Friday, May 17, 2013

Descent: Journeys In The Dark (Quest) - The Twin Idols

Quest VI - The Twin Idols

Having been briefed by Baron Greigory's librarian, the heroes departed for the Carthmounts to find the Twin Idols - the Idol of the Sun and the Idol of Skulls.  According to the librarian's findings, the Idols could be used to either reinforce or weaken the seals containing the Dragonlord Gryvorn.  The journey was largely uneventful until the heroes neared the mountains.  Jain Fairwood skillfully led the heroes around the Overlord's patrolling minions, and Grisban the Thirsty bravely held a nest of forest spiders at bay while his companions escaped to safety.  Before long, the heroes had reached the cavern that housed the Twin Idols.  [The heroes successfully evaded one of the Overlord's spies, forcing him to discard a card, while Grisban was the only one Poisoned by the spiders on the Travel Events.]

The heroes arrived just in time to see a group of goblin archers carrying the Idol of Skulls.  Grisban and Leoric of the Book hurried forward to hold them at bay, while Avric Albright stood guard as a pair of ettins approached from another passageway.  The goblins peppered Grisban and Leoric with arrows, but to little effect.  Meanwhile, Jain ran down the remaining corridor and searched in vain for a key to the Idol of the Sun.  [The heroes wisely rushed forward to the intersection and set up a defensive line to hold the monsters at bay.  Their plan worked brilliantly, namely because the Overlord forgot the goblins archers' Scamper ability, which allows them to move through heroes!]

The heroes hold the line

As Grisban and Leoric pushed forward against the goblins and felled a number of their number, they quickly moved forward to search for the key.  The ettin boss, Zak'n'Jak, wounded Jain and quickly pushed past Avric to keep the heroes separated and let the other ettin push forward.  Another goblin archer rushed in the entrance behind the heroes and quickly picked up the Idol of Skulls.  The heroes knew the race was on!  [The Overlord saw his opening once Jain was knocked out, and moved the master ettin to block Grisban and Leoric in the northern passage.  Meanwhile, a goblin archer reinforcement came in the Entrance and rushed forward with a Dash card to quickly grab the Idol of Skulls and made a run toward the Sewer tile, as the ettin minion moved to cover his escape!]

The tables are turned

Grisban and Leoric defeated Zak'n'Jak and tossed his key to Jain, who ran like the wind far into the Ettin's Lair.  The goblin archer carrying the Idol of Skulls had made it to the Sewer, but was just climbing down into the filth as Jain opened the door and activated the Idol of the Sun.  The heroes had triumphed, and were shown a vision of where to find the Sun Totem!  [Jain used her Heroic Feat to double move, and then used another Move action to move a massive 15 spaces!  The goblin archer was a couple of moves away from being able to place the Idol of Skulls, so the heroes won Encounter 1 and would get to go first as normal in Encounter 2.]

Jain reaches the Idol of the Sun as a goblin archer makes a break for it with the Idol of Skulls

A short while later, the heroes had reached the valley within the Carthmounts depicted in their shared vision.  As they reached a small pond and the Skull Totem, they heard the nearby moans of zombies and the familiar voice of Lady Eliza Farrow taunting them.  The heroes wasted no time rushing the zombies and destroyed a number of the decaying undead.  [Lady Eliza Farrow was equipped with the Scorpion's Kiss, and the open monster group was the ever-useful hybrid sentinels.]

The battle for the totems begins

The zombie gauntlet

As the zombies pushed forward against the heroes, Jain broke through their lines and made a sprint toward the Sun Totem.  She had just made it to the Graveyard where the totem rested, when she was attacked by both a master and a minion zombie.  Already wounded, she could not fight them off and fell to their attacks.  Suddenly, she found herself back on the Muddy Path leading to the Pond, restored by the mystical spirits of the valley!  [Jain was the first hero to get knocked out in this encounter, which meant she was restored to full health and stamina and placed back on the Muddy Path tile.  Normally this would have been a great boon to the heroes, but in this case it wasted her Heroic Feat in her attempt to reach the Sun Totem.]

As the zombies and Lady Eliza pressed the heroes, the hybrid sentinels simultaneously pressed the assault as one of their number flew overhead and grabbed the Skull Totem.  Leoric and Avric fell, reappearing next to Jain on the Muddy Path and leaving Grisban alone to fight the Overlord's minions.  Lady Eliza used the Scorpion's Kiss to great effect, raining damage on Grisban and pinning him in place with the bow's enchanted poison arrows.  While the Poison did little against the hearty (and ale-soaked) dwarf, the Immobilization enchantment kept him rooted in place and prevented him from chasing the hybrid sentinels.  As the dragonkin flew off with the Skull Totem, the heroes rallied and made a final rush past a wave of zombies to search for one last treasure.  [The Scorpion's Kiss was a great boon in limiting Grisban's ability to tear up the Overlord's forces by repeated Immobilize effects.  With one final push, multiple heroes fell as the hybrid sentinel escaped with the Skull Totem and rapidly escaped the heroes' ability to retaliate.  The heroes had been outmaneuvered, but put on a good show of teamwork to reach one last Search token.]

A hybrid sentinel escapes with the Skull Totem as the Overlord's forces hold the heroes at bay

The heroes cooperate to claim one last prize

The Overlord's minions withdrew, as Lady Eliza called upon the power of the Skull Totem and weakened the seals binding the Dragonlord Gryvorn.  The Overlord was one step closer to his goal of dominion!  [The Overlord won the quest, giving him extra XP as a quest reward and bringing Act II to 2-0 for the Overlord!]


I felt incredibly daft in Encounter 1 once I remembered the goblin archers' Scamper ability!  After all, that was the whole point behind choosing the goblin archers as my open monster group!  Unfortunately, I had remembered only after Grisban and Leoric had decimated the goblins' ranks, so I don't know how well it would have worked.  The ettins worked fairly well, and did a good job of blocking the hallways once I was able to make a hole in the heroes' ranks to get them in place.  Overall, I would like to play Encounter 1 again with the same monsters (ettins and goblin archers), and see how it plays out.  Fortunately, losing the first encounter did not have a huge impact for the Overlord in this quest.

Encounter 2 started fairly well; the zombies fared about as expected, as they only have one brown defense die (pathetic!), even in Act II.  I'm not sure how that's supposed to be balanced; it seems that they either need to have a much higher amount of health (so it takes a while for heroes to cut them down), or else have a "Rise Again" ability that lets them stand back up the next turn and just keep coming.  The master zombie had a respectable attack, but the standard zombie minions are not a significant threat unless they can mob a hero.

As always, the hybrid sentinels were awesome shock troops and carried the battle.  The master hybrid sentinel's Fire Breath was only used once, but combined with their Prey on the Weak and Fly abilities, they are great at picking on weaker/support characters.  Also, as I predicted, their Fly ability came in very handy for reaching the Skull Totem past the heroes' lines and successfully escaping with it.

Finally, Lady Eliza Farrow combined with the Scorpion's Kiss relic was an excellent combination.  She already has a nice ranged attack, and since the Scorpion's Kiss ability is a non-attack action (it does not cause damage, only Poison & Immobilize).  The Poison ability on Grisban almost never actually does anything due to his massive Might stat, but the Immobilize was critical in locking him down and keeping him from slaughtering my minions.  I look forward to seeing this relic in action again, and seeing the heroes come up with a counter to it.

Since this was the second Overlord victory in Act II, it ensured that we would be playing "The Man Who Would Be King" as the Finale quest.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Descent: Journeys In The Dark (Quest) - The Monster's Hoard

Quest V - The Monster's Hoard

Having recovered from their epic battle at the Shadow Vault, the heroes had been contacted by Frederick, the farmer and former Shadow Binder that had been rescued from the Goblin King Splig's clutches several weeks prior.  Frederick told the heroes of a legendary bow that he once used, but was currently in one of the Overlord's treasure vaults.  The heroes, eager to strike a blow against their nemesis, agreed to escort Frederick to the vault and retrieve the legendary Trueshot.  The heroes journeyed south, across the River Rhynn and into the Carthridge Mountains.  Along the way, they were attacked by one of the Overlord's patrols, but otherwise the journey was uneventful.  [The Overlord won the Interlude, and chose The Monster's Hoard.  Since the heroes won the A Fat Goblin quest, I was curious if this mission would be heavily balanced in their favor.  The only Travel Event was an ambush, so the heroes began the quest slightly wounded.]

The heroes escort Frederick toward their prize

As they moved through the foothills and neared the location of the treasure vault, two merriods blocked the heroes' path.  The heroes moved forward to protect Frederick, who stayed back out of the fight.  The merriods must have eaten recently, or perhaps were old and sickly, as they failed to do significant harm to the heroes and did not survive long.  However, the heroes knew the way was not clear, as they heard the flap of leathery wings approaching.  [The Overlord rolled miserably for the two merriods, who were cut down in short order by the heroes.  The three hybrid sentinels took the southern path and maximum speed, in an attempt to consolidate forces with the merriods.]

The Overlord's forces attack

The heroes defend Frederick against the merriods

Gaining some breathing room, the heroes moved forward to quickly search for a key to the sealed runic door.  Leoric, Avric, and Jain searched nearby as Grisban held back to engage the merriod reinforcements.  Jain found the runic key, but had moved too far ahead of the party and one of the hybrid sentinels pounced on her, cutting her down.  Meanwhile, the other two flew over the heroes' defensive line and attacked Frederick.  Additional merriods had arrived, attacking Avric and the farm with their flailing tentacles.  [Jain was exposed, and one of the hybrid sentinels took her down.  The other two flew over Grisban and Avric to attack Frederick, as the master merriod moved into range and did the same.]

Jain is exposed as the other monsters chase after Frederick

As the other heroes fought, Leoric ran ahead and unlocked the runic door to give them an escape route.  Jain recovered and quickly moved back to her allies, as Avric began to fall back to the hallway.  Grisban had been ensnared by one of the merriods' tentacles, but was covering the other heroes' withdrawal.  However, the hybrid sentinels would not be deterred so easily, as as the merriods kept Grisban busy, they chased their quarry into the tunnel.  The master hybrid sentinel used his fearsome fire breath, taking down Jain and Leoric and further harassing Frederick.  Surrounded and desperate, Frederick made a break for it, but was cut down by two of the hybrid sentinels as the heroes looked on in horror.  [The heroes had a strong start, but left too many openings for the hybrid sentinels to continue to attack Frederick.  Grisban was Immobilized by one of the merriods, and couldn't help the other heroes in the tunnel.  The heroes' last gamble did not pay off, and the result was an Overlord victory for Encounter 1!]

Frederick makes a desperate attempt to flee, but cannot escape the hybrid sentinels

The heroes had lost their guide, but were more determined than ever to continue on and avenge him.  They entered the treasure vault and spied what Leoric knew to be Glyphs of Transport.  Unfortunately, any hope of taking advantage of the glyphs had died with Frederick.  [Since the Overlord won Encounter 1, only monsters would be able to use the glyphs to teleport around the map in Encounter 2.  Normally the Overlord victory in the first encounter is not so important, but this was a critical element to making it to the eight-round time limit for Encounter 2.]

Taking no time, the heroes moved into the vault and quickly engaged some nearby elementals in the Lava Cave.  Their assault destroyed one elemental and forced the second to flee as goblin archers began to teleport into the vault via the Glyphs of Transport!  The shadow dragon minion moved down to engage the heroes, as the master shadow dragon stayed in the Armory and near the vault exit.  [The heroes tore into the elementals, which only managed to do so-so damage.  The Overlord moved one of the shadow dragons down to assist, and used the goblin archer to harass the heroes.]

The heroes decided to split up to attempt to search the vault before they were overwhelmed by the Overlord's minions.  Leoric and Grisban stayed back to engage the shadow dragons, as Jain and Avric moved down the hallway and finished off the last elemental.  The shadow dragon moved to block Grisban in the Lava Cave, as he finished off Leoric.  Jain and Avric cleared the depths of the vault, but were ambushed by several goblins and Jain seriously injured.  [The heroes had been stalled between the remaining elemental and the shadow dragon minion, so they had decided to split up to attack the dragons and search the map.  It wasn't working so well for them.]

The heroes are split up and surrounded

Grisban the Thirsty vs. two shadow dragons

Jain Fairwood and Avric Albright swarmed by goblin archers

Seeing victory was near, the master shadow dragon used the nearby glyph to teleport behind Grisban, pinning him between the two dragons.  The goblin archers' continued volley felled Avric, leaving Grisban as the last hero standing.  Eventually the combined might of two shadow dragons was too much for the dwarf, and the heroes knew they would not prevail.  Fighting valiantly, they withdrew from the vault before yet more of the Overlord's minions arrived.  [The heroes were split up, and even the mighty Grisban couldn't solo two shadow dragons (also, in his defense he was rolling horribly).  I don't know if it's a hard rule, but all four heroes were Knocked Out during Overlord Turn 6, and we decided it was an Overlord victory.]

All four heroes defeated!


This quest started terribly for the Overlord, but ended with a decisive victory!

My open group choice for Encounter 1 (hybrid sentinels) proved very, very useful.  Their Fly ability allowed them to ignore the water tiles, thus allowing them to reach the heroes much sooner and move over the heroes' defensive lines to attack Frederick.  Coupled with the Prey On The Weak ability and the master hybrid sentinel's Fire Breath ability, they have proven a very solid choice in every quest thus far.

Aside from that, the heroes made some mistakes and left too many paths to Frederick open for me to exploit.  They did a pretty good job of blocking off the merriods, but the hybrid sentinels managed to sneak into positions to attack Frederick.  While he does have 20 health and two grey defense dice, the fact that Frederick cannot be healed means suicide runs against him are viable.

For Encounter 2, I chose elementals and shadow dragons.  The shadow dragons' Shadow ability is a huge advantage, and they should be used to full effect in every mission possible.  The elementals have only been so-so; some of their abilities are useful (such as Fire if they're near two or more heroes), but they don't seem to be very resilient and they do not have any abilities to spend Surges on.  The goblin archers were surprisingly useful, as there were too many higher priority targets available for the heroes to attack them.  Be sure to pay attention to