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

Subject: Shadow Dragons over-powered...? rss

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Chris J Davis
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Hi all,

I was wondering how people felt about Shadow Dragons in the game, as it seems to me that they are the obvious first choice for the OL whenever they are available to be chosen. Does anyone else feel this way? How do people feel they stack up against other top-tier monsters (especially those who own the Conversion Kit)?

I understand that there will obviously be some quests where maybe choosing shadow dragons isn't always optimal, depending on the quest objectives, but in terms of raw power/strength/awesomeness/whatever, how do you feel they compare to the other monsters?

All thoughts appreciated!
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Darren Nakamura
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To preface, I don't have much experience with the Conversion Kit yet; I have it, but we haven't really used it yet, aside from choosing Heroes for our second campaign.

That said, I think that it is probably true that from a pure combat standpoint, Shadow Dragons are the most powerful monster included in the base game. Shadow is great for nerfing melee heroes a bit, and Fire Breath is incredible when you're up against a group who sticks together. However, I don't think I would necessarily call Shadow Dragons "overpowered," because as you mention, certain quests are not always simply about pure damage output.

Many of the quests are races of some type; most people agree with that. While the Shadow Dragons can be useful for that because they can plug up hallways and delay the heroes, I personally find Merriods to be as good, if not better, in those situations. The Master Merriod's Reach + Flail + Immobilize can wreck a hero team's chances of getting somewhere in the amount of time you'd expect. Similarly, when the heroes have to hold the line and prevent monsters from getting through, I'd opt for Ettins because of Throw.

Are Shadow Dragons powerful? Certainly. Are they more powerful than some of their peers? Definitely in combat, and sometimes overall. Are they overpowered? I don't think so.

It would have been nice to see their inclusion in quests to be rarer than it is. I wouldn't want to oust them entirely, but since they can appear in many quests as is, it makes the Overlord victory bonus of always being able to use them (Desecrated Tomb, I think?) sort of negligible, and I could see it getting very dull for the heroes if an Overlord constantly chose the same monster, whether that monster were overpowered or not.
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John DiMaggio
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Agree with Darren, while Shadow Dragons are strong from a defensive mind-set, they do have some weakness.

One, I'd say is their massive foot-print, taking up 6 spaces can be nice for clogging hallways but can also be restrictive for the OL to try and move. Clever heroes can block the dragons ability to move about and force it to attack the tank-y hero.

I'd say it's a tad weaker than ettins as far as single target damage as it doesn't have the same umph from the bonus to surge damage that ettins get, not to mention the added benefit of throw.

Merriods having immobilize is just amazing and can cost heroes much needed actions.

Giants and trolls are quite nice but their access to more reliable AoE and stuns give them a bit more utility than shadow dragons, which again, seem to really only serve the meatshield purpose with a random AoE.

I do agree that they can be defensively among the strongest single monsters to kill, so in that respect if all you want is a wall-of-meat then yes, Shadow Dragons do tend to get over-used with the base campaign. For those scenarios where you know the heroes are going to get a massive alpha strike on your monsters, shadow dragons can be your best bet to at least get an attack in.

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Dustin Whitmire
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I don't think they are overpowered, but I do think they are incredibly defensive (high health, 2 defense dice, and shadow ability). The question around Shadow Dragons has more to do with this, than their damage output (which is great also).

They can be really frustrating for the heros because they can act like big rocks in the way that hit back; hard! Something that is really nasty to do with them is put one of them up against the Entrance tile right against the heros at the beginning of an Encounter. That way, only 2 heroes get to attack, and regardless if they are ranged or not, they have to roll a surge, and also lose the chance to add that to damage. Am I wrong here? I think that is pure pain, if you feel like the SD can withstand 4 attacks with the aid of high health, shadow, and 2 defense dice, and maybe an Overlord card or two.

I use them a lot in 4 hero games. I say this because in 2 or 3 hero games, you don't get the additional dragon figure, and with 2 heroes, you don't even get a master SD. So, in 4 hero games, they are very nasty. They lose some of that in a 2 or 3 hero setup. And there are hero skills/equipment that can neutralize their strengths a fair amount, but heros have to anticipate this and invest in it.
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demonhanz demonhanz
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Let me just say this: how thematic would it really be to have a weak dragon???
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John DiMaggio
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Yeah, I do think being able to plug in the heroes by their entrance is rather abusive cry This may be more a product of poor map design than anything else, a small 2 square connector piece could remedy this in future campaign maps.
 
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Dustin Whitmire
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JohnnyD144 wrote:
Yeah, I do think being able to plug in the heroes by their entrance is rather abusive cry This may be more a product of poor map design than anything else, a small 2 square connector piece could remedy this in future campaign maps.


Think about this too: If the SD does survive 4 attacks (which I think is entirely likely). Imagine getting Fire Breath'd right after you didn't move a single square, potentially lost 4 actions, and the overlord is off one step closer to his objective.

An example of this is The Desectrated Tomb/The DawnBlade. Both first encounters let you place the open group right next to the heroes who only have 3 space possibilites to move forward, and you can chose Shadow Dragons. There are other examples.

By the way, I've never seen in the rules where it explicitly says if the Overlord or the Heroes have to place their figures first? I assume the Overlord has to place his monster groups first, before the heroes organize on the Entrance (or starting location). Is this true? Where is it referenced?
 
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Alexander Einich
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dustwhit wrote:
By the way, I've never seen in the rules where it explicitly says if the Overlord or the Heroes have to place their figures first? I assume the Overlord has to place his monster groups first, before the heroes organize on the Entrance (or starting location). Is this true? Where is it referenced?


No, the heroes place their figures first. It is mentioned on page 5 of the rulebook:

Hero setup - 5. Place Heroes.

Overlord setup: The overlord player performs the following steps after hero players perform Hero Setup. 2. Perform Quest Setup: [...]This includes placing monster figures[...]
 
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Dustin Whitmire
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Great, thanks. That would potentially make it worse when placing a SD right up against the Entrance in these examples. The hereos might not have organized their figures in a way to give them the best opportunity to take down the SD in 4 actions.

How to make your friends never play this game again: Lesson 1. thumbsup
 
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David Wann
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One of the campaigns I have just finished playing the OL player loved the Shadow Dragons so much she picked them every opportunity she got.

Heroes developed some tactics to help deal with them. One was choosing Ashrian as a Disciple and selecting the skill that prevents adjacent monsters from attacking. She would then go front and centre adjacent to both dragons and activate the skill. The heroes would then aim to kill the master and if they failed would spread out enough that the dragon could not effectively move away. This sole character screwed over the dragons so much. We had a few quests where we were able to focus on only killing the master dragon and then isolate the dragons from the rest of the party and ignore them for the rest of the quest.

The main drawback of the dragons is thier size, isolate them and arrange ways to prevent or slow thier movement. Remember they are melee fighters so you can sometimes place your heroes in ways to avoid getting attacked altogether. (Only works against a less canny OL.)

We had a knight who would always wear the Mana Weave. A Wildlander that chose the skill that grants a surge to all attacks.

It was so effective that in this campaign we have just started the new OL is trying out other monsters instead.
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Andoni Alvarellos
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Well, I clearly don't think dragons are overpowered (though they have proven themselves very useful against my group of heroes). But on the other hand, the "The Desecrated Tomb" victory bonus won me a quest almost by itself.
 
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