Our little 5 human Descent 2E group has played 2 quests now for and I am very excited by the idea of a board game that slots in between the traditional board game and the full role playing experience. Here we have a game which tells a story, at the campaign and quest level and (if the players put some effort in) at the Hero and Monster level. While our games have got bogged down in the intricacies of the movement and action strategies the story that unfolds is very entertaining. The highly thought through strategic playing has made for some marathon sessions for two quests so far. “The Shadow Rune” initial campaign hints at greater things to come for Hero and Overlord alike.

The game balances on a tricky knife’s edge with one person (me) being the Overlord while everyone else is playing cooperatively. But so far it has panned out very well, if they don’t want the monsters to attack the weaker characters then they should protect them better… People are getting into their characters and our understanding of the rules in improving so the basics impose a little less on the story telling.
The rules are complex and there are plenty of bits we missed, didn’t quite get right or seem counter-intuitive which hasn’t helped our games being too long. Maybe we will get faster as we go.

The game looks excellent on the table with the map elements, miniatures, tokens and character sheets. The production values are very – check our BGG’s image gallery. Here are 4 images of games in play:

[Descent 2E photos of the game in action via BoardGameGeek]

The idea of a board game having a campaign is in itself pretty rare, add to that the clear opportunity for creative roleplay around the actions in the game and things are are looking very exciting for gaming on the tabletop. Having heroes cheer when their mighty hammer caves in the head of an Ettin or cringe in despair as Monsters pummel them with the aid of their unseen overlords magic.
I would have liked a ‘flipping over’ health and stamina token logic – maybe we can colour one side to achieve this as it would show more clearly what characters have and how close they are to being exhausted or downed.

One thing that Fantasy Flight Games have added for the community (apart from the Lair of Wyrm expansion and the previous edition conversion kit) is the brand spanking new Quest Vault. This online toolset is in open beta and allows the community to create quests for the game with a great looking map and scenario editor. Players can then download the quests with the same look quality as the boxed set and extend the life of the game even more. It may be that I would get greedy and wish for more than 5 spiders or 5 gobbos if I was to generate a new adventure or campaign – token city.

It was a glorious finale to the second quest with chubby Splig taken down 1 square from the exit, a complex game that can deliver a result that close is very clever indeed (even with the rule errors we made). With Splig finding Frederick was the last prisoner the heroes had the upper hand until Splig made a violent dash for the exit. Really looking forward to more now, as well as trying Mouse Guard for a fully coop game of similar type.