Advance Notice: TL;DR
I ask this question mostly out of idle curiosity. But it seems timely due to the fact that there have been several recent threads inquiring as to "what knowledge / what do the heroes get to know" kind of posts.
Some background first - our group has extensive experience playing Descent First Edition. In point of fact, we still play regularly, and probably enjoy the game more than Second Edition. In case you haven't ever played First Edition, a huge amount of the quest information in First Edition is a secret from the heroes - they only learn about things as they delve into the dungeon.
Obviously, Descent Second Edition is completely different, as for the most part, everything within the Quest guides are public knowledge. Both sides are allowed to read the whole thing, note what the win conditions are, note what the spoils for winning are, etc., and plan/play accordingly.
Having said that, as each new expansion comes out, especially with those "big box" sets that have completely new campaigns, our group likes to play our first couple of complete campaigns in the dark.
We enjoy the surprises within each encounter/quest. So, whomever wins the intro quest picks the next quest "blind". That is they do so without knowing anything about the quest. Then, we setup the first encounter, and only read the information about that encounter. We do not read the second encounter at this time, which means several things:
1) We do not know what the "value" will be in winning the first encounter - so for example, the heroes don't know if it significantly helps or hurts them if they win or lose encounter 1 as it applies to conditions in encounter 2. Therefore, the heroes have to make decisions for encounter 1 in the dark; often that means they have to decide how to best balance searching vs winning. I actually think in the long run this has resulted in the heroes playing better and making better decisions strategically - even when they do know everything.
2) We do not know what the ultimate prize is for winning the whole quest (encounter 1 & 2) - Is there extra gold? Is there extra XP? Is there a relic? Etc. This adds a bit of spice and some randomness to overall results.
We continue this way throughout the entire campaign. It can create some interesting, and often funny situations. For example, I as OL could decide to simply play balls out in Ecnounter 1 of a quest, only to find out that winning it really wasn't worth it, and the cost of doing so (playing OL cards, threat, etc.) was prohibitive. The same can be said on the heroes side of the equation. In fact, often times, if one side or the other appears to be putting forth extra effort to win any given encounter, the other side immediately (whether consciously or not) starts trying to prevent it. It can be pretty funny.
But playing this way has often added an element of fun to the game, even if you are losing. After all, you can just save face by saying you were playing crazy . It is, however, one of the techniques we have used to turn the game from a completely competitive beat down, to one where both sides can share some laughs, have fun, etc.
If one side or the other ends up winning the whole campaign in a landslide, which often means that only one "side" of quests were chosen, we will continue to play the next campaign in this manner, especially if we come across a quest we have yet to play.
Then, once we have gone through several times, we will play a fresh campaign where everyone does read everything to remind themselves what the goals are, the victory conditions, the prizes for winning, etc.
It is amazing how the same quests can play out so differently, even if you use the same heroes/classes/skills, etc.
So, after a TL;DR dissertation, my question is this:
Do most groups play with complete knowledge? Does anyone ever play the way we do?
If you always have played with complete knowledge, I would encourage you to try it our way once and see what happens. It is a completely different playing experience.