Customer Reviews: Descent: Journeys in The Dark Second Edition
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on January 2, 2013
My gaming group and I played the first edition of Descent a lot, including the Road to Legend campaign all the way through a couple of times. When this second edition came out, the logical thing to do was to buy it. I'm pleased to say that it not only met, but exceeded out expectations when it comes to what a good dungeon crawl should be. It's better than the first edition for a variety of reasons.

First, it's much more accessible. FFG did a good job of reducing the amount of overall rules and significantly shortened the play time. Going through a quest now only takes a couple of hours, whereas with the original Descent it could easily be double that, depending on how the Overlord played. I can see the second edition being much easier to pick up and play, even if you never played the first edition. Revising the line of sight/monster spawning rules was a very good decision on the part of FFG too, and is one of the big reasons the game doesn't take nearly as long to play.

Second, it's a lot more story-driven. In first edition, the victory conditions were usually tied in with destroying some big, bad monster. In second edition, different quests have a large variety of different victory conditions, and it really makes it a lot more fun to play overall. Heroes actually have to think about how to win rather than just mindlessly hacking at monsters, which is nice. The new hero attributes system makes the game much more role-playing-ish, which is cool too. I very much enjoy the new terrain tiles, as well.

Third, having the heroes divided into classes is a nice touch. I'm happy that they actually included a healer class in this edition, something that I always felt the first edition was lacking. The only class changes I'm not thrilled with are those of the tank class; for one-shot encounters the tank is almost as easy to kill as the mage. If you play the extended/epic variant with more gear, that problem does alleviate itself, but I still feel like FFG could have done a better job with tank class design. Allowing any hero to equip any gear is kind of lame, but the amount of gear that comes up in a campaign is not huge, so I don't see it as game-breaking by any means. Overall, the classes work well and are tuned well, and the Heroic Feats are a cool mechanic (though some are noticeably stronger than others).

Finally (and most importantly), it's a lot more balanced. First edition was -heavily- weighted towards the Overlord if the Overlord knew what he was doing. My group and I had to institute a huge number of house rules in order to balance the game out. The second edition is much more even overall, and we have not had to institute any house rules for anything other than stylistic reasons to this point.

Overall, we are very big fans of second edition, and it's endlessly customizable, so when we finish the campaign that came with the game I can easily design more. It's certainly more of a tactical combat/dungeon crawl than a RPG, however, the RPG elements it does have really help the game come together nicely. Being able to buy a conversion kit and use all the monsters/heroes from first edition is a helpful, too, though I can see people enjoying the game even if they never played the first edition at all, using just the included monsters/heroes. I honestly can't really see us ever going back to playing straight-up first edition, although I may use some of the stuff from it for future campaigns I design. Kudos to FFG for designing such a great game!
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on July 20, 2012
For fans of Descent 1st Edition, be sure you know what you like about the first one before buying this one. There are significant changes, but overall, the game moves towards long term playability through shorter quests and fewer "stuff" to worry about. It's not that they have removed the core essence of the game, just that they have gone in a slightly different direction with the game.

For those new to Descent or other "dungeon crawl" games, this game feels very much like a fast paced miniatures strategy game pitting the wits of the a group of heroes against the evil machinations of the "Overlord" player. With plenty of room for expansion but still providing enough quests to keep you occupied for some time, Descent 2nd Edition has a lot of fun packed into the box. I've been a fan of Fantasy Flight Games board games for quite some time and this is one of their top productions.

The thing I like most is how fluidly the game plays. There are few times when the game has to stop to check rules or to figure out what the results of all the dice mean. I was skeptical of the new version, but the play style has definitely won me over.
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on October 1, 2012
Opinions are mixed on this game. Is it just a dumbed down version of Descent 1, or is it a streamlined dungeon crawler, excellent in its own right? I think the right way to review this game is NOT as a successor to Descent 1, but on its own merits. When looked at this way, the game really begins to shine.

First, what stands out in gameplay is the focus on story. As one offsite reviewer has noted, this isn't a find-the-goblin-in-the-dungeon-and-kill-him type of game. While there's plenty of monster-killing, there is a lot of backstory for every campaign, hero, and monster.

Second, the map is beautiful. There are a lot of map pieces that fit together very well both mechanically and visually. There are map layouts in the campaign book, and there's a lot of variety there. Everything is numbered for easy use.

Third, play is really balanced between Overlord and Heroes. It is entirely possible in most games for either side to win. So the Overlord doesn't need to hold back. Heroes playing wisely can win -- but they also can be defeated by a skillful Overlord.

Fourth, game play is great right out of the box. There are a lot of campaigns to choose from. What's also nice is they all have a natural stopping point about an hour in, at the end of Act I. There's plenty of material, too, to create your own campaigns. But the way the game is set up, it's totally possible to have the same campaign turn out very differently each time. This means that EACH CAMPAIGN has excellent replay value.

Highly recommended for the high quality of play, and for its excellent replayability. While not exactly innovative, the game is certain extremely well done -- one of the most perfect dungeon crawls that exists. The quality of construction/printing/textual materials is likewise excellent. A must play.

Owners of the original Descent will find theDescent: Journeys in The Dark Second Edition Conversion Kit helpful. And if you do get burnt out on crawling dungeons, or if your friends just can't "hack" it, try THE Book of Word Games: Parlett's Guide to 150 Great and Quick-to-Learn Word Games.
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on August 12, 2012
Descent 2 Review from a Descent 1 Fan

First off, there are several reviews of Descent 2nd Edition that are based entirely on the game itself. The purpose of this review is for players, like me, who love Descent 1 and were hoping for more of the same with Descent 2.

I'd like to start with some background. I have been playing Descent 1st Edition for as long as I can remember. I own every expansion and have played nearly every dungeon and some several times. I have played both campaign expansions though not extensively with Sea of Blood as the ship battles were tedious. I was active on the forums to make sure I had all the rules right and I printed the full FAQ and referenced it often. I knew the rules well and so did my players (I was almost always Overlord). We knew the rules so well that the hero players knew what card I was about to play based on the amount of threat I was counting out.

I was very excited about Descent 2 and read every preview. When the rules were posted I read them twice in my free time at work. Then when I got the game itself I read the rules twice more; once to just to be sure and again when I thought I had to be missing something. I say this because the general response to a negative review is that I'm just not doing it right. My group and I can't figure out how people are able to enjoy this game in the same capacity as Descent 1. Remember, this review is for Descent 1 fans who wanted Descent 2 to be a natural successor. Also, this review is a comparison between vanilla Descent 1 (with no expansions) and Descent 2 which is the only way to be fair.

There are enough reviews about the good aspects of D2 so instead of re-hashing what has already been said I'm going to focus on the negatives.

Here are the reasons my group mutinied against D2 mid-quest in no particular order:

-Overlord doesn't get to spawn. Some quests let you replace 1 lost monster per turn, sometimes two but that's rare. And it enters the dungeon at a set location.

~One Overlord tactic always works and works too well: Put a large monster on a choke point and have your smaller monsters run for the quest objective. This boring tactic has seen the Overlord win every time.

-Heroes can only spend fatigue for movement or to trigger lackluster class abilities.

o No random draw for cool powers. Your class will always have the same starting setup and the same options as it levels up. Some are cool but most are just okay.

o No adding power die to beef up an attack, or adding just one more power die to finish a kill.

§ You get one primary attack dice and one power dice. In tier 2 you get two power die.

-No separate loot for potions, money and chests. Now it's a single token and you draw from a deck to see what you get: Potions, treasure, or the hated X (no loot).

o Potions are very limited. You won't see Silhouette running 19 squares to grab all the loot in a dungeon anymore.

-Once a hero gets knocked out, unless another hero helps him up, he'll be stuck getting smashed round after round by whatever knocked him out in the first place.

o This makes for a boring game for the hero team. Descent 1 was far better where the hero dies in a blaze of glory then comes right back the next turn at full strength ready to bash monsters.

-Dungeons are too small. I understand streamlining but it encourages the use of Bullet #2 and makes the dungeons a little claustrophobic.

-Attacking is heavily discouraged. Both sides need to use all their actions toward completing the objective, which is very easy for the Overlord and very difficult for the heroes, especially when using bullet #2 as the heroes have to pummel their way through a heavy defense monster while the Overlord is double-moving toward his goal.

By the end of the second dungeon my group and I saw that the Overlord would win every encounter within a couple of turns if he just ignores the heroes entirely and goes for the objective. So we house-ruled that monsters cannot double move (except with Dash). We also house-ruled that the X card in the loot deck was to be removed since so much of the heroes' potential lies with equipment.

The Overlord still won every encounter, and yes I tried playing on the hero team.

My group and I feel that D2 is not balanced for competitive play, and that's what we were expecting from Descent 2 based on what we liked about Descent 1. That said, even if D2 were balanced, the gameplay is simply boring. They have removed so many options for both sides of the table by making too many assumptions in the name of streamlining. The heroes chafed at not being able to use a Ready action for Aim and burn a ton of fatigue in order to get one big hit on the big heavy monster. Instead they had to hope for a good roll and also hope that the Overlord had a bad roll on defense. With D2 it seems to come down to luck since so many of your tactical decisions have already been made.

I've seen people say that D2 is supposed to be more like an RPG where the Overlord pulls punches and plays more like a DM. This is not what we signed up for. I've also read that it's more about hero progression which completely boggles me. You only have a few choices when you level up - generally A, B or C. With Descent 1 the possible combination of powers made each game very different.

If they had called Descent 2 by another name like Defenders of Terrinoth then I don't think I would be so negative about it. It's because I like Descent 1 so much that I find Descent 2 so disappointing. My wife's review of Descent 2 was that it played like something you'd get at Toys'R'Us - fun at face value but lacking tactical depth.

I already know the response to this: If I don't like Descent 2 then I should just play Descent 1. That's what we're doing. The purpose of this review is to help other Descent 1 fans who may be on the fence about Descent 2 make their decision.

However, I wish they'd make a conversion kit for Descent 1 so I could use the Descent 2 plastic
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on October 30, 2013
I own copies of both the first and second Eds. I currenlty have all the expansions for the 2nd Ed. I will not belabor what everyone else is saying regarding comparing the two the editions except to say that Fantasy Flight Games listened to the complaints about the first ed taking to long to play and decided to correct the playing time. In doing so, they took a few pages from their Doom! board game - a game I dearly love - and streamlined the character abilities and skills. The maps are also much smaller compared to the 1st ed which also cuts down on the playing time.

But a point that I think the other reviewers are missing is that the players playing the heroes MUST work together to complete the missions. The game is more about teamwork - for the heroes at least - then anything else. Each player should know what the other players abilities and skills are and use everyone's skills to benefit the entire group. Having played both versions, the 2nd ed relies quite a bit more on teamwork among the heroes than does the 1st edition.

While the game does scale down if there are only 2-3 heroes (I have never played with less than 4 heroes) from reading the posts, it may be out of balance for 2-3 heroes. I have always been the overlord and watching the heroes discuss among themselves the best way to solve a difficult tactical puzzles is highly amusing. Especially when their plan falls apart when the first player whose role is critical rolls a miss. Twice. I have read on other reviews that the different missions or scenarios are balanced towards either the heroes or the overloard. I have rarely found this to be the case. Yes, if I have a new group of players, I go a bit easier. It is no fun to be crushed your first time out.

Each scenario is divided into two parts. Whoever "wins" the first part of the map gets a slight advantage on the 2nd part of the map. In almost every scenario, it is a tie for the first part of the map. And the second part of the map is very very close.

One rule that I missed however, is that the monsters, if they don't attack during their turn can move twice. In my opinion, this makes the monsters overpowered. So unless a dash card is played, monsters only get to move once. For those of you who say the overlord always wins, try instituting this rule and see if things balance out. I also suggest that there should always be 4 heroes even if one player needs to play two characters.

I won't repeat what other players have said regarding the quality of the minatures and game pieces - but they are up to FFGs usual standards. And if you are looking to play, live in Southern CA and are near the San Fernando Valley - come join us at Friday Night Dice. You can find us on the meetup dot com website.

Hope to see you there!!
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on May 14, 2015
First up, I never played the first edition of this game, so this review is for the newbies out there like I was when first getting started.

Descent Journeys in the Dark is a dungeon crawler board game. For those unfamiliar with what that means, players have to navigate a board that is set-up differently to accomplish an objective while finding random treasure, fighting monsters, avoiding traps, and using their abilities wisely to win. One player takes on the role of the evil overlord who directs the actions of all the monsters, has a slew of tricks up their sleeves (evil overlord cards), and actively tries to make the forces of darkness win the day. The rules for the game are quite complex (especially determining the line of sight mechanic) however there is a youtube channel called Watch It Played that breaks it all down fairly easily, although it is telling that later videos point out mistakes he made while playing (it is a series of videos to watch to learn the game well). It isn't a hard game to understand, but it is rather complex and having someone with no idea of what anything means sit at the table and try to figure it out is sheer madness. The instructions do a good job explaining things, but since you are reading this on Amazon, you have access to the internet and the Watch It Played videos are probably the best way to get a group of people to learn the game quickly.

The components for the game are wonderfully well done. The cards are quite small for equipment and abilities, however, the text is big enough and the information is easily read, so it is nice that extra cards do not dominate table space. No, the meat and potatoes of the table space is dominated by a dungeon constructed out of pieced together sturdy cardboard with nice artwork on them to get you in the adventuring mood. One would think it would be complicated to put together these dungeons, but it really isn't as all the parts are clearly labeled with a number and side A or side B excluding entrances, exits, and dead-end pieces. This dungeon will be housing minis! The plastic minis for this game are the best looking plastic minis I have seen in table top gaming. period. Most plastic minis look like partially melted cheese in the vague form of heroes which is why I was doubly shocked to see these minis such fine detail. It really makes me want to paint them and keep them as works of art they are so well done and that makes you get into the game even more.

The feel of accomplishing your run as the heroes or swatting them down as the overlord is rush, but the game also drops the ball on more than a few things.

1. The Lieutenant pieces (boss monsters) are simply tokens. I am forgiving of the NPC being tokens, but to have a crazy detailed barghast mini taking orders from some dudes face on a coin sized slab just feel wrong. Fantasy Flight sells very well detailed minis of the Lieutenant pieces for about 10 bucks a pop, but that seems a little high.

2. While the game isn't hard to learn, convincing new people to learn it and join in is a pain in the neck sometimes because no other system (Save for the Star Wars Imperial Assault game) uses a similar system and a lot of players don't want to spend time learning something so complex to be limited to just one game. It might not be a problem for you, but it was for me.

3. The game says 2-5 players, but that not a good idea. You need at least two heroes as the overlord to even assign monsters to an area so you have to have a person playing two heroes and micromanaging both of them. Having four heroes against the overlord is also a problem, it doesn't make the game unwinnable as the overlord but it does offer such a huge advantage to the player's side of things it makes it darn hard to pull off a big W as the overlord. Three heroes to one overlord is about the perfect ratio.

4, The setup time and tear down time is a bit long in the tooth. You can't say, 'Hey, let's play descent' and the be on the board in swinging in less five minutes for example.

I really love this game, but it isn't for everybody.
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on September 20, 2012
I was a little disconcerted from some reviews I read online (mostly people who owned the original Decent and were grumpy about the change in rules), but recently I decided to just go for it and I regret nothing! This game is a perfect mix of meaty rules, easy set up, and reasonable game length. A while back I was on the search for a rood RPG that harkend to the Heroquest RPG but didn't cost $250. After scouring 100s of reviews, with my friends, I settled on this gem. I highly recommend this game if you are looking for an RPG that hits all the notes Heroquest had and actually exceeds it in gameplay. Average game time is about 45 minutes which is nice if you can't dedicate your entire life to an RPG game. If you are trying to decide between Heroquest, Runewars, Small World, War of the Rings or Decent: Journeys in The Dark....go with Decent you won't regret it.
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on May 31, 2014
Take my review with a grain of salt since I haven't played through a whole campaign but what I do know is
- A lot of minis and a variety of them. Don't let the red/white scheme scare you away
- Lots of good quality cardboard and cards. Colorful art.
- Essentially a tactical miniatures fantasy game of 1 vs 2-4
- Meant to be played as a campaign and requires a dedicated group of consistent gamers
- Fair amount of setup time needed, but well worth it.
- Not a dungeon crawl / exploration since both sides have goals to pursue.
- Lots of small and large expansions which can use up your savings but do not require any expansions to have a good game.

If you are okay with all of the above then this game is for you.
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on November 17, 2013
Descent is an excellent tabletop game that is great for players looking for a fun time, but something that's a little more structured than an RPG like D&D or Pathfinder. One player is the Overlord, and one to four other players are the heroes; for each quest, the Overlord and the heroes compete against differing objectives. This asymmetric gameplay element is a lot of fun, and keeps the game exciting as players try to accomplish their goals while denying their opponent theirs.

The campaign included with the boxed set (the Shadow Rune) is a lot of fun, and is an excellent entry point for new players while providing enough complexity for more advanced players. In addition, once your group has played through the content of the base game, there are several expansions available (currently two small and one large) to provide additional heroes, monsters, tiles, and even new game mechanics.

My group had several players who were new to tabletop gaming, and had a lot of fun with Descent. It's an accessible game that provides enough structure that newbie players can follow along and have a lot of fun, while still having enough flexibility to tailor their character as they earn additional skills and equipment. I highly recommend Descent 2nd. Ed. to any gaming group!
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on January 29, 2014
I had Descent Version 1. I played it never. The rules were complex, the modifiers were complex and hundreds of tokens existed for it. All I wanted to do was go into a dungeon, fight monsters and get treasure. This game does that in such a simple and elegant way that I really appreciate. It de-clutters the box and simplifies the instructions. There are less counters and the battles are streamlined. I appreciate where Fantasy Flight is going with their games. You can tell they put thought into making there games fun and streamlining where possible. I know that some people like the numbers crunching and that's fine, but for most, it's a turn off. This game is dungeon exploring at its best, in a box!
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