My Descent 2 finally turned up just in time for a games weekend we had planned, so on Saturday we played for 12 or so hours straight (!) and finished up just entering act 2 (the interlude quest EASILY taking the lions share of the time).
Now I've had some tangible experience with the game, rather than just theoretical stuff, I'd thought I'd share my experiences and impressions.
First off - the new hero miniatures are really nice and very well detailed. Almost to the point where I'm a little concerned the older ones will look quite rubbish by comparison. Also, the new board sections look REALLY nice (and they have straight edges, unlike the old D1 versions. Thank the maker). I was initially slightly worried with the number of them, but having them all double sided really felt like there were a lot of tiles. This is a good thing.
Ok, onto the campaign. The story in the campaign was far more pronounced now, which I liked. I also really quite liked the '2 encounters per quest' thing - meaning heroes that were kicked in early on stayed that way unless there was a healer to help out. Also, the goals in the quests were varied and FAR more interesting than just 'kill the dungeon leader'. Also a good thing.
That being said, there were a few things I didn't much like, when compared to the Road to Legend campaign. Travel was simply an exercise in drawing cards. It never FELT like the party were travelling anywhere. I really liked the overland travel in RtL, using the map and venturing further away from the safety of your home City (or getting closer to exploring other cities). I hope something like this is further fleshed out in future expansions. And on the subject of towns, i didn't really like the assumed 'travel back to town at the end of each quest', and the forced selling of all search items.
I played the Overlord in the campaign, and the overwhelming feeling I got was I was more of a competitive games master rather than a tangible foe. I liked the fact that I might be the Demon Lord or something in RtL, and that I had specific power ups or abilities that pertained to me. The overlord in this campaign was basically faceless, and only mentioned in flavour text. That definitely felt like it was missing.
On the subject of the overlord, there really wasn't a lot of customisation available for your XP. In fact, I'd go as far to say that it was quite dull actually. Adding one card to your 15 card deck (or replacing, depending on your whim), with limited options to boot, thought that was an opportunity missed. The thing I thought I wouldn't like was the lack of levelling up monsters now (the copper, silver, gold, diamond thing) but I actually really liked the Act 1/Act 2 monster thing. With all monsters staying on an equal footing, it means that I was constantly trying different monsters to see how they played - that's a good thing.
One real problem we seemed to have in the game were with attribute checks. While I didn't find that they played a MASSIVE part in the game, we were finding that, even test a 'solid' attribute of 3 or 4 regularly ended in a fail, and those poor guys that had attributes of 1 or 2 were near enough always doomed to fail. This made me wonder whether they should be 2 grey dice rather than black and grey (the black dice is EXTREMELY good/bad, depending on why you're rolling it ), or whether we'll see another hero action come out where they can concentrate to add 1 to an attribute for the next check, something like that. More often than not, those attribute tests simply meant tripping up or whatever, but the interlude quest we did required three successful attribute tests for the heroes to win it, and unless you're playing with a full group of four, you WILL be weak in at least one of those, meaning you're highly likely to lose the quest (through rotten luck rather than bad play). This was a shame.
I very much appreciated the smaller scale of the maps. The interlude aside, we flew through the levels, rarely taking more than hour for any of them. If that.
Oh, and I do miss treasure chests too. The search cards were 'ok', but there is nothing like the feeling of cracking open a chest and dishing out the spoils.
While I didn't play a hero, I did feel that there weren't enough class abilities to keep them interesting. I'm hoping again that expansions fix this.
All in all, for the most part, I'd say that Descent 2 is definitely improves over Descent 1, and I'm really hoping that a future expansion or two will fix or alleviate the small gripes I have with it. I'm curious to see what direction they go with these too, as, as soon as the conversion kit arrives, I doubt I'll EVER need new heroes or monsters, but those that only have D2 will likely be crying out for them.