Friday, June 7, 2013

Descent: Journeys In The Dark (Quest) - The Man Who Would Be King

Quest VIII - The Man Who Would Be King

Campaign Finale

Baron Hadrian's rocs had delivered the heroes just outside bowshot from Castle Talon, the seat of Baron Zachareth's power.  The heroes quickly dismounted and moved toward the castle, expecting an ambush that never came.  The castle seemed oddly deserted as the heroes passed unchallenged through the gates - likely due to the Overlord's forces assaulting Baron Greigory's domain.  Proceeding, the heroes entered the castle's main keep, passing the bodies of those citizens who had tried to oppose the Overlord.  [The Overlord had won two of the three Act II quests, and so we would play Finale 2.  The heroes were ambushed on the way to the quest, but only one hero was wounded; the other Event Cards were "no event".]

The chase through Castle Talon begins

Inside, the heroes were surprised as Splig, self-styled "King of All Goblins", emerged from a larder bearing a large chunk of mutton and a twisted iron crown.  He yelped in surprise and took off with surprising speed down the corridor, quickly locking a solid oak door behind him.  The heroes gave chase, as Jain Fairwood deftly picked the lock on the door.  [The heroes really didn't like having to skip their first turn.  Sadly, locking the door behind Splig was a waste of an action given Jain's high Awareness and Grisban's high Might.]

A wall of zombies protects Splig

As a horde of zombies shuffled forward, Splig slipped through their ranks and continued running down the castle's long corridors.  Belthir the dragon hybrid had heard the alarm as well, and had taken up position as a four-way passage to intercept the heroes.  Meanwhile, a large shadow dragon charged through the main gate, quickly slipping past Avric Albright and isolating him from the other heroes.  The dragon breathed his fiery breath at the other three heroes, taking out Leoric of the Book and Jain Fairwood in an awesome display of power.  [The master shadow dragon came in and laid waste to the party with a devastating roll of the dice.  At this point, with Avric pinned behind the dragon and two of the heroes knocked out, I thought I might actually have a chance at winning!]

A fearsome shadow dragon lays waste to the party

Grisban the Thirsty was injured as well, but with two mighty blows from his axe put an end to the dragon.  Avric quickly moved up and used his healing aura to revive his fallen comrades, who moved into the corridor and attacked the zombies that had come into view.  Grisban pushed past his allies and smashed through another door, intent on catching Splig before the goblin could escape.  [In a bizarre turn of events, Grisban wound up far ahead of everyone else, despite his meager Movement of 3.  The heroes quickly recovered from the shadow dragon's surprise assault, and managed to push through an opening in the monsters' lines.]

The heroes are pinned in

Closing in for the kill

Grisban rushes ahead to catch Splig
As more shadow dragons enter the keep and Belthir directs the zombies to attack, the heroes decided to change their strategy.  Jain shot down an opening through the zombies, and she, Leoric, and Avric rushed forward into the hallway ahead as Grisban fell back to serve as the rearguard.  [This was a smart move by the heroes, because both Splig and Grisban have a Movement of 3 and I was hoping that I could keep Splig from getting slaughtered by the dwarf berserker.  The heroes were hoping to use Leoric's and Jain's ranged attacks to take out Splig as he spent actions to open the two remaining doors.]

Grisban holds the line as only a dwarf can

The party fights their way to Splig
In an effort to slow down his pursuers, Splig locks another door behind him and Jain and rushes toward the final door.  Unfortunately, Jain's skills once again prove more than a match and she quickly picks the lock, allowing Leoric and Avric to pursue the fleeing goblin.  In the end, the heroes slay the goblin as more of the Overlord's forces pour into the keep.  Quickly grabbing the Iron Crown, the heroes proceed deeper into the castle.  [Splig's attempt to slow the heroes with the locked door was again a waste of an action, and the combined power of three heroes' attacks quickly took him down.  The heroes won Encounter 1, and gained the Iron Crown for Encounter 2!]

Splig locked the door behind Jain, but is it enough to slow the other heroes?

The heroes pummel the fat goblin

As the heroes approached the throne room of Castle Talon, they knew there would be no going back.  This was their last chance to stop Baron Zachareth and prevent the Overlord was sweeping across the Rhynn and the other baronies... and perhaps even all of Daqan.  After a brief discussion and examination of the artifact by Leoric of the Book, it was decided that mighty Grisban should wear the Iron Crown as defense against the Overlord's attempts at mental domination, as he stood the best chance of fighting through the ranks and defeating Zachareth.  [In this Encounter, the Overlord gets free use of the "Dark Charm" Overlord card every turn.  However, this cannot affect the hero wearing the Iron Crown.  As the heroes' powerhouse, the crown was given to Grisban.]

Approaching the Throne Room

The heroes push forward, quickly felling the zombies in the Ruins and rallying outside the door to the Throne Room.  As the heroes push into the room, Lord Merrick and Lady Eliza Farrow dodge out from the fallen columns to attack the heroes at range.  The minion shadow dragon pushes forward, and with a mighty attack breaks through Leoric the Book's defenses and eats him!  [The heroes pushed into the room, and a barrage of ranged attacks went both ways.  Leoric had been wounded, so the shadow dragon was able to finish him off.  Because this is the Finale, any hero that is defeated counts as being slain (rather than simply knocked out) and is immediately removed from the game!  (Note that I use the hero tokens to mark where they died in the pictures, so it's easier to keep track of how many heroes remain.)]

Leoric of the Book is eaten by a dragon
The heroes retaliate against the minion shadow dragon, and Jain Fairwood's keen eye brings the beast down with her arrows.  Meanwhile, Grisban continues attacking Lord Merrick as the master shadow dragon moves forward to attack the heroes.  It's fiery breath blasts Avric and Jain, but Jain's lack of protection resulted in her being burned alive.  Two heroes slain, and two to go!  [Jain had been wounded and rolled horribly; she attempted to use her dodge ability, but the Fire Breath had more than enough spaces to go to catch her.]

Jain Fairwood is the next to fall
Avric Albright, full of righteous fury at the death of two of his companions, strikes back at the dragon, and along with Grisban's attacks the second dragon is slain!  However, Avric is severely wounded, and zombies move in from the Ruins outside.  He fights bravely, but in the end he falls to the weight of their numbers.  [Avric was very nearly dead from the dragon, so a couple of zombies managed to do just enough damage to taken him out.  Only Grisban remained!]

Avric Albright was slain as well
Baron Zachareth, seeing that victory is at hand, enters melee combat with the sole remaining hero:  Grisban the Thirsty.  However, the Baron's villainous bravado may spell his doom as Grisban goes berserk at the death of his comrades and lands blow after blow on Zachareth, powering through his defenses with devastating power!  [Grisban used his health potion (restoring him to full health) and activated his Heroic Feat, giving him a bonus attack action in addition to his two standard actions, resulting in three attacks against Baron Zachareth!  The first two attacks took the Baron from 20 health down to 5 health.  The third attack would determine the outcome of the quest, the campaign, and the Barony of Rhynn...]

Grisban the Thirsty avenges his fallen comrades...

... but in the end, the Overlord triumphs!
But it is not to be, as Grisban's third attack is a miss!  The combined attacks of the Overlord's forces decimate the last hero, leaving the Overlord victorious!  Baron Zachareth has taken the Barony of Rhynn, and from there... perhaps all of Daqan will fall!


What an epic finale to the campaign!  In the end it came down to one roll.  To be honest, I had managed to lock down Grisban using the Scorpion's Kiss relic (pretty much granting permanent Immobilize on the target at the cost of the Lieutenant's action, which seems a little overpowered) and could have just kept pelting him with ranged attacks, whittling away at his health.  However, that was boring and he was the only hero left, so I decided to raise the stakes by having Baron Zachareth engage in melee with Grisban.  The dwarf had proven to be an absolute nightmare in melee throughout the campaign (see the picture above where he's holding off two shadow dragons plus some zombies).  I knew it was risky, but it kept all the players (even those whose heroes had already died) interested in the game.  Either way the final combat played out, it would have been epic - the heroes snatching victory from the jaws of defeat if Grisban had managed to slay Zachareth, or the villain playing the part and overconfidently thinking the heroes were finished before making sure that was true!

Going back to the first Encounter, at first it seemed like Splig's flight was hopeless given his low Movement and the fact that he has to spend an action to open all the doors that are in his way (which the heroes would not have to do unless I spent another action to close them back).  When the first shadow dragon came in and wiped out half the party, while I had Splig safely behind a wave of zombies, I thought I might actually be able to pull off a win.  However, the heroes played brilliantly and switched up their roles just in time to bring enough firepower to bear on Splig to take him out and win the Encounter.

The second Encounter was a straight-up epic boss fight, right down to the very end.  The heroes couldn't quite force their way into the Throne Room, as they were under fire from Lady Eliza and Lord Merrick, and the two shadow dragons kept them at bay.  The Dark Charm ability did not play a significant part in the Encounter, as the heroes mostly succeeded in their Willpower checks, and the couple of times they did not I rolled horribly for their attack damage.  Still, Grisban wearing the Iron Crown meant that the stakes toward the end of the game were even higher, as I couldn't try to force him to attack himself with Dark Charm.

Overall it was a great campaign, and all of the players seemed to have a lot of fun right up to the very end!  We may try playing some one-off games, or take a break from Descent until the next expansion (Labyrinth of Ruin) is available so we have an all-new campaign to play.  Either way, I look forward to trying out a hero, or seeing if I can further thwart the heroes as the Overlord!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Descent: Journeys In The Dark (Quest) - The Desecrated Tomb

Quest VII - The Desecrated Tomb

After being informed by Baron Greigory's librarian that an important clue was to be found near Sir Arcite's tomb, the heroes set out to stop the Overlord's latest plan.  On their journey they encountered a band of Latari elves beset by the Overlord's minions, whom the heroes helped the elves defeat in a strike against their mutual foe.  Continuing on, the heroes quickly arrived at the tomb.  [The heroes only had a single encounter, the others cards were "no event".]

The heroes start down the gauntlet

Inside, the heroes quickly fought past a nest of cave spiders only to find themselves facing the walking dead.  The Overlord has desecrated the tomb, and the dead could not rest.  However, the heroes knew they had to press on if they were to find a clue to the Overlord's next plan.  Fighting through zombie after zombie, the heroes eventually found a tattered map.  The map showed the location of a cavern deep in the Greatwood.  Whatever the Overlord wanted in that cavern, the heroes knew they had to stop him!  Fighting free of the zombies, the heroes made haste to stop their enemy's plan.  [A few turns had passed before the heroes realized that they really needed to hurry on this quest.  The Overlord's forces were pathetic, but the numerous cave spiders and respawning zombies created a large number of obstacles that the heroes had to deal with on their way in and back out.]

The heroes make progress, but the zombies keep coming

Jain figures out where the clue is as the party fights off more zombies

Escape on the last round!

The heroes arrived just in time to see Sir Alric ordering a pair of ettins to stand guard over the entrance.  Unfortunately, the ettins' limited intellect required the knight to speak slowly, and he lost vital time.  Seeing their chance, the heroes quickly launched an attack before Sir Alric could proceed any further into the cavern.  Leoric's runic magic bound Sir Alric in place, rooting him as Jain fired a volley of arrows at her foe.  [The heroes won Encounter 1 by one round, so even though Sir Alric had a large number of "free" moves, the Overlord did not get the first turn in Encounter 2.  This spelled trouble for Sir Alric due to Leoric's Immobilize condition on his rune weapon.]

Sir Alric tries to explain to the ettins how to guard the entrance

The heroes assault Sir Alric Farrow

Meanwhile, Grisban held the ettins at bay, severely wounding one as the two giants got in each others' way attempting to hit the dwarf.  One of the ettins' errant swings managed to strike Leoric, but not before the mage released a series of powerful blasts at Sir Alric, forcing him to drop the Dawnblade.  A shadow dragon emerged from deeper in the cavern and moved to attack Grisban as Sir Alric rolled out of the way.  [Sir Alric was pinned in place for a couple of turns, as he was pummeled with ranged attacks.  In this Encounter, he acts as a hero when defeated, so he was able to recover on the subsequent turn, but it forced him to drop the Dawnblade.  Fortunately, I was able to move the shadow dragon on top of it to keep it out of the heroes' hands.]

Shadow dragon guarding the dropped Dawnblade

Unfortunately, the dwarf had learned much (and had drank even more) during his recent adventures, and as Leoric recovered from the ettin's attack the pair quickly defeated the shadow dragon with rune and blade.  Seeing their chance, Jain quickly darted past the dying dragon's thrashing limbs and grabbed the Dawnblade before Sir Alric could do so.  The heroes quickly fell back to the entrance as Sir Alric howled his rage and gave chase with the ettins.  However, the clumsy ettins and heavily armored knight could not keep up with Jain's skills at pathfinding, and the heroes escaped with their prize.  [The heroes won a decisive victory, as Sir Alric never even made it out of the Frozen Cave and the dragon Khorayt never even woke up!] 

Jain dashes away with the Dawnblade

Jain dashes away with the Dawnblade


Surprisingly, Encounter 1 was a closer call that I expected given that I only had cave spiders and zombies to work with.  Zombies are absolute garbage even in Act II (the master minion is the only one with respectable hitting power and health, and zombies only have a brown die for defense).  I decided to give the shadow dragons a rest and chose cave spiders because they were 1) more thematic and 2) the master cave spiders' web ability would (hopefully) help slow down the heroes even further.

On the other had, Encounter 2 was a big letdown.  Looking back, I should have placed Sir Alric one space away from where I did, and used the two ettins to block him from the heroes.  If nothing else, the heroes would have had to waste a few attacks to break through the ettins.  Leoric's rune weapon allowed him to Immobilize the target on a Surge, and that kept Sir Alric locked down long enough for the heroes to defeat him.  Once that happened, I did manage to use the shadow dragon minion to block the heroes from reaching the dropped Dawnblade.  My goal was the retrieve it on Sir Alric's next turn and then proceed toward the dragon Khorayt.  Unfortunately, Grisban made short work of the shadow dragon and Jain was able to rush in, grab the Dawnblade, and make it well down the hallway toward the entrance before I could do so.

This is one of the quests that I definitely want to try again, and see if I am able to achieve victory.  I was curious to see how the Sir Alric vs. Khorayt battle would play out, as the dragon has respectable stats and only the Dawnblade can affect it.  The heroes may have won this quest, but Act II was still an Overlord victory!