Introduction to Descent
Descent: Journeys in the Dark is an addictive dungeon crawling board game designed by Kevin Wilson and published by Fantasy Flight Games (FFG). The game first came out in 2005 and has seen a number of expansions:
- Well of Darkness (referred to as WOD)
- Altar of Despair (referred to as AOD)
- Road to Legend (referred to as RTL)
- Tomb of Ice (referred to as TOI)
Descent has been translated and published in different languages:
- Descent: Voyages dans les ténèbres (French version by Edge Entertainment)
- Descent: Die Reise ins Dunkel (German version by Heidelberger Spieleverlag)
- Descent: Viaggi nelle Tenebre (Italian version by Nexus)
- Descent: Viaje a las tinieblas (Spanish version by Edge Entertainment)
- Odalent: Kalandok a mélyben (Hungarian version by DeltaVision)
In Descent, one of the players assumes the role of the evil Overlord while the other players incarnate up to 4 Heroes delving dungeons in search of fame, gold and treasure (let's not forget beating the crap out of monsters).
A typical game lasts around 6 hours and starts with a small story full of cliché, something like a mortally wounded stranger staggering into a tavern, giving you the map of a dungeon and asking you to save his son from the grasp of a mighty Giant. In any case, nobody cares about the story.
The players first pick their Heroes or draw them randomly. Each of them have different attributes like Wounds, Fatigue, Armor and Speed, different bonuses for Melee, Ranged or Magic attacks, a special ability and a different set of skill cards to start with. Every hero also gets 300 coins to purchase basic equipement in town. Once they are ready, they can place the figures of their characters in the first room of the dungeon and the fun begins.
In order to win, the Heroes must normally fight their way through a myriad of monsters, reach the big evil boss and deal him the killing blow. If it wasn't for the Overlord, the task would be a real cakewalk.
The Overlord is not the all-mighty game master found in classic RPGs. Bound by a certain set of rules, he receives overlord cards and threat tokens every turn that he can use to spawn new monsters, set traps, empower himself or boost his minions. His only way to win the game is to strip the Heroes of all their conquest tokens. Let's explain.
Heroes generally start the game with 5 conquest tokens. They can gain extra tokens by opening chests, by activating glyphs of transportation and a few other means. Every time a hero is killed, he is ressurected in the town's temple, but the Heroes lose from 2 to 4 conquest tokens depending on the strenght of the character who died. They also lose 3 tokens each time the Overlord's deck is reshuffled.
That means that the number of turns is crucial for both sides; Heroes don't have the leisure to sweep the dungeon clean of every single monster and the Overlord must constantly find clever ways to slow them down.
Combats are resolved quickly with special colored dice indicating damage, range and power surges that can be used to trigger special abilities of items.
With different quests, random treasures, multiple heroes, monsters and items, every game is bound to be a unique and fun experience!