So, unlike most people, I have encountered a rarity in my first (two-thirds of the) Shadow Rune campaign session with 2 heroes, controlled by 2 players, myself as the overlord.
I have something like 17 years of DM experience and I basically do nothing but play games. I have never played Descent before, but I have played D&D, Hero Quest, and a thousand others like it (or so I thought) and I had read through the rulebook, but not the quest guide and game cards, before play.
One player isn't really a gamer, doesn't really play RPGs, but she ended up being one of the better tacticians. (I think this is a pretty big point to bring up - not only was a relative non-gamer able to pick up and play quickly, but she got really good at it. Of course, she was extremely peeved the one time the heroes lost...)
The other has extensive gaming experience but nothing really tabletop or turn-based related. He didn't do so well, but still...
The heroes always won!
At first, it was definitely because I was missing something. For instance, I was unaware that the Stunned status effect given by Ashrian's hero ability did not take the *entire* turn to discard - for the first couple quests they dominated me because of this, because he would simply move next to a group of mobs to stun them my turn, or use Shared Pain (as Runemaster), and sometimes kill 3 at once. (Keep in mind the very low-seeming number of monsters I am given as a 2-hero OL.) Also, I wasn't drawing cards for the first few when KOing a hero, but I didn't really do that except for maybe one map anyway. And finally, during the entire time, nobody discarded stamina at the end of their turn - they did it immediately.
Pretty sure the stamina thing did me in. The issue came about with the combination of Ashrian/Spiritspeaker and Syndrael/Knight for the two heroes. The classes compliment the heroes, and the heroes compliment each other, especially in regards to defense and healing. (The Knight's Advance and Oath of Honor skills made it hard for me to keep mobs on the map, and it didn't help they kept getting better and better equipment.)
Trap cards are underpowered, as well. Saboteur is not a good way to spec. Traps only have a chance of occurring and are only useful in scenarios that demand you restrict the player's movement, as opposed to Warlord cards, which give you instant, tangible benefit (smashy smash).
However, even when all of the rules were being followed correctly, and after we all had experience with the game, I still barely won, and only by utilizing literally every option I had and giving zero quarter. You might think that means that the game is actually extremely well balanced, but the heroes weren't even trying that hard, which is how I triumphed (on the last round). In fact, the scenario is pretty ridiculous:
The Dawnblade, part 1. First Act II scenario (so mobs get ++). If any 2-hero party wins this quest, it's kind of a miracle. Then again, I did say I barely won.
We will have to see how the rest of the campaign plays out, but hopefully I'll get to play with other people soon as well, and get a 3- or 4-hero game going. Anyway, just wanted to share my first impressions.
Also, my opinion? Descent rocks, but it's very tactical and very rules-heavy. Learn from my mistakes, and everyone should have a very fun, balanced, and challenging experience ^^
Already ordered Heirs of Blood - huge thanks to FFG for releasing base-game expansions in all kinds of ways!