Descent. Who could forget the many hours one could easily spend waiting for the other people to take their turns. Don’t get me wrong, the first edition of Descent was fun and had a lot of great mechanics too it. I’m a sucker for a game where I can play the bad guy and stomp of the forces of light, grounding them to dust under the boots of my many minions. The draw back, it took ages to take a turn. Looking up this and that, and while I had no issue with it as I played the overlord, the other players thought I was too overpowered. We added in a few home rules to help but I still won almost every game as the overlord. Descent Second Edition changes all of that.
The Basic Rules
One person plays the overlord the rest play the heroes. You delve into a dungeon to find treasure, vanquish the monster, and return home triumphant. That or you’re playing the overlord and you throw everything you can manage at the heroes until you have killed them enough times to score enough points. At least that used to be the rules. Now the Overlord has objectives to complete instead of just killing players. A player dying is not as bad as it once was. This simple change made it like a whole new game. As one side wins they gain rewards that help them in later games to become more powerful. Even the loser gains a little bit of power, this gives you a sense of accomplishment and growth.
So I am the overlord and it is me versus the world! Well me versus my wife and my brother-in-law Roy. Having played many games of decent before I start by glancing over the rules to see what has changed from the original. My first shock was that a lot had change. I had an objective, the whole board and the monsters were visible to start, I only had a few cards in my deck, I didn’t have to manage threat tokens, killing the heroes only gave me an additional card, my monsters had changed, the list goes on and on. I spend some time re-reading the rules. Each change I come across I think “this is great, it fixes XYZ.” With the rules read and my wife and Roy having selected there heroes the game begins.
They have to kill this large Ettin in order to win, I have to get 5 of my goblin archers out the exit. My wife goes first and moves her archer up and around the corner, taken a shot at my archers, who quickly fall, they are not the strongest minions. Roy moves the warrior up but is unable to get close enough to the ettin or the goblins to hit them. My first turn I try and plan my strategy. I need to keep the attention of my goblins so I can work them off the board and my ettin has extra health above the normal ettin. A total of 9 hearts, he should be able to take a few hits. I move my goblins in line and start pummeling my wife with arrows. I get some good rolls and she takes a fair amount of damage. Her ability is that she can take it as fatigue instead of hearts and so she lives. I move my ettin forward and sense he has reach he can hit my wife as well. I let loose and take her down almost to death. I replace the goblin they killed and thus ends round one.
Round two starts with the heroes going in full retreat. My wife moves back toward the start and heads for the search marker. She gets a shield she can’t use with her bow. Roy strikes at my ettin dealing a few hearts of damage. Nothing he can’t take. Roy then backs off and moves back to protect my wife. My second turn I move my goblin archers forward and take shots down the corridor putting a few hearts on Roy. That should keep him a bit more worried about his health then my wifes. I play dash which lets me move my ettin twice his movement and I rush past Roy and to my wife. Swinging his giant club the ettin flattens my wife. They may have gotten first blood but I got the first kill.
Round three. My wifes only action is to stand up,she heals for 5 hearts and no fatigue. Roy strikes at the ettin which begins a theme that would hold for the next several attacks. Roy rolls 2 damage, I roll 2 shield. I move my goblins toward the exit, they should be able to leave next turn. My ettin then starts to pummel my wife once again, doing a few more hearts of damage and bringing her near death once more. The next few rounds play out about the same. Roy and my wife launch attack after attack roll 2-6 damage. For the most part I match them with my shields, rolling exactly what they do. One round I play dark charm and seize control of Roys warrior for a round, running him back to have him attack my wife as well. He brings her close to her third death. I am just a few turns away from winning. My goblins are near the exit when I check the life of my ettin. All those little one points of damage have started to add up and he only has two life left. A bad roll for me could cost me the game. Seeing this I quickly put him into retreat. Pulling him slowly back toward his starting spot. My goblins march forward as Roy and my wife take a round to heal, then charge after the ettin. They catch him but it is too late. I move the last two goblins I need off the edge and win the game, but just barely. This has been the closest game of Descent in a very long time. Viva la Overlord!
The final word
Descent Second Edition changes everything that was bad about the first. There wasn’t a lot bad about it, it was an enjoyable game that had a few issues. Fantasy Flight Games listened to there fans though and were willing to make big changes. Game changing decisions. This paid off in a huge way. How huge you ask? I have no doubt I will be buying the second edition even though I already own the first. I may even move this above my next planned purchase of Stone age. My wife who hated first edition loves second edition, even though she lost. Any game you can have fun losing is a game to have. I can’t wait to get together again and start on the next quest. I think it will be the first time we will get from start to finish in the quest book.
Cost: $54, or a conversion kit from first edition for $22.09