Saturday, July 19, 2014

Quick Review - Descent: Journeys in the Dark

Descent: Journeys in the Dark
Designers: Daniel Clark, Corey Konieczka,
Adam Sadler & Kevin Wilson
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Quick Review - Descent: Journeys in the Dark
So I just played my first 'almost' RPG game.  I've never really been a fan of Role Playing Games - I've always felt that they're too open, not structured, and unless you have a very good GM I feel they're too easy to devolve into just acting goofy or boring quests.  Maybe that's just because I've never really played them and only have a very cursory experience of watching parts of games in the past, but even when I've seen RPGs reviewed on shows like Table Top, they just haven't sparked any interest in me, despite being a huge fan of Science Fiction and Fantasy, the biggest genres for RPG games.

So when my friend Gus said he was getting an RPG game that was actually a board game, I was intrigued.  The setting of an RPG in the structure of a board game?  That sounded mighty interesting.  Well, Gus got his copy of Descent: Journeys in the Dark last week and we got together to play yesterday.  This was my first time playing a game of this scope.  I was a bit intimidated at first, but the other players were RPG veterans and helped explain a lot of the terminology and themes.  So it wasn't long before I was moving around the board, battling Goblin Archers and Ettins (and unfortunately missing more often than not), and finding cool items.

I really found the game interesting.  I like that players can't just make up stuff and go completely off script, but I also like that there is a lot of flexibility in what players can do, how players can customize their characters, how characters can grow (gain skills, weapons, and items), and how the opponent is organic (with the foes being controlled by a game master Overlord).  It had a great mix of collaborative gameplay (working with your companions) and competitive gameplay (playing against the Overlord).  The game is broken up into a number of quests (scenarios) and you can play one quest at a time, or combine quests into a long campaign.  If you play the campaign method players can earn experience points and gold as they progress and then use those ti increase skills and buy items between quests.  Each quest has one or more 'encounters' where you have to complete a task and battle a bad guy (usually with a number of minions, too).  Running a campaign will take a looooong time, so you'll need to break it up into multiple sessions (my guesstimate is that a campaign will take about 30-40 hours of play time, but I could be completely off).  We started a campaign and play on working on it a little at a time over the next few months.  But this really gives the game an epic feel and keeps it more in line with what I know of RPG games.  Between sessions all a player's stats are written down on sheets included with the game and then you can pick up right where you left off at the next session.  I am really looking forward to that next session!

Preliminary Rating: 8/10

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GJJG Game Reviews are independent, unpaid reviews of games I, George Jaros, have played with his family and friends.  Some of these games I own, some are owned by friends, some are borrowed, and some are print and play versions of games.  Where applicable I will indicate if games have been played with kids or adults or a mix (Family Play).  I won't go into extensive detail about how to play the game (there are plenty of other sources for that information and I'll occasionally link to those other sources), but I will give my impressions of the game and how my friends and family reacted to the game.  First Play Impression reviews will only get a single rating of 1-10 (low-high) based on my first impressions of the game during my first time playing.  Hopefully I'll get more chances to play the game and will be able to give it a full review soon.

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