Descent: Journeys in the Dark

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Descent: Journeys In The Dark
Descent JITD boxart.jpg
Wargame published by
Fantasy Flight Games
Authors Kevin Wilson
First Publication 2005

Descent: Journeys in the Dark is a semi-cooperative game in which two to four players will take on the antagonistic roles of heroes, and one player becomes the Overlord, basically the dungeon master, although in this game the master supposed to kill the heroes as efficiently as possible. The other four players get random heroes. with a wide assortment of skills and innate abilities, who will explore dungeons in search of treasure.

The heroes' goal is to cooperatively conquer the dungeon, seize its many treasures, and achieve other objectives as set by the scenario. If the heroes cooperate and achieve their goals, they will all win, typically by killing a boss monster at the end of the dungeon. The Overlord's objective is simply to use all the means at his or her disposal - from deadly traps and ferocious monsters - to kill the heroes. Each hero has a certain Conquest Point value to the party and if too many Conquest Points are lost through hero death, the party loses and the Overlord wins. Heroes get additional conquest points through exploration and as treasure, and can also lose points due to time constraints (limiting the number of turns the game can last).

Descent is FFG's answer to HeroQuest, so that makes it a dungeon crawl game. For good or ill, it's a slower, more complicated version, basically 4e without the illusion of being a RPG, assuming you think 4e is even an illusion of being a RPG. Anyway, Descent can be played in 3 hours or so once you get the hang of the rules, and the many different scenarios included in the game means 50 hours more play, minimum, before you re-use the maps; when one factors in the many random heroes, the game seldom comes even remotely close to playing the same way twice.

Although a fun game, setup and maps can take quite some time and space, a kitchen table that seats six is nearly mandatory for this game.

The French are going nutso over this boardgame, maybe because they haven't seen HeroQuest before, or Space Hulk, or Mutant Chronicles or BrickQuest or Doom: The Boardgame or... Christ I'd rather be writing the BrickQuest article right now.

Board Games
Classics: Backgammon - Chess - Go - Tafl - Tic-Tac-Toe
Ameritrash: Arkham Horror - Axis & Allies - Battleship - Betrayal at House on the Hill - Car Wars
Clue/Cluedo - Cosmic Encounter - Descent: Journeys in the Dark - Dungeon!
Firefly: The Game - HeroQuest - Monopoly - Snakes and Ladders - Risk - Talisman - Trivial Pursuit
Eurogames: Agricola - Carcassonne - Settlers of Catan - Small World - Stratego - Ticket to Ride
Pure Evil: Diplomacy - Dune (aka Rex: Final Days of an Empire) - Monopoly
Others: Icehouse - Shadow Hunters - Twilight Imperium