Monday, 16 February 2015

Playing Descent

Finally! We finally got to play this one!

Well, it's been a time, but we managed to put our hands on the game. Our purpose being playing kind of an introductory game, we chose a simple scenario not that complicated. We played The Monster's Hoard scenario:

You can see the monsters. The hoard... well, we were kinda short of budget...
The quest consists of escorting Frederick, an old farmer who was a formidable archer in his youth, to the hoard where his magic bow of old is kept. In Descent, one player acts as the evil Overlord while the rest team up to defeat his evil plots. We chose our characters by the ancient and widely checked system of... pure random :D
We got Jain Fairwood, female Scout with her longbow; Syndrael, ironclad Elf Warrior; Widow Tarha, the She-Orc Necromancer; and Grisban the Thirsty, Dwarf Warrior.

Heroes marching towards the danger! (Epic background music)
Let's talk about the character's skills. Here you have Grisban's character sheet:

Lot of stuff, huh?
Pretty intuitive, despite containing so much information. The central column has the most relevant information you need, i.e. speed (how many squares you can move), health (how many injuries you can suffer), stamina (how many 'fatigue tokens' can you take -we'll get into that later) and defense (how many dice you'll roll when receiving an attack).
The data below relate to Might, Knowledge, Willpower and Awareness, different skills thay may be required during certain quests (avoid hidden traps, dodge special attacks...). Besides, you can see each hero has a particular ability and a 'heroic feat'. Well, all of this makes each character quite unique, that's for sure!

Each character has two actions per turn (move, attack, rest, use a skill, search...), and you can repeat them, so you can move and attack or move twice if you prefer so. So ok, that's pretty much all you need to know for the moment. Let's see some action!

Heroes scattered!
How do these dice work? (Ehrm... I mean the colous and stuff, not the dice themselves :D) When attacking, you'll use the red&blue or the yellow&blue dice. The hearts represent the wounds inflicted (the numbers are only used for distance attacks, representing the range). You can also see that small bolt on the blue die in the pic above; that's a 'surge', an intensifier for special attacks as depicted in the equipment or skills cards each character got at the beginning of the game.
I'm giving too much detail, I'll skip the details. The black die has some shields; as you can imagine, the more shields, the more effective your defending action is.

The ladies kill the Merriod boss!
Slow-mo replay! (well, some imagination required...)
For the purpose of this scenario, when a monster is slain, the Overlord can simply put it again on the board at the beginning of the next turn on the the entrance, so the heroes now will be attacked from the front and rear! (One reinforcement monster per turn maximum)

The dwarf, being the slowest, stays to gain some time for the team
The farmer runs, the Merriod pursues him, and the ladies pursue the Merriod. A little too much Benny Hill maybe?
Die, beast, die!
Uhhh, guys, I'm part of your same team, right? Seriously, stop doing this!

 Some special actions or skills produce some 'fatigue', as they are really powerful, but stamina consuming. You have to keep an eye on that, you don't want your hero to become so exhausted he can do nothing! You must sometimes put him to rest to recover (if you can!)

Our brave, selfless, devoted Dwarf friend demises, while the Ettins come forward for the rest

Demises? Not really! Heroes are considered knocked out when they lose all their health points, so they can come back for the next turn! (That's why they are heroes, right?) You roll two red dice and recover as many health points as hearts rolled (and stamina points as surges rolled). So the character will be weaker (just got beaten up!), but alive!

The team manages quite well
They found the key to the door, so they went that way, hoping to make it quicker.

Running all over like headless chickens
One of the Merriods disengaged the Dwarf and went over the rest, while a new Ettin just came into the board again.

Mayhem on the board
You sure you wanna open that door?
Told ya! Don't open the door to strangers!
With the Dwark knocked out again (and two monsters on their way to keep him like that), the grey Merriod  and the Ettin launched a two-pronged attack on the team, trying to reach the farmer.

Oooops! Sure this was part of the plan?
Trust us, we're professionals.
So now our heroes had a clear path all ahead, and all the monsters just pursuing them from the entrance. The poor Dwarf, beaten to a pulp, found no reason to keep more monsters at bay.

Come on guys, wait for me!
F%&k, these guys are quick
OK, take the VIP outta here! Now!
So after a few turns of frantic pursuit and a dying-and-coming-back Dwarf, the heroes finally put the former farmer to a firmer position :P

Out of reach!
So the heroes prevailed and conducted Frederick the legend of old to their destination. Victory!

You have seen the dynamics, I guess you could say this is some kind of evolution of dungeon explorers taking HeroQuest as the starting point. The game is simple enough to get into it in a few minutes, and the turns are quite fluid too, so everything comes down nicely. The heroes not really dying is something new (at least for me), it's fun, and the reinforcements for the Overlord make the game change from a search & kill to a pursuit, which is also nice, I believe. So good impression on the whole!
Whoah, it really took a time for us to finally play this one, but it was woth of it!


  1. Siempre he sentido curiosidad por este juego. Muchas gracias por el informe!

    1. No es nada del otro mundo, ojo, pero es entretenido, una especie de HeroQuest más desarrollado; a pesar de que me parece que tiene algún fallo de dinámicas, en general a mí me gusta :)