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Descent 2: An enigma or ?

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#1 Eighth Air Force

Eighth Air Force


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Posted 06 August 2014 - 08:46 AM

This topic was posited for those of us who are left scratching our heads, pondering why we continue to buy into this game. Now, before anyone rolls their eyes and dismisses this as a rant, let me explain.


I want to begin by saying that Descent 2 is a great game overall. I like the high quality boxes the contents are packaged in, I like the material that I get when I open the box (does anyone else feel an overwhelming impulse to inhale the fresh goodness of the goodies inside the first time the box lid is removed) and never have I purchased something from FFG where I felt the quality of the merchandise had been compromised over monetary decisions to keep budgets at X level.


However, after pausing to consider everything that I currently own, I am compelled to ask myself why I continue to purchase expansion after expansion when time and again I ask myself this simple question: "Is this the right game for me"?


It is my opinion that this game seems to miss the mark (albiet slightly) when it comes to my interpretation of what a great dungeon crawler is all about. However, I cannot discern what it is about this game that elicits this feeling. I cut my teeth in the early days of gaming on Hero Quest and Warhammer Quest. I always enjoyed the visuals that the board game dungeon crawler experience provided over D&D and the like.


Now, twenty-five years later and with a wife and two children living under my roof, I look back to those early gaming days with nostalgic fondness. Never do I feel compelled to crack open those game lids and play them, for when I do, I feel my childhood essence traped within and "hear" those happy memories attached, crying out to me. The time is fast approaching when my kids will be playing games with their old man; I want them to play fresh new games with which we can create new memories without me reciting old memories of times long gone.


So....maybe this was a rant, but I ask you the reader this question: "why is Descent 2 a good game and yet, when all is said and done you feel as though you have an itch that wasn't quite scratched"?

#2 thedremak



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Posted 06 August 2014 - 11:03 AM

I don't feel that way. We always finish the game talking about the brilliant move Jain pulled of to get to steal the shadow ruin right before Overlord could escape with it or what we could have done differently to escape before our rescued companion was killed. And curse the shadow dragon for dealing 9 damage to 3 of us on one turn. Play the round over again in our heads and try to anticipate what the heroes will do next time if I'm the overlord.
I'm left excited a giddy for the next time we get together. I'm the overlord and am using a new plot deck so I'm anxious to see how the new card I bought plays out. I don't have time to realise I have an itch let alone time to scratch it.

#3 Zaltyre



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Posted 06 August 2014 - 12:00 PM

I agree with thedremak. There are things I might tweak about this game- line of sight rules, movement terminology- but those are just details. My really thorough enjoyment of this game is barely affected by the rule anomalies that can sometimes arise. Thematically, this game scratches my itch. I mostly enjoy sparring against the heroes or OL, as the case may be- which is why coop variant does not interest me- it is missing the best part.

#4 Alarmed



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Posted 06 August 2014 - 12:01 PM

So....maybe this was a rant, but I ask you the reader this question: "why is Descent 2 a good game and yet, when all is said and done you feel as though you have an itch that wasn't quite scratched"?

I think, the issue really is, as you've said, whether the game is the one for you or not. 


When you think about it, playing regular role-playing games, the GM is the OL and is always "expected" to lose. Descent lets you play a game where both sides can try to garner victory without having any "You killed the character I spent 30 years building' fits.

What I find I personally like best about Descent is the choices that make for very different outcomes. Some are, obviously, less optimal; others seem like powerbreak combos; but the fun... the reason you should be playing... is to explore what everything does, push all the buttons, pull all the levers and see what happens.


Sure, I feel disapointed after my team loses to the OL, but the next game night, I come back looking for revenge, looking for ways to turn the tide in our favour and I know my OL feels the same way.

Edited by Alarmed, 06 August 2014 - 12:02 PM.

#5 Carbini



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Posted 06 August 2014 - 12:31 PM

I love this game, but the concerns you listed are valid Eight Air Force. For me, I love the tactical style of gaming that descent offers. Combine that with it's great theme and I get a lot of great memories and feelings, as others have described above.

That being said, I 100 percent agree Descent doesn't hit the mark as a "Dungeon Delving" game. HeroQuest was also my entry point to thematic board games, and the feeling of opening a door and having no idea what would be behind it, including monsters and treasure, was exciting. The surprise of "Oh no a Chaos Knight!" was always a huge face-palm for me when I was 8-10 years old.

My solution now, as an adult, is that I have the mental capacity for much more complex systems. I've essentially split HeroQuest into Descent 2nd, for the tactical enjoyment, and Pathfinder for the RPG dungeon-delving aspect, as well as a ton of other games for unique experiences.

That being said though, there is a lot of game design knowledge and evolution that has been put into Descent, following in the footsteps of HeroQuest, and I think it's a notable improvement on the simple systems of the past.

Play multiple games.:) Get your fix from all corners of the board gaming universe.

#6 BentoSan



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Posted 06 August 2014 - 03:47 PM

Descent is a great game, but i think the expansions they keep bringing out cant keep being virtually all just another campaign with some new monsters and new OL cards.

I would like expansions that really shake the game up and give us new ways to play at least that campaign box as opposed to just a bunch more quests/monsters/OL cards/heroes/travel cards. Some of the Nerekhall mechanics are cool, and the manor of the Ravens expansion looks interesting but i am looking forward to expansions that shake things up much more than these.

Edited by BentoSan, 07 August 2014 - 02:58 AM.

#7 svranes



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Posted 06 August 2014 - 10:54 PM

I'll try to put this in words, which is a bit difficult.  Maybe this is just me, but I'll put it out here anyway...if I'm being nostalgic, it's just what came to mind after reading the Eighth's original post.


I love Descent 2e...one of the best games I own, and I have everything they've released for it.  However, it can't compare with my earliest gaming memories of playing Axis and Allies (first edition...I'm dating myself here...) way back when my buddies and I would play it all night long, back and forth, until one of my friends had to leave for his paper route the next morning.  We all agreed to pause the game until he was finished with his route and could come back so we could finish.  For me, the game was great, but the experience with my friends was even better.  Best birthday party I ever had.


So, fast forward a couple decades (and a bit more), add a career, a few kids, and all the associated pressures and responsibilities, and the fact that I just don't have much time for gaming.  But I have a good group, and we get together regularly, over significant distances.  But I can't re-create those earlier memories and experiences; the time and circumstances have just moved beyond those first days.  New memories, new friends, etc., just add to my experiences, and make everything better.


I guess I'm just saying that if you're trying to re-create all the earlier memories of the fun with the games, you may be chasing a feather in the wind.  That said, I think we all do that, to a degree.  I know I do, but I also make sure to enjoy the chase.


End of waxing philosophical.  Pass the tissues!

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