Wednesday 8 January 2014

Descent: Journeys in the Dark

Before any confusion arises this is about the second edition of the board game, Descent: Journeys in the Dark. Not sure why it has the "Journeys in the Dark" part as most of the quests that I've seen take place above ground. This game is semi co-op, designed to be played with a maximum of four hero characters and one player who acts as the evil overlord for the campaign, which consists of many quests - majority of which come in two parts, which ever side wins the first part usually sees some sort of advantage in the second.

These quests come in a very wide variety of areas given that the board can pulled apart and reassambled as needed and the figures used for the monsters and heroes are really cool! Most quests work on the basis of the heroes (or overlord) must accomplish x before the otherside does y. This keeps the pace of each encounter really fast and really gets the adrenaline pumping, pitting tactics and luck against each other. Often times the overlord has infinite monstrous reinforcements pouring into the board but so far in our campaign he has failed to win every quest in the first act, though often it has come down to a single dice roll that fell in the heroes favor.

Red colored minis are stronger than their white counterparts.

Now's a good time to mention how the campaign works too - apart from the introductory quest the heroes get to pick to do three out of five act 1 adventures before an interlude quest (two versions, depending who is winning I think). In act 2, you then run the continuation of each of the first 3 quests based on who won the previous one. That totals up to 15 optional quests (you will only play 6 of in a campaign), which then closes with an ending quest which again has two versions, depending who has had more wins. A scoresheet pad provided makes it easy to keep track of each session too when you need to pack up.

Lastly everyone levels up. While heroes can buy gear from the shops in-between quests they can also spend XP points to purchase more skill cards for their chosen hero, the most expensive for which are 3 XP. Given that you usually only gain 1 XP after a whole two-part optional quest, you can see that those would be hard earned. The evil overlord too gains experience. He spends his on getting better "evil power" cards that can really mess up the heroes via traps or giving his minions an edge. He can also win himself evil versions of the awesome magical gear the players can get, if they lose their missions.

All in all it makes for a pretty damned good game, with each quest part running around about 30-45 minutes (still a heck of a lot faster than a round of Arkham Horror). My only problems with it are that it can be hard to pack with the heavy minatures, and can really bring out the competitiveness of some people because in the end it IS a competitive game. To that end I give it 4 out of 5 torches in the dark.

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