View Full Version : Descent, the boardgame

Jair Barik
2011-09-10, 04:54 AM
Right. Without telling me anything about the specifics of this game (it is complicated as to why) can anyone who has heard of or played this say what they think of it. Is it good, is it replayable, is it fun/the type of thing somebody who frequents these boards would enjoy?

2011-09-10, 10:45 AM
It's fun. I've played it a lot, and it definately has replayability. It's basically a dungoncrawl rpg without the "rpg". The ones I play it with all like roleplaying games, and my general impression is that if you like rpgs like DnD, you'll probably enjoy Descent.

* very tactical
* inspired by rpgs
* lots of content
* quite a lot of variety, especially with expansion packs
* fun

* Long set-up time with all the dozens and dozens of different dungeon tiles, monsters, cards, tokens etc. Long clean-up time.
* Usually takes a long time to play. For us, a dungeon usually takes about 4-5 hours.
* Some poorly though out details.

Basically, it's a game for 2-5 players (most fun with 3 or 5 players) where one player is the Overlord, and the other players are heroes. The heroes must complete a dungeon, which usually means killing a boss monster. On the way, you kill a lot of monsters, gather loot and get ganged up on by monsters and killed (after which you are quickly respawned). The overlords goal is to kill the heroes enough times to make them run out of points. The game consists of a lot of cards, plastic figures and dungeon map tiles. The basic game comes with 9 different dungeons. There are multiple expansion packs adding new features, monster, heroes and dungeons that make the game even more fun, and further enhances replayability.

2011-09-10, 11:01 AM
Zaggab nails it in every way. Descent is a fun game, but it does take awhile. The setup is rather laborious, but I find it's worth it. My group was able bend the rules to have a sixth player without too much difficulty as well.

The one thing that wasn't mentioned is that the game is EXPENSIVE. The base game is $89.95 off the Fantasy Flight Games website, and the expansions cost as much as standalone board games as well. Road to Legend is the first expansion I'd suggest picking up, as it turns the game from just dungeons into a full-blown campaign, and adds more depth and replayability to the game.

But if that's not a problem, the game is definitely worth playing in my opinion. It does bear similarities to a D&D dungeon crawl, but a better comparison would be a much more detailed and customizable HeroQuest.

2011-09-10, 11:08 AM
The game itself is a lot of fun but the box is enormous and is by far the heaviest board game I own... mostly because of all the pieces.

Jair Barik
2011-09-10, 11:17 AM
The reason I'm asking is that my 21st is coming up and my dad has been really struggling to come up with an idea of what to get, so he gave me the name to check with you guys wether it would be the type of thing someone like me would like without giving too much detail away.

2011-09-10, 01:50 PM
I'll add to the list of cons the fact that, every time I've played, the end of the game is ridiculously easy. After gathering up some treasures, it kind of feels like most characters are a bit invincible.

Capt Spanner
2011-09-10, 01:51 PM
I do quite enjoy that the game is DM vs players, but I've never seen a DM win and I've played it quite a bit.

I do enjoy it, but the DM needs to know what they're doing to even stand a chance against a half-aware team. The monster strengths don't scale very well between three and four players, and players get far too much loot. By the end of the game players can one hit kill anything. Including the final boss.

It's a really enjoyable game, but not without flaws. Prepare to implement a lot of house rules to balance it.

2011-09-10, 08:43 PM
I play this game with my friends on occasion. It's a very fun game. It's sort of a "Lite D&D".

The only concern is that you need a gaming group who is willing and able to sit around for 4 or 5 hours. You can take breaks in between, but it's problematic when someone has to leave or arrive late or anything like that.

2011-09-10, 09:48 PM
I'll add to the list of cons the fact that, every time I've played, the end of the game is ridiculously easy. After gathering up some treasures, it kind of feels like most characters are a bit invincible.

I've seen that happen, but I've also seen the players get screwed by poor treasures and abilities. Some combos in the game synergize very nicely, and the game isn't calibrated to beat you if you hit them. Unlike D&D though, you have little control over your build so you won't necessarily get any of those combos.

Descent is a worthwhile game. I'm not sure it's worth the price tag, so it is good present material. If you're into other RPGs, the plastic minis from Descent can be recycled pretty easily.

2011-09-11, 02:05 AM
My gaming group must be done something wrong. I've never played it with them (I've always somehow been absent) but they stopped playing because they said it was completely impossible for the players to win. Granted the guys have spectacularly bad luck with dice and no sense of tactics so maybe that's a lil something to do with it...

2011-09-11, 04:03 AM
The one trick for the overlord is to pick on the character with the least armour or generally the weakest character and beat the living hell out of that character till it dies. Then move on to the next.

It is a fun game though We have tried to play it with a 5th hero but you need to make some changes to balance it out for the overlord. Been a while since we tried with the extra player, but I think the trick was adding more one or 2 black dice to the monster for each extra hero character.

If you can pick up the other expansions as well. The road to legend expansion also let's you save your progress so to speak. Each player gets a little box to put his current stuff in and a pad of paper to keep track of location of the party and what dungeons they went through etc.

2011-09-11, 05:46 AM
Regarding Heroes/Overlord balance:
While it's true that heroes can start oneshoting most monsters quite soon (most monster by the time you get copper treasures, and whole groups of monsters per round as soon you get burst spells), the heroes always remain rather vulnerable. It is always rather easy for the overlord to find a soft target to kill.

There are some errata rules that improves the balance - mainly by making it harder to get a lot of cash, and restricting when you can by treasures in town, compared to the un-errated rules.

Also, some of the expansion packs adds "treachery" for the overlord, which helps a bit. Also, the expansion pack dungeons usually contain fewer treasures than the original games dungeons, lessening the problem with loot overload. Overall, some expansions helps the heroes more than the overlord, and vice versa.

With the guys I usually play descent with, the heroes won all but one of the original game dungeons on the first try. Now, with the expansion dungeons, it's closer to 50-50 (though the heroes still wins more often than the overlord). When we first started, the heroes usually ended up winning with 10+ points. Now, the heroes usually are just one or two deaths away from losing the entire game, and occasionally does lose.

The outcome a game depends mostly on tactics, but luck on the heroes part with skills and loot, and luck on the overlords part like having the right card at the right time can be the deciding factor.

2011-09-11, 11:16 AM
I've never played it but I always drool over Hirst Arts custom board pieces (http://www.hirstarts.com/cavern/descent.html) for it.


I need to dig out my fieldstone molds and make some dungeon pieces again. Fun! :smallbiggrin: