Descent

Come have an adventure in the fantasy setting of Terrinoth where players control heroes of their own choosing. Each character has different special abilities and belongs to one of the four adventuring archetypes Warrior, Healer, Scout, and Mage.  Adding to the customization are several character classes to further individualize gameplay.   For example warriors  can be anything from an enraged Berserker to a Knight more interested in defending the rest of the party.

One player (preferably the most experienced with the system) will be the overlord controlling the forces of evil players will have to combat to win quests. While the overlord doesn’t have a class they do have a great variety of monsters and abilities available providing lots of variability to their side of the game.

Descent 2nd Edition is a distillation of all the great parts of dungeon delving games that came before. Players will feel engrossed in the theme, but the game still maintains a simple rule set. On your turn you can generally only do a few simple things - attack, move, interact, or rest. Some games or systems have a hugely complicated system for combat but Descent is a dice roll based combat system depending on the weapon equipped and the defense of opponents. Any hearts rolled are damage, shields rolled are defense, and surges are used to activate special abilities. And of course there is the dreaded “X” which means every attack has a chance to miss!

The second edition of Descent is definitely the version to buy at this point, and not only because it is the only one in print. There were many improvements between the first and second editions. One of the best improvements was the shortening missions to be completed in an hour or two. Previously it could take the better part of an evening to complete a dungeon delve.

To make up for the shorter encounters the default for the second edition is based on campaigns - previously added to the first edition in an expansion. This system allows you to take the same characters through multiple encounters and have a developing story though plot quests, side missions, and events happening when you travel between those missions. Having persistent characters through the quests allows for leveling up  granting characters new and exciting abilities that are unlocked along the way. Admittedly making it quite difficult for an overlord like me to conquer the heroes!

In the summer of 2016 Fantasy Flight released “The Chains That Rust” which is the seventh expansion for the game. There are also many hero and monster packs further increasing gameplay with new unique heroes and monsters. The base set definitely includes enough to have a great game, but if Descent is a game you enjoy there is plenty of content with more investment.