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A faster Descent?


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#1 Severino

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Posted 15 September 2011 - 09:41 PM

I keep reading about 2e being hopefully faster and I'm curious about the changes that will make it possible.

From what I see in my games it's clear it's not the rules that make the game so long, it's the players taking so much time to decide what to do and in what order.
I mean each turn you move and make an attack. How could it be faster than that??
It's the time consuming process of planning every move, and find an agreement on what to do that makes our games last 7 hours.
And this, I don't know how can be fixed.
I welcome a shorter Descent but I don't like the idea of a set of over simplified rules to make it possible, I don't wanna loose potential strategy or it will feel shallow.

We're enjoying descent, despite the amout of time it requires, and I think I'll buy 2e, but I'm a little worried :)

your thoughts?



#2 aeroguru

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Posted 16 September 2011 - 04:51 AM

I suppose they could just have smaller dungeons like RtL (meaning a single level of a single dungeon in RtL), but at present I just can't imagine sitting down to a game of Descent and having it feel like a complete experience playing such a small level (perhaps I'm too wed to the experience of 1e).  I suppose if all of the levels were part of a large coherent story arc it might work.  After all, I've had occasions were  time has only permitted a very short advancement of the campaign in RtL (one or two levels of a single dungeon), but it still was okay because of the sense that the small experience was part of something much larger. 

I just hope the game doesn't get dumbed down too much in favor of making it play faster.  It's one thing to actually have a set of coherent rules that don't require unending pages of FAQs and erratas and multiple visits to these fora and boardgamegeek, but it's quite another to reduce the game of Descent to something more akin to HeroQuest--there the game goes quickly, but there's no lingering effects and a bunch of other stuff that made Descent 1e a superior game in my mind. 



#3 KenToad

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Posted 16 September 2011 - 08:14 AM

My experience with what slowed down Descent was the relentless spawning.  You'd clear out a room and then more monsters would appear in the corners or in an adjacent hallway.  So you clear out the room again.  We once spent two hours in the same large pair of rooms that represented maybe a quarter of the size of the entire quest map.  To me, that's verging on ridiculous.  I like the game, but it needs a sense of progress, not endless spawning to dilute the heroes sense of accomplishment.

Descent better than Heroquest?  Not a chance.  I'm looking forward to seeing what they come up for Descent 2nd Edition, though.



#4 aeroguru

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Posted 16 September 2011 - 10:13 AM

KenToad said:

My experience with what slowed down Descent was the relentless spawning.  You'd clear out a room and then more monsters would appear in the corners or in an adjacent hallway.  So you clear out the room again.  We once spent two hours in the same large pair of rooms that represented maybe a quarter of the size of the entire quest map.  To me, that's verging on ridiculous.  I like the game, but it needs a sense of progress, not endless spawning to dilute the heroes sense of accomplishment.

Descent better than Heroquest?  Not a chance.  I'm looking forward to seeing what they come up for Descent 2nd Edition, though.

To each their own.  I suppose I liked the fact that in Descent the heroes get penalized for dinking around, and they can get poisoned, or caught in webs, or start bleeding, or catch on fire, or have to wade through mud, or fog, etc.  Heroes in Descent can't necessarily hang back to try to kill every last skeleton and beastman, because more will be coming.  In HeroQuest the heroes could spend all day having every hero search for treasure in every room (sure, with the occasional wandering monster popping out--not that it did a lot of good against anyone but the wizard), meander around the hallways, and then wait and line everyone up outside a door to get first whack at any new monsters as soon as the heroes opened it.  That can happen to a degree in Descent, but I've found it a much more satisfactory game to play as overlord--at least I can be dropping them into pits or making the doors explode when they open them.  Heroquest had little to no replayability for a given quest once the heroes knew where the pre-set traps were (not that it mattered if the dwarf was with them--they'd always have enough people to search and disarm any of them before they could do any damage, except for the occasional trap placed just inside the door).  I've played certain maps in Descent over and over and had different experiences each time (that being said, there are some quests in Descent that have no replayability one you figure out the trick to beating them). 

I'll grant that I did like the HeroQuest idea of the heroes "shopping" in between quests and buying new armor and weapons--it just sucked as soon as one or two of them got battle axes and they could then work a quest from start to finish with little or no challenge.  I seriously played almost the entire "Return of the Witchlord" questpack with a friend who was pretty much invulnerable against anything I could throw at him from quest 2 on--that was 15 hours of my life I'd like back.

Not to unduly slam HeroQuest, though, because it is a fun game in its own right--I just prefer the added complexity of Descent.  If I'm playing with a younger crowd or people who have a harder time managing lots of rules but we want a fantasy game I'd definitely reach for HeroQuest before Descent.  Hopefully 2e will retain some of the complexity but have a rules system that is a little more thoroughly tested so it doesn't have to be quite so convoluted with FAQs, erratas, and rules that just don't work well together.  And Heroquest figures were the first I ever painted and customized, so I'll always have a soft spot for it. 

 



#5 Steve-O

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Posted 16 September 2011 - 12:29 PM

Severino said:

I welcome a shorter Descent but I don't like the idea of a set of over simplified rules to make it possible, I don't wanna loose potential strategy or it will feel shallow.

There are two aspects of the original 2e announcement that you seem to be combining into one thing here, and I'm not sure that this is accurate to what FFG is doing.  The two ideas are these:

(1) the rules have been streamlined.

(2) the game play has been shortened.

Now, obviously FFG hasn't told us very much about exactly how they've changed the rules just yet, so understand that I am not speaking from an informed position here.  I'm merely voicing my opinion about what they've said.

From what I can tell from the original announcement, the primary thing they've done to shorten game play is that they've added "plenty of convenient stopping points" to the quests.  To me, that sounds like they've incorporated some sort of "save game" mechanic, like Road to Legend had.  Each individual quest could in theory be just as long (or even longer!) than 1e vanilla quests, but there will be frequent positions where the hero party can stop and record their progress so that the game can be packed up and put away, to be completed some other day.  That might mean that a single "quest" involves a series of short dungeons akin to AC dungeons in 1e, or it might mean that the single large dungeon is divided conveinently into chunks that can be played through one at a time.  we don't really know.  However, the upswing of this method (in addition to having been proven useful in RtL) is that it shouldn't impact complexity or depth of game play too much while still allowing those of us who only want to play for one or two hours at a time to have our fun.

A lot of people are making hubbub about the "streamlined rules" meaning that 2e will be "dumbed down" to run faster, but I'm not at all convinced that's the case.  I mean, I can't say for sure those people are wrong, but I'm fairly confident that history will prove them so.  I think that by "streamlined rules" they mean "we've thought about everything we tried to do with 1e, trimmed off the excess fat that didn't work so well, and are now presenting a unified rulebook that is designed from day one to work with everything we've kept in there."  It will be less complex in the sense that it probably won't have as many items, as many types of traps, etc.  Not in the sense that they've significantly cut down the core game engine.  In fact, based on the fact that figures will apparently be rolling defense dice in 2e (instead of using a mostly-static Armor value,) and all the extra numbers on the hero sheet we've seen, I'd say the core game engine looks like it's growing!



#6 Digitality

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Posted 16 September 2011 - 01:52 PM

KenToad said:

My experience with what slowed down Descent was the relentless spawning.  You'd clear out a room and then more monsters would appear in the corners or in an adjacent hallway.  So you clear out the room again.  We once spent two hours in the same large pair of rooms that represented maybe a quarter of the size of the entire quest map.  To me, that's verging on ridiculous.  I like the game, but it needs a sense of progress, not endless spawning to dilute the heroes sense of accomplishment.

Descent better than Heroquest?  Not a chance.  I'm looking forward to seeing what they come up for Descent 2nd Edition, though.

If that happened to your hero party, they only have themselves to blame. Denying the Overlord spawning potential is a key portion of the game's basic tactics. Monsters spawned in halls behind you are threats that should be evaluated. They're not always worth killing immediately, if at all. It's not an RPG, there is no experience gained for killing everything, and playing against a thinking human opponent can raise the bar of the tactical gameplay required.

I have a hard time believing you all seriously got stuck for two hours, and hadn't lost the game yet. I'd think you'd have run out of conquest by then, through deck cycles, or a couple of deaths.

It happens to new players, especially for the first few games. My first few games took awhile, when coupled with the learning process of the game rules themselves the players had not yet learned to prioritize their goals. Overlord inexperience can also lead to poor use of spawn opportunities, which coupled with hack and slash kill everything type heroes, can really slow the game down.



#7 KenToad

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Posted 17 September 2011 - 02:57 AM

Oh, we did fail the Quest.  I can't remember the name of it, but It started with a long hallway, at the end of which was an impassable pit and several ranged attackers beyond that.  We got rid of what we could, then moved into the first series of rooms.  the issue was that the two interconnected rooms were so large and then there was a long hallway after a corner following that.  So most of the moster squads were spawned in that hallway.  Another issue was that many of the cards the OL played were treachery-related.  We had three heroes and tried to move as fast as we could, but how are you supposed to move around a squad of beastmen in the hallway ahead of you?  At some point, it just got silly, we were trying to both stay together and cover all the corners, while still whittling away at their forces.  Every time we thought we had an advantage, the OL would have enough threat to spawn more.  And that huge area was impossible to cover. 

You can think what you want.  The game takes 5 hours on a good night.  A lot of that time is dealing with monster spawns.  And that can be very distracting and disheartening for the hero party.  At some point, it feels a bit like Sisyphus, rolling the ball up the hill only to see it roll down the other side, doing it again, ad nauseam.  I love the game and rate it a solid 9 on BGG, but the spawning is silly, repetitive and counter-intuitive.



#8 Digitality

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Posted 18 September 2011 - 07:31 AM

KenToad said:

Oh, we did fail the Quest.  I can't remember the name of it, but It started with a long hallway, at the end of which was an impassable pit and several ranged attackers beyond that.  We got rid of what we could, then moved into the first series of rooms.  the issue was that the two interconnected rooms were so large and then there was a long hallway after a corner following that.  So most of the moster squads were spawned in that hallway.  Another issue was that many of the cards the OL played were treachery-related.  We had three heroes and tried to move as fast as we could, but how are you supposed to move around a squad of beastmen in the hallway ahead of you?  At some point, it just got silly, we were trying to both stay together and cover all the corners, while still whittling away at their forces.  Every time we thought we had an advantage, the OL would have enough threat to spawn more.  And that huge area was impossible to cover. 

You can think what you want.  The game takes 5 hours on a good night.  A lot of that time is dealing with monster spawns.  And that can be very distracting and disheartening for the hero party.  At some point, it feels a bit like Sisyphus, rolling the ball up the hill only to see it roll down the other side, doing it again, ad nauseam.  I love the game and rate it a solid 9 on BGG, but the spawning is silly, repetitive and counter-intuitive.



What quest was it you played if you remember? I've also not played with less than 4 heroes, even if someone has to control multiple heroes. Everything I've read about the balance of the game says that it does not scale well with the existing system.

Not having that 4th hero for LoS coverage is problematic itself, and even though monsters have 1 less health, that does nothing to offset the reduction in hero killing efficiency. Most of the early monsters are looked at in "how many kills do we have a turn?" not "How many attacks to kill each?" so the health scaling is something of a failure in that regard.

Beyond mistakes opening up LoS I have to spawn somewhat conservatively if I want to get anything out of the monsters. Otherwise they end up just being speed bumps. Which sometimes is a useful purpose in itself.

Still I won't mind a faster game. I'm curious how they're going to handle it.

Personally, since we run our games at my place, I have everything ready if I know we're playing Descent. I have the monsters all set out on a separate table so I don't have to dig for anything, and my tokens are all in plano boxes... one for OL related tokens, another for the heroes, and one for all the smaller terrain tokens and doors. If I know I'll be playing OL I even set up the game table and have the dungeon assembled. The decks are all sorted and waiting. With all of the preparation handled and the players being able to jump in and do their set up selections it really cuts the game time down a bit.



#9 Kartigan

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Posted 18 September 2011 - 05:32 PM

 I too am concerned about the games shortened playtime.  I'm all for streamlined rules & faster play, but I don't want to sacrifice the tactical depth nor the "epic feel" of Descent.  One thing that heartens me though is they mention the "convenient stopping points" during quests.  Maybe a full game will still take 3 or 4 hours, but it can just easily be broken into 1-1.5 hour segments, that could actually be quite nice.



#10 KenToad

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Posted 20 September 2011 - 03:49 AM

Digitality said:

KenToad said:

 

Oh, we did fail the Quest.  I can't remember the name of it, but It started with a long hallway, at the end of which was an impassable pit and several ranged attackers beyond that.  We got rid of what we could, then moved into the first series of rooms.  the issue was that the two interconnected rooms were so large and then there was a long hallway after a corner following that.  So most of the moster squads were spawned in that hallway.  Another issue was that many of the cards the OL played were treachery-related.  We had three heroes and tried to move as fast as we could, but how are you supposed to move around a squad of beastmen in the hallway ahead of you?  At some point, it just got silly, we were trying to both stay together and cover all the corners, while still whittling away at their forces.  Every time we thought we had an advantage, the OL would have enough threat to spawn more.  And that huge area was impossible to cover. 

You can think what you want.  The game takes 5 hours on a good night.  A lot of that time is dealing with monster spawns.  And that can be very distracting and disheartening for the hero party.  At some point, it feels a bit like Sisyphus, rolling the ball up the hill only to see it roll down the other side, doing it again, ad nauseam.  I love the game and rate it a solid 9 on BGG, but the spawning is silly, repetitive and counter-intuitive.

 



What quest was it you played if you remember? I've also not played with less than 4 heroes, even if someone has to control multiple heroes. Everything I've read about the balance of the game says that it does not scale well with the existing system.

Not having that 4th hero for LoS coverage is problematic itself, and even though monsters have 1 less health, that does nothing to offset the reduction in hero killing efficiency. Most of the early monsters are looked at in "how many kills do we have a turn?" not "How many attacks to kill each?" so the health scaling is something of a failure in that regard.

Beyond mistakes opening up LoS I have to spawn somewhat conservatively if I want to get anything out of the monsters. Otherwise they end up just being speed bumps. Which sometimes is a useful purpose in itself.

Still I won't mind a faster game. I'm curious how they're going to handle it.

Personally, since we run our games at my place, I have everything ready if I know we're playing Descent. I have the monsters all set out on a separate table so I don't have to dig for anything, and my tokens are all in plano boxes... one for OL related tokens, another for the heroes, and one for all the smaller terrain tokens and doors. If I know I'll be playing OL I even set up the game table and have the dungeon assembled. The decks are all sorted and waiting. With all of the preparation handled and the players being able to jump in and do their set up selections it really cuts the game time down a bit.

 

I don't remember the quest name and I don't own the game. 

It's kind of sad that you absolutely have to have 5 players to get balance in the game.  Heroquest also forces you run all 4 heroes in most cases, but it's a much simpler proposition.  1 adult could easily run all 4 heroes.  I'm sure many games of Heroquest through the years have been played that way.

I know what you're saying about having the game set up before the other players arrive.  I'll do that when I can, but usually it's not feasible because of space, family stuff, etc.  It reminds me of watching those cooking shows where they can prepare a complex dish  in 20 minutes because they have all the ingredients precut and premeasured.  Yeah, it only takes 20 minutes if someone else does half the work. 

Anyway, I wish I had more scheduled game nights, where my friends would come over to play a specific game, like Earth Reborn or Descent, so that I could set the game up in advance.  I don't think that that would fly with my wife or my kids, however.  Hopefully, 2nd Edition will be great and a lot less painful to set up and fix some of the in-game things that tended to bog the game down, i.e. constant spawning.



#11 Steve-O

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Posted 20 September 2011 - 12:36 PM

KenToad said:

 

It's kind of sad that you absolutely have to have 5 players to get balance in the game.  Heroquest also forces you run all 4 heroes in most cases, but it's a much simpler proposition.  1 adult could easily run all 4 heroes.  I'm sure many games of Heroquest through the years have been played that way.

 

 

I don't think you NEED 5 players in Descent, either.  Just 4 heroes.  Admittedly, one person running 4 heroes is a bit of a handful (especially compared to simpler games like HQ), but get two people to run two heroes each and the game runs fine.  Do you have trouble getting 3 people (including you) together to play board games?  I don't mean to sound judgemental here, honestly.  To me, board games with just two are kind of boring.  The social aspect is definitely a big draw for me - I don't think I'd even want to play Descent with fewer than 3 people at the table.

This particular aspect of the game looks like it will probably be the same in 2e (or possibly even worse.)  The hero sheets have more numbers and more options for character advancement, which means there will be more things to keep track of for each hero.  Hopefully, if character advancement only happens "between dungeons," this won't impact general game play too much, though.



#12 Sausageman

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 01:24 AM

KenToad said:

My experience with what slowed down Descent was the relentless spawning.  You'd clear out a room and then more monsters would appear in the corners or in an adjacent hallway.  So you clear out the room again.  We once spent two hours in the same large pair of rooms that represented maybe a quarter of the size of the entire quest map.  To me, that's verging on ridiculous.  I like the game, but it needs a sense of progress, not endless spawning to dilute the heroes sense of accomplishment.

Descent better than Heroquest?  Not a chance.  I'm looking forward to seeing what they come up for Descent 2nd Edition, though.

Good point.  Maybe the heroes should be able to 'make an area safe', meaning once all monsters and collectables have been dealt with, they can mark it so no future spawning there is allowed...

Though the constant threat does add something to the game, I find...



#13 khula

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Posted 22 September 2011 - 01:12 AM

If I'm not mistaken, didn't the German release of Descent have rules that allowed the heroes to prevent spawning in areas they had already cleared for a variable number of turns? I'm sure I saw them translated and posted on Boardgamegeek.

Along with rules for weapon deterioration and breakage, and other more RPG rulings. Our German friends love their RPGs and I'm sure the German translation of Descent catered for their tastes...



#14 Bleached Lizard

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Posted 04 October 2011 - 07:52 AM

khula said:

If I'm not mistaken, didn't the German release of Descent have rules that allowed the heroes to prevent spawning in areas they had already cleared for a variable number of turns? I'm sure I saw them translated and posted on Boardgamegeek.

Along with rules for weapon deterioration and breakage, and other more RPG rulings. Our German friends love their RPGs and I'm sure the German translation of Descent catered for their tastes...

I would imagine these would be fan mods rather than official rules from FFG.



#15 Graf

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Posted 04 October 2011 - 10:09 AM

Those are "official optional rules" from the German publisher. However, I think noone seriously plays the game with those additional rules – all German players I know play the game with the standard rules (and maybe some house rules).






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