:
[q="JonBen"] The female warrior looks like a warrior, not some sexed up wet dream with a steel-plated bra on. It's sad that these kind of non-sexist representations are surprising, but there you go.


Lame. It's called FANTASY for a reason.

q]

Wait, your fantasy is a world where people don't rail against misogyny?



Calling a drawing of a warrior woman, who happens to be dressed sexy at the same time, misogyny is part of the problem. Have fun at the bra-burning (wait that could actually not be that bad), I have revoked your man-card in advance. If you ever think, "Gee that cartoon should put some clothes on," you are already lost. You stick with "Bertha, the Viking Warrior Hag." I'll take "Alexis, the Seductive Sorceress," any day of the week.


Haven't gotten any lately, have we?
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Hank B
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KenToad wrote:
Hank34 wrote:
supertris wrote:
Hank34 wrote:
[q="JonBen"] The female warrior looks like a warrior, not some sexed up wet dream with a steel-plated bra on. It's sad that these kind of non-sexist representations are surprising, but there you go.


Lame. It's called FANTASY for a reason.

q]

Wait, your fantasy is a world where people don't rail against misogyny?



Calling a drawing of a warrior woman, who happens to be dressed sexy at the same time, misogyny is part of the problem. Have fun at the bra-burning (wait that could actually not be that bad), I have revoked your man-card in advance. If you ever think, "Gee that cartoon should put some clothes on," you are already lost. You stick with "Bertha, the Viking Warrior Hag." I'll take "Alexis, the Seductive Sorceress," any day of the week.


Haven't gotten any lately, have we?


Ha... No I'm set in that department. Just tired of PC asshats ruining things for the rest of us.
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The Galaxy is Just Packed!
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Hank34 wrote:
...asshats ruining things for the rest of us.


Ironic.
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Hank B
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bryanwinter wrote:
Hank34 wrote:
...asshats ruining things for the rest of us.


Ironic.


I'm not the one complaining about cartoon drawings.
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Hank B
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Also, I'm not trying to derail this guys awesome thread by getting into a debate on whether or not its great to be PC these days. Normal men should like that sort of stuff, thats all I'll say. Lastly, if you want to go the sensitive route, by all means go for it, hope it works out for you. But beware:

Dang it, tried to embed a youtube clip but its not working. Here is the link though...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvR6d08L3nc
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Ian McCarthy
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Hank34 wrote:
KenToad wrote:
Hank34 wrote:
supertris wrote:
Hank34 wrote:
[q="JonBen"] The female warrior looks like a warrior, not some sexed up wet dream with a steel-plated bra on. It's sad that these kind of non-sexist representations are surprising, but there you go.


Lame. It's called FANTASY for a reason.

q]

Wait, your fantasy is a world where people don't rail against misogyny?



Calling a drawing of a warrior woman, who happens to be dressed sexy at the same time, misogyny is part of the problem. Have fun at the bra-burning (wait that could actually not be that bad), I have revoked your man-card in advance. If you ever think, "Gee that cartoon should put some clothes on," you are already lost. You stick with "Bertha, the Viking Warrior Hag." I'll take "Alexis, the Seductive Sorceress," any day of the week.


Haven't gotten any lately, have we?


Ha... No I'm set in that department. Just tired of PC asshats ruining things for the rest of us.


Well, it's obvious that you don't have a daughter. As for a sex life, maybe you should focus your fantasies somewhere other than board games?
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Hank B
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Scantily clad women have been a part of the fantasy genre since its inception (see the work of Frank Frazetta for examples) and now all that has to change because you have a daughter? GTFO

Maybe you shouldn't be playing a game where you kill mosters, zombies, and demons with such an impressionable young one around.
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Jan Tuijp
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I do have a daughter at a very impressionable age and I still like my fantasy heroines scantily clad...

I happen to think children can see the difference between boardgames and real life. Besides, when scantily clad women are a problem, you have to shoot your television set, cancel all trips to the beach, cancel all trips whatsoever (because of all the ads with virtually naked women) and pretty much stay indoors for the remainder of your life.

By the way: why isn't anyone complaining about all the barechested heroes in these boardgames? I sense homo erotic tendencies...

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