Sunday, March 31, 2013
If you've seen Descent (whether in-person or online), you know that it has no shortage of tiles, tokens, cards, and figures. All of these pieces come packed in the original game box when purchased, but can be a challenge to fit back in unless you toss the organizational insert that keeps the unpunched tiles separate. Unfortunately, while everything fits, it leaves it all in a jumble and risk damage to the figures.
As a solution, I stopped by one of my local retail stores and picked up the following items:
Plano Magnum Satchel (Model 1350)
Plano ProLatch Stowaway (3500 Series)
(note that the Magnum Satchel comes with one Stowaway, and I picked up a second one)
The Magnum Satchel has a large primary storage area which works well for the various floor tiles. This area also holds up to four of the Stowaway cases. I used the two Stowaways to keep the various game tokens organized and easily accessible during play. The Stowaways are small, so keeping them near (or on) the game table during play is feasible.
In the upper lid I've stored the various cards and figures. Everything fits fairly well, though I wish there were more dividers for the upper part. I only have the Descent base game at this time, so I don't know how much room I will need for the Lair of the Wyrm expansion.
The Magnum Satchel was a solid purchase and everything except the Rule Book and Quest Guide fits. However, I don't know how much room I'll have for future expansion and I expect I'll have to reorganize a few areas. The Stowaways are definite winners, as they're sturdy, small, and provide a very flexible amount of storage for small items such as the various tokens.
I'll add photos of my storage setup at a later date, so you can see how everything fits and see if it's a viable option.
Update: I picked up a Plano Deep ProLatch Stowaway (3700 Series) to hold the various cards, and it does a pretty good job. Unfortunately it's not quite tall enough to hold the large cards when they're fully upright, but there's plenty of space to allow them to lean and the small cards fit perfectly.
Quest I - A Fat Goblin
Having triumphed over Mauler the Ettin and his goblin lackeys, the two heroes made their way to Arhynn. The mighty dwarf Berserker Grisban the Thirsty sought out the nearest tavern, while the devout Avric Albright paid his respects at the temple as befit a Disciple. While in Arhynn, the heroes heard tales of increasing goblin raids on the nearby farmlands. Joined by the Runecaster, Leoric of the Book, they outfitted themselves with provisions and journeyed north.
Shortly after leaving Arhynn, the group came upon a sage traveling to the city. Thanks to a quick exchange of information between the sage and Leoric, the heroes were able to avoid some of the goblin raiding parties in the area. [Leoric won the Knowledge test for the Travel Event, so one Overlord Card was discarded]
The heroes continued their uneventful journey and arrived at the northern farms only to find them under attack by goblins and villagers fleeing in panic! Rushing to the villagers' defense, Grisban held off the goblins' pet cave spiders while Avric and Leoric rushed ahead. The goblin archers were intent on stealing the village's harvest, and managed to escape with two bundles before Avric and Leoric could secure the remaining crops. [The Overlord escaped with two bundles of crops, but the heroes secured the remaining two. Grisban remained behind to hold off the cave spiders, which gave him a hard time and took him down once. However, his dwarf constitution (and the amount of alcohol he drinks) let him easily shrug off the effects of the cave spiders' poison!]
Once the goblins saw that they wouldn't get any more of the crops, they fled back to their nearby lair. According to one of the villagers, his brother Frederick and several others had been kidnapped. The heroes gave chase, easily tracking the goblins' sloppy movements to the cave entrance. Once inside, the heroes stayed together and fought past yet more cave spiders and a very tough ettin. [The lack of Overlord reinforcements let the heroes make significant progress by focusing their attacks and not having to deal with newcomers. Avric used his Heroic Feat to heal the group early, which greatly helped them recover from Encounter 1.]
Meanwhile, the self-proclaimed "King of All Goblins", Splig, was torturing captive villagers in an effort to find which one was the retired Shadow Binder (which was none other than the villager's brother Frederick). Of his four captives, it seems the fourth and last one was his quarry. However, by this time the heroes had fought their way past the spiders and ettin, and were moving deeper into the goblins' lair. Splig ordered his goblin minions to clear the way, so he could escape with his prize for the Overlord. [No joke, the fourth and last token was the villagers' brother, Frederick. The heroes had finished the ettin and were moving through his lair at that point, ready for the final battle.]
The goblin archers burst out of the corridor, firing a hail of arrows at the heroes. While they did respectable damage, Grisban's mighty axe quickly slew two of the goblin archers who had crept too close. In the chaos of battle, Splig made a mad dash past his fellow goblins, between the three heroes, and into the cave spiders' lair. The heroes were stunned by the display of speed from such a fat goblin, but quickly turned and gave chase! Upon the stairs leading outside, Avric and Leoric managed to wound Splig enough for him to drop the captive villager and flee outside. [Thanks to some Overlord Cards and the health boost for Splig from the crop bundles recovered in Encounter 1, Splig managed to get to the very last square of the entrance! The heroes pulled out all the stops and a last-ditch short range attack from Leoric finished off Splig and won the quest!]
Frederick thanked the heroes for their help, and informed them that they needed to see the Barons as soon as possible. Their work was far from over...
[I hope you've enjoyed my narrative spin on our Descent campaign, and I look forward to continuing it as the campaign progresses!]
For those who aren't familiar with it, Descent: Journeys In The Dark is a tabletop dungeon-delving board game with a strong story-driven element, released by Fantasy Flight Games. I would like to state that while I did play the First Edition of Descent a couple of times, I'm not overly familiar with it and do not have any "First Edition bias" when looking at Second Edition. However, to help give readers a point of reference I'm going to recall my many fond memories of HeroQuest, which provided much enjoyment in my youth and served as a sort of "gateway game" into this genre.
The quality of all the game components is excellent. This is exactly what I expected from Fantasy Flight, and they didn't disappoint. The cards and the heavier tiles and tokens are all very solid, and all have very vibrant colors. The miniatures are plastic and though they aren't as good as those you'd purchase for wargames, etc., they have good detail for a board game and are fairly solid. I haven't decided if I'll try to paint them up or not, or if I'll look for alternative miniatures to replace them.
The map tiles are all double-sided, which is a brilliant idea. Generally they have an "indoor" side and an "outdoor" side, which lets the tiles serve double-duty while maximizing the number of tiles you can use simultaneously. Also, every tile has a number and a letter, which lets you quickly locate the tiles necessary to set up the map for a particular quest.
The game plays very smoothly. Each hero is allowed two actions per turn (such as Move or Attack), and any abilities which require an action to use are clearly marked. Also, all rules for effects are included on the appropriate card, so there's no flipping pages in the rulebook to find out that a Wooden Shield can add one defense if exhausted (for example). I've read that this "streamlining" was a big part of the changes between the First and Second Editions of the game.
Monsters, controlled by the Overlord, are all activated by type. For example, all Goblin Archers are activated together, and they must all act before another type of monster is activated. This helps keep track of which monsters have acted for the turn. In addition, the Overlord gets to draw Overlord cards, which allow him to play various tricks and traps (such as tripwires to slow heroes' movement, or dark magic to reroll dice) and keep the heroes' on their toes.
Heroes and monsters are pretty close in stats. Obviously, heroes outclass lesser monsters like Goblin Archers, but the latter help make up for it in numbers. This surprised me, as I recall in HeroQuest where even several Orcs couldn't hope to take down the Barbarian. I'm curious if this balance will hold out as the game progresses, but given that monsters all get buffed to tougher versions for Act II during the campaign in Descent, I suspect they will continue to be a challenge to the heroes.
A couple of the players in our group have commented about how easy the game is to pick up and play. While they've both play board games before, they're not regular board game players. This is one of the reasons I enjoy and highly recommend Descent, as it's complex enough to satisfy veteran board gamers but still accessible for new players.
In addition, the Overlord player has his own goals. This adds a lot to the game, and differentiates Descent from similar games where the player controlling the monsters is really just there to slow down the heroes. In Descent, the Overlord is trying to achieve a goal that may or may not be in opposition to what the heroes' goal is. For example, in the introductory quest ("First Blood"), the heroes' goal is to kill Mauler the Ettin, while the Overlord's goal is to escape with his goblins. This gives the game a very dynamic feel and makes for some tense battles, as strategy comes into play and combat isn't necessarily the focus for victory!
I wholeheartedly recommend this game for both veteran board gamers and new players alike. I know some fans of First Edition don't care for the new edition, but so far it's been a lot of fun and my gaming group is looking forward to the next gaming session!