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Descent: Journeys in the Dark» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Two Plays, Zero Finishes rss

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Justin Borges
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[**I should not have to warn you, but there are minor spoilers below**]

There seems to be a consistent problem with games that I've played lately: great games, great fun, but no finishing!
Before I go on with Descent, here is a list of games that I've begun but never got to finish: Conquest of the Empire (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/85967) we got half-way through, but were never able to set up the end games Now we have to start all over. Crusader Rex (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/97304) three tries, no finishes. Twilight Imperium yeah, this is a long game so it's not surprising we did not get it finished completely...but still! And this is not to mention a handful of other large and small games. Geez.
Now add to the pile Descent: Journeys in the Dark x2.

Session One:
Nelson was very happy to pick up an expensive, hefty, yet very cool looking Descent a number of weeks ago. It's always a great experience gaming with Nelson, especially so when HE buys the big games -i.e. Conquest and now Descent
We were also able to hook in Nelson's cousin-in-law, of sorts, Dan. We recently got him into playing more and more games, just the guys and also with the wives, and we've even got him coming out to the monthly Canucks Amuck meetups. I think he is surprised how much fun you can have doing geeky stuff like this.

So we gathered at Nelson's place on January 20th (the day after my great rolling run in Crusader Rex), while their wives were out for dinner and my girlfriend didn't really care where I was.
We began by punching and sorting all of the many, many little bits, and got set to play Quest 1 as quickly as possible.
Away we went.
Nelson was the Overlord, Dan was Trenloe the Strong and I was Red Scorpion. We had some pretty good Skills dealt to us. Dan had one ability for Readying, one for Battling and one for Advancing, which was a great balance. He also bought the big sword and the daggar as his starting weapons. I got some good Ranged combat skills, which is good, because ranged is usually my choice in fantasy games. I took the crossbow and the daggar as my starting weapons, which I later realised was kinda silly. After playing the game some you get to know how to properly equip yourself.
We also weren't 100% on the rules, as both Nelson and I only had limited time reading up on them (and I only got a few pages in ). One thing we didn't do properly was the hero's backpacks. Also some of the little things, like the Overlord getting a token for each pair of surges rolled, and some others. Overall, though, what we forgot/got wrong did not completely alter the outcome. We went into it knowing it was a learning game for all three of us.
Room one went well. Each of us was getting used to this type of game, i.e. having an Overlord, spawning, the special dice rolls (although I did sit in on a game of Doom not long ago). Both Overlord and heroes took a lickin', but Dan and I worked together and used our abilities pretty well.
We got through room 3 and then room 2 pretty well. A lot of back and forth craziness. We never died, but Nelson did go through his deck once. The game took HOURS to play out to the end of the third room (room 2, but we did the order differently). We had even laid out the entire map beforehand, thinking it would save time, and it still took some time. We decided to call it at the end of the third room, considering it was already past 1 a.m. Although once we cleaned up we got in a game of Carcassonne anyway (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/97105)

Our thoughts on the game were all positive. The game seemed quite balanced, with the Overlord having some real advantages in some areas, and the heroes in others. The big thing was it is a FUN game. Nelson forgot to read half of the quest storyline (dumb-dumb), but it still felt like we were watching the heroes, or better yet playing a dungeon-crawling video game. Working together really helped us out to defeat the Overlord's minions. It would have been nice to finish, considering we had one more room to go, but we learned a lot and it was late, so the best we could do was prepare for the next game...

...which came a week later!
It was now the monthly meetup for Canucks Amuck, Saturday the 28th.
Now we introduced into the Descent fold Steve M, who owns and has played Doom. With a quick introduction to this version of the system, Steve was ready and we got into game number two, with Quest 2.
Nelson was Overlord again this time, but this time prepared each room on a separate table, hidden from us so we wouldn't know what to come up against.
We had a nice range of characters: Dan had Trenloe the Strong again, Steve picked up Andira Runehand, and I took Bogran the Shadow. I'll spare the details regarding skills and equipment, but we had the ones that were relative to our characters.
The main room went pretty quickly as we were all familiar combat and knew how to work together to get the best results.
Entering Room 1 was a treat, seeing the giant at the end of the hall. This was going to be a tough one! Little did we know that he REALLY was going to be a tough one with his regenerative ability. Trenloe was strong in close combat, but he was slow. Andira was good at close combat as well with her +2 Pierce, but she just couldn't do enough damage to really hurt the giant. That left Bogran, me, to do the dirty work. I had a nice ranged attack, and the speed to move in and out for hit-and-run attacks as the giant came down the hallway. Plus, my "no-see-um" bonus ability (+2 damage if the monster can't see me at the beginning of the turn) really helped. So I was able to whittle down the giant to his demise. However, how surprised were we when we found out all he did was giggle, and prepared to come back in TWO turns! That was a shocker. And that, in fact, was how I died, when he came back and swiped me dead. Grr. However, we eventually managed to clear the area so that Trenloe could run up and open the portal to the town, and open up the treasure chest. How beautiful it was when we each got TWO gold (I believe it was) treasures...and GREAT ones at that! Out of six treasures, all of them were usable by us (three by me!). After some rearranging in subsequent turns, Steve (Andira) had a super-damaging magical weapon ("Ice" something), Dan (Trenloe) had the serpent sword that was a killer, and I (Bogran) had the 'death disk' a la Xena: Warrior Princess. I even made the "ayayayaya" yell I also had a level-3 shield and a rune that gave me +2 Range and +1 damage. Thus, we were all doing upwards of 10 points of damage on all but the worst rolls. This was because we had superior weapons, plus our skills that REALLY helped out - Andira had Command and Trenloe had Leadership, which both helped me when it was time to defeat the giant (both times). Now my ranged attacks were almost super-human. The only thing is, when we got to the second room's doorway, a trap was sprung and I got stunned...which would stall me just long enough to not be able to make anymore attacks for the rest of the game
I had ULTIMATE power, but I was stunned into not being able to use it! Trenloe came charging in to help Andira and I (Trenloe was still in the first room), but in a matter of two turns the game was over.
"But you said the game didn't finish, Justin," you're saying, right? Well technically, the game DIDN'T, because there was some sort of token miscalculation that we realised later on: Steve had three conquest tokens in front of him, when he should have had six (starting 5, plus 2 for the portal opening, plus 2 from the chest, minus 3 from Nelson going through the deck once). His death SHOULD have cut that in half to three, but because of the error we thought the game was over! It was not until we were heading to the car about an hour later that we did the math and realised the mistake. D'OH!

So, the second experience was another successful one in terms of learning, but a bust in terms of finishing. However, everyone had fun and enjoyed the game, and we're all looking forward to the next one.
Some notes after playing the second game:
1) The heroes definitely have to work together. Whether this means sticking together or spreading out, it always includes using abilities and Skills that can aid each other in the Quest. For instance, when I stuck with Andira, I had +1 to Range and Damage (Command), which was great. Plus, Trenloe was able to let ME gain a ready order (Leadership), so I could Battle and then attack again on the Overlord's turn. So I was the cannon, loaded by Dan and fired by Steve.
2) We finally got the equipment/equipping rules down and they work great. It pays to know how things really work. Especially once you get access to VERY high-end weaponry.
3) When the Overlord learns to use cards in combinations, things will get ugly for the heroes. For instance, one card (something about a gust of wind) lowers the heroes' line of sight range to only five. Couple this with a good spawn card and you have a couple of fire-breathing hellhounds causing quite the ruckus. When you play the Overlord, make sure you know what each card you have does, and the powers of each monster in play...you can make it really hard for the heroes when you know what's going on.

Well, thanks for reading. Sorry it's all over the place (more than usual), but I had to write it over two days at different times. My next report on this game should be a bit more organised. Promise.

Now, go play this game!
 
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Bobb Beauchamp
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Volo
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We're up through Quest 6, having taken 4 attempts to get through Quest 1, and needing 2 attempts before the heroes won Quest 2. We're still missing rules. We have most of the game rules down, but I, as OL, missed a Quest specific rule in #6.

Descent isn't really rule heavy, it's just got a number of rules that are particular to this game, and maybe Doom. Once you get the hang of them, it flows much faster. But it still takes a while to play. Set-up can take a while, and take down as well. And each pair of hero/OL turns can run several minutes, especially when the OL has a room full o monster to play with.

But I think Descent is a great game. At times, I'd rather play a proper RPG, but Descent offers a lot of the fun of a RPG without a lot of the preperatory work.arrrh
 
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Justin Borges
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Hrm, D&D. I think that's even a little too hardcore for me. Actually, a few years ago I was trying to get SOMEONE to play D&D with me, because I had a set...but just no one to play with.
I think Descent is a good alternative, because it doesn't have the geeky stigma attached to it (not that I care, because I'm a geek myself, but I think it's easier to get people to get into games like this). I think the colourful and big plastic pieces help draw some people in who would not normally go for a Fantasy-type game.

I do love this game. With each game we get closer and closer to actually understanding the full rules and the intricacies within the game. As well, WITHIN each game, after a couple of turns things start going pretty fast.
It's all about playing until you get it down. I don't mind that we don't catch all the rules and miss little things throughout the game, because we're still having a heck of a lot of fun with it.
When we go through the same Quests again later, the surprise factor won't be as great, but every game is different. Which means high replayability. Add to that the high number of home-made Quests out there, I think this game can do well.

I look forward to having a go at Overlording, as well as just playing as much as possible.
Thanks for checking my SR out, by the way.
 
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Joachim Pehl
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I can recommend the fanmaded Quest:"The rescue"and "Tower of Lowar" bothy shouln't last longer then 2 1/2 hours .
 
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Steve M.
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It is still a great game even with the long playing time... I can't wait to play it again. My character was a little weak but once I got another ruin for my magic attacks I was able to lay the smackdown before I was killed.

It got me so excited that I picked up the Doom Expansion to bring that one out again! It's a very fun system that Kevin Wilson has!
 
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Justin Borges
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Joachim, thanks for the suggestions. I'll get Nelson, who owns the game, to print those up and we'll try those the next time we have a time limit. It's great to see so many fanmade Quests already.

Yeah Steve, it's a great system. I would like to get some real gaming experience with Doom, not just watching I'll even take control of a couple of marines, that way they'll be sure to work together.
 
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