Hello there, folks!
Deathwatch was postponed this Sunday so my journey into new and exciting boardgames continues. New to me at least, as I’ve seen this Descent on the shelves of the Games Shop for years.
The box is HUGE, but it needs to be for the sheer amount of items it contains. You get a large amount of plastic Hero and Monster figures, Space Hulk style clip together dungeon floor plans, game specific dice, cards, tokens and a decent sized rulebook! Everything is nicely sculpted and the artwork is pretty good. I think it retails for about £60 which seems pretty reasonable for what you get.
Note: Searching for some links for this post I realised Descent is actually a Fantasy Flight game so I’m not surprised at its high quality.
The game boils down to a good, old-fashioned dungeon bash. Five of us took part in the game, one as the Dungeon Master (more on this in a bit) and four as the adventuring party. The adventurers pick their characters at random from a deck of cards, collect tokens equal to the stats shown on their cards and buy items from another deck with their starting money. All the while the DM is setting up the dungeon. The game comes with some premade adventures which also details how the floor plan should be laid out and which monsters are present.
Now the part I found really interesting about the game, and also quite jarring. The Dungeon Master in Descent hates you. It is actually their job to beat your party into the ground and make you fail the dungeon, if they do so they win the game. After years of playing Dungeons & Dragons you are trained to think that the DM is on your side. They should be there to weave a wonderful tale, and while the adventure should be challenging and filled with peril, it is usually seen as a bad thing if the entire party dies in one session. For a lot of the game I had this D&D mentality in my head which is wrong. The dungeon master is you opponent and is to be feared.
It seems they have a fair amount of tools at their disposal as well. Not having DM-ed myself yet I can’t give you an in-depth insight into this, but from what I can gather as the game progresses they accumulate Threat tokens as well as a deck of special effect cards. Some of the effects could be one of the adventurers stumbles down a spike pit trap, or dark runes cause one party member to attack his allies. I believe each card has a Threat cost that must be spent from the accumulated Threat token pool. When initially looking at the rules for combat and the odd dice Descent grants you, things can seem a bit daunting, but after a couple of rolls new players should quickly understand how the system works.
I think the main game comes with a fair few adventures to play through, and there are many expansions you can pick up. You can even play with a little as two players, one DM-ing and one controlling the party, rather than just one character. It takes a few hours to play but nothing quite as long as maybe Monopoly or Talisman. I’d probably say that I find it more enjoyable than Space Hulk as well, because I find the system offers you more freedom when playing.
All in all Descent is pretty decent!
Bevis the Pierced
Climbing out a Spike Pit.