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Considering pre-ordering, is it the best dungeon game?


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#1 Greg M

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 06:52 AM

Hey Everyone,

Looking to purchase 2nd edition Descent.  My only experience with dungeon games is Talisman, which I like.  Based on the first edition,the reviews I've seen have mostly been favorable; your opinions on the game would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks, Greg 



#2 Steve-O

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 12:44 PM

Greg M said:

Hey Everyone,

Looking to purchase 2nd edition Descent.  My only experience with dungeon games is Talisman, which I like.  Based on the first edition,the reviews I've seen have mostly been favorable; your opinions on the game would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks, Greg 

Well, the biggest gripe from new players about first edition was probably that they were expecting some sort of "D&D lite," story heavy adventure game and what they got was a cutthroat tactical combat hack and slash game.  In this regard, Descent (1e) was not what a lot of people expected it to be.  Some people got around that by just having the Overlord player "go easy," others simply accepted the game for what it was and played it competitively.

Second edition (from what we know of it so far) sounds like it will focus much more on story elements and "RPG-esque" game play, but it will still have a tactical combat core.  Whether or not the combat engine in 2e will live up to the gritty strategic level of 1e for those who preferred the game that way, we don't know yet.  The rules are purportedly being "streamlined" and some people have interpreted that to mean "dumbed down."  I remain optimistic that it only means "we simplified the parts that were needlessly complicated," but only time will tell.

The bottom line is that we don't know exactly what 2e will be yet.  We know it will be different than 1e, but whether the changes make it better or worse will probably depend on the individual.  If you like the idea of "D&D lite" you'll probably like most of the changes being made.  If you like tactical combat, the answer is hazy right now.

Read up on Descent 1e.  Also read up on Mansions of Madness.  From what we've heard so far, it sounds like Descent 2e will be something of a cross between the two.



#3 Greg M

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 02:58 PM

Steve-O said:

Greg M said:

 

Hey Everyone,

Looking to purchase 2nd edition Descent.  My only experience with dungeon games is Talisman, which I like.  Based on the first edition,the reviews I've seen have mostly been favorable; your opinions on the game would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks, Greg 

 

 

Well, the biggest gripe from new players about first edition was probably that they were expecting some sort of "D&D lite," story heavy adventure game and what they got was a cutthroat tactical combat hack and slash game.  In this regard, Descent (1e) was not what a lot of people expected it to be.  Some people got around that by just having the Overlord player "go easy," others simply accepted the game for what it was and played it competitively.

Second edition (from what we know of it so far) sounds like it will focus much more on story elements and "RPG-esque" game play, but it will still have a tactical combat core.  Whether or not the combat engine in 2e will live up to the gritty strategic level of 1e for those who preferred the game that way, we don't know yet.  The rules are purportedly being "streamlined" and some people have interpreted that to mean "dumbed down."  I remain optimistic that it only means "we simplified the parts that were needlessly complicated," but only time will tell.

The bottom line is that we don't know exactly what 2e will be yet.  We know it will be different than 1e, but whether the changes make it better or worse will probably depend on the individual.  If you like the idea of "D&D lite" you'll probably like most of the changes being made.  If you like tactical combat, the answer is hazy right now.

Read up on Descent 1e.  Also read up on Mansions of Madness.  From what we've heard so far, it sounds like Descent 2e will be something of a cross between the two.

Thanks Steve-O, that's great intel.



#4 Mordjinn

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Posted 03 February 2012 - 02:35 AM

The simple answer to your title is: We don't know yet. There's not much official info released yet and only time will tell if Descent 2nd edition will live up to the expectations of the hungry Descent fans. The other factors to take in consideration when trying to find "the best" dungeon game is what you're looking for and how many players you normally play with.

With a 3+ players Descent 1st edition is a solid choice, although I can understand if you wait for the 2nd edition and then make your choice. 1st edition Descent has its flaws, but if you don't mind the 4+ hours playing time and somewhat needlessly heavy rules, then at least give it a look. I think that with 2nd edition coming out it will be pretty much different, so the 1st edition will maintain the solid fanbase. For my group 1st edition was too much and we felt that the adventures didn't deliver the epic adventure feel because we were bogged down by the rules. Therefore 2nd edition for us is very good news.

If you only have two players then I suggest that you check out a game called Claustrophobia. It is by far the best dungeoncrawler I've ever tried and among my top-3 best games overall. The downside that it accommodates only two players.

In the end it is all about making an informed choice based on your preferences. Afterall you might find the D&D Adventure Board Games excellent for your group. I personally think they're nothing special and actually quite bad games.



#5 chas

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Posted 03 February 2012 - 08:55 PM

Edit: After typing up this wall you should just take Mordjinn's post to heart, though. As much anticipation as there is, you really can't tell yet whether this will be "just" an improved first edition with added features such as a working campaign etc. or if it'll feel too different for you to buy it if you liked the first edition.

I would recommend Descent (1st ed) to anyone who enjoys tabletop "RPGs" with emphasis on gameplay and not storytelling. It's gritty and it's hard. Also you should see how large your gaming group is. Descent for me was only fun with 4+ people. Having two people play four heroes (read: 3 players playing) is too overwhelming considering each person has to keep track of at least 8 abilities and whatever other random triggers they have.

The biggest problems I have with Descent 1st edition are the by now ridiculously complex rules as well as the playtime.

A second edition gives them a great opportunity to alleviate the problems they built for themselves with the rules – which I think is also the referred "streamlining" of the rules. No more special exceptions and complicated mechanics.

Some ways to speed up gameplay such as printing the specific rule for a card on the actual card instead of crossreferencing something a dozen times are being implemented from what I know. The game will still take long (but not quite as long!), however, you will be planning your moves (which is fun) instead of annoying your Overlord with rule questions all the time (which is no fun for anyone). There will also be some kind of save points to pause your game for another time.

I'm a natural pessimist (and strategist) so the removal of "mathing out" attacks seems like a bad change to me, I don't need it to be chess but adding furthere random factors to an attack roll (attack rolls can miss, have a bad result and now there will also be a random armor roll now) seems a bit overkill. Especially for the heroes you could end up having really big target priority problems.

 

Either way, Descent is the most fun board game of this kind that I know of and the only one that has my friends and myself coming back to it time and time again. If the ones working on second edition are doing their job well (and focus on what their actual players want, not the ones they may hope to attract with a significant shift in how the game feels/plays) this can only turn out even better.



#6 Seboss

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 10:41 AM

chas said:

If the ones working on second edition are doing their job well (and focus on what their actual players want, not the ones they may hope to attract with a significant shift in how the game feels/plays) this can only turn out even better.

I can't emphasize this too much. While it makes sense to try to please the existing audience to the game while making it more attractive to new players (or should I say less scary), history has shown times and times again that this kind of endeavor almost always result in the alienation of the fans.

But it also often results in higher profit margins. Guess which one FFG is likely to pick?



#7 Steve-O

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Posted 12 February 2012 - 02:59 AM

Seboss said:

But it also often results in higher profit margins. Guess which one FFG is likely to pick?

I understand your concerns, although I can't really blame FFG for trying to increase their profits.  At the end of the day, they are a business after all.  They started making board games with the intent of making money doing something they love.  It may be true that they love board games, but that doesn't mean they don't want the money.

Besides which, if the decision results in larger profits, doesn't that mean they've INCREASED the fanbase?  They may have alienated some (if there's one thing I've learned about gamers in my many years of gaming, it's that there are always some who cry bloody hell about the smallest changes to their beloved game system), but they've obviously replaced those people with others if the game is selling better than it used to.

People always talk about wanting a company to put the fan's desires above crude profits and political correctness, but the cold hard truth is that the fans are rarely, if ever, united in terms of what they want.  Take Descent as an example: there are fans who want the game to remain the hardcore tactical combat experience it was in 1e and to hell with any nonsense about "logical storytelling."  At the same time, there are fans who WANT the game to be an RPG-lite experience and are willing to sacrifice a little crunchiness in favour of a more "believable" experience.  Both groups are perfectly entitled to their own opinion, and both groups are perfectly legitimate "fans" of the game (many people in both camps have purchased all the 1e expansions, have been posting on these forums since day one, and have in general been playing the game.)

What it boils down to is the old cliche that you can't please everybody.  The best they can do is make the game the best embodiment of what THEY feel it should be.  Those that agree with that vision will hail it, those that disagree will say it was a money grab.  If the profit margins increase, FFG can go to bed content that THEIR vision of the game has proven successful.  Or they can kill themselves trying to please everybody and go out business in a few years.  THEN who will make expansions for your precious game?

 

PS: Can you honestly say that if you were a professional board game designer you wouldn't be thinking about profit margins at least a LITTLE BIT?  Honestly.



#8 Seboss

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Posted 12 February 2012 - 09:45 AM

Sure, FFG is a business and as such should strive to maximize audience and profits. Even at the designer level, it makes sense to want as many people as possible to play and enjoy your game.

But the consequence is that many people I know may not care much for a streamlined, "Gears of War"-ish version of Descent, and I expect that a sizable chunk of the fanbase is going to turn its back to 2ed if FFG puts a too strong emphasis on story elements and tone down tactics and depth too much.
But if the sales of 2nd ed are 10x the sales of 1st ed, well that's a win for FFG and 2nd ed buyers I guess.

Regarding the players who expect a RPG-lite experience from Descent, considering it's absolutely not what Descent is about, how can they be fans of Descent in the first place? Most Decent fans I know enjoy the nitty gritty details of the combat, gear optimization, tactics, all the rogue-like elements which are what Descent is really about. The ones who wanted a light RPG promptly moved away from it, because it just doesn't work this way, and it provides no basis for role playing and story telling anyway.



#9 chas

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 01:05 AM

Seboss said:

The ones who wanted a light RPG promptly moved away from it, because it just doesn't work this way, and it provides no basis for role playing and story telling anyway.

 

This is what I meant with catering to their actual players. As it is now Descent is the very best "competitive" dungeon crawler that I know of. On the other hand there are more pure RPGs than I care to remember. I think FFG should stay true to what people associate with Descent – not only because it's probably the most dominant game in this niche market – not what people who currently have no interest in Descent wish it was so they would/could/should play it.



#10 Pete C

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 06:44 AM

Seboss said:

But the consequence is that many people I know may not care much for a streamlined, "Gears of War"-ish version of Descent, and I expect that a sizable chunk of the fanbase is going to turn its back to 2ed if FFG puts a too strong emphasis on story elements and tone down tactics and depth too much.

IMO Descent 2ed looks like it is drawing more inspiration from Mansions of Madness than Gears of War. What about it sounds like Gears?



#11 Seboss

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 07:28 AM

 It's only speculation on my part. The shorter gameplay and the armor roll reminds me of GoW, and I would not be surprised if Descent actually borrows other mechanisms (player reviving, action cards, random setup...).

It does sound like bits of MoM and GoW were thrown into the mix. Hopefully, we'll find out soon enough.



#12 Pete C

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Posted 14 February 2012 - 09:18 AM

Seboss said:

 It's only speculation on my part. The shorter gameplay and the armor roll reminds me of GoW, and I would not be surprised if Descent actually borrows other mechanisms (player reviving, action cards, random setup...).

It does sound like bits of MoM and GoW were thrown into the mix. Hopefully, we'll find out soon enough.

Yeah, after reading all these threads the GoW revival of knocked down players does sound like a possible enhancement for Descent. I think I like that idea better than respawning.






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