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DQ vs Runebound vs Descent

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#1 Svenn



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Posted 07 August 2011 - 05:23 AM

I am looking at getting into these games, but I can't decide which to pick up (well, I'll probably end up with all of them, but which first). What exactly is the difference between Dungeon Quest, Runebound, and Descent? They all look somewhat similar.


#2 Sythion



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Posted 08 August 2011 - 05:38 PM

Never played Runebound.

Compared to Descent DQ is much more frivilous. You randomly draw cards to find out what happens to you. Casual-esque. I think I can convince my wife to play with me.

Descent is very tactically oriented (after the first few maps). If the overlord expects to win he has to be as nefarious and efficient as possible, and take advantage of his pre-existing knowledge of the map. If the players expect to win they have to be very vigilant, and aware of the overlord's growing power.

I prefer Descent a lot more than DQ, but that's because I have a group of players who also enjoy games that require some thought. If you don't have that (or don't like that), DQ is a good choice. It's also playable 1 player, and is generally more enjoyable than solitaire, although it takes longer to set up ;)

#3 Steve-O



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Posted 20 August 2011 - 02:32 PM

DQ - The word is "roguelike."  It's a love it or hate it genre.  These games are highly random and usually kill the players more often than they allow victory.  The trade off is that when you DO win, victory is that much sweeter for knowing how hard won it was.  Also, pretty short playing time (due to the imminent death.)

Descent - Highly tactical dungeon crawl.  The heroes really need to work together if they want to win, and there are a few counterintuitive tricks that can mess up newbies (especially those who consider themselves "experienced in board games like this.")  Overall it's very enjoyable, though.  Currently the game is awaiting a second edition due to launch sometime next year, so you might want to wait on that, or you might want to snap up 1e before it disappears from shelves (FFG has announced a conversion kit that will let you salvage the heroes and monsters from 1e to use in 2e, but most of the rest of it will likely be useless in 2e, barring fan-made content.)

Runebound - This game has the widest scope of the lot.  It's an adventure game.  I like it mainly because of the story elements, which I think are really well done and build the game up to a climatic showdown near the end.  Each player is on his own, all vying to be the one who defeats the evil Dragonlord and wins the game.  Not much player interaction, usually, everyone just does their own thing.  The big box expansions also radically alter victory conditions and game play rules, providing a wider variety of game play experiences.  The game does suffer from down time between turns with more than three players, but this is only an issue for some people, not all.  Players can't be killed outright (ie: removed form the game, like DQ), but sometimes a string of bad luck can hold a player down at the bottom of the ladder, so to speak.  It's not a frequent occurrance in my experience.

#4 grim_reaper_zig



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Posted 23 August 2011 - 05:37 AM

 DungeonQuest- Not a typical dungeon crawler at all, it's got a zany feel to it (Like Talisman, if you've ever played it). ALOT of what happens in DQ is based on luck. where you go, what you ind, what you fight is all randomized. Although there is some control, it's not a lot. This doesn't take away from the experience, but adds to it, cause no 2 dungeons will ever be the same.

Play this game if you like having crazy things happen (being killed by a swinging blade turn 2, being jumped by a demon), and having a game based on fun more than anything else. Dont play it if you hate lack of control, unfair events (there's so many ways to die out of nowhere, taking you out of the game), and lack of a storyline/ sense of adventure.

Descent- First off, let me say there is a second edition coming, so if you DO plan on getting this, I would wait for the second one. Descent is a "True" dungeon crawler. The dungeon's preset, you can get an idea of where you have to go. Combat is fun, where you'll be getting greater weapons (like a rage blade, or a firestorm rune) and being able to tackle bigger challanges (like ogres and dragons) is always fun.  Also, there's a story that is told as you go on and play, which if your into that is appealing.  

 Play Descent if you want a game where you journey through dungeons, and play with other friends (or yourself) to take on an overlord (guy who spawns monsters and such) and take on fantastic beasts. Don't play if you find that you hate taking up large amounts of time. Setting up, playing and packing it up all take LOT's of time. also again, there is a second edition coming out.

Runebound- I'm going to try and be unbiased, cause RB is my favorite. Runebound is an adventure game, but unlike descent, it''s travelling the world instead. Your Adventure will take you through various towns, up in the mountains and through dark forests. combat is fun in runebound, as you can hire allies and level up in various stats to better combat monsters. Story in runebound is important, you'll commonly have various events happening around you, effecting the world. Maybe The townsfolk are trying to help you fight off this eveil and give you free itmes? Maybey dragons arrive to Tamilar, and burn it to the ground! Story is important in runebound, as is adventure, and with the expansions you can swap adventures and even the maps, where you'll travel through the desert of Al-kalhim, the Froesn wastes of Isheim, or the jungles of zanaga?

Play runebound if you want to be able to tell a grand story, and fight strange beasts all over the world, and enjoy travelling. Don't play runebound if you don't like some downtime between turns, and at certain times is can be challanging, for good or bad (certain "Boss" Mnsters can be annoying as they kill you 2 or 3 times.)


         Hope that helped.


#5 The_Warlock



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Posted 24 August 2011 - 04:04 AM

These three games have only one common feature: they are set in FFG proprietory fantasy setting, Terrinoth (now referred also as World of Mennara). You'll find similar artwork, same Heroes (of course with different conversions of their abilities pertaining to each game) and a lot of focus on combat. The new edition of Dungeonquest has added some complexity to the combat system of the original game, plus more quality and variety to the components. Besides the distintive mechanisms and styles of gameplay, each of these products is highly combat-oriented and mixes it with different degrees of exploration/character advancement.

Trying not to repeat what the others already said, I'll make a summary based on three game aspects that for me are very different in these three games.


Character advancement: low.

You'll find some objects during your quest but the purpose of your Hero is not to improve his/her stats. Just hope to see the light of day and enjoy other players' disgraces.

Exploration: high.

This is a game based upon exploration, but it's highly random. It's a sort of Dungeon of Death with 75% bad happenings, 5% good findings and 20% sighs of relief (=no effects).

Story elements: low.

It's not a game with a strong story element, it's a beer and bretzels game. Play it for fun: laugh with friends and see who will be the winner, if there will be anyone. It has the advantage of being short in comparison to most fantasy adventure games and it's not an "epic" game.


Character advancement: high

This game is a level-up game. You need to boost your Hero until you're able to beat the endgame, possibly before any opponent does. There's no win without leveling.

Exploration: medium.

In Runebound you travel on a map, following an interesting movement system, you face Challenges in the wilderness and then come back to Towns for healing and gear. The mechanism is always the same but it's sufficiently varied and requires good planning to work well, so we may call it a game based on carefully planned exploration.

Story elements: high.

Flavour text is usually less considered by non-English players, but the mix of map-movement, challenges and Events that affect the entire board gives to Runebound a strong setting and background. If you care to read the text and notice the consistent card themes, you'll see a story that unfolds during your play. This is what makes Runebound shine for me.


Character advancement: medium

There are ways to improve your Hero during a game, but you may finish the game with the same Hero, made stronger by the randomly drawn Treasures. You won't get Treasures or money because you slay monsters, but because your teamwork has bested out the Overlord player's resistance. You got the Chest loot at the right time and worked out a good strategy. In any case, your objective is not to advance the Characters but to complete the Quest objectives without losing too many Hero Lives (represented by Conquest Tokens). You can complete a Quest even with an average but organized party.

Exploration: low.

You're delving into dungeons but you're not discovering things, having encounters or finding your way. There's not very much to see and there's a lot to slay. There's an Evil Overlord player to best: he has traps, he spawns monsters, he surprises you with tricks. You're not adventuring here, you have to be on guard at every step you take or the game will end in the blink of an eye. I won't consider Descent a game based on exploration; it has a predominant tactical content.

Story elements: medium.

Descent quests have a setting, a plot and a task to accomplish. Unfortunately, most players don't care very much about the story as it doesn't matter to gameplay. Focused on combat tactics and movement, Descent Hero players will not have time for the background as a Runebound player will.


#6 JCHendee



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Posted 30 August 2011 - 02:35 AM

The comparisons by GRZ and Warlock, taken together, are some of the best material on this recurrent topic that I've seen in a while... with the caveat that DQ can't really be compared to either Descent or RB (just my opinion) and is more akin to Talisman (IMHO) than either in its mechanics. Nicely done, you two.

#7 Svenn



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Posted 10 October 2011 - 02:00 PM

Thanks for these explanations!

Of course, now I want all 3. ;) I love games of all different styles, and each one of these appeals to various things I like. I'm a fan of roguelike games, so I really want DQ. Runebound I still don't quite understand how the game actually plays, but from the explanations here I really want to try it out. And as for Descent, I've wanted to try this out since I first saw it years ago, but haven't made it around to purchasing it.

I'm actually torn between waiting on 2e Descent or trying to ****** up as much as I can before 1e goes out of print. I have no idea what I'll like better, but I like the idea of having options.

Ah well, they are ALL on my wishlist now. I'm thinking I'll probably pick up DQ first (mainly because there aren't a ton of expansions to worry about buying) and then Runebound next. I know there are a ton of expansions for that so I'll have to try and navigate through all that to figure out what all I should pick up.