Heroes Tactics in Descent (vanilla)
"Noooooooooooo! Not again!" Yes, you just got wiped, crushed, pulverised by the overlord. You really think you've done all you could. You had the perfect plan, the perfect heroes, the perfect copper item against the red named dragon with 24 extra wounds... What? Hold on. Let's start from scratch.
Before the game
Create a balanced party. Opinions differ, but a group made of 2 thugs, 1 runner and 1 magic user is normally a good bet.
- Thugs (I find it's a better word than "tanks") are heroes with 16 wounds, a basic armor of 2 and 2-3 Melee traits. With a Chain Mail and a Shield as starting equipment from the shop, they can absorb as much as 5 wounds. Mordrog from the core set is a good example as well as Nanok of the Blade with his special ability.
- Runners are heroes with high speed and fatigue who can, as their name indicates, run past the enemies to open chests, activate glyphs and get conquest tokens. Most of the good runners have high ranged traits. For example, Silhouette can run up to 19 spaces if she drinks a Vitality potion in the process! Without using fatigue, Okaluk and Rakash are the best.
- Magic-Users, well they use magic, so they normally have at least 2 Magic traits and 2 magic skills. Battlemage Jaes is just great because he can wear heavy armor and also use runes. The best magic weapons with runes have the Blast ability and can simply turn the tide of the game when the dungeon is crawling with monsters. Shiver is also a killer in Vanilla Descent.
During the game
Don't expect to win the first time. It is perfectly normal to lose the first time you try a new quest. The overlord knows the layout of the dungeon, the monsters, the special encounters and you don't. Nothing stops you from taking down some notes while playing so the next time you know exactly what to find on the other side of the door. If you are sure to lose, try to uncover as many areas as possible.
Have eyes in every corner. The overlord cannot spawn monsters where you have line of sight. If you are not careful about where you end your move, you will soon see a nice little monster turning around the corner or walking around the rubble. Try to place the heroes so that they see different angles, but don't let the group split up too much. If you are lucky enough to pick the skill card Boggs the Rat, think twice about discarding that extra pair of eyes.
Ready, open, run! Don't open a door with your last hero. Open the door to a new unrevealed area with your 1st hero and send your runner just after to collect all he can before the overlord can act and place monsters on glyphs and chests. Sometimes, the runner can even open a chest, activate a glyph and flee back to town during the same turn.
Final Word of Advice
Never give up! This game is meant to be tough. Learn combos, think as a group, quaff lots of potions.