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Getting Down with Descent 2: Journey’s In The Dark.

Having a little one is one of the most amazing and rewarding experiences you can have It is totally life changing, and this can be both good a shock to the system that leaves you hankering for the old days.

One outcome of this is that my ambition to get online regularly to write about delicious home-cooked meals I have whipped up has not really materialised. The other is that the time my beloved and I have to do those little romantic activities we used to enjoy so much is sorely reduced. But that doesn’t stop us. Oh no. When the baby has finally stopped rampaging and given in to bedtime, we still love getting it on together with a good game.

So I’m going to up the Geek element of Babyledgeek and start off with some reflections on the latest game we’ve had a go at:

Descent: Journey’s In The Dark (2nd Edition).

Once upon a time my husband and I used to set up an old school Descent campaign and while away a Sunday or bank holiday playing through a scenario or even a couple if we were feeling wild and had no plans for the evening. Very similar feel to the classic Hero Quest it scratched my itch for a thematic turn based adventure and his for a statistical debate into the best strategy to take. Lots of excitement to be had all round, you see!

However since the arrival of our little bundle, our chances of playing old school Descent dropped to approximately nil. Yes, we snuck in a cheeky Mage Knight on holiday, but that was a bit of a fluke and was only the intro quest (yet to be repeated since 6 months ago!).

How lovely, then, to be able to crack out Descent 2, from it’s less imposing though more practically sized box and bosh through a couple of missions in an evening! Yes, we got called away for a feed and resettle with only 5 minutes before the end due to the teething/growth-spurt continuum, but it was at least worth coming down afterwards to finish and claim my glorious victory. Had we been playing Descent Mk 1 we would probably have had another 30mins to an hour to go and would probably have called it a night after the first few squawks (actually, we wouldn’t have bothered in the first place and probably stuck with a Ravenloft or similar).

The game play itself is very similar, with the massive advantage of the new campaign capacity. Sadly we haven’t played the Road To Legend expansion, having missed the boat on the original release and not being able to justify the £300 odd they are now going for, but it was an often lamented fact about the original Descent game that each game always felt like it started with a massive slog to get through to the decent treasures(in a 2 hero game if you were unlucky enough to get rubbish or inappropriate treasures it seemed you were pretty much set up to fail). Equally there seemed little benefit in starting a new quest with characters held over from previous missions as they had always sold off their amazing treasures to pay the bar tab and would start out with a paltry amount to gamble on new ones.

Now the Heroes have a sense of continuity without the sense of collecting for the sake of it to get onto the hard missions that Hero Quest used to give. Rather the Overlord and the Heroes now grow along with the missions, giving a compelling sense of levelling up RPG style. This means that both can progress through the campaign in sync with each other and at a relaxed pace (unless you accidentally skip straight to the Act 2 missions with dead hard monsters like we did on holiday. And I’d thought I was just being awesome as the Overlord!). And there are consequences for winning or losing. Not overwhelming (although we are only in the early missions), but nicely balanced advantages for the next sub-quest or act.

I’ll admit I was dubious at first with no threat for the Overlord as I had enjoyed that mechanic, however the deck building element compensates and the balance feels good-neither side is overpowered (although we did boost the card draw up to 2 a turn to compensate when playing with 5 heroes on holiday as they just wiped those goblins back to the sewers!). It’s also nice having reinforcements and open groups where you can pick monsters from a given selection, as well as proper missions, rather than the “kill ’em all” generic task from the original.

So in summary, a really good game made even better by picking up the right elements for improvement, and now playable in an evening, without having to stay up until 3am…unless there is some serious teething going on or the cats have made off with the Goblin Leader!

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This entry was posted on 21/04/2013 by in Gaming and tagged , , , , , .
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